Upcoming Meetings

Blog

Preventing Facilities False Alarms: What FMs Need To Know

Preventing Facility False Alarms

Alarm systems are designed to protect commercial properties from all sorts of disasters. From fires to burglaries, the system in your building will alert you to any threat that it detects 24 hours a day.

However, sometimes these systems can sound the alarm when no threat really exists in the building. As a facilities manager, you can minimize facility false alarms by knowing how to install your system properly and what measures to take to ensure it functions correctly around-the-clock.

Why Avoid False Alarms?

You might wonder why you should make every attempt to minimize or eliminate facility false alarms in your building. After all, how much harm can a false alarm really do to commercial property? What is the big deal if your alarm system goes off by accident?

In fact, a facility false alarm can have major ramifications on a business notwithstanding the wracking up of major penalties and fines. Most police and fire departments understand that businesses will have the occasional false alarm. However, they do not appreciate having to respond to continued weekly or sometimes daily false alarms because of faulty systems.

If your building has repeated false alarms, it could be heavily fined by the police and fire departments. As the facilities manager, you will be responsible for explaining these fines to the business owner and why you failed to take immediate action to keep the false alarms to a bare minimum.

Further, repeated false alarms could lead to the shuttering of the building until the alarm system is fixed. The building's insurance company or the state fire inspector could decide that it is too costly and dangerous to keep the building open while it is being guarded by an alarm system that does not work properly.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, repeated false alarms can give the building’s occupants a false sense of security. They may disregard the alarms when they go off instead of evacuating or taking other proactive measures. In the worst case scenario, false alarms could lead to injuries or a loss of life.

Rather than face these scenarios, you can take measures now to keep false alarms to an absolute minimum. These steps are common sense and simple and can save you the headaches that come with dealing with repeated facility false alarms.

Avoiding False Alarms

The first step you can take as a facilities manager to minimize false alarms is to retain the services of a factory trained and licensed alarm company. The company should have a staff of trained, bonded, and licensed technicians on hand who can come to your building to install, maintain, and repair the alarms on a regular basis. 

You also should ensure that the alarms are the newest models and installed in appropriate places throughout your building. For example, you do not want smoke or fire alarms installed too closely to heaters or cooking appliances. These fixtures could trigger the alarms when there really is no threat in the building. 

Likewise, you want carbon monoxide detectors to be installed close to gas fixtures like furnaces and hot water heaters. These alarms should not be installed close to windows where they could catch breezes and not be able to detect the presence of carbon monoxide in the building’s air. 

Another measure you can take as a facilities manager is to train the building’s staff on how to use the alarm system correctly. You can start by showing them how to deactivate the system in the morning when they first open the building. You also should show them how to activate the alarms when they leave for the evening. During the daytime, you should keep the burglary detection system deactivated with the exception of the panic alarms. 

Finally, you should use care when hanging decorations in the building. Decorations can catch the breeze by doors and windows, tripping motion detectors and sounding off the alarms. You should hang decorations in areas that are not monitored by motion sensors if you want to avoid false alarms.

These simple steps can save you from dealing with the expense, embarrassment, and possible tragedy that can come with false alarms. You can keep the building’s occupants safe and save the business owners money. You also ensure that real emergencies like burglaries, carbon monoxide leaks, and fires will be responded to quickly if or when they occur.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More

Top Facilites Management Trends for 2019

2019 Facility Management Trends

If you ask the average facilities manager how technology is impacting their field, you're probably going to get a favorable response. In fact, managers surveyed on the subject almost unanimously expressed the opinion that their use of technology is only going to keep growing. New trends in facilities management show that the scope of a manager's responsibility is expanding, and technological innovations are rising to meet these new challenges. Some of these trends include:

1. The internet of things

The internet of things (IoT) is a shorthand term for connected devices that are capable of collecting and sharing data. These devices have IP addresses, just like conventional computers, for connecting to the internet. More and more of these Internet-enabled devices are being developed to help streamline the way that facilities managers track and monitor their assets -- everything from tracking stock, to determining which parts of a given facility get the most use (and require the most attention). Many sectors are already seeing a big boost in efficiency from the IoT, and that trend is likely to continue into 2019.

