As the economy re-opened after the painful aftermath of the lockdown, facilities which had long been dormant were slowly re-opened and got into operation. The laborious task of getting facilities fully operational, safe for occupants has several implications for effective facility management. New safety precautions and guidelines have surfaced, which the facility manager is shrewd to carefully put into observance. There are tasks relating to sanitation, fire avoidance, electrical, inspections. Preparation is needed for more aggressive inspections, and other facility-specific operations whilst not sacrificing productivity at the same time. Even crucial is the need to ensure that the facility manager is better prepared to meet any other disaster that may surface during re-opening.
The following are recommended procedures to guide the facility manager when preparing for re-opening. They were much relevant during the post-Covid gloom but can be applied to the process of restoring any facility which has been dormant for a period of time and needs to get fully operational as quickly as possible.
Marshalling the Right Tools
A computerized maintenance management system, the CMMS in place means maintenance cannot get complicated. CMMS stores all maintenance information in one centralized system and can run the reports using real-time data. It is also useful for emergency preparedness. CMMS should be allowed control over all maintenance operations, and this will in turn ensure faster, easier operational readiness.
The current authority health guidelines (state and local) must be thoroughly understood. This is important in the area of cleaning and disinfecting. If the facility has been unoccupied for a long time due to Covid-19, the recommendations for completing normal routine cleaning and disinfecting from the national body for disease control may have to be studied and implemented. Only when the facility intends to start operations on a limited basis does the facility manager apply the state and local health guidelines only.
A checklist is a special document every business (should) possesses to help their standardization and regulations to ensure quality assurance, optimal efficiency, and good practices. It improves accuracy, helps with inventorying, promotes consistency, strengthens collaboration, and provides regulatory compliance. A CMMS employed will easily incorporate checklists on work orders and track progress made in real-time.
STRUCTURE OF THE FACILITY
- Debris: All debris from sidewalks, hallways, corridors, etc., should be removed.
- Roof: The roofs should be inspected and repaired for any leaks, damage, debris, blockages, etc.
- Gutters: It is important that debris is cleared from these, and drainage channels are fully functional.
- Water Damage: The ceilings and walls should be inspected for any signs of water damage.
- Mold: Inspection of the whole facility to ensure the absence of mold anywhere.
- Stagnant Water: The interior and outside adjoining areas must harbor no standing water.
- Water Supply: The threat of bacterial growth hazard is real if there are dormant pipes and plumbing materials.
- Worker Environment: Cleaning and disinfection of all areas must be done in line with health authority guidelines.
- Social Distancing: All workstations and workspaces must be designed with the health guidelines.
- Flammable Liquids: All flammable liquid containers from various rooms, from ventilation, electrical, drainage, fire protection, etc., must be checked for leaks or damage, and accordingly tagged and stored in a ventilated area.
- Communications: As some sanitation procedures will have become part of the new routine, a good communication plan needs to be created to keep workers informed at all times.
FIRE SAFETY CHECKS
- Extinguishers: They must be easily accessible and must be recharged when necessary. The communications on fire safety and their use must be displayed and relayed to all workers. The special extinguishers must be clearly marked.
- Sprinklers: Valves must be in proper positions; gauges must be undamaged and operable.
- Escape Plans: The routes and paths in case of a fire must be free of any clutter, doors unblocked, emergency lighting fully functional, and exit signs should be easily visible and illuminated.
- Inspections: That all maintenance and inspections expected of the facility are current is a task for the facility manager.
- Dangerous Liquids Storage: Proper storage and careful management of all hand sanitizers, disinfectants, and cleaning supplies.
- Facilities Fire Protection Plan: This must be constantly reviewed, updated and implemented.
- Machines: all machines must be properly grounded
- Junction Boxes: All junction boxes must be inspected to make sure that they are fitted and that they close properly.
- Extension Cords: These should not be placed where there is heavy traffic, such as main aisles, they must be checked to be in good condition, far from water, can handle the voltage of whatever device is plugged in and are the proper length.
- Test: All relays, breakers, fused disconnects must be tