The Big Interview

Science Friction: FM and Manufacturing

As assets become smarter and CMMS/EAM packages become more integrated across various asset classes within a manufacturing company, responsibility for facility management (including facility maintenance) has become spread over multiple departments. Historically, facility and plant maintenance were the sole responsibility of the Maintenance Department which ultimately reported to the Plant Manager or Works Manager. However, plant equipment is the focus of most Maintenance departments in a manufacturing environment, except in the largest and most complex multi-site facilities.  

“Currently, responsibility for these functions – facilities management and plant maintenance - are typically spread amongst various individuals such as the Maintenance Manager, Engineering Manager, Site Services Manager, Purchasing Manager, Plant Manager, and Works Manager to name a few,” commented David Berger, a partner with Western Management Consultants in Canada, and a regular columnist for Maintenance & Engineering magazine.

“However, this diffusion of responsibility results in significant lost opportunity.  For example, when a large overseas customer sends some senior managers to visit a supplier's plant, who is responsible for logistics at the supplier site?  Who deals with planning for an H1N1 outbreak or the implementation of a new no smoking policy?  Who looks at opportunities to better manage the space within and across multiple facilities or minimizing energy costs and the company’s environmental footprint?  For those highly regulated industries such as the pharmaceutical and semi-conductor sector, who is in charge of ensuring compliance with government rules and regulations? Right now, these areas and those responsible for them have become grey,” Mr. Berger observed.  

The Holistic Approach of Facility Management
To understand how this divergence in operations and roles has occurred, we need to understand the new emerging role of facility management (FM) in the manufacturing environment. Over the past 20 years, the profession of facility management has been coming into its own. With facility management costs second only to payroll, facility management is being adopted by the developed world and seriously considered and implemented elsewhere for the sole reason that it makes good business sense.  

“True facility management is one that recognizes the holistic approach to the management of support services,” says Stan Mitchell of Key Facilities International Consultants, a consulting and operations management firm. FM, when delivered properly, offers considerable savings.  Even though facility management is not a panacea to all of the problems facing manufacturing, it can significantly affect a company’s bottom line.
“The reason for such cost savings from facility management is that the focus is upon the needs of the business as opposed to any particular ‘silo’ of activity (e.g. plant management).  Where support services are delivered through those independent ‘silos’, those responsible are obviously only focused upon their particular area of activity, and therefore, are not considering the bigger picture,” he continues.
Those facility managers that realize the manufacturer’s goals and strategies and where facility management fits into the big scheme also ensure the success of the plant.  Poor understanding translates to poor decisions and wasteful, costly expenditures.  For instance, if the company’s strategy is to get out of the market in 5 years and the product has a life of 10 years before being made redundant, should the FM consider putting on a new roof for a facility that may not be flexible enough to accommodate refitting? Or consider a company that is highly regulated. What are the repercussions to the plant for failure to pass an audit if the facility manager fails to implement those procedures and processes to comply with the statutory requirements?  These two examples illustrate the importance of seeing the big picture as opposed to merely addressing individual components of the business.

Smart Asset Management in the FM Evolution
The role of facility management within the manufacturing realm has grown in part due to the advancement of the tools that support FM. The practice of facility management evolved from a paper-and-pencil, work-as-needed, support service, to a sophisticated, technological-driven profession in which CMMS/EAM proactively provides the necessary data to efficiently run and manage a facility. FM professionals now have the luxury to concentrate on the overall health of the business rather than just the nuts and bolts of the facility’s day-to-day upkeep.  

“Through the years, these computerized advancements have created opportunities for facility managers to act more strategic and proactive,” says Abdul Rani Achmed, CEO of CWorks Systems, a leading facility management software developer that services both the manufacturing and FM industry.
“We attribute this evolution to one simple reason – knowledge,” he explains.

Equipped with these sophisticated software tools and the information that they supply, the facility manager in manufacturing now has a broad perspective of the plant and its many working parts - knowledge of the plant equipment and asset lifecycle, knowledge of energy costs and potential for cost savings, and knowledge of personnel costs and time spent on repair and maintenance.  Facility managers are no longer information-deprived; their participation is now integral to the running of an efficient plant.  But with the growth of the profession and the tools that support it, came the opportunity for manufacturing and facility management to exist side-by-side.
An Orderly Approach to FM and Manufacturing

One method for ensuring that all functions within a manufacturing environment are being properly assigned and carried out efficiently and effectively is to assign those activities to the individual who possesses the background, education, and skills that are crucial to that particular business.

“It is fair to say that where any particular support service activity is considered to be core to the business, it is often a Facilities Manager with that particular background that provides the wider management perspective in the role again,” comments Stan Mitchell.  “I know of former Nurses who operate as Facilities Managers in the Heath Sector, and former Actuaries who do the same within the Financial Services sector.  Likewise, I know lots of Engineers who operate across almost every sector due to the criticality of mechanical and electrical services to almost every situation where a facility management approach is adopted.”
Another method is to evaluate the roles that facility and manufacturing management have within each business environment as each case is different.  

“If there is a large facilities role and relatively little to do in maintaining the plant equipment, then why not have one person responsible for both areas that has a heavy background in facility management.  Similarly, if the facilities role is lightweight compared to maintaining the complex and expansive plant equipment, then someone with a strong background in the relevant technical environment may be more appropriate to manage both areas.  In either case, there may be merit in combining the two areas under one roof,” stated David Berger.   

Some question whether a CMMS (computerized maintenance management systems) can manage both a manufacturing and facilities environment simultaneously.  “Most CMMS packages - if not all - have functions that facilitate the two worlds of facility management and manufacturing coexisting”, comments Mr. Achmed of CWorks Systems.  For instance, with CWorks Systems CMMS, such functionality as a graphics parts book allows a manager to review the hierarchy of fleet asset, facilities, or plant equipment as a hierarchical database or diagram.  Similarly, user-definable spec templates are used to enter common asset tombstone data about a facilities asset using fields such as square feet, versus for instance, motors using fields such as horsepower.  The main objective is to keep the plant up and running as efficiently as possible and with limited shutdown in operations.
But when deciding the Delineation in Responsibilities between FM and Manufacturing - Can it be as Simple as Generalist vs. Specialist?

Yes and no say the experts.  Instead of determining whether you need an engineer or someone with a background in FM, look to the business and determine its needs.  
“The real challenge and opportunity for those that still operate within any particular ‘silo’ is the decision to be the generalist or the specialist.  It is a choice that should be based upon the type of person that you are and the genuine skills that you have.  The reality is that business and commerce still need both, and both are just as important and reliant upon each other,” comments Mr. Mitchell.

Teena Shouse of FEA Consulting concurs. She recently was working with a client helping them develop their FM Operational plan for a new multi-million dollar facility.  When it became time to commission the building HVAC systems, the issue became whether to bring on the Chief Engineer.  “Our quandary was do we hire a Chief Engineer that could perhaps “morph” into the FM Director or stay with someone who would be totally dedicated to the operations of the Central Plant and all other ancillary operations,” stated Ms. Shouse.  She added, “The question was one of whether the technical skills needed outweighed the need for expertise in budgeting, HR, contract management, etc.    As our buildings become smarter with sophisticated CMMS and contain more complex systems, we believe that it is best to choose the person with the most robust skills for the job whether or not his title is “Chief Engineer”, “Plant Manager” or “FM Director”.