2. The use of social media feedback

If you think a social media presence is optional for facilities management, think again. More and more companies are seeing the value of staying connected to customers through social media platforms, and facilities managers are no exception. Connecting to customers can offer invaluable feedback when it comes to seeing where you are doing well, and where your service can be improved. Plus, interacting with customers online offers countless opportunities to make an impact far beyond what your services alone can do, and helps you create the impression of integrity, approachability, and transparency.

3. Expanding the concept of retail space

The demand for inexpensive, easy-access medical services is causing more and more walk-in clinics to open in shopping centers. Retailers are seeing the benefit of offering food services in their stores when it comes to drawing in customers. More and more businesses are striving to become centers of their communities, offering their customers experiences beyond shopping. What do these things have in common? They all represent the expanding scope of facilities management. While many managers have experience in maintaining medical facilities, retail spaces, or restaurants, 2019 is going to see a lot more crossover between different sectors. This means needing to comply with additional safety and health regulations and find new ways to effectively manage the expanding needs of these blended facilities.

4. Using the blockchain

The blockchain is good for more than cryptocurrency. It is effectively a way to maintain a continuous ledger, and facilities managers are seeing the value in it when it comes to tracking supply chains, processing work orders, processing and tracking payments, tracking maintenance and management needs, and increasing transparency. Though its use is still in its infancy, expect to see more and more businesses demanding it in 2019.

5. Expanding automation

Facilities management is already a demanding field, and the increasing scope of what it requires means that it takes a superhuman effort to keep things running smoothly. According to a survey of facilities managers across sectors, programs that aid with work orders and ticketing rank as the third most valuable technology tool. Self-handling software can automatically create invoices, schedule field service appointments, direct work orders, and more, dramatically reducing the workload placed on managers and allowing them to focus on the areas that require their attention the most.

6. New approaches to sustainability

Energy efficiency is key. Not only are energy costs a significant part of a facility's budget, but responsible approaches to energy management also create a selling point for sustainability-minded customers. Batteries can help reduce the financial impact of peak demand charges and cut down a facility's carbon footprint at the same time. Chemical and refrigerated battery storage can help maintain battery effectiveness and increase longevity, further reducing energy costs. If 2019's facilities management trends could be summed up in a few words, they would be efficiency, transparency, and sustainability. New software applications can dramatically reduce the tedious, time-consuming work of processing work orders, generating invoices, and manually scheduling service calls, particularly as more retail facilities begin expanding the type of businesses they host. Social media and the blockchain can help increase transparency. Batteries and battery storage can help reduce energy demands, leading to financial and carbon savings. Expect some very exciting innovations in all of these areas as the field of facilities management continues to change and grow.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More

Facility Management Challenges During The Holiday Season

Facility Management Challenges During The Holiday Season

The weeks leading up to the holiday season can present a unique challenge to facilities managers. They are tasked with making sure their buildings are ready to welcome the public during one of the busiest times of the year.

They also must assess and minimize potential safety risks inside and outside of buildings. When you anticipate facing such challenges yourself, you can maintain and protect your building with these holiday facilities management tips.

Prevent Stress on Plumbing

With more people coming into the building, it makes sense that the plumbing inside of the bathroom, kitchens, and elsewhere will be used more often. Everything from increased flushing of the toilets to running the faucets can put a strain on plumbing that is not used to this level of usage.

You can head off a plumbing disaster now by inspecting and repairing any known plumbing issues in the building. Repair leaky faucets and pipes, replace faulty toilets and inspect the plumbing for clogs now so it is more than ready to accommodate the influx of people coming into the building during the upcoming holiday rush.

Remove Snow and Ice

As a facilities manager, it is up to you to make sure the walkways and stairs going in and out of the building are clear of snow and ice. Leaving either on the paths leading in and out of the place ups the liability risk for both you and the building’s owner. For safety’s sake, you must be ready to shovel or blow away snow and melt ice as quickly as these elements fall.

