All posts by Matt

Why use Asset Surveyor for your physical assets?

Why use us is a common question and often it comes back to who they used before. Rogue surveyors with little or no experience have been a problem in the industry often being hired due to price.

Yet it has been proven counter productive when we are hired to redo everything they have done due to poor quality and incomplete asset data collecting. The initial saving on the rates of the rogue contractor are lost as they are often disappearing into the sunset after payment is already made.

With ourselves we have a structured Asset Integrity Framework. You know exactly what we are doing and when. You can gain access to your data on a daily or weekly basis not awaiting a contractor to provide it to you several months later.

We partner with you to make sure you get the right outputs and objectives from your surveys. We are in Facilities and assets for the long-term and continue to develop our strategy, software and technology to evolve with the industry and pioneer new developments.

Another important factor is as as  contractor we have worked with many of the large Facilities Management companies as well as the majority of Asset Surveying companies in the UK. If you are looking for a cost saving as well as receiving the same or improved standard of surveying take into account that working with us directly removes a layer of expense. As well as giving peace of mind knowing we have been in Facilities for over 25 years and experience of surveying for over a decade with some of the largest organisations within the UK and globally.

Getting physical with your assets

Lets get physical with your assets

There is never a wrong time to start getting physical with your assets making sure that you know what you have, where it is and its condition. As well as its statutory and mandatory compliance.

Since the recession hit the UK market the investment in physical assets has significantly reduced. But also the monitoring of the same pieces of equipment. The potential risk of major failures has increased significantly due to the shelving of things like asset surveys.

Out of sight may leave things out of mind until something significantly fails. Several examples of equipment failures have brought about surveys in recent years. From a call centre that had no UPS system at all, to generators not switching on in power failure due to parts being removed for replacement several years earlier and not replaced.

These are failures more importantly in processes rather than the Assets themselves. The failure relating to the generator was down to a change of contract and no asset survey being undertaken for condition by the incoming FM company. The UPS system not being installed for a call centre was down to the company not ever carrying out a survey at all and this was an FM company themselves in their own building.

The value of physical asset surveys begins with receiving the data gathered. But prior to gathering that survey data you should be asking what do you want out of the survey to begin with. Did you just want a count of assets for an idea of what you have on site then filling in the gaps with onsite engineers? Do you want a survey where you know where and what every asset is as well as its lifecycle and compliance? although it all normally comes down to budget the reality is that you need to know at a minimum what assets you have then start building a picture from it.

Asset lists are the beginning of a contract, everything relies on that information from budgets to what skills are needed to who you need for the contract and how many. As well as which contractors are required to maintain specialist equipment. Without it you are running many risks from legionella to business failure risks.

Which is why its important to get physical with your assets and get your asset data not only up to date but build the processes to keep them up to date and educating staff on why its important. Designing entire processes for not only success but failure, an example of this was in a shadowing exercise with engineers I asked how they update the data in the asset register. They said they have been trying for years but it always gets kicked back and the wrong PPM’s are sent regularly. This is a failure and the problem with the engineers and their managers was the reliance on the call centre which was simply not updating the information because they didn’t have the authority to do so. Having a company champion responsible for the asset register they can become the central source of information but also the main point of contact when things aren’t working. This allows them to assess the situation and see how things can be adapted to make sure the asset register(s) are kept up to date.

Showing why its important to keep the information upto date is also extremely important. An example of this is regular failures of equipment. You could have a £200 motor that shuts down every week due to some internal fault. It is much cheaper to replace it than constantly having an engineer going to reset it. Simple things like this save contracts money but also allow data to show why the client should be replacing pieces of equipment due to lifecycle and also regular failures.

How to take photos when carrying out an M+E Survey (Mechanical and Electrical).

M+E surveys require good photos along with being taken in a consistent and methodical manner.

The first photo should always be the barcode not only for the barcode number / reference but also it breaks the assets when viewing a list of photos. Allowing easy identification of images relevant to each asset/barcode.

How to take photos when carrying out an Asset Survey

The next image should be taken of the manufacturer, serial number and model where possible. As this information is not only important for costing a replacement and parts. But also for identifying age and even the asset sometimes if the surveyor is unsure of the asset item.

Third image should aim to capture the whole asset as this allows clear identification of what we are physically looking at. This also assists with identification later and also gives a general condition of the asset from the photo.

Fourth image could be a second name plate of the item. For example many items have a Manufacturer and model on the front plate. But may have a serial number and part number on a side plate.

If no side plate exists the sequence should continue with the following possible images :-

1. Photo of a defect.

2. Photo of unit attached to its parent such as a Pump/Motor set attached to a AHU.

As long as the photos are completed in a methodical manner extra images can be taken. For example there could be a 5th photo of  a roof leak that is damaging the unit. Which can later support the surveyors reasoning for a reduced lifecycle period or remedial action to take place.

