If the option exists, the best way to start is to walk around the facility with an experienced FM to get familiar with all the systems.
Start with the 4 critical systems found in nearly every building. I define them 'critical' because if any of these 4 malfunctions, big or small, their impact on the operation of the building can be felt immediately.
1. HVAC systems The expectation of a comfortable building is high. You need to know how the systems works and what the major key components are such as fans, chillers, boilers or other such equipment. What areas do they serve? Where are the emergency shut-off’s?
2. Building environmental control systems These control the HVAC systems Get to know how they work, what they do and don't control. Learn how to reboot the system in the event of a crash or at least how to operate the building manually until repairs are implemented.
3. Building power supply systems This includes UPS and Generators, fuel supply systems (natural gas, diesel) and water/waste water systems.
These systems are sometimes forgotten but are critical to the building operation.
Know where the power comes in to the facility, where transfer switches are and how they operate. High voltage transformers should be inspected regularly with Infrared technology and hot spots corrected by trained certified professionals.
Generators and UPS systems should be tested and exercised regularly and diesel fuel to be treated or replace on schedule. All manufacturers provide this service and information on the system requirements.
Fuel supply systems are generally low maintenance but should be inspected periodically for damage and to ensure the equipment needed to turn off the line is readily available. Leaks are easy to detect and should be repaired immediately.
Your building has various water & waste water systems & shut-off valves not just on the main service entering the building. Get to know those locations in the case of a leak. All circulating pumps or fire pumps in the building that deliver water should be inspected regularly. Knowing where the waste water clean-outs are could eliminate possible damage.
4. Building envelope. (Roof and windows) These two are potential sources of leaks, both water and air. I’m sure you know the damage water can do; it’s often very visible, but air leaks are not. Knowing the condition and the expected life of these components will help in the planning for replacement or refurbishment. Physical inspections, tests like moisture probes and infrared scans will tell you all the areas of concern.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with the systems in your facility, the area they serve and any problems your customer experienced. Review recent work orders to assess the of type of work that has been needed, and note where the emergency shut offs are located.
Lastly, review the system procedures on the preventative maintenance routine and inspections, ensure they are followed. These will be your best guide to ensure you keep specific systems in good working condition.
Arnie Wohlgemut Senior FM Advisor