You can prepare for this facility management holidays challenge now by having the needed supplies on hand. Everything from a snow blower and shovels to ice melt and rock salt will help you take care of this important task. You also show the public that they can easily and safely get in and out of the building without the risk of slipping and falling.

Plan for Heating Challenges

With more people going in and out of the building during the holiday season, you may find that your building is not able to maintain a steady temperature throughout the day. Cold air blowing through the doorways as people come in and out will make the front hallways and foyer colder than normal. On the other hand, the crush of people crowding into rooms can cause the temperatures in there to rise higher than the set thermostat.

It will be up to you to figure out how to maintain a steady and comfortable temperature in all parts of the building. This could mean adjusting thermostats individually to match the needs in separate hallways and rooms. It could also mean that you simply have to adjust the main thermostat in the central heater or furnace as each day progresses in order to keep people comfortable.

Adjust Maintenance and Cleaning Schedules

Many buildings during the holiday season open earlier and close later to accommodate the rush of customers. These extended hours can put a damper on the schedule you and your crew are accustomed to for cleaning and maintaining the building.

For the few weeks of the holidays, you will need to adjust the schedule and decide during what times of the day or night you want to clean and maintain the premises. Perhaps this will call for you and your workers to come in early to prepare the building for the day.

It might also mean staying late after the building closes to clean up. Regardless, adjusting your cleaning and maintenance schedule could be one of the biggest facility management holidays challenges you face.

Facilities managers acknowledge that the holidays present unique challenges to them and their buildings. You can minimize safety risks and keep people happy by knowing what strategies to utilize as the holidays progress. These tips allow you to keep your building open and accessible while accommodating a greater number of people who visit it during the holiday season.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More

Cleaning Procedures for Green Buildings

Cleaning products like ammonia and bleach are effective in killing germs and getting rid of dirt and dust. However, they also can pose a serious risk to people's health. Rather than jeopardize the integrity and wellness of your building, you can protect the health of people inside of it while disinfecting and keeping the premises sanitary by utilizing green cleaning procedures.

What is Green Cleaning?

Green cleaning involves using cleaning products, equipment, and supplies that pose no risk to the environment or human health. More facilities managers are adopting green cleaning procedures because studies have shown that most people spend close to 90 percent of their time indoors. As such, they need to be able to breathe air that is clean and safe rather than laden with chemicals and residue from cleaning products.

In fact, scientific studies have shown that the quality of indoor air is often just as polluted and toxic as the outdoor air in urban areas. People who breathe in residue from spray cleaning products and chemicals stand a greater chance of developing respiratory illnesses. This chance is magnified if the building does not have a good ventilation system in it.

Even if your building has a high-quality ventilation system, you may still want to adopt and use green cleaning procedures. You will protect the respiratory health of people in your building while still getting the clean and sanitary conditions you are expected to maintain as a facilities manager.

Steps for Green Cleaning

You might be wondering what green cleaning procedures involve and how different they are from the procedures you use now to clean your building. In reality, green cleaning is not all that different from regular cleaning. Your primary goal is to clean the premises albeit while reducing or eliminating indoor air pollution.

You can start by purchasing and using green cleaning products. These products range from recycled and soluble paper towels to carpet deodorizer and paint that are free from toxic fumes and dangerous chemicals.

Most green cleaning products today are denoted by the Greenguard certification, which means they are guaranteed not to release volatile organic compounds or VOCs into the air. They also are formulated to avoid polluting the soil, water, and other elements in the environment.

Another green cleaning tip involves using magnetic door mats at or near the entrances of your building. These specially designed mats draw dirt and dust from the bottom of people's shoes.

Less dirt and dust tracked into the building means that you have to use fewer indoor cleaning products like bleach or ammonia. Your floors stay cleaner and require less scrubbing and mopping because of these mats.

