Across industries, understanding what type of assets you have and knowing how to track them is crucial. And a big part of that is understanding the differences between current and non-current assets, the roles they play in your business, and how to manage them.
That old saying “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it” applies just as much to maintenance management, integrated facilities management, and the benefits of maintenance history records as it does to the rise and fall of empires.
Once you have a solid understanding of the maintenance team’s completed work, you can more effectively schedule preventive maintenance, fine-tune SOPS, forecast inventory, and even make staffing decisions. With an accurate picture of the past, you can plan a better future with less unscheduled downtime, costly repairs, and stress.
Staffing scalability is a challenge for many companies, and one area in particular that’s difficult to properly staff is facility maintenance — often because businesses aren’t quite sure who to hire and in what capacities. They start writing a facility maintenance job description but then stop because they’re not sure what the role and responsibilities should be.
There are many qualified facility maintenance professionals, but the question is: Who brings the most value to an in-house team? It doesn’t make sense to pay a full salary to an on-staff plumber when you could call any one of a dozen nearby only when you need them.
Instead of a large collection of highly-specialized experts, you want a smaller group of multifaceted talent — technicians who can take care of the many everyday needs of your facilities.
So, here’s how to write a facility maintenance job description to attract the type of professional your facilities need to minimize unscheduled downtime and cut costs. Step one is taking a step back and first thinking about why you need facility maintenance staff.
Why hire facility maintenance personnel?
First, ask yourself what your general need for facilities maintenance is. The decision to hire an in-house maintenance professional or build out an existing team hinges on several key factors:
- Consistent demand for facility maintenance
- Cost savings generated by hiring staff
- Convenience associated with on-site staff
- The shift to an integrated management approach
As a company grows, facility demands tend to scale along with it. The decision to bring on a facility maintenance manager or build out an in-house team should support the continued success of the company. For example, an on-site technician can resolve a basic electrical problem within the hour, while outsourcing this task might take an entire day or more.
When it comes to many basic repairs, having dedicated staff makes a lot of sense. Adding some extra insulation to a drafty window helps everyone in the office focus on their work. With people on-site, you could spot the problem and have it solved quickly.
Having to track down local help willing to take on such a small project is likely only the start of your troubles. From there, you’d need to schedule a time for them to arrive, have someone babysit them to the site, and then make sure the invoice gets to the accounting department. Dedicated staff can make a lot of sense for larger repairs, too.
Instead of bringing in new people, when you have an in-house team, they already have years of experience with your specific building systems.
For some work, however, you’re likely going to always need to bring in outside help. For example, the complexity of your fire alarms, including special knowledge of the system as well as the surrounding codes, makes it unlikely anyone on the team can complete the work.
So, consider the reasons behind hiring maintenance personnel as you begin the search. When you understand the objective, it’ll be easier to describe the position and communicate expectations to candidates.
Describe a facility manager position and expectations
What are the main roles of a facility maintenance manager? What do you expect from facility maintenance personnel day to day? Your answers are the most important pieces of information to put into a job description, because they set the tone for applicants. While the job title might be what attracts them, discerning candidates read the job duties to know exactly what they’re applying for.
Make sure to include:
- A sampling or broad list of daily, weekly, monthly tasks
- Any special tasks or duties that require advanced knowledge
- Information about the role as a standalone position or part of a team
- Chain of command and who the hire will report to
- Software or systems candidates should be familiar with
- Physical demands of the job, such as lifting heavy objects
- Business and size/type of facilities
Facilities maintenance is a broad description. A detailed breakdown of the specific position, duties, and expectations casts a smaller net out into the ocean of potential candidates. The more information you provide, the better the applicant pool you receive.
Set qualifications (and be specific)
One final important part of writing a good facilities maintenance job description is to be specific about qualifications. This applies to companies large and small, especially in sectors where special skills, knowledge, or training are important.
Ask potential candidates for the following:
- Formal education (ex. Bachelor’s Degree in Facilities Maintenance)
- Certifications (ex. SMC certification from BOMI)
- Memberships (ex. IFMA Membership)
- Specialized training (ex. journeyman electrician)
Establish qualifications for applicants to narrow the scope of who you’re looking for, and to make sure individuals you interview have the baseline capabilities to do the job you need them to. For example, if you need a repair technician to oversee your expanding IoT network, post a description with specific education, training, and certification surrounding smart buildings and the Internet of Things (IoT).
A sample facilities maintenance job posting
What should your final facilities maintenance job description look like? Here’s a basic sample:
Facility Maintenance Professionals are responsible for basic maintenance and repair of the facility, including interior, exterior, and vital systems (HVAC, plumbing, electrical). Individuals should prepare to field work request tickets through a CMMS and respond to the general everyday needs of facilities upkeep. New hires will work as part of a three-person team, responsible for upkeep of 15,000 square feet of traditional commercial office space.
