Discover how hard services in facility management contribute to business success by improving productivity and reducing operational costs.
Are you working in the construction and infrastructure industry? Then you undoubtedly understand the importance of efficiency and safety in managing your projects. In an ever-evolving sector, the ability to synchronize the operations of complex facilities and maintain structures is crucial. This is where “hard services in Facility Management” come into play.
In this article, we will explore how technical services, known as “hard services,” are revolutionizing how we address maintenance and building functionality challenges. Whether you are overseeing a commercial facility project, an industrial complex, or a critical public infrastructure, you’ll realize how important it is to have complete control over maintenance. But how do you manage a complex project without making mistakes or forgetting anything? Using facility management software can certainly be of great assistance. Read on to learn more!
In the context of Facility Management, “hard services” refer to all activities and services related to management, maintenance, and operation of the physical and technical aspects of a building or infrastructure. These services focus on the tangible elements of the built environment and encompass a wide range of activities related to physical infrastructure and technical systems.
What is Facility Management?
Facility Management is the discipline that deals with the management and maintenance of buildings and structures with the aim of ensuring optimal functioning. To delve deeper, read What Is Facility Management?
But what role do technical services, or “hard services,” play in all of this? Let’s find out!
Why technical services are essential in Facility Management
Technical services are not just a component of Facility Management; they are the lifeblood because they ensure safety, efficiency, and functionality of any work environment. Technical services are, in fact, the most vulnerable elements in a building, requiring mandatory periodic maintenance for their proper operation. That’s why their management constitutes the core activity of Facility Management. Utilizing facility management software can undoubtedly provide significant support in planning maintenance interventions, managing hard services, and having a comprehensive and dynamically updated view of all assets.
Types of Hard Services
Some common examples of hard services include:
- Facility Equipment Maintenance: This includes the management and maintenance of facilities and technical systems, such as electrical systems, HVAC systems, heating and cooling systems, plumbing and drainage systems, fire systems, etc.
- Mechanical and Electrical Systems Management: These services cover the maintenance and repair of mechanical and electrical equipment, such as power generators, elevators, access control systems, security systems, etc.
- Building Infrastructure Management: This includes the maintenance of structural elements of the building, such as walls, floors, roofs, windows, and doors. Maintaining and repairing these elements are essential to ensuring the long-term safety and integrity of the building.
- Cleaning and Hygiene Services: Although they can be considered both “Hard Services” and “Soft Services,” the cleaning and hygiene of physical spaces are often managed as part of “Hard Services” since they involve equipment and specific products for cleaning and maintenance.
- Communication and Technology Systems Management: This includes the maintenance of telecommunication networks, structured cabling systems, internet connectivity services, technology-based security and surveillance systems, and other technological infrastructures.
In summary, “hard services” focus on managing the physical and technical aspects of a building or infrastructure, ensuring that facilities and systems are functional, safe, and efficient. These services are essential for creating and maintaining a work or residential environment that is comfortable and tailored to the needs of users.
Technical Services in a Building
Technical services in a building, often referred to as “Technical Services” or “Technical Facilities Management Services,” refer to a range of activities and systems related to the technical infrastructure and facilities of a building. These services are essential to ensure the proper functioning, safety, energy efficiency, and comfort of built environments.
Some common examples of technical services include:
- Electrical systems: These encompass the installation, maintenance, and repair of a building’s electrical systems, including wiring, lighting, electrical outlets, switchboards, and backup systems;
- Plumbing systems: These services pertain to water distribution, plumbing systems, drainage, and wastewater treatment, ensuring reliable water flow and efficient wastewater management;
- Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC): These services focus on controlling temperature, humidity, and indoor air quality within the building. This includes the maintenance and management of heating, cooling, and ventilation systems;
- Security systems: These include the installation and maintenance of security systems such as fire alarm systems, smoke detection systems, CCTV surveillance systems, access control, and security checks;
- Communication and networking systems: These services involve the installation and management of communication networks, internet connectivity, telephone systems, video conferencing systems, and other communication devices;
- Energy management: This includes monitoring and managing the building’s energy consumption to improve energy efficiency and reduce operational costs;
- General maintenance: This covers a wide range of maintenance and repair activities, including handling minor repairs, replacing faulty components, and performing preventive maintenance on systems;
- Waste management: These services involve the proper collection, disposal, and recycling of waste generated by the building;
- Automation management: This category pertains to automating processes and systems within the building, such as access control systems, automated lighting management systems, and more.
