By Ilan Rodzynek, Product Management, Marketing & Pricing vice president, Lawson Products — Employees and visitors of hospitals, schools, hotels, factories and warehouses depend on facility managers (FMs) to keep building environments safe, healthy and comfortable. To do so, facilities managers are busy extending the life of aging equipment, keeping accurate service and maintenance records, responding to building emergencies, staying on top of regulatory and compliance standards, and implementing the right technology. All while challenged with labor shortages, supply chain problems and pressure to reduce costs.
The labor shortage has disproportionately impacted trade/technical workers. New entrants into the trade/technical workforce have been steadily declining due to generational preferences toward working in other industries like information technology (IT) and healthcare. The result short-staffed departments and team members pulled from priority work to manage day-to-day concerns.
Three years after the start of the pandemic, supply chain disruptions continue. Labor shortages, long lead times and increasing logistics costs are top-ranked supply chain issues for 2023.
A sound facilities maintenance program helps to ensure facilities are and will be cared for appropriately. Overlooked or ignored facilities maintenance planning can result in real problems. It can bring forth large capital expenses, downtime and disruption. So how can facilities managers minimize downtime and control costs working in the current environment?
Get your cost-saving initiative underway with these tips.
- Avoid out-of-stocks and overstocks
With thousands of products available to meet planned and unplanned fixes, maintaining the right inventory can be challenging. One way to increase productivity and reduce costs is through an optimized vendor-managed inventory program. This program takes the task of reordering depleted products from the customer and gives it to the supplier. A supplier representative can help you analyze your usage and purchasing habits for better forecasting, controls, and just-right inventory levels.
Done well, this means no more time spent taking inventory and reordering small parts, no more unplanned trips to off-site stores, and less project downtime. The products you need will be on hand and stocked according to your preferences and usage, preventing out-of-stocks and overstocks.
- Choose the right products
Are you or your maintenance technicians choosing a product for its lower price point or for its superior performance? Lower-priced tools and components may break or wear down quicker and need to be replaced sooner. A durable, highly engineered product may actually have the lower overall cost in the end. It’s also important to work with suppliers that continually evaluate their products for dependability and durability to ensure top performance.
- Increase product application knowledge
With hands-on training, your maintenance staff will be up to speed on best practices for safe and efficient use of the maintenance tools and parts you use most. Ask your supplier for training that is tailored to meet your specific needs, planned around your schedule, and hosted at your location so your employees are attending sessions when it’s convenient for you. Topics such as safety, water leak repair, electrical repair, new products and new and available technologies can positively impact the overall efficiency of your team and safety of your building.
Request custom assortments
Ask that your supplier build custom assortments — prepackaged kits containing a selection of fasteners and hardware in small quantities — that meet your common maintenance, repair and operations scenarios. These kits will ensure you have what you need on hand with minimal expense.
- Increase repair productivity
Reduce the time it takes to make building repairs by organizing your maintenance closet. Get rid of inadequate storage containers such as boxes, tin cans and paper bags. Your supplier representative can install bins, storage cabinets and other efficient setups that will improve your parts-retrieval process and create a more organized and functioning workflow. Durable product storage and dispensing equipment, easy-to-read product descriptions and sizes on labels, and backplates for convenient reordering and refilling will keep you organized and save you time searching for parts.
Assessing how you manage the consumables used in your maintenance and repair projects can control your costs and reduce equipment downtime. Quality products, proper training, good organization and a good working relationship with a supplier you trust can help save you time, increasing both the productivity of your team and the safety and overall image of your facility.
About the Author
Ilan Rodzynek is vice president of product management, marketing and pricing for Lawson Products, an industrial distributor of maintenance and repair products. He is responsible for developing and executing strategic business plans for product lines, developing and maintaining relationships with key suppliers, and identifying opportunities for private-brand expansion to ensure customer value and profitability improvements.