University Facilities Management: 4 Ways to Improve Equipment Performance for a Better Campus Experience

Economic downturn and a decrease in student enrollments has significantly increased the maintenance backlog for a number of universities in the United States. Many colleges and universities have overspent on new construction, going beyond their capacity requirements and leading to an increase in old buildings with deteriorating facilities. Given the resulting maintenance backlog, universities require a solution that helps automate tasks in a cost effective manner. Setting up a university facilities management system with comprehensive checklists can help improve equipment performance for a better learning experience. 

A study by Association of Physical Plant Administrators (APPA) shows that the overall cost of the national maintenance backlog is over $2 trillion. The major reason for this backlog is universities failing to set up preventive maintenance for their facilities. By using an asset management system, universities can systematize the administration  of  buildings, sports equipment, stationery, IT equipment and more. A facilities management plan should cover all vital areas critical to university operations such as:

Health and safety: Buildings containing asbestos and other dangerous materials are common at campus sites. A facilities management plan will help ensure that teachers and students are not exposed to such harmful substances.

Space management: It is important to keep track of assets at  different physical locations on campus, such as sports facilities, meeting rooms and classrooms. 

Transportation management: Ensuring campus vehicles are well maintained for daily use is a key aspect of facilities management. Having a dedicated system keeps track of all service tickets generated to ensure timely service completion.  

Read more: 4 Effective Ways You can Handle Tight Education Budgets With Asset Management For Schools 

4 Key Components of a University Facilities Management Plan

An effective facilities management system for universities offers a strategic plan to organize and simplify processes. With the right system in place, universities can cut down on money spent on facilities by reducing  downtimes and unexpected breakdowns. Let’s look at 5 important components of a facilities management plan for your university campus:

Work order management

A facilities management program for universities enables technicians to track all types of actions taken for assets. For instance, the air conditioner installed in Room 78 in Building 2 needs to be cleaned due to clogged air filters. In such situations, monitoring progress helps ensure that  costs, inventory consumed and associated expenses can be kept in check. Generating and tracking work orders for every facility repair workflow is key.

Work orders enable technicians to assign a task to a staff user, record the start and end date and even request the manufacturer to schedule maintenance under warranty when available. In this way work order management significantly lowers the action time required to complete a maintenance task. With all details being added to a single database, facility managers have improved visibility and can take actions to accelerate urgent issues that impact  important campus operations. 

Asset lifecycle tracking

Facilities are a fundamental part of an educational institution and are critical to ensuring smooth operations. In order to prevent unexpected breakdowns, facilities managers can closely monitor important dates including the time of procurement, maintenance, depreciation and disposal. Such practices fall under the category of asset lifecycle management and they help to track how an item evolves over time. 

It can be challenging to create a database of all facilities manually, and so an asset tracking system streamlines this process by  automatically generating asset records. Let’s say the administration department just got a new set of fire extinguishers. In this case, the facilities manager will note down details that will help them plan preventive maintenance, write off depreciated value and ensure compliance over the lifespan of the equipment. 

university facilities management

Inventory management

Facility inventory management involves maintaining stock levels, spare parts and consumable items. By implementing a barcode inventory system, universities can simply scan the labels on facilities and set up low stock alerts. Having optimal stock quantities helps prevent unwanted operational delays that eventually have a negative impact on the campus experience. 

It becomes easier to track consumption and generate purchase orders by maintaining an inventory of facilities equipment and their spare parts. Let’s take a look at a typical  lab facility in universities. Common examples of lab equipment include HVAC systems, drainage pipes, technical equipment such as scales, cold storage products, incubators and water purification systems. Once the initial inventory count is complete, facility managers can set thresholds for replenishment based on frequency of usage in the university. 

If the university has more than one lab, inventory needs to be set up for all locations, enabling facility managers to maintain transparent records and improve visibility for items that need to be purchased and for what purpose. 

Read more: 5 Best Practices to Help You Optimize Your School Inventory System

Preventive maintenance

University facilities are used by staff and students continuously, and over time this leads to  wear and tear. To prevent untimely breakdowns, facility managers can schedule  equipment for preventive maintenance. Routine facility maintenance reduces major equipment failure and is low-cost, in comparison. 

All facilities at the gym, labs and auditoriums can be scheduled for routine maintenance with the help of a tracking system. It helps you prepare a  list of facility equipment at all locations and set them up for service based on the manufacturer’s instructions. One of the most important facilities at universities is the heating ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems. Timely HVAC maintenance can lower utility bills while ensuring a healthy environment at the campus. 

For HVAC systems you can create service tickets for cleaning filters, heat pump and the condenser. Besides this, facility managers can also schedule annual professional equipment inspections to rule out any possibilities of major defects. 

university facilities management

Make university equipment last longer, function better

Well maintained, functional facilities lead to smooth educational experiences for both students and staff  at a university. Automating facilities management with the help of a tracking solution helps optimize performance. It further enables the administrative staff to easily create accurate inventory records that can be used for maintenance and service events. 

An effective plan to keep facilities up and running ultimately means an increase in ROI through cost savings and increased efficiency. Along with this, proficient facilities management has the potential to increase equipment’s useful lifespan, making it less prone to replacements over time. Get your university a facilities management system today for a better campus experience! 

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