Using Preventive Maintenance Agreements to Reduce BMS Costs

How do companies cover the maintenance needs of their building management system (BMS) in a way that allows for a predictable budget? At FICO, our BMS experts assess your system and tailor a preventive maintenance agreement customized to your building and budget. 

“We take a holistic look at your system,” explains Mitch Andrus, senior account executive at FICO Facility Improvement. “We will look at details such as overall controller and point counts, as well as set up and regularly check alarms and trending data. These can be early indicators of potential issues within your system. We can often do this for a fixed price that will take the guesswork out of your budget.”

“Another vital facet of FICO maintenance service agreements considers what activities occur in the building,” adds Andrus. “The maintenance needs of an office building differ substantially from a hospital or a data center. These are all critical considerations.”

Early detection will likely save your building from more severe damage and allow building owners to plan for downtime to make repairs. You can bring in a crew after hours or on the weekends to make repairs. This is preferable to a catastrophic failure that causes you to shut down the building during peak business hours. 

Using a third-party team such as FICO means building owners don’t have to maintain extensive continuing education for their in-house crew. You can rely on FICO to provide expert personnel training in the latest technology and techniques in the things that matter. FICO personnel know their subject matter and can pass this knowledge on to your personnel.

Different Types of Periodic Maintenance

Although there are many variations, according to the O&M Best Practices Guide (Chapter 5), from the Department of Energy, there are four general approaches to maintenance.

Reactive Maintenance

Most engineers describe reactive maintenance as “doing nothing,” the equivalent of waiting for things to fail and then repairing them. But reactive maintenance is the most common maintenance used by 55% of companies in the US. It is the most expensive form of BMS maintenance because it fails to detect more minor problems before they become major ones.

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance incorporates a timeline approach, like changing the oil in a car every 5,000 miles and periodic maintenance on larger items at 30,000 miles, 60,000 miles, and 100,000 miles. The up-front costs of staff and training are more, but savings offset them over the system’s life. This approach only catches some things. Catastrophic failures still occur, but preventive maintenance saves companies an average of 12% to 18% over reactive maintenance. About 31% of US companies use this approach. 

Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance incorporates most of the principles of preventive maintenance but considers the actual condition of the system rather than a preset schedule. It includes monitoring the performance of those sub-systems prone to wearing out quicker. Predictive maintenance is more likely to catch a prematurely worn bearing before it fails and destroys a drive shaft or electric motor, a more expensive problem. About 12% of companies in the US use this system. Still, predictive maintenance eliminates 70% to 75% of breakdowns, according to Predictive Maintenance Strategy for Building Operations: A Better Approach, a white paper by Schneider Electric.  

Reliability-Centered Maintenance

Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) recognizes that only some of the equipment or subsystems in a BMS facility are equally important. RCM uses principals from all of the other maintenance systems. For instance, an external intake filter might require replacement at the same time as a bearing in another part of the system, but a mild winter and recent fair weather warrant extending the air filter’s life. The bearing, however, should be changed because it is more critical to the operation. However, if there was a severe fire season with excessive smoke and airborne particulate, that filter needs to be changed. Some items might be considered reactive maintenance, but BMS maintenance saves money by allowing those systems to fail before replacement and without sacrificing performance. 

The most up-to-date BMS generates enormous amounts of data; analyzing that data is integral to effective RCM. 

In large and complicated BMS systems, RCM saves money, time, and people hours by eliminating unnecessary maintenance and monitoring more critical systems. However, it requires staff with considerable expertise. 

Want to Know More?

FICO is a leader in designing and implementing building management systems in Montana and the Pacific Northwest, and we’ve been doing it for 20 years. We train our employees in the latest technologies for HVAC, security and surveillance, and other systems. We specialize in preventive and predictive maintenance. Clients rely on us for ongoing maintenance agreements.

Visit our website to learn more.

FICO provides turnkey building management and system integration services for technically complex buildings in Montana and beyond. From design and installation to ongoing maintenance and security, our best-in-class people and products help you achieve operational savings and minimize risk as you work to provide reliable and safe environments.

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