How healthy is your facility? With a facility condition assessment (FCA), you get a comprehensive medical record plus an up-to-date medical chart for your facility, helping make the right prescriptions based on a solid understanding of your facility’s history and current condition. Without it, you can’t make good decisions on capital planning, resource allocation, and preventive maintenance.
But generating an FCA can require careful planning and monitoring. So, here is your guide to ensuring the best outcomes.
What is a facility condition assessment (FCA)?
An FCA is a systematic inspection of your facility, so you know both what you have and everything’s overall condition. From there, you can then make data-back decisions about what to maintain, repair, or replace.
An FCA can also help you prioritize facilities across your portfolio, guiding resource allocation. FCAs are common for both commercial and government facilities.
Regardless of the sector, in most cases, you have a team of architects, engineers, and maintenance technicians performing walk-throughs and examining existing documentation to collect the required data. The team can look at a variety of elements, including:
- Individual assets and equipment
- Cross-facility systems like HVAC
One of the most important features of an FCA is that it is a living document. You need to keep it up to date with new data as you capture it. There are both short- and long-term goals connected to an FCA, but the only way a facility manager can reach them is by systematically ensuring the data reflects current conditions.
Differences between an FCA, and building condition assessment (BCA), and a property condition assessment (PCA)
An FCA and a building condition assessment (BCA) are different in name only. In fact, you can use them interchangeably. A property condition assessment (PCA), though, is a much briefer report on commercial real estate.
In most cases, PCAs are one part of the hand-over process for an existing facility. Here again, the idea of a living document is important. While a PCA is a snapshot in time, specifically the time ownership changes hands, an FCA and a BCA are living documents that you need to update with new data when it becomes available.
What are the goals of an FCA?
Better data means better planning. And once you can plan properly, you can save time and resources by making sure assets that need attention actually get it.
Imagine you have to keep two cars on the road but with a limited weekly budget. How much gas would you put in each car?
Without any more data than “there are two cars,” you’d likely default to evenly splitting all the gas you could buy between the two. But that’s only because you’re working with a tiny bit of data.
If you knew that the first car already had three-quarters of a tank while the second one was running on fumes, you’d put all the gas into the second one. But that’s only because you’re now working with two data points: the number of cars and the amount of gas in each one.
If you also knew the second car had bald tires and a transmission that was about to fall out, you might not put any gas into it at all. Instead, you could take that gas money and start saving it so you could eventually repair or replace the second car.
The goal of an FCA is to collect the data you need to allocate resources for your facility. More specifically, an FCA can help you:
- Plan for capital investments
- Prioritize repairs and replacements
- Implement preventive maintenance
It’s all directly connected to running a facility as efficiently as possible using data-backed decision-making.
FCAs and implementing preventive maintenance
The first step to setting up a preventive maintenance plan is to generate an accurate list of all your assets and equipment. From there, you can prioritize everything based on criticality, which is a measure of the impact each asset or system’s downtime has on your overall operations.
For example, the impact of office AC going out in the middle of summer is relatively small compared to a problem with the AC in the server rooms.
Once you know what you have and its relative importance, you can set up a schedule of inspections and tasks to find and fix issues before they grow into larger problems.
With an accurate FCA, you have an up-to-date list of your assets and equipment, plus a good sense of their current condition. Basically, you’re halfway to a standing up your preventive maintenance program.
What are the important steps for an FCA?
There are five sequential steps for an FCA.
But even before you can get them to inspect the site, you need to assemble the team. It should be a ross disciplinary group, and ideally, you’d include architects and engineers, both structural and electrical. You also need someone who can estimate costs.
In a perfect world, but also depending on the specific facility, you’d also add security experts, civil engineers, and some who can look at the facility’s environmental impact. Many organizations are working toward environmental certificates and net zero.
Once the team is assembled, they can start the data collection process, which can include walk-throughs, examinations of the existing design, construction, and maintenance data.
The team can also interview staff at the facility. Often, especially when a facility has not made the transition to digital, a lot of the most important information about a building exists in the memories of the staff.
The team is looking for all the data it can find to paint the most accurate picture of the facility’s current condition. They need to know about any major renovations, retrofits, and expansions. They also need to know which assets and equipment have been a consistent source of trouble.
With the data collected, the team now writes the report. Formats vary, and just like no two facilities are the same, no two reports should be.
The FAC report can contain overviews on different conditions, including:
- Vertical and horizontal transportation
- Environmental issues
There can also be information related to compliance, including:
The FCA report also includes a detailed look at the assets, equipment, and systems in the facility. There’s the basic description, assumed service life, current age, replacement value for each system. In cases where there are requirements to repair or replace, additional information is included to not only justify the costs but also map out a strategy for the project.
In fact, capital is also an important concern, and projected expenditures are a large part of the report, with both short- and long-term projections, often at 5-, 10-, and 30-year intervals.
Once the report is complete, the facility managers have an opportunity to leverage the insights into action, including everything from large capital planning projects to day-to-day operations and maintenance.
Although they can use the data for planning, facility managers don’t have the final say in the funding. So, higher-up decision makers see the report so they can approval the required budgets.
What is the facility condition index (FCI)?
One of the many important parts of the FCA report is the facility condition index (FCI), which is a benchmarking metric for a facility. It’s a ratio between what it would cost to fix the facility against what it would cost to replace it.
To calculate the FCI, divide renewal needs and deferred maintenance by the current replacement value.
Ideally, the cost of repairs should be much lower than the cost of replacement. The index is an industry standard. At 5%, a facility’s index is good, greater than 10% is poor, while anything over 30% is critical.
What are the benefits of a facility condition assessment?
When you’re setting goals, thinking about where you want to be and how you can get there, the first thing you need to know is where you are right now. You can’t make consistent progress toward success before you know which direction to move.
With an FCA, you have a solid understanding of the facility’s current strengths and weaknesses, what’s working, what’s not. Just as importantly, you also know how long the working assets are going to last.
You can leverage this data into better decisions.
Now you know where to put your resources. The boiler that’s got another ten years of solid service life needs a certain amount of preventive maintenance, but beyond that you don’t have to worry.
The HVAC system that’s been a constant source of issues and is past its assumed useful life needs a different level of attention. But because you know that you can start planning how you’re going to pay to replace it.
A facility condition assessment is a detailed report on your facility, so you know what you have, what’s working, and what needs to be replaced. It also includes insights into when currently working assets and equipment need replacing.
Another name for an FCA is a building condition assessment. Both are different from a property condition assessment, which is a snapshot of a facility’s condition, because they are living documents you need to keep up to date. An FCA helps you plan capital investments, prioritize repairs and replacements, and implement a preventive maintenance program.
The process is multi step. Data is collected by a cross-disciplinary team of experts, including engineers and maintenance professionals. The data is then combined and analyzed for actionable insights.
For example, you can use the data to calculate the facility condition index (FCI), which is a ratio of the current value of the facility to the cost of replacing it.
Finally, stakeholders and decision-makers use the report to guide current budgets and future funding.