In summary, technical services encompass a wide range of activities that are essential for maintaining a functional, safe, and comfortable building. Their proper management contributes to the well-being of occupants and the optimization of building operations.
Specific examples of maintenance interventions
Maintenance can take various forms and vary depending on the chosen strategy for a particular case. Thinking in broad categories, we can say that you can choose between a preventive approach if you opt for systematic intervention to prevent failures or malfunctions; or corrective if you choose to intervene only after a failure has occurred.
Preventive maintenance is a facility management strategy that aims to reduce failures and extend the lifespan of systems, equipment, and structural elements within a building or complex of buildings. This approach involves scheduled and regular activities focused on inspection, maintenance, and timely correction of potential issues to prevent them from developing into more severe, costly, and disruptive failures.
For example, regular cleaning of air filters or lubrication of mechanical parts prevents problems and extends the life of machinery. To learn more, read What Is Preventive Maintenance?
Corrective maintenance is an approach in facility management that focuses on resolving sudden failures and unexpected issues that occur in building systems, equipment, or structures. Unlike preventive maintenance, which aims to prevent failures, corrective maintenance intervenes after a failure has already occurred, with the goal of quickly restoring functionality and operational capacity to affected assets.
To learn more, read Corrective Maintenance: What It Is and How to Manage It.
Tools and Technologies supporting Facility Management processes
Today, managing and maintaining properties would be unthinkable without the use of specific Facility Management software. There are tools designed to meet every need, such as:
- Task management software: Platforms for planning, assigning, and monitoring maintenance and space management tasks;
- Remote monitoring systems: Sensors and IoT devices for real-time monitoring of facility conditions and anomaly detection;
- Incident management systems: Platforms for reporting, monitoring, and resolving incidents and maintenance requests;
- Resource planning software: Tools to optimize resource allocation, including personnel, equipment, and materials;
- Inventory management software: Systems to track inventory and necessary materials and components for maintenance and operations;
- Access control systems: Technologies for managing access to various areas of the building through cards, keys, and authentication devices;
- Resource booking software: Platforms for booking and managing meeting rooms, shared equipment, and other spaces;
- Automation technologies: Systems to automate processes like lighting, heating, and ventilation to optimize energy efficiency;
- Energy monitoring software: Tools to monitor and analyze building energy consumption to identify savings opportunities;
- Document management systems: Platforms to organize and archive documents related to maintenance, technical specifications, and operations;
- Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies: Used for virtual inspections, staff training, and intervention simulations;
- Data analytics software: Tools to extract valuable insights from collected data, enabling data-driven decision-making;
- Indoor navigation systems: Technologies that guide people through large buildings or campuses using interactive maps and directions;
- Mobile management apps: Smartphone and tablet applications that enable on-the-go Facility Management activity management and monitoring.
These tools and technologies are essential for improving the efficiency, accuracy, and safety of Facility Management operations.
How software supports effective management
Software are fundamental for enhancing effectiveness and efficiency in management, including service and operations management within the Facility Management sector. Here’s how software contribute to more effective management:
- Process automation: Software enable the automation of numerous processes, reducing reliance on repetitive manual tasks. This saves time and resources, enhancing overall productivity;
- Monitoring and reporting: Software allow real-time monitoring of activities and performance, providing accurate data and reports. These tools help identify issues promptly and make informed decisions;
- Task planning and assignment: a Facility Management software assists in planning and assigning tasks, ensuring optimal resource allocation and meeting deadlines;
- Inventory management: Software can track inventory and materials needed for maintenance activities, preventing waste and ensuring materials are available when needed;
- Request management: Request management software allows users to efficiently report problems or maintenance requests, facilitating communication between staff and users;
- Data analysis: Software collect data from various sources, enabling detailed analysis of performance, resource utilization, and trends over time. This information helps in making informed decisions for continuous improvement;
- Energy management: Energy management software monitor the building’s energy consumption and identify potential energy-saving opportunities, contributing to environmental sustainability and cost reduction;
- Integration of operations: Software can integrate various functions, such as maintenance task management, resource planning, inventory management, and billing, simplifying overall management;
- Mobile access: Many software solutions offer mobile apps that allow staff to access information and perform tasks directly from the field, improving responsiveness and operational effectiveness;
- Collaboration: Software enable collaboration among different teams and departments, facilitating information exchange and ensuring alignment on goals and activities.