M+E Asset Surveyors with experience.

Experienced and competent M+E Asset Surveyors can be difficult to find. I myself have been in the business for a decade and prior to surveying the maintenance and FM industry for over 20 years.

The biggest problem in the industry is the assumption anyone can do it. The reality is its often too late when people realise that its certainly not that simple. But often you will find budgets have been wasted on incompetent surveyors as well as poor planning which can often result in the survey being done again by competent M+E asset surveyors.

A good M+E Asset Surveyor will have the following :-

  • Experience and knowledge of M+E equipment as well as the maintenance regimes involved.
  • The ability to identify all plant and equipment and if not immediate, having the ability to source the information and identify equipment in an organised manner.
  • Organised and capable of working on their own with good communication skills to deal with onsite staff and clients.
  • Ability to read drawings and create sketches if necessary.
  • Intermediate level Excel knowledge.
  • Ability to adapt to problems that can develop due to remote working (e.g. Asset gathering Apps for a tablet failing they automatically fall back to pen and paper or a laptop for data gathering).
  • Understanding the scope of work required and confirming and resolving anything that may become an issue (E.g. if a client is requesting that all light switches are added to the asset list confirming why they are needed. But also explaining that the switches may not be needed as a costing can be made on the lighting itself or based on the power distribution).
  • Being able to follow tasks, methods, procedures, specifications and terminology required for the survey.

Many people in the FM and maintenance industries have no interest in working as an M+E surveyor due to working away from home, excessive amounts of paperwork, lone working to name but a few reasons. Which is why the skill set required is broad but also people actually willing to do it is fairly limited.

However if you are currently seeking experienced M+E surveyors I recommend getting in touch. Myself as well as the surveyors I am associated with are all experienced and have worked with and for many of the larger Facilities Management and construction companies.

M+E Asset surveying globally we are also interested in. Myself I have experience of working and living in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. With many of the surveyors I work alongside having similar experience.

Ventilation Fan Axial Belt Driven

belt-driven-exhaust-fanThese types of fan are easy to identify due to the three many parts making it up. The firs being the fan itself with its blades, along with a separate motor and the final component being the drive belt that turns the fan itself.

 

They can also vary significantly in size and uses. Which also means when looking to add them to an asset list double checking they aren’t part of an extract system or something else is extremely important to avoid assets being added to a list twice.

Belt driven fan

what is a Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) System?

An LEV system is not a simple extract system but is mainly used for the removal of harmful fumes and dust. This video below prepared by the Health and Safety Executive explains in more detail. As I often find people confusing normal ventilation systems with Local Exhaust Ventilation, LEV for short when they are very different pieces of equipment with different maintenance and legislation.

Transcript :-

Lots of different jobs across different industries involve work processes that create dust and

fumes. If these are not controlled properly people can breathe them in and develop diseases

such as asthma, lung scarring and cancer.

Every year thousands of people in Great Britain die as a result of breathing in harmful dusts

and fumes at work. The common way businesses can control dust and fumes is by using local

exhaust ventilation systems or LEV, also called extraction or fume control.

LEV systems can be very effective at controlling dust and fumes but it is vital that people

understand how LEV works so that they buy the right LEV and use it properly.

LEV systems all work in the same way.

In this example 2 hoods are used to enclose the saw blade, one above the table and one

below. The LEV airflow into these hoods carries the wood dust away. The contaminated extracted

air is transported through the duct work to the filter and fan unit. The filter removes

the dust from the air. The fan creates the airflow. It’s the motor that moves air through

the system.

An LEV system will often provide extraction at more than one machine. Getting the right

type of LEV hood is the most critical step. If the hood design is right for the process

then it is possible to control the dust and fume. Soldering work produces fume which can

cause asthma.

Here the worker is protected by the LEV hood and system but how does it work. The hot fume

cloud rises but is prevented from reaching the woman’s breathing zone by the enclosing

hood. The LEV airflow draws the fume filled air away. The enclosure and the airflow act

together to protect the worker’s health. Enclosures can be very effective but in practice

LEV hoods come in all shapes and sizes, from ones which are large enough to stand in to

others that are tiny and built into tools.

LEV hood design is critical to controlling dust and fumes. For almost any dusty or fumy

process there is an LEV hood and system design that will provide effective control.

Make sure your LEV is the right sort and is properly applied. Well designed and applied

LEV systems can really protect your workers’ health.

Professional advice is widely available.

You can get competent help from your trade association or a professional adviser.

Printed guidance on how to choose and use LEV is available from the HSE and a range

of information and links can be found at the HSE LEV website.

Beginning an asset survey– What are your objectives (Site Manager(s) ).

Objectives for Asset Survey

The first thing you should look at is the objective of the survey. I have seen for years many companies and people seeing it as simply a process they need to do because they were told.

This isn’t the case and its further down the line they realise that more attention should have been taken at the beginning. This guide will step you through each part of a survey and what you should look to do to achieve the goals needed to make your survey a success.