Even so, you still might want to dust mop the floors in your building on a daily basis. Rather than use a harsh chemical-laden floor cleaning product, you should use one that is water-based. A water-based cleaner protects the indoor air quality without compromising the cleanliness of the floor.

Likewise, you can avoid using an excess amount of cleaning products by using a sustainable floor coating on your building's floors. The sustainable floor coating protects your floor and prevents dirt and debris from becoming ground in them.

Your floors will require less maintenance and will not need to be spray buffed, burnished, deep scrubbed, or stripped as often. You avoid using an excess amount of chemicals on the floor while also reducing labor costs for your building.

Finally, you should switch to using a high-efficiency filter in your vacuums. Most carpets can hold up to 10 times their weight in dirt and debris. This residue gets grounded into the carpeting and is difficult for standard vacuum cleaners to pick up and remove. You may have to use harsh chemical-laden products like sprays and foams to loosen and remove the debris.

A high-efficiency vacuum filter, however, is powerful enough to remove the dirt and dust without the use of foams, sprays, and other carpet cleaning chemicals. The filter also traps the debris and prevents it from being spit back out by the vacuum into the carpeting. High-efficiency filters are typically certified green and ideal to use when you are adopting green cleaning procedures for your building.

As a facilities manager, you are expected to keep your building sanitary and clean at all times. You do not have to use products that contain harsh chemicals that could harm people's health as well as the environment. You can get the sanitary conditions you want and maintain them easily when you use green cleaning procedures in your building.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More

How Efficient are Solar Panels in Bad Weather?

Solar panels are becoming more commonplace in homes and businesses across the world. They help home and business owners save money on their electric and heating bills. They also generate safe, green energy without having to use fossil fuels like coal or gasoline.

If you have contemplated installing solar panels in your building, you might wonder how they perform in overcast weather. You may be convinced of their worth by discovering their efficiency in all weather conditions even when the skies are cloudy.

Solar Panels and Cloudy Weather

A big misconception among people who do not own solar panels is that these fixtures have to be exposed to intense and bright sunlight in order to work properly. After all, they cannot generate power if the sun is not shining down on them, correct?

In fact, this belief is entirely wrong and one that solar panel manufacturers and companies are trying to dispel. They want home and business owners to know that solar panels do not require bright, sunny skies in order to function. They can still generate energy even when the sun is overcast by clouds.

Just as you can get a sunburn on a cloudy day, so too can solar panels absorb sun rays on days that are overcast. Some sunlight still gets through the clouds, allowing the panels to generate electricity and power for the building on which they are installed.

However, the amount of energy they produce on cloudy days depends on factors like how thick the clouds are. On days that are heavily overcast, the panels might generate around 10 to 25 percent of their capacity, which still would make an impact on lowering your energy bills.

Solar Panels and Snow and Ice

Another misconception among home and business owners is that solar panels will not work if they are covered in snow and ice. In fact, these panels rarely become piled up with snow and ice. They are typically installed at an angle so the precipitation slides off of them especially when they become heated after absorbing the sun's rays.

If you live in a part of the globe that experiences a lot of ice and snow, you can still get a good return on your solar panel investment. Solar panels are designed to function even when it is snowing or icing outside. They will still generate safe and clean energy that will reduce your building's carbon footprint and lower your utility costs.

Solar Panels and Cold Weather

Just as they perform well in snowy and icy conditions, so too do they function the same if not better in locations that experience cold weather. They do not require hot and sunny conditions to work as designed. In fact, studies have shown that solar panels do just as well or better in parts of the world that have colder weather.

For example, places like San Francisco, New Jersey, and New York are among the top 10 solar power locations even though these places experience colder weather than other parts of the country. The panels actually generate less energy when the weather is hot and muggy outside and the sunlight is beating directly down on them.

Solar Panels and Hail Stones

At first glance, you might assume that solar panels are delicate and fragile fixtures. They look like they might shatter into a million pieces if they were ever hit with a hail stone.

However, these panels are actually designed to withstand direct impact from debris like hail stones. They undergo mandatory testing before they are ever sold and installed in homes and businesses to make sure they can hold up in stormy weather.

