Facility Managers are asked to do more with less.

Deferred Maintenance is Unsustainable

Pressures from both inside and outside businesses thwart attempts to maintain the status quo, let alone focus on improvements that could lead to predictive maintenance. In particular, areas that hinder proactive maintenance include the aging of buildings and systems, facility management workforce demographics, depleted maintenance staffs, and stagnant budgets. Therefore, the reality that most Facility Managers face is deferred maintenance. In fact, 88% of these managers agree that deferred maintenance is an issue in their facilities.

Unfortunately, the older a building is, the more expensive it becomes to maintain. Adding insult to injury, deferred maintenance costs skyrocket for older buildings. Within the United States, nearly half of commercial buildings were constructed 50 or more years ago. For buildings between 10 and 25 years old, the average cost of deferred maintenance amounts to $55 per square foot. By contrast, the average cost of deferred maintenance for a building constructed 50 or more years ago nearly triples to $160 per square foot.

To compound this already strained situation, the existing labor pool for facility management is in rapid decline. For starters, much like the buildings that they manage, Facility Managers are also aging. Most alarmingly, a 2015 study determined that fully 50 percent of current Facility Managers would retire by the year 2025. Similarly, a 2017 survey of International Facility Management Association members indicates that their average age is 51, and that less than 10 percent of the membership is under age 35.

Average deferred maintenance costs by age of building:

 Average deferred maintenance costs for 0-10 year-old buildings  Average deferred maintenance costs for 10-25 year-old buildings  Average deferred maintenance costs for 25-50 year-old buildings  Average deferred maintenance costs for 50-plus year-old buildings


Additionally, many organizations have installed building management systems, attempting to automate system controls and offset the decline in staffing numbers. This move, however, has the unintended consequence of adding to the workload of maintenance staff, requiring them to manage yet another system and process multiple streams of information from multiple previously existing systems. Additionally, a BMS requires regular investments in upgrades, similar to the way personal computers and networks do.

Facility Management Is a Real Chore

Those Facility Managers who remain in the industry have plenty of work on their plates. In fact, 55 percent of these managers report being either largely or very reactive in their responsibilities. Reacting to unplanned items and events costs managers 228 hours every year. Another problem area that Facility Managers face is occupant complaints, which 49 percent of managers state costs them between two and four hours each day. Over the course of 250 workdays a year, that figure amounts to a staggering 500-1,000 hours consumed in resolving complaints.

Because smaller facility teams are left to contend with both planned and unplanned maintenance, these personnel may justifiably feel that they are in a tough spot. However, smart facility teams recognize that they must make a stand and start somewhere. The challenge lies in prioritizing the right systems to optimize, which can then have a domino effect throughout the facility and reduce the deferred maintenance backlog.

Responding to a FacilitiesNet survey, Facility Managers ranked HVAC as the system most affected by deferred maintenance. In addition, the heating, cooling, and moving of air throughout a facility accounts for half of a facility’s energy consumption. For these reasons, it makes sense to explore opportunities to introduce greater efficiency within this system.

 55 percent of facility managers are largely or very reactive  49 percent of Facility Managers spend 2-4 hours a day on occupant complaints


The Path to Predictive Maintenance

Fortunately, technology can help resolve this situation. Targeted real-time system data provides insights that allow facility teams to systematically optimize their efforts and predict future maintenance needs. This Internet of Things (IoT) technology also enables facility personnel to troubleshoot minor issues before they become major problems. 

Facility teams empowered with cloud-based IoT solutions enjoy still more benefits. From a central location, they can monitor and manage systems around the globe. These capabilities drastically reduce response time and further enhance operational efficiency.

The organizations that opt to leverage this exciting technology are able to track, measure, and verify performance, while also deriving predictive insights from their systems. As a result, these firms are able to demonstrate a quicker, measurable return on investment, and continually identify and apply smart cost-avoidance techniques. Prioritizing the right systems to focus on and leveraging these intelligent data innovations minimizes the effects of maintenance staff reductions and aging facilities, thereby improving business results and occupant experience in the process.

With the right technology solution, unplanned maintenance can be reduced or even eliminated. Also, by focusing strategically on the systems most critical to a facility’s long-term health, organizations can chart a clear step-by-step path out of deferred maintenance and into a world of predictive maintenance.

Contact your AAF Flanders representative to see how the insights from intelligent monitoring technology and data tools, including TCO Diagnostic® and Sensor360®, can improve operational outcomes and lead to predictive maintenance. Click here to learn more about Sensor360.

Executive Brief

Work Smarter, Not Harder