Case Study Published: 21/06/2019

University of Kent - ARCHIBUS CAFM mobile framework

Increased efficiencies in planned preventative maintenance with the ARCHIBUS mobile framework

"You need hands-on control and all-round visibility of a university campus. Excitech’s experience with ARCHIBUS enabled us to align the software to our own tasks and processes, making the changes we needed in exactly the way we needed them.”
Ron Moore, Assistant Director of Estates (Maintenance and Technical Services)

Meet the University of Kent Estates Department

The University of Kent is one of the country’s leading academic institutions, producing world-class research, rated internationally excellent and leading the way in many fields of study. It provides facilities for approximately 20,000 students a year.

The buildings maintenance and technical services section of the University of Kent’s Estates Department comprises a full-time team of around 45 tradespeople. The team takes care of buildings, electrical, and mechanical maintenance, calling upon external subcontractors and supply chain as requirements dictate. 

Overall, the team is charged with planned preventative maintenance (PPM) and on-demand services; ensuring the efficient, safe and cost-effective day-to-day operations of circa 100 buildings across the University’s Canterbury campus, plus several buildings at its Medway campus.


The challenge: So much to do, so little time

Managing a diversity of differently skilled team members – across a widely-dispersed estate – with unpredictable problems cropping up across any part of the estate, can be challenging. It can be difficult to control and monitor with any assured degree of accuracy, particularly if task assigning and reporting is all done through paper forms.

Paper-based systems are old school
Ron Moore, Assistant Director of Estates (Maintenance and Technical Services) at the University of Kent, provides a context for the challenges the Estates Department was faced with: 

“The existing ‘paper-based’ approach we were running was essentially no different to what you’ll find in the Estates Department of many universities today. I believe at times there’s a lack of awareness of the costs, time management and productivity. 

I wanted to move our approach over to a coordinated and centrally controlled Planned Preventative Maintenance approach as soon as possible to meet best practice.” 

Beyond the basics
Ron had developed an extensive series of task sheets, referred to as ‘P’-Task sheets, based mainly on SFG20, the definitive standard for building maintenance. The approach to PPM that Ron had built up through these task sheets and other metrics goes into a deeper level of detail than the SFG20 specifications and now forms the foundations of the new PPM system at Kent that forms part of the ARCHIBUS system.

To get the system fully operational, Ron asked Excitech to make a number of changes to the ARCHIBUS system the University had long been using for space planning, property management, and reactive maintenance; an area in which Excitech had been providing consultancy and support for the University for almost a decade. 

The solution: PPM via mobile devices

There were two phases to the overall initial enhancement to how the University’s buildings maintenance and technical services fulfilled its responsibilities and could streamline its services: First was the adoption of a configured ARCHIBUS mobile framework for maintenance; second was to put in place a complete digitised PPM framework.
  • The mobile solution: Connecting and communicating with the team
    • ‚ÄčIn early 2018 the mobile solution was rolled out to the team for use on reactive maintenance (on-demand services). This was the beginning of the end of being reliant on paper-based systems. It made it far easier to gain an overview of productivity. 
    • For example, against an industry norm of an average of six reactive jobs per person per day, it became evident that there was scope for productivity improvement. The loss of productivity could be accounted for in part by tradespersons unnecessary travel times incurred by reporting back to the main office to collect new paper job dockets. 
    • Once the team was connected, communications were possible no matter where a team member may be, making for far more productive use of time and ensuring minimal waste of effort and duplication of visits to the buildings on the estate.
  • The digitised PPM framework: Scheduling work to mobile devices
    • While streamlined journey plans and more productive use of time were gained through the first phase of mobile task management, there remained the bigger issue of PPM. 
    • There were 300 plus P-Task sheets, each providing details of the actions necessary for any particular maintenance task. Ron asked Excitech to take these sheets and use them as the main driver for the PPM framework. 
    • On this basis, Excitech configured ARCHIBUS to accommodate the master schedule of recurring tasks, the asset data sheets (one for each building, so 100 in total; within which each asset was associated with a P-Task reference) and the planned task sheets. With the base data loaded into the customised PPM system, all was ready for rollout by mid-2018.

The result: Greater predictability, productivity, and control 

All PPM work is now delivered directly to the teams via the PPM system through their mobile devices, whilst also responding to on-demand requests. Greater control and visibility have been gained through inputting task times against each task sheet.

“We can predict PPM hours (currently around 15,000 per annum) and cost for the year by trade group or building,” says Ron. “We now have a far greater degree of control and understanding, taking the CAFM side of ARCHIBUS to a new level that directly addresses maintenance understanding on a university campus.”

Ron mentions that initial adoption of the mobile app had been a challenge, given the affection the team had for the traditional way of doing things. The team was comfortable with paper dockets, having worked with them for so long; indeed, for some of the team, this had been the way they had worked for their entire careers. 

As they began to see the benefits, however, enthusiasm grew, as Ron explains: “Teething problems are to be expected when people perceive it as a major shift in working procedures. Once everybody sees the benefits, it doesn’t just help run things better, it brings new motivation into the team. They can all see now how much time was being thrown away and how tedious and unreliable a dependence on paper was. 

Now they feel part of the digital age and understand the value of data and information to help make informed decisions in the future. The University benefits enormously, not just through new efficiencies, but through an Estates department that makes a valuable and sustainable contribution to reducing operational costs and extending asset life.”

Sharing best practice in managing the complex campus

Based on the practical relevance of the PPM framework that Ron has developed with Excitech at the University of Kent, other university estates departments have begun to explore the benefits it can bring to their own operations. This is based on the flexibility ARCHIBUS offers for alignment to a user's own specified workflows. 

“We have presented the new PPM system to two other UK-based Universities, with one currently working with Excitech using our PPM model”, says Ron.


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