Studies have consistently shown that hail stones, even sizable ones, cannot break or shatter the solar panels. It would take a significant storm to compromise the structural integrity and the generating power of solar panels.

Solar panels do not need direct sunlight and warm weather to function correctly. They can absorb light from the sun and generate safe and efficient power even on cloudy, stormy, and cold days. Their versatility allows them to be installed in many locations around the world and return a buyer's investment without consuming fossil fuels like coal or gas.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More

Is Geothermal Heating and Cooling a Viable Alternative?

As a facilities manager, it is up to you to keep the costs of running your building as low as possible. As summer or winter approaches, however, you might find yourself worrying about rising energy costs. Your solution could be to install a geothermal heat pump system that can help lower utility expenses and give you a steady return on your investment.

What are Geothermal Heat Pumps?

A geothermal heat pump is an environmentally friendly system that can both heat and cool a business or home. It does not need fossil fuels like coal or gasoline to operate. Instead, it harnesses the geothermal heat from within the earth's underground to maintain a comfortable temperature in the building.

These systems are energy efficient and cost effective, allowing building owners to save significantly on their utility bills. However, they also reduce the carbon footprint of a business or homeowner.

They do not require a lot of space in which to be installed. While some systems can be installed horizontally in a field in a rural setting, systems that go into urban buildings can be installed vertically sometimes in a space as small as a dining room table.

Once installed, these systems go to work right away harnessing the temperatures from the earth's underground to cool or heat the building. With proper care, the interior parts of the system can last for as long as 12 years.

The pipes installed under the ground can last for as long as 50 years. This longevity means you get your money's worth out of the geothermal heat pump before you have to replace or repair it.

Further, most geothermal heat pump owners see savings of 60 to 70 percent off their utility costs within the first year alone. You can recoup the total cost of the system within five to 10 years after you have it installed.

Finally, building owners who choose to install geothermal heat pump systems in their buildings often have a unique opportunity to take advantage of incentives and tax credits. A number of utility companies are offering rebates to customers who install these systems in their buildings. The rebates can range from $1000 to $6000 with the average rebate being around $4000 per customer.

You can also claim credits on your taxes after installing one of these systems. You can deduct up to 30 percent of the installation cost from your taxes, helping you recoup some of the money you spent on the geothermal heat pump system.

The monetary advantages that come with geothermal heat pump systems can make this heating and cooling choice more attractive to you. You can save money on your building's utility costs while still keeping it cool or warm during the summer and winter.

Additional Information about Geothermal Heat Pumps

If the cost effectiveness of these systems has yet to convince you, you might be swayed by discovering the versatility that geothermal heat pumps can offer to customers. Along with heating and cooling your building, a geothermal heat pump can likewise be installed and used to heat pavement right outside of your building's doors. The heated pavement prevents ice and snow from accumulating during the wintertime.

Further, the rejected heat from the system can be used to heat outdoor pools, hot tubs, or fountains. You can enjoy these fixtures all year long knowing that the water in them will remain thawed by the geothermal heat pump system installed underneath them.

Finally, as a facilities manager, you might pay attention to state of the local economy. When you invest in a geothermal heat pump for your building, you contribute to the productivity and health of the economy.

All of the system's pumps and parts are made in the U.S. The manufacturers of these systems boost the local economy by creating more jobs. Likewise, contractors who are hired to install these systems benefit by hiring more workers and putting money back into the economy.

A geothermal heat pump system can reduce the costs involved with cooling and heating your building. You can keep your expenses low while helping to boost the local economy by investing in a geothermal heat pump for your building today.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More

A Brief History of Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time impacts everyone who has to live by a schedule, from students, to farmers, to facility managers. Every year, we lose one hour of sleep in the spring, only to gain it back come autumn. How did the whole process of springing ahead and falling behind begin, and does it benefit us?