Ultimately, the use of software in Facility Management optimize operations, enhance organizational effectiveness, and provide a more efficient and secure environment for building occupants.
Reducing operational costs
Scheduled maintenance and monitoring can result in significant long-term savings.
The Importance of reliability and expertise
Selection of Service Providers
It is crucial to choose providers with proven experience and reliability in the field of hard services.
The Role of Hard Services in business success
Without efficient technical services, even the most robust business strategy can crumble.
“Hard services” are a crucial component of business success as they represent the set of physical activities and resources that contribute to creating a safe, functional, and efficient working environment. These services are often tangible and structural, directly influencing productivity, safety, and the company’s image. Their role is multidimensional and extends across several key aspects:
- Infrastructure and workplace environment: Hard services include essential elements such as building maintenance, facility management, lighting, heating, and cooling. A comfortable, safe, and well-lit working environment is crucial for employee well-being, affecting their productivity and overall satisfaction;
- Safety: The safety of facilities and installations is of paramount importance for business success. Hard services ensure that safety standards are met, fire safety systems are operational, and emergency procedures are in place;
- Preventive and corrective maintenance: Regular maintenance of facilities and systems prevents sudden and costly interruptions to business operations. Hard services are responsible for planning and conducting preventive maintenance activities and, if necessary, intervening promptly with corrective actions;
- Energy resource management: Efficient energy management is a significant factor in cost control and environmental impact. Hard services work to optimize energy usage, reducing waste and implementing solutions to improve energy efficiency;
- Facility and workstation management: Organizing workspaces, office layouts, and providing appropriate equipment are all components of hard services. These aspects influence operational efficiency and employee comfort;
- Technology management: In an era of increasing digitization, hard services also include the management of technology infrastructure, such as network access, connectivity, and cybersecurity. These elements are essential for the smooth operation of business activities;
- Regulatory compliance: Hard services must ensure that facilities and business activities comply with relevant regulations and standards. Compliance is crucial to avoiding legal sanctions and protecting the company’s reputation;
- Company image and reputation: The aesthetic appearance and functionality of business facilities influence the company’s image and how it is perceived by employees, customers, and visitors. A well-maintained and functional environment can positively impact the company’s reputation.
Case Studies: Successes and failures
Case studies demonstrate that effective management of hard services is critical to the success and safety of buildings and structures. Regular maintenance, technological surveillance, and the adoption of predictive approaches can prevent failures and issues, improving efficiency, safety, and the longevity of systems. On the other hand, neglect or inadequate management of hard services can lead to critical situations with financial and safety consequences. Let’s consider some examples that could occur in the life of our production or residential realities.
- A manufacturing company that implements a hard services management program and focuses on energy optimization, using remote monitoring technologies, can identify and resolve inefficiencies in heating, cooling, and lighting systems. This results in significant energy savings and a substantial reduction in operational costs;
- A healthcare facility that adopts a predictive maintenance approach for its hard services, using data analysis from sensors installed on systems, can predict potential failures before they occur. This drastically reduces downtime and enhances operational continuity.
- In a large commercial building, the lack of maintenance of the fire safety system leads to the malfunction of fire detection and alarm systems during critical moments. This delays the response to fires and compromises the safety of occupants;
- In a residential complex, the failure to identify and correct structural defects during preventive maintenance leads to more severe issues over time. These defects worsen to the point of causing significant damage to the building, requiring costly repairs.
In a constantly evolving world, the adoption of advanced technological tools and attention to technical details are key to successful management. Continuing to explore and adopt best practices in the field of hard services in Facility Management will lead to increased sustainability, safety, and competitiveness for buildings and infrastructure.