Facilities management (FM) is entering a new era thanks to increased focus on lifetime performance and the need to manage financial and health risks in buildings, according to Martin Brady, who is Service Director at Swegon UK&I.
Our industry does not just make and install equipment; it keeps people healthy and safe by combining technology with expertise and competence. The challenge is to create a market where that specialist expertise remains engaged with the building throughout its operational life.
At the recent BESA National Conference, the FM profession was challenged to show leadership. CIBSE FM Group chair Geoff Prudence urged the industry to step up and grasp the opportunity to lead and “act with integrity and authenticity”.
The Hackitt Review that looked into the role of building regulations and fire safety in the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy also identified the critical need for a ‘golden thread’ of information to run from the design team throughout the lifetime of the building.
The FM is the best person to own this ‘golden thread’ and join up the information trail so that risks can be managed. They have day-to-day and intimate involvement with the building and should be able to grasp the big picture of how systems interact and what may happen if you make a change.
Now, however, FM contracts and regimes will be subject to greater scrutiny and the imposition of higher standards. There has always been a moral obligation to manage performance and safety of equipment throughout its operating life, but that obligation will now become more explicit.
The best people to maintain equipment are those who make, install and commission it. You can buy that peace of mind when you purchase the equipment or you can spread the cost and secure a longer-term guarantee.
This is also a way of addressing the sector’s skills and competency gaps. If the original manufacturer retains a link to the installed equipment, they can ensure it is properly commissioned in the first place and then maintained in a way that keeps the performance close to the original design intent.
Of course, a wholesale change to ‘leased’ services will not happen in a hurry and the traditional method still works, but that also works best if the FM keeps specialists – including manufacturers and installers – involved so they can provide ongoing expertise to safeguard performance. Prevention is, after all, better and cheaper than cure.