The History of Daylight Saving Time

Benjamin Franklin is sometimes credited as the "inventor" of Daylight Saving Time, after he penned a satirical letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris in 1784. In his letter, "An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light," he jokingly suggested making people get out of bed earlier in order to save on candles. In 1905, an Englishman named William Willett campaigned for the adoption of what he called "summer time," or moving clocks forard by 80 minutes during the months of April through October. Sadly, he died in 1915 without ever seeing his idea put to use. For the real creators of Daylight Saving Time as we know it, look to Canada and Germany.

Daylight Saving Time, or DST, got its start in Canada in 1908. People living in Port Arthur, Ontario, turned their clocks ahead by an hour on July 1st, 1908. Gradually, other areas of Canada began to follow suit. By 1916, the practice of DST was established in bylaw. Still, despite DST's success in Canada, it didn't really catch on until Germany decided to adopt the practice. Two years into World War I, the German Empire employed DST in order to lengthen the workday by an hour and thereby reduce the use of indoor lighting and save fuel. Other countries embroiled in WWI followed suit, though most of them dropped the use of DST after the war.

When World War II began, the practice was re-adopted and stopped at the conclusion of the war. In the US, some areas continued to use DST even after the practice was officially halted, resulting in a chaotic patchwork of areas with different times. In 1966, DST in the US was finally given some consistency with the Uniform Time Act, which both standardized DST and gave states the option of remaining on standard time year-round. Today, Arizona (with the exception of the Dine’é reservation), Hawaii, and overseas US territories do not observe Daylight Saving Time.

The Modern Impact of DST

Though Germany originally instituted Daylight Saving Time as a means of conserving fuel otherwise spent on indoor lighting, it's debatable whether following DST actually has any tangible energy benefits. As many facility managers can attest, changing the clocks doesn't really result in lower energy consumption. A study by the US Department of Transportation found that the total energy savings due to DST only amounted to about one percent. Unfortunately, the increased use of electric heating and air conditioning more than makes up for that savings. There is also evidence to suggest that gasoline consumption increases during DST, as people take advantage of that extra daylight hour for leisure activities.

DST can affect more than just energy use, too. Facility managers may find themselves dealing with clocks that need to be manually adjusted, and some automated systems that need extra attention navigating the time change. There's some evidence to suggest that DST impacts the body's circadian rhythm, triggering underlying health conditions and resulting in more accidents by sleep-deprived people. Workplace accidents and employee absenteeism often increase briefly right after the time changes, until employees are able to adjust to the new schedule.

Contrary to popular belief, Daylight Saving Time has nothing to do with farming. (In fact, many farmers were strongly against it!) If you live and work in an area that uses Daylight Saving Time, you've probably noticed some of the impact it has on you and your workplace. Though it has its roots in conserving energy for the war effort, it is debatable if DST still provides a benefit to either businesses or residential areas.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More

Does Your Building Need an Electrical Service Upgrade?

The electrical wiring in your building plays a crucial role in your convenience and safety. When it has reached its point of usefulness, it may be time to replace or upgrade the entire system. These circumstances should signal to you that it is time for an electric service upgrade in your building.

Insufficient Number of Outlets

When you do not seem to have enough outlets for all of your electrical gadgets, you should take this as a sign that it is time for an electric service upgrade. Running extension cords and power strips from the outlets may give you the power you need for now. However, it also poses a fire and electric shock risk to the rest of the building.

Rather than use multiple power strips and extension cords for your TV, phone charger, computer, and other devices, you can get the number of outlets you need by rewiring your building and putting in new outlets. This option can be easier and less risky for your home or business. It also lowers the chances of a fire breaking out because of an electrical overload.

Flickering Lights

Another tell-tale sign that it may be time to upgrade your electrical system is if your lights regularly flick on and off without warning. For example, when your lights flicker as your air conditioner comes on, it could signal that your building is not getting enough power. You are using more power than for what your building was designed.

Upgrading the system will prevent the lights from flickering on and off whenever other electrical devices power on in your home or business. It also provides your building with enough power to operate safely on a daily basis.

