Marry facility and asset management

Uniting the disciplines of facility management and asset management is an emerging trend in manufacturing.

By Vada Dillawn

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When Nic Bogren, validation engineer for Novavax, a clinical biopharmaceutical company in Rockville, Maryland, walks into his office each morning, he has to choose which hat he is going to wear. As part of the technical services department, Bogren and his colleagues manage engineering, safety, validation and facilities, so their job priorities vary; they are responsible for maintaining both the facilities and the manufacturing equipment. ”It makes sense that the facilities group is responsible for maintenance of assets, either in-house or through outside vendors,” says Bogren.

Novavax is following a trend emerging within the manufacturing environment: marrying the disciplines of facility management and asset management. Before this trend, management’s first priority was getting the product out the door; thus, the maintenance of the operating equipment that produced the product was equally important. Facility maintenance (FM) — maintaining the building envelope of a plant — was often ignored or deemphasized. Now that energy costs are rising dramatically and energy conservation is taking front and center stage, management is again looking at optimizing efficiencies within the building envelope, instead of haphazardly assigning such duties to various departments without conscious, strategic planning, explains Bogren.

Smart tools bring assets and facilities together

The role of facility management within the manufacturing realm has grown in part due to the advancement of the tools that support FM and asset management. The practice of facility and asset management evolved from a paper-and-pencil, work-as-needed support service to a sophisticated, technology-driven profession in which a computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) or enterprise asset management (EAM) system provides the necessary data to run and manage assets in a production environment.

It was difficult for corporate management to budget for maintenance, as there were several maintenance budgets spread over the various labs and areas.

“These smart tools allow the management of asset and facility to co-exist,” says Abdul Rani Achmed, CEO of CWorks. “A manager can easily maintain both his facilities and the assets within that building envelope by using a single system.”

Equipped with these software tools and the information they supply, the manager in manufacturing now has a broad perspective of the plant and its many working parts, explains Rani Achmed. This includes knowledge of the plant equipment and asset life cycle, knowledge of energy costs and potential for cost savings, and knowledge of personnel costs and time spent on repair and maintenance.

“As other industries make strides in technology, these smart tools become even smarter,” says Rani Achmed. “With this growth in tools that support the manufacturing environment, there is more opportunity for asset management and facility management to exist side-by-side.”

The power struggle within the marriage

But with opportunity also comes issues. Who should ultimately be responsible for facility management or asset management? Should it be the operations group or the facilities group? Does it make sense in terms of economics and efficiency to have them managed within the same department?

“It depends,” says David Berger, P.Eng., partner with Western Management Consultants, and contributing editor of Plant Services. “Ultimately, it is a decision that management needs to make strategically keeping the organization’s goals and mission in mind. For instance, I recently completed a project for a large airport in Canada. Maintenance of the building envelope was handled by Operations. The mission of the airport was to create a safe environment for passengers of the many flights occurring there. True to its mission, Operations, which was also in charge of facilities management, made maintenance of the functionality of the airport’s assets its first priority. And the reality of this stance is that a technician could be fired for not replacing a burned out light bulb on the runway; however, the same technician’s job would not be in jeopardy for failing to replace a light in the airport terminal.”

A process for determining who takes the lead

To assist plant managers in creating the most efficient management of the manufacturer’s assets, including its building envelope, Berger suggests management undergo a process.

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