- Drywall/plaster repair and painting
- Furniture assembly and relocation
- Changing lights and/or fixtures
- Plumbing repairs, replacements, installation
- Carpentry repairs and installations with hand and power tools
- Minor repair of electrical devices
- Facilities safety inspections
- Concrete and asphalt paving inspections and repairs
- Grounds and security maintenance (fencing, gate arms, and gates)
- Maintain tools and equipment in clean, safe, working order
- Adhere to all safety requirements and wear proper Personal Protective Equipment
- Respond to emergency situations to ensure employee and facility safety
- Comply with OSHA and other local, state and federal regulations
- Adhere to organization and facilities department policies and procedures
- Build relationships and demonstrate a high level of cooperation
- High school diploma or general education degree (GED)
- 2 years facility maintenance experience
- Familiarity with CMMS work order system
- Valid state driver’s License
- The ability to lift and/or move up to 100 pounds
Keep in mind, this is merely a basic example of a facility maintenance job description. Your description should be specific to your company’s needs, your unique facilities, and your hiring objectives.
Focus on building a maintenance team
Whether you’re hiring your first in-house maintenance staff member or your 50th, keep scalability in mind. The purpose of hiring these professionals is to ensure the continued smooth operation of your facilities. Hire qualified staff who can work together and cooperate as a unit. After all, the success of your in-house maintenance team is directly evident in the upkeep, maintenance, and efficiency of your facilities.
Maintenance, repairs, and operations (MRO) is the combination of processes and activities connected to the upkeep of a plant or facility, including the maintenance of the facility, the systems that run inside of it, and the assets and equipment used inside the facility to produce the main business output.
But what does that all mean, and how can you improve your MRO?
Let’s start at the beginning and build our way up from there.
What is MRO?
The easy explanation is that MRO stands for maintenance, repair, and operations. But that’s about the same as saying DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid; it’s the right answer, but it doesn’t immediately tell us what we need to know.
A simple example helps make everything easier to understand. Take an ice cream plant. MRO covers the maintenance on the facility, including the buildings and the areas around them, the systems inside the facility, including things like the electrical and plumbing, and the machines that you use to take the ingredients, make the ice cream, store it, and then load it into trucks.
What is the difference between direct and indirect spend, and what’s the connection to MRO?
Here’s another way to understand MRO. With our ice cream plant example, the company has two types of “spend,” which just means things they spend money on.
On one side is the direct spend, which is money for the parts and materials the company uses to produce ice cream. For example, cream and sugar and walnuts.
On the other side is the indirect spend, which is all the services and products the organization needs to buy. And it can cover a lot. So, when the HR department prints out a new employee handbook, the paper and ink are indirect spends. The cleaning products for the janitor and the earplugs for the equipment operators are also examples of indirect spend. The key point is that the organization needs to spend that money to keep everything going, but you don’t see any of those things in the finished product.
MRO is another example of indirect spend. In fact, it’s often a large percentage of an organization’s overall indirect spend. But it’s not all of it. Remember, indirect spend is both products and services, so the entire accounting department is indirect spend, too, but it’s not maintenance, repair, and operations.
What are the types of MRO?
Although they all fall under the larger umbrella definition of “keeping things up and running,” there are four different types of MRO.
- Infrastructure repair and maintenance
- Production equipment repair and maintenance
- Material handling equipment maintenance
- Tooling and consumables
To better understand the various roles of MRO, let’s look at each type in a bit more detail.
Infrastructure repair and maintenance
This includes maintenance and repair on roofs, doors, windows, parking lots, lighting, and plumbing. It can also include landscaping, snow removal, pest control, and janitorial services.
Although internal teams often do all the work, there are many opportunities to bring in third-party vendors. So, you might have the maintenance department doing small repairs on the roof but bring in professional roofers for larger projects. Also, it depends on if the organization owns or leases the property. The maintenance team is off the hook for any work covered in the lease.
Production equipment repair and maintenance
This includes the assets and equipment directly involved in the production process. The goal of this type of MRO is to avoid unscheduled downtime and keep the line online.
Maintenance departments are a big part of these maintenance, repair, and operations processes, and for each asset or piece of equipment, they choose the maintenance strategy that makes the most sense. For example, for something like the lighting around a machine or the fuses inside it, it makes the most sense to simply use the run-to-failure maintenance strategy. But for other machines, the department might choose predictive maintenance, which delivers a lot of value but also requires a large upfront investment on top of ongoing costs.
Generally, maintenance departments employ a combination of on-demand work orders and preventive maintenance inspections and tasks.
Material handling equipment maintenance
This covers all the assets and equipment connected to moving raw material to the production line and completed products to the loading docks for eventual shipping. Basically, it’s what you need to bring in the materials and then what you need to send out the product.
Tooling and consumables
This would be all the smaller tools and consumables used during the production process but that are not in the finished product. Drills, drivers, wrenches, socket sets, bits, and cutting blades are all examples. Glue, gloves, goggles, safety glasses, dust masks, and other PPE are all examples of consumables or MRO inventory.
What are the benefits of MRO?
