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Managing a building for life.

The Middle East Facility Management Association (MEFMA) shares with fmME its findings from its study on how incorporating a building's lifecycle costing can allow for sustainable facility management

All too often, high-risk decisions about the cost and the management of complex projects are made solely on the basis of initial, up-front costs, without ever considering the total costs of a project from beginning to end.

Lifecycle costing (LCC) is used to evaluate the cost performance of a building throughout its life cycle, including acquisition, development, operation, management, repair, disposal and, of course, cleaning, inside and out.

As a consequence, it allows comparisons of cost among different investment scenarios, designs, and specifications thereby allowing decisions to be made on simple factors such as, say, choosing between carpet and marble, or more complicated matters such as AC cleaning and building management solutions.

Procurers of buildings generally wish to lower costs and increase profits. Decisions in all stages of the facility's life (acquisition, operation, maintenance, replacement and disposal) bear economic implications. So FM operators amongst other disciplines will make decisions which affect the economics of the facility or project.

Current predictions have valued the FM market in the UAE, KSA and Qatar to reach more than $892 billion in the next 25 years, taking into consideration more than $220 billion worth of projects that are underway and being planned over the next five years in these countries.

But more importantly, this figure represents a huge responsibility placed on the shoulders of FM companies to help property owners trim down the total lifecycle costs of buildings by using sustainable FM solutions.

LCC also provides an opportunity for facility managers to support their organisations' environmental goals, of which cleaning is a primary tenant. So while LCC is often used in capital expenditure decisions, facility managers should also seize the opportunity to integrate the tool into purchasing processes within their operations and maintenance budgets.

For instance, LCC can incorporate, within the O&M analysis, the use of energy when purchasing lamps or water in evaluating cleaning equipment.

A useful document to familiarise oneself with is the ISO 15686 which identifies and establishes general principles for service life planning and a systematic framework for undertaking service life planning on a planned building or construction work throughout its life cycle.

In clause 9, it suggests the factor method as a means of estimating the service life of a particular component or assembly in a specific set of conditions. The factor method is based on a reference service life (RSL) calculation, which is defined as the expected service life of a component or assembly situated in a well-defined set of conditions.

Facility managers globally have expressed that there is a great need for well documented and data-led methodology in the sector. While such data is scarcely available today, MEFMA is in the process of conducting a report that will research existing sources of empirical RSL data with a view to providing both its membership and the wider FM community in the Middle East, with information that will help support and enhance the industry's performance.

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Q&A

Alan K. Millin, the author and researcher of MEFMA's Facility and Equipment Reference and Estimated Service Life Report, discusses his findings.

Can you tell us why this report is necessary?

This MEFMA research report presents a review of literature related to facility component service life expectancy information.

There is a wealth of information available to facility management professionals, although the majority of that information originates from outside MEFMA's catchment area. With little regional information available of reasonable quality, MEFMA members are presented with a starting point for component reference life assessment. Hence its importance.

What was your methodology?

Several useful data sources have been identified and are introduced in this report. Taken together these data sources run to thousands of line items which should be of considerable value to MEFMA members tasked with assessing facility component life expectancies.

It is important to note that published service life data has not been replicated in this report due to consideration of intellectual property rights. The report therefore introduces these data sources to MEFMA members as a directory and provides details of availability and current price.

The literature confirms that facility component life expectancy assessment is far from being a clinical assessment or exact science. Rather, it demands that facility managers use their operational experience and life cycle costing analysis and business skills together to derive meaningful data.

How can members benefit from the report?

Improved accuracy in service life estimation will enable MEFMA members to prepare more accurate budgets. Individual component replacement frequencies may be used to support zero-based budgeting activities. The factor method is introduced as a tool to help facility managers derive estimated service life values from reference service life data.

The research confirms that facility managers are required to demonstrate sound judgement, financial and managerial accounting competency, business case development capability and presentation skills to operate effectively when dealing with matters of facility component life cycle-related decision making.

What insights can you give us about the findings?

The research reveals that component life expectancy values that have been used by engineers for decades is based on little more than the opinions of a number of survey respondents. This should therefore encourage MEFMA members to develop a regional database based on real data.

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Publication:Construction Week
Date:Nov 5, 2013
Words:912
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