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What is Demand Maintenance in Facilities Management?

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist
SpaceIQ

Especially in larger workplaces, it’s virtually impossible to keep tabs on every single facet of maintenance. Larger companies rely on employees to be their eyes and ears for emergent aspects of facility upkeep. Support ticketing and incident reporting unlock a new aspect of facilities maintenance: demand maintenance.

What is demand maintenance? It’s on-demand facilities maintenance that pairs prompt solutions with emergent problems. It’s the perfect way to augment a maintenance continuum that already includes preventive, reactive, and corrective maintenance. To work effectively, it requires a robust system of incident reporting and the means to respond to tickets submitted.

An overview of on-demand facilities maintenance

Demand maintenance consists of tasks performed out of necessity. These are issues that require reactive repair, and the best way to learn about them is through ticketing and reporting. Judith reports a problem with the standing desk at Workstation 044. Maurice submits a ticket about a parking lot pothole. These are problems that are emergent, but not urgent. They’re likely to go unresolved until someone reports them. When reported, it shows demand for service.

There’s also a planned component to demand maintenance, where applicable. Pest control, for example, is a form of demand maintenance. It’s best not to wait for a pest problem to generate demand. It also falls outside the realm of preventive maintenance, since there’s no guarantee of a pest problem by not treating for them. In such a case, there’s still demand for the service.

Demand maintenance needs a system to function

Demand maintenance only works if there’s a system to qualify demand and justify a solution. Companies need to rely on a software infrastructure—the likes of a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), or similar. It’s easy to program ticketing software to quickly categorize types of maintenance and assign them appropriately.

For example, the system might flag the words “elevator” and “broken” in a ticket, then mark that ticket as “specialized.” The in-house team will review and confirm, and schedule an elevator repair specialist. On the other hand, if the ticket is about something simple, it gets filed into the daily queue and assigned to a maintenance staff member.

The key in meeting demand maintenance is follow-through. A CMMS or other routing system is great for processing requests. But who’s filling those requests? It depends on the nature of the demand. There are two ways to approach facility maintenance on demand: in-house and outsourced. For most companies, the solution is a mixture of both.

Small, common problems are quick to address in-house, while specialized solutions may come from a vendor. It’s the difference between fixing a door and repairing an elevator. In many cases, an integrated facilities maintenance approach is the solution: a single-source provider that can act with agility.

How demand maintenance augments other maintenance

Demand maintenance is an agile form of maintenance that augments a broader facilities upkeep approach. It falls somewhere between corrective and reactive maintenance. It’s reactive in the sense of solving a problem that’s already happened, yet corrective in the sense that you can plan an on-demand solution and coordinate the best approach.

Demand maintenance also offers benefits that other forms of facility upkeep can’t. The simplest is employee ownership. When employees submit a ticket and see that problem resolved, they feel good about it. They vocalized a problem and saw action, which fosters a better culture. Employees are proud to help maintain their workplace and appreciate the ability of the company to listen to them and respond.

Flexibility is also important. It’s impossible to be proactive in every form of maintenance—yet, pure reactive maintenance might not be the best solution. Demand maintenance is an intermediary for businesses. And, with a CMMS to gather data about demand maintenance tasks, it’s possible to improve preventive and planned budgets, while optimizing responsiveness to reactive maintenance tasks.

Reap the benefits of on-demand solutions

Demand maintenance exists to safeguard against the unplanned and unanticipated. There’s no telling when the chair at Workstation 032 will break or if the refrigerator in the break room will suddenly die. These problems aren’t on a routine checklist and there might not be a corrective solution. Instead, these problems get resolved when they’re reported. It’s up to facilities managers to create a system for reporting them.

Demand maintenance is only as effective as it’s enabled to be. A robust reporting and ticketing system, budget allocations, and actionable solutions are what make it an integral part of total facilities maintenance.

Keep reading: Get Familiar with a Facility Maintenance Plan