The answer is right inside the definition: MRO is what you need to keep your facilities, their systems, and assets and equipment up and running. It’s that simple. MRO is the foundation that makes production possible. Without it, you can’t do business.
MRO is making sure all the little things work so you don’t have to deal with big problems. The old proverb about the missing nail sums it up. For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost. For want of a horse the rider was lost. And it just keeps going, with the negative effects pulling down progressively larger, more important, and more expensive dominions.
How can I boost MRO efficiency?
When you’re looking to improve your MRO, it makes sense to divide it into parts and then tackle them directly.
Improve MRO procurement
One way to save on MRO costs is to improve your procurement, ensuring you’re getting the MRO inventory and services you need for the best possible prices. Procurement is a whole field itself, but it’s worth looking at some of the important trends to make sure we have a good surface-level understanding of how they work.
Rely on vendor-managed inventory (VMI)
Here, you’re outsourcing the headaches of inventory control to a third party. Instead of deciding what to order, when to order it, and where to put it when you’re holding it in inventory, you turn over all those decisions to the supplier. On top of the obvious benefit of peace of mind, VMI should deliver cost savings from bulk purchases.
Switch to MRO vending machines
For many organizations, cutting MRO inventory costs starts with first cutting instances of “shrinkage,” where inventory is lost through employee theft and misuse. MRO vending machines, and yes, they look a lot like vending machines for drinks and snacks, are a way of controlling inventory. Once the machines are set up, techs can only access inventory using an employee card or fingerprint. If they’re not authorized to use certain parts, the machine won’t dispense them.
But the vending machines do more than slow down or stop shrinkage. They also speed up work. With some vending machines, you can program them to dispense specific combinations of parts and materials, helping techs get everything they need for a work order quickly.
Improve MRO processes and workflows
Here, start by looking at your existing workflows for maintenance. How well are your preventive maintenance tasks planned out? And more importantly, what are your monthly completion rates? For on-demand work orders, how streamlined is the process? For example, if someone notices a problem on the line, how quickly and easily can they contact the maintenance department? From there, how quickly can you review the request, generate, assign, and track a related work order?
For a lot of organizations, even a quick look at their process and workflows reveals a lot of gaps and roadblocks, and it’s because they’re still struggling with older maintenance management methods, like paper and spreadsheets.
What’s the connection between EAM software and MRO?
Modern EAM software makes everything easier by first moving all your data to the cloud, where it’s safe, secure, and searchable. With older maintenance management systems, like paper and spreadsheets, you run the risk of bad data every time you copy over data manually or copy and paste between cells.
From there, the software helps you tackle on-demand work orders more efficiently, schedule and track PMs, and better control your MRO inventory.
Streamline on-demand workflows
Look at your current workflow for on-demand work orders and count all the places where data moves manually or by word of mouth. Those are all the spots where you risk confusion and corruption, slowing your team down, leading to breakdowns.
Modern work order management software keeps everything inside one system, ensuring everyone is looking at the same reliable data.
It starts with the online maintenance request portal, where people can submit requests for work. And because it has customizable data fields, the maintenance department is guaranteed to get the information it needs to make good decisions. From there, you can approve requests and then generate, prioritize, assign, and track work orders. Techs get work orders packed with everything they need to close out quickly, including detailed instructions, checklists, and digital-format manuals.
Enterprise asset management work orders also come with lists of associated parts and materials, ensuring techs arrive onsite with everything they need to get the job done. And when they close out, the software automatically updates your MRO inventory levels, so you always know how much you have in stock of any given item. And when you hit your customizable min level, the inventory management software sends you an alert, so you can set up your next purchase order. With all the vendor contact info inside the software, you can organize and send new orders directly from the CMMS.
Set up, schedule, and track preventive maintenance
Every department has its own key performance indicators (KPIs), and maintenance departments should spend a lot of time thinking about ways to reduce their on-demand work orders, switching instead to preventive maintenance inspections and tasks. The current thinking is to aim for a 20/80 split between reactive and preventive work orders.
EAM software helps you achieve best practices for preventive maintenance by automating the process. Start by setting up your PMs inside the software. For many of them, you can use templates. Once you’ve created your checklists and instructions, copying them over into new PMs takes just a few clicks. From there, you can schedule them based on usage or time, and the preventive maintenance software automatically generates and assigns them for you.
Taking control of your MRO starts with getting the right EAM solution.
Short, concise summary
MRO stands for maintenance, repair, and operations, and it’s all the assets, equipment, systems, and processes that make production possible. Although they make it possible, MRO does not appear in the final product. A huge part of MRO is the maintenance department. They’re the ones who keep assets and equipment online by looking after infrastructure repair and maintenance, production equipment repair and maintenance, material handling equipment maintenance, and tooling and consumables. To improve your MRO, you can negotiate better deals with suppliers and better control how you distribute MRO inventory. In terms of the processes, a modern CMMS software helps your maintenance team do more, faster and for less money, pushing up uptime and boosting the bottom line.