What is your primary objectives?

  • Obtain an asset list that can generate a full PPM planner.
  • Obtain an asset list that can be cross referenced for compliance.
  • An asset list that can be cross referenced to budget costs.
  • An asset list that can output the labour force quantity and skill types.
  • Identify all critical plant equipment for running the site(s) .
  • Identify all business critical assets and grade maintenance accordingly.
  • Create a knowledge base of assets to identify parts required for repairs.
  • Create a forward planning maintenance program.
  • Barcode assets for easier identification and “scanned” maintenance.
  • Value a contract to confirm that it is viable.
  • Identify equipment, plant and sites that are in and out of scope.
  • Identify business risk.

This list isn’t exhaustive but the key elements above should be the minimum your looking to create. Although you may decide that you have 2 years left on a contract and don’t want a forward maintenance and replacement program. But simply “red flagging” of assets likely to fail before the contract ends.

Engaging with senior management prior to the survey beginning can assist in ironing out any issues before they occur. Also clarifying what is agreed and how it will be carried out and by whom. This also allows the onsite management to put forward ideas and strategies for the survey that may also be utilised on other sites.

Engagement with the surveyors and their management is also paramount to a successful survey. Although senior management have agreed a survey will be carried out confirmation of expectations, scope and terms of reference are extremely important before the survey begins. Also for access requirements, passes, parking etc. to make the most of the surveyors while onsite.

Many surveys are “task based” with low engagement where an external company may be hired by senior management with low to no engagement with onsite management. This creates a divide that does not assist any parties involved. Senior management often have a different objective to those on the ground e.g. confirmation of bid price. Often pushing a strained budget to “just get it done”, while the onsite teams may feel they will not get the quality required to operate the site after the dust has settled. While the surveyors may take direction from offsite management within their company.

Which is why collaboration between all parties is extremely important to have everyone pull in the same direction. Where surveys fail are normally caused by the following :-

  • Poor access issues.
  • Poor planning – Change of scope, assets to be collected etc. mid survey.
  • Poor budgeting with unrealistic targets – Instead of downsizing the data capture pressure is added to get the surveyors to finish quicker. The end result is a poor survey with a lack of detail and risk of mistakes.
  • Unrealistic time frame – One of the most common problems and a survey that wasn’t completed properly 7 years ago in 6 weeks. Doesn’t mean that you can get a new survey completed in 4 weeks. Analysis of the previous survey should have had a lessons learned. If not I recommend speaking to anyone who is still available from the initial survey to find out what went wrong.
  • Collecting wrong assets – This gets back to planning on what you should be collecting before the survey begins. But often its not clarified and as such can create inconsistent data and extend the timeframe of a survey.

These are a few pointers to get managers thinking about what they need to aim for when a survey will be taking place on their site(s).

Asset / Condition Surveying App

 

The new App we have produced pretty much does everything you would want from a survey from software. After surveying myself for nearly a decade I can understand the frustrations of poorly thought out or programmed software. Part of that problem normally comes from the developers not actually “surveying”. As such what they see as logical and easy can be awkward and time consuming for a surveyor.

Even taking a photograph takes time which is why I tell people to assess if they actually need the photos in the first place. With a camera on a recent contract it could take as long as a minute. This was down to a delay in the camera starting up, delay for flash to charge, delay for the camera to store the photo. Then transferring a photo number to paper and then adding to a spreadsheet later. Doesn’t sound a big issue to just “take a photo”, but when you add  that photo to 2000 assets that is 33.5 hours just to take those photos. Which is why I always ask the question “what is the added value?”.

So with that in mind and many other issues as you can see from the App it already has most of the problems solved. The rest come from adjusting your choices of data collection and methodical working. As the data collection of this App simplifies everything else.

Condition surveys

We carry out condition surveys on all buildings, primarily for Mechanical and Electrical equipment. Although we have carried out condition surveys for housing association stock previously and “Fabric” of commercial buildings.

What is the advantage of a condition survey? The first thing you will receive is a status of your assets. E.g. you may have an air handling unit in very good condition but the maintenance on its motors have been run to fail. As such the condition of the motors is in a far worse state than the air handling unit they serve. Highlighting this issue allows you to pre-plan replacements or take a look at your maintenance regime to see if you need to improve maintenance.

The important thing here though is you get a better overall perspective of all your assets and equipment on site. As a Facilities Manager this could mean approaching your client and explaining that some maintenance needs improving and more investment. As a client you can pass judgement on if that investment is required or should you continue with running things as they currently are.

The 2008 recession seen a lot of maintenance cutbacks and they are beginning to show in equipment in recent years. As such I highly recommend getting a condition survey if you are unsure of the condition and what assets you currently have. Adding to this if you have a full asset survey undertaken with condition and age you can build a forward maintenance program for the upcoming years.