Preparing Your Facility for the Winter With CMMS Software
COVID-19 has had major impacts on businesses today. As businesses are starting to get back into operations, facility managers have a lot of challenges ahead of them. In preparing their facilities for the approaching cold weather, they now have additional responsibilities to endure to ensure that their facilities are properly sanitized and meeting new regulatory and safety guidelines. Winterizing equipment and facilities are just a few of the major tasks but having the right tools to help you manage these tasks is just as important. You need a maintenance system in place that can streamline processes, improve productivity, and reduce costs. Using a web-based software solution, such as a CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) you can create, assign resources and manage checklists to streamline these tasks and ensure that procedures are followed and tasks are completed.
Below are some tips to help facility managers prepare for the cold winter weather.
Minimize Heat Loss
When the weather delivers ice, snow, high winds, and bitter cold, the temperature for your facility must be optimal:
- Inspect and optimize the HVAC system before winter to make sure that it is ready to handle the demands of the upcoming cold weather. Most HVAC air filters should be changed quarterly to ensure the quality of air at your facility and to reduce stress on your HVAC system.
- Conserve energy loss by checking for leaks, cracks, drafts, and other facility flaws. Look at the weather stripping to determine if windows and doors are properly sealed.
- Properly shut down cooling systems. Schedule repairs during the winter months to be prepared for the warmer weather.
- Standardize thermostat settings to make sure that it is comfortable and energy efficient.
Interior Building Maintenance
- Inspect furnaces, check filters, check venting and assure property clearances to combustibles.
- Develop a plan and resources to ensure that interior floors, elevators, and other traffic areas are kept free of ice, snow, and other debris.
- Schedule checks to ensure that wet floor mats in entryways and indoor walkways are replaced regularly to reduce slippery floors.
- Test emergency backup generators, carbon monoxide detectors, and smoke detectors.
- Develop schedules to refill sanitizers and replenish other safety materials to ensure a healthy environment.
- Create schedules for deep cleaning of internal facilities, including doorknobs, kitchens, bathrooms, desks, and other workstations.
- Make sure that all interior lighting works and is well-lit so that areas are safe, especially during a power outage.
Exterior Building Maintenance
Now is the time to do any repairs or improvements to the exterior of your facilities in order to reduce the need for emergency repairs:
- Make sure that the entrance and exit ways, stairs, walkways, and doorways are in good shape and easily accessible.
- Inspect basements and prepare for the possibility of water backups.
- Develop a plan on where to stockpile snow, salt, shovels, and other snow removal items.
- Remove tree branches, old leaves, and other outside materials.
- Prepare and winterize outside maintenance equipment, such as tractors, snowplows, etc.
- Store other seasonal materials, tools, tables, chairs, etc., so that they are out of the way.
- Clean gutters, downspouts, and drains regularly to minimize the backup from snow and ice, which could result in roof damage and leaks.
- Inspect the roof and drainage to make sure that all parts of the roof are in good repair and able to handle a heavy snowfall.
- Inspect parking lots, and roadways to ensure that pavements are free of potholes and other safety hazards.
- Inspect outside lighting for any defects or broken bulbs.
- Inspect pipes and faucets, both the facility’s interior and exterior. Frozen pipes that can burst can cost a lot of time and money.
- Remove all water hoses.
- Prepare winter plans to schedule snow removal, clean the walks, stairs, and proper resources are assigned.
- Ensure that all outside meters, propane tanks, etc. are accessible through inclement weather.
Fire Protection Systems
- Keep hydrants, valves, and standpipe connections accessible and marked. Setup routine inspections during bad weather to check clearance.
- Make sure the internal sprinkler system is currently serviced, operational and ready for winter.
Although equipment is built to operate in the toughest of conditions, a few simple procedures to winterize your machines will help keep your equipment/assets running at peak performance:
- Create a checklist, schedule, and perform a thorough inspection of equipment as per the manufacturer’s specifications.