Changes to the Electrical Code

Cities and states make changes to the current electrical codes all of the time. Builders may follow the most current code when creating a new building, only to find out that the code was changed shortly before the project was finished.

Even if you live in a new home, chances are that the electrical codes are currently or will shortly be outdated. When you want to keep your place updated with the most current electrical code, you should follow the recommendations as laid out by city or state code enforcers.

Some of the changes may include getting rid of outlets that are located on the kitchen back splash. It also may require you to put in more outlets in the kitchen, which could in turn force you to rearrange your appliances. Nonetheless, your home will be up-to-date with the most current electrical code until it is changed again in the next few years.

Energy Code Changes

You also may need to upgrade your electrical service whenever there is a change to the energy code. The code's most recent update recommended the installation of LED and compact fluorescent lighting, for example. It recommended that incandescent lighting be eliminated.

It also recommended that every room in a home or business have light switches that are easier to use and control. These changes are designed to prevent the overuse of electricity.

Deteriorating Electrical System

Finally, your home or business may need an upgrade to its electrical system if its current one is quickly deteriorating. The system may be deemed to be deteriorated or out of compliance if its wiring insulation is not up to code.

Further, the conductors in the system should have flexible insulation. If the insulation is brittle and weak, it could lead to a line-to-ground fault. This in turn could result in a risk of fire and electrical shock.

To replace the deteriorated system, you should ensure that the new wiring is suitable and capable of carrying the expected electricity load. You should also replace old wiring with new conductors that are capable of carrying a greater capacity.

These signs should indicate to you that it is time to upgrade the electrical service in your building. The upgrade will reduce the risk of fire and electrical shocks. It also will help your building use electrical power more efficiently.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More

Restroom Maintenance Technology

Restrooms are a bit of a necessary evil. Virtually no one enjoys using a public restroom, and no one enjoys having to keep them maintained. It's a dirty, expensive, often inefficient job, but someone has to do it. Poorly-maintained restrooms have a negative impact on employee presenteeism, workplace hygiene, and customer satisfaction. Fortunately, new advances in restroom maintenance technology are helping to make an unpleasant job far more streamlined and efficient.

Taking the Guesswork Out of Maintenance

Technology hasn't advanced to the point where fully automated restroom maintenance is a feasible option for facility managers -- maintenance staff are an invaluable part of keeping restrooms hygienic, working, and well-stocked. Unfortunately, these staff members are often overworked and under-informed, forced to rely on manual checks to tell them when something needs to be cleaned, refilled, or repaired. The average maintenance worker also can't readily supply information on things like traffic patterns, and ordering cleaning supplies can be a matter of guesswork for the purchasing department. Utilizing facility management software and sensors is an easy way to simplify restroom maintenance by providing information that unconnected restrooms can't.

Monitoring Hygiene Compliance

Only about two thirds of Americans regularly wash their hands, and roughly 70% admit to not using soap when they do. Even if you aren't managing a hospital, this is a pretty disturbing statistic. Food service facilities and even office buildings all require a hygienic environment in order to operate effectively. Doorknobs, keyboards, and telephones are all breeding grounds for pathogens from contact with unwashed hands, and frequently vectors for illness. Monitoring hygiene compliance can help facility managers ensure that employees are following the proper hand washing protocol, reducing the spread of bacteria and viruses and, in turn, reducing lost productivity due to absenteeism.

Analyzing Traffic Flow

Some restrooms just see more use than others. This can be due to a lot of factors, including scheduling, location, and even general atmosphere. The trouble is, the places that see the most use aren't necessarily the ones that receive the most attention. Few things will turn people away faster than a grimy, smelly restroom. This can negatively impact employee productivity as they seek out a cleaner one, and create a poor impression of the company for customers and visitors. Knowing which restrooms see the most use makes it much easier for facility managers to prioritize maintenance tasks, ensuring that the busiest places are cleaned and restocked as often as they require. It's also helpful as part of an analysis of a facility's overall traffic, which can help guide other maintenance decisions.

