Town to employ building tracking software

For use by Facilities Manager
Thu, 08/10/2017 - 8:45pm
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The Town of New Shoreham, in concert with its Facilities Manager, Sam Bird, and the Information Technology department, is employing a new tracking software program aimed at keeping an eye on the condition of the town’s large capital assets. Bird told The Block Island Times that the new Facilities Management eXpress software program that the town plans on utilizing will “assure uninterrupted operation and longer life” of the town’s buildings, while providing for greater “efficiency and financial savings.”

“This system is the starting point,” said Bird, who noted that integration of the trac. “I’m excited about being able to tailor a system for the island. I think this system will allow us to create a process that is right for the town, in that it can give us a layer of organization, budgeting and record keeping while still being flexible and user-friendly enough to be a good fit for our small-town needs.”

Bird said the initial setup and training session was held in July, and “the implementation and training will take a while. Then I’ll begin populating it with our Town of New Shoreham data. Ultimately we’ll need to go through an annual cycle to get it fully populated. As we go through the year the activities we do — preventative maintenance, cap improvements, one-off repairs, new equipment — will get entered into the software database with triggers for stuff that needs to be repaired and/or repeated.” 

Bird noted that the cost would be “approximately $2,800 per year, and includes software license, unlimited user support, initial training and setup and data storage and backup.” He said the cost “includes unlimited users, although we will be limiting that initially until we get more accustomed to the process. The funding is within the IT budget. There is a lot of bang for the buck here when you consider that an overlooked task could easily result in a repair of over $2,800, for example if some plumbing system doesn’t get drained in the fall.”

“I have no plan to leave anytime soon,” said Bird, “but eventually someone else will rotate into this position, and my goal is to have a system in place so they won’t have to reinvent the wheel, or tap what is in other folks’ heads in terms of past and ongoing maintenance.”

FMX, a Columbus, Ohio-based software company, notes on its website that the cloud-based computerized maintenance management system program “enables facilities managers to more efficiently and effectively track work orders, schedule resources, and plan maintenance.” The website states that the software program can be accessed from any device, and “reduces work order response time from three to five days to approximately one day.” 

Bird said the town “reviewed quite a few facilities maintenance packages and selected FMX based on cost, flexibility, application to the town’s needs, user friendliness, etc. It is essentially a calendar-based database with the ability to track maintenance and repairs and preventative maintenance for buildings, equipment, vehicles, boats — pretty much anything. It is expandable, so as we use it and grow more facile with it, we can expand what we use it for. We may start with building issues at first, then expand into vehicles and boats and other equipment.”

Bird said the ultimate goal in using the software “is multi-pronged. We need to catch up on deferred maintenance, manage preventative maintenance, develop capital equipment replacement schedules and budgets, provide an organized and accessible history of work performed, track past costs and budget future costs — much of this has been done on an intuitive basis up until now.” 

“One of the appeals of the FMX software is that the information format can be customized fairly easily so we will be able to tailor it to our needs,” said Bird. “The program is calendar-based, but reports can be easily generated by building, equipment type, work type, specific equipment etc. In other words, reports could be generated for Air Handler 2 at the school, or all air handlers in town, or all HVAC work at Town Hall, or across town, etc. “Reports are essentially database filters and are therefore almost infinitely customizable.”

As for addressing which buildings require immediate attention, Bird said, “We will be providing the priority input based upon the usual priorities: safety, breakdown repairs, financial risk, building stabilization, preventative maintenance, environmental, programmatic accommodations, etc. This can get to be a pretty complicated matrix, and we are small enough that most priorities can be set manually, versus allowing an algorithm to set them.”

“A further consideration, unique to Block Island, is maximizing efficiency of scheduling service, such as getting all of our emergency generator work done at once while the technicians are on the island to avoid the cost of multiple trips,” he added. “That may result in some lower-priority work being combined with higher-priority work. It gets to be pretty complex. I expect the software to help a lot, but not be fully automatic in setting priorities — there will still be a human element.”