Tag Archives: surveying

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.

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).

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.

The True Value Of Asset Surveying.

Matt Wilkie Asset Surveyor

What companies get out of asset surveying is often determined by the value they give it in the first place.

For example a rushed survey that tells you that you have 10 air conditioning units and not types,age,serial numbers etc. give very little information except to say they exist.

  • But understanding age and the recommended lifecycle you can program for replacement.
  • Knowing the ideal maintenance regime for their locations extends their life and improves productivity lowering running and maintenance costs.
  • Knowing the brand and serial number assist in locating spare parts long after the labels have been sun damaged beyond reading ability. As well as other key information on the units such as its current gas.
  • Condition of the units and things affecting it are also vital in understanding how long the unit is going to last and if already it needs programming for change.
  • Health and safety issues for access and procedures not being followed can often be found during the survey. Identifying these could actually save lives.

For me these are the basics but the list is a lot more extensive depending how far you are willing to go with the information. For example if you started organising your company for a replacement over a 10 year period you could actually pre-budget everything in advance. Adding to that being aware of any hazards that may affect a changeover such as gases that are now redundant.

These things though are often overlooked by companies even though people managing the assets are more than willing to assist with the data. It mainly comes down to understanding of the information, knowing what can be found from the data and knowing how and where to use the information.

Adding to that having a good solid asset list kept upto date can also identify problem units on a flagging system that are breaking down regularly. Units that are becoming obsolete, e.g. you have 10 units the same and 2 had to be replaced due to failure and being unable to find parts. You are now aware the other 8 will need replacement in the near future and that they are now beyond repair.

All in all understanding the assets from a good asset list can save the company literally a small fortune. The broken down 2 air conditioning units in our example could have had multiple call outs for engineers trying to repair them even though if the system was kept up to date you would know they are needing parts that are unavailable. With the remaining 8 if an inspection by an engineer requires any major parts you know already not to send another engineer a second time but actually program for replacement.

The true value of asset surveying is the ability to understand your entire asset list and being able to create cost reductions through management of staff and equipment via the data.

Why Do Housing Associations Carry Out Condition Surveys?

There are multiple reasons housing associations carry out condition surveys not only for incoming and outgoing tenants but also for new and old stock. Several of these key areas are explained below.

With old stock properties bathrooms, kitchens, windows, boilers not only have standards to adhere to for the home to be liveable but also legally have to be compliant with changes in regulations. For example you will find heating boilers have moved in many homes and this is primarily for safety to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Although most people in the general public don’t follow these strict guidelines and often unaware until their boiler breaks down, housing associations and other organisations in a position of trust and responsible for others will always have to adhere and often ahead of government changes.

Bathrooms and kitchens in ex services quarters are often well maintained but extremely old and outside of an acceptable standard for housing associations. So upon ownership transferal there is a need to rip out bathrooms, toilets and kitchens which normally have already seen a life of 35 years far beyond what is acceptable even if in good condition.

We have a standard that is nationally set and need to comply with it where possible. Even if we cannot carry out the repairs and upgrades at that time a program will be set for the replacements for the near future.

On hand overs between tenants though its often a different reason as tenants can and do change things without informing the housing association first. Many a property I have found walls missing, new kitchens, altered bathrooms etc. etc. All seems a good idea at the time by the tenants until they want to move out or exchange homes. The housing associations are often flexible in these types of situation as long as an acceptable standard has been met. Only issue normally comes around is when things need to be ripped out to be put back to fit for purpose e.g. a kitchen that has been fitted by a tenant that cannot be maintained by the housing association or that the tenants have made something dangerous.

All in all though the condition surveys carried out by housing associations are to the benefit of all parties to not only make sure the building is in a safe and liveable condition but also its maintained to a level that can be sustainable and often improved upon.