Saving Time and Money

Checking soap and toilet tissue dispensers manually is a tedious process that's often easy for a rushed maintenance worker to overlook. Unfortunately, empty dispensers have a negative impact on employee hygiene, restroom use, and the overall impression of a facility. Monitoring technology allows maintenance workers to skip manual dispenser checks entirely -- automated sensors can tell them exactly what needs to be filled, where, and when. This saves them time and energy, reduces waste, and keeps restrooms running efficiently. In turn, it provides data that facility managers can use to help determine the allocation of their maintenance staff and respond to maintenance issues before they are formally logged (or even noticed) by employees or customers.

Dirty floors, foul odors, and a lack of toilet tissue, soap, and paper towels used to be a standard part of using a facility's restroom -- sometimes to the point where employees or customers would refrain until they could go home. Modern restroom maintenance technology helps improve the experience for both restroom visitors and maintenance staff, allowing restrooms to be cleaned, restocked, and kept in good repair with far greater efficiency. The end result is a healthier workplace, happier customers, more productive employees, and maintenance workers that are able to respond to problems as soon as they arise.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More

Is it Time to Replace Your Building's Boiler?

As a facilities manager, one of your most important duties involves making sure the building's hot water boiler functions correctly. This appliance provides the building with hot water and heat and ensures that critical daily functions can be carried out efficiently.

Even so, you may wonder at what point you will need to have it replaced. You can know it is time to have it replaced by learning more about the tell-tale signs of an aging or malfunctioning hot water boiler.

Puddles of Water


Anytime you see puddles of water standing near or under the hot water boiler, you can be certain that it needs to be serviced if not replaced entirely. Puddles indicate that the boiler has sustained a leak somewhere in its system. Even the smallest crack in the boiler can result in a hot water leak that can be costly to repair.

Further, a water leak from a boiler leads to a host of expensive and devastating damages in your building. For example, standing water under or near the boiler invites fungus like black mold to take root and start growing in the floors, walls, and elsewhere. Mold can be costly to get rid of and dangerous the health of people who work or do business in the building.

Further, water leaks often rot the floors, walls, and sheet rock. Rather than face these costly damages, you can avoid them by having the hot water boiler serviced regularly and by replacing it when it has outlived its usefulness.

High Energy Bills


When the utility bills for your building start increasing steadily, you might suspect that the underlying cause could be a faulty hot water boiler. Boilers that have lived past their prime typically cause gas and electricity costs in a building to rise. The aged boiler must work overtime to produce the required heat and hot water, putting a strain on the building's utilities and thus raising their costs.

You can likewise know it is time to have the boiler serviced if not replaced entirely if you hear the appliance making knocking or banging noises or if you suspect that sediment has built up in the bottom of the boiler's tank. When these damages cannot be repaired, it is time to invest in a new boiler for your building. You could save up to 40 percent of your utility costs by purchasing a new boiler to replace an outdated one. 

Age


Boilers that are 20 years old if not older should be replaced immediately. Most of these appliances cannot last beyond 20 years. Once they reach that age, they have long lived out their usefulness to your building.

If you are not sure how old your boiler is, you should ask a service technician to examine it and estimate its age. Replacing an aged boiler not only reduces the costs of your building's utilities. It also ensures your building will have the heat and hot water it needs to function properly on a daily basis. 

Reliability


When it seems that you are having to have the boiler serviced numerous times each year, it may be time to have it replaced entirely. In fact, repeated malfunctions should be taken as a sign that your boiler has outlived its usefulness and no longer can keep up with the demands put on it. You will only waste money by having it repeatedly serviced.

Instead, you can save money in the long run by investing now in a new boiler for your building. The new boiler will be able to function at a more efficient pace, thus saving you money on both repairs and utility costs. It also will be able to keep up with the demands for heat and hot water placed on it.


Hot water boilers have finite lives and at some point will need to be replaced rather than serviced. These indicators should signal to you when it is time to invest in a new boiler for your own building. You can carry out one of the most important duties as a facilities manager by knowing when to have a new boiler installed.
If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More