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Permanent Vacation from Hassles: CMMS-backed Preventive Maintenance at Hotels

By Jonathan Davis | July 22, 2019

First, they check in at the front desk. Then up to the room where they take off their shoes, raid the mini-fridge, and check what's on TV. Later, they'll hit the hotel pool. Tomorrow, the continental breakfast. Thanks to your department's preventive maintenance program, everything is working perfectly.

Your hard work is paying off, which is great, but with an intuitive, user-friendly computerized maintenance management system you could create, delegate, and track PMs much more easily. You'd get better results with a lot less effort. A permanent vacation from hassles.

Lobbies, elevators, and third-party vendors

Assets can be covered by a mix of PMs, some by your technicians and some done by third-party vendors. In the elevators, for example, you have technicians checking and changing light bulbs, making sure the handrail is still firmly attached, and if there's a mirror, that it's secure and free of cracks. But can someone in your department check that the emergency brakes are working and the cable is free of excessive wear? It's the same with fire suppression. You have PMs for your technicians to check the fire extinguisher gauges, but it's different with sprinklers, a critical and complex system of sensitive detectors and electronic controls.

Without a CMMS, you struggle to keep organized. You need to call or email the vendors yourself. If you're still using paper and pen or spreadsheets to schedule and track preventive maintenance, getting everything to the vendors takes a bunch of extra steps. And how will you know when the work is finished? You're looking at a lot of time-wasting phone tag.

A good CMMS software makes working with third-party vendors so much easier. Now you can send scheduled work orders to third parties directly through the system. In fact, once someone is added to the system, as far as the CMMS is concerned, there's no practical difference between them and a technician from your department. Just make sure that when you set up credentials for third parties, you set the right permissions, controlling what they can see and do. For example, you can make it so they can only see the work orders you've assigned them. And you can prevent them from closing out work orders. They submit everything to you, through the software, and then you decide to close out the work order or not. You have complete control.

But here's the key: you need a CMMS provider that allows for unlimited users. Otherwise, you end up paying every time you add a vendor. And it's a compounding fee: a lot of providers charge by the user, so you pay a bit more every month for each vendor.

Hallways, ice machines, and data-packed PMs

Once our guest is off the elevator and in the hall, they'll likely come across the most iconic hotel asset of all, the ice machine. It's just one machine, but there's a lot that goes into keeping it running. Contracting Business, an HVAC and refrigeration industry publication, lays out some of the many steps involved in even a basic ice machine PM. If your technicians were working on ice machines only, it wouldn't be a problem. After a while, it would all be second nature. But ice machines generally get worked on every four months or so, which means your technicians have more than enough time to forget a few steps between PMs.

And even small missed steps can be a big problem. A poorly maintained ice machine is more than just a minor inconvenience for guests. According to Consolidated Food Services, "Because the FDA classifies frozen water as a food, both your ice and ice machines are just as subject to inspection as your refrigerator and the perishable items held within. That being the case, your restaurant or facility might be hit with poor health inspection grades if your ice is found to be laden with bacteria."

The easiest way to ensure technicians close out PMs correctly is to give them all the information they need, which is what a CMMS gives you. PMs, and all reactive work orders, too, have everything technicians need to close out efficiently, including:

 
  • step-by-step instructions

  • customizable checklists

  • digital versions of O&M manuals

  • digital diagrams and photographs

  • complete asset work order histories

A really good CMMS even has interactive floor maps, ensuring junior technicians don't waste time hunting down assets.

Rooms, bathrooms, and efficient PM scheduling

An ice machine is a great example of PMs with a lot of steps. Inside the room, it's the opposite. Each PM might only have one or two steps, but the sheer number makes scheduling, delegating, and tracking everything challenging.

Starting at the door, check to make sure the lock works and the batteries are fresh. In the closet by the door, check the adjustable legs on the iron. Plug in the iron, checking for heat and leaks. What about the room safe? Check the lock and batteries. Does the door on the safe open and close easily?

In the bathroom, flush the toilet to make sure it's not clogged. Then check the rails for the towels and toilet paper. Are they secure? Run the hot and cold water, checking the temperatures. Is the shower curtain properly attached? Does the bathtub plug work? Trip the GFIC by the sink. Now reset it and trip it again. Does the light in the GFIC go on and off the way it should?

Check the beds. Loose legs? Make sure the curtains open and close properly. Does the TV remote work? Is the cable working? Lift the phone and check for a dial tone. Turn on and off all the lights. Check every electrical outlet. Is the fridge running?

Not only are there a million little PMs, but they're often on different schedules. You might have technicians checking and replacing batteries fairly regularly, but they're looking at the plumbing much less frequently. Another thing to consider: bigger jobs happen less often but require more time, which means you need to be more careful about scheduling them. A technician might be able to quickly go through lot of PMs between one guest checking out and another checking in, but you'll need to make more time for a PM on an air conditioner.

Think of it this way: you're juggling a huge number of balls, and they're all different sizes. With a CMMS, you're getting more than just an extra set of hands; you're getting an extra brain, one that never forgets and is always there to help remind you. Once your PMs are set up in the CMMS, the clean, intuitive PM calendar shows you at a glance what needs to get done. Not only that, but you can also set up the CMMS to send automatic reminders to yourself and your technicians. Considering the number of PMs in each room, you'll want to limit reminders to bigger, less frequent PMs.

Big assets and PM fine-tuning

Outside the room, our guest might hit the hotel gym, the pool, or the restaurant's buffet. In the gym, there are PMs for the weight machines and treadmills. At the pool, you'll need to check the heaters, filters, and pumps. In the kitchen, ranges, freezers, and coolers. Hotels also have a lot of large assets in areas guests never go, including the laundry facilities in the basement, the water tank on the roof, and the HVAC throughout the building.

A good CMMS helps you look after all these large assets. Data-packed PMs ensure you never miss a step. Efficient scheduling helps you juggle the large number of PMs. And automated, customizable reporting helps you fine-tune your PM schedule. Take the PM schedule for the kitchen freezer. You'll likely start following the manufacturer's recommended schedule. But at the end of the year, using automated, customizable reporting, you discover the freezer is taking up a large part of your budget. Maybe it ate up a big portion of what you spent on parts. A quick check of the asset work order history shows it's usually the compressor giving you trouble, so instead of checking it once every three months, you fine-tune your PM schedule to once a month, heading off problems before they develop.

Next steps

If you've been thinking about a CMMS, or you already have one but it's not delivering what you were promised, now's the time to start talking with CMMS providers. And when you talk with them, make sure to ask them specifically how their product is going to help you reach your goals. Remember, you need a CMMS with data-packed PMs. You need a CMMS that makes scheduling and remembering PMs easy. You need one that lets you leverage your data to review and fine-tune your PM schedule. And that's just to start. Once a provider knows you're in hotels, they should be able to tell you a bunch of other ways their product meets your industry-specific needs. Keep talking with providers until you find a company you trust and that has a CMMS that's the right combination of powerful features and an easy-to-learn interface. The last thing you want is a platform that has a lot of cool features trapped behind a clunky, confusing UX design. Successful CMMS software implementation starts with finding the right partner with the right product for you.

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Jonathan Davis

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan Davis started out writing for textbooks before branching out to video games and marketing collateral. He has a master’s degree in journalism and a certificate in technical writing.


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