- Check fluid levels, install the correct lubricants, transmission fluid, etc.
- Test generators to ensure that they are functioning properly.
- Inspect hoses to make sure that there are no cracks or leaks.
- Inspect electrical wiring to ensure that nothing is damaged or cracked.
- Store outside equipment out of the elements, to eliminate the extra man-hours, such as brushing off snow.
- Ensure that all of your tires are properly inflated, especially as the temperature changes.
- Review repair logs to determine aging parts or parts that are near the breaking point.
- Keep batteries fully charged.
- Check that all machines/equipment are fueled and ready to go.
- Make sure that everyone plans their schedules appropriately for those machines that need to run a while to warm up in the cold winter weather.
Disaster and Emergency Planning
In preparing your facilities for the winter, it is important to review your emergency and disaster planning procedures:
- Establish safe equipment shut down procedures.
- Assign the appropriate resources to handle system emergencies, utility issues, notifications to management and building occupants, contacting the necessary outside authorities.
- Create a power outage backup plan. Decide ahead of time at what point your facility will shut down, and under what conditions you will continue working.
- Ensure your employees know the company’s bad weather guidelines and policies.
- Make sure that all manuals and emergency plans and procedures are easily accessible. Having this information stored in a web-based centralized system that is accessible from anywhere is a necessity. Bits of paper tacked on walls can easily be covered up with other papers or torn down.
Preparing for Winter and How to Come Back Stronger After COVID
Most businesses were not prepared for this massive shutdown, due to COVID. Facility managers are now facing the tasks of winterizing their equipment, facilities, and coping with the new safety regulations. As you are trying to meet the new guidelines, it is important to put your maintenance plans in place to optimize equipment performance with minimal disruption to your business:
- Review repair records to determine the pieces of equipment that need urgent care.
- Manage your inventory so you have the right parts at the right time, now and in the future.
- Do everything according to all current best practices to ensure the safety of your employees and customers.
- Make sure that employees are trained and understand how to accommodate the increase in work orders due to weather changes.
- Install surge protectors and emergency power supplies throughout your facility.
Now more than ever, you need to take control of your maintenance operations. You need to assess the tools that you have in place to ensure that they can effectively manage your data, provide you with the reports to assess performance, help you streamline processes and be cost-effective. A CMMS can manage all of these tasks, make you look good, and save more money than it costs.
Preventive Maintenance Planning
Whether you are going through a shutdown due to the COVID, or having equipment breakdowns, these issues can cost a business a lot of time and money. Under normal operations, a good maintenance plan in place provides for better management and control of resources and scheduling. A good preventive maintenance plan ensures that equipment breakdowns and business operations will be at a minimum.
Managing routine maintenance and facilities tasks is a full-time job. Trying to put an effective maintenance plan in place can be a struggle. Trying to identify every asset along with the corresponding history can be a nightmare. Combining all of these issues can lead to frustration, missed goals and is very time-consuming. Managing these tasks using spreadsheets is inefficient and takes a lot of time. The information is outdated by the time you enter it on the spreadsheet.
By having access to facility management software, such as a CMMS, building maintenance can be optimized and managed easily through mobile and desktop applications. This technology is used by facility managers worldwide and provides companies with a wide array of advantages. Technicians arrive onsite with everything they need to get the job done properly.
Facility and maintenance managers have major tasks ahead of them. With the added responsibilities due to COVID, the challenges are even tougher. Things are moving quickly, and your facilities and maintenance operations need to keep up with the fast pace and growing demands. All of these winter preparation and prevention tasks can be stored in a central system, making scheduling and meeting deadlines easy. Having a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) makes all of your preventative maintenance tasks easier and especially when it is as important as preparing for cold weather and freezing temperatures.
Jeff Roscher is Co-Founder and President of eWorkOrders (Information Professionals, Inc). eWorkOrders is an industry leader in computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software. Jeff can be reached at jeff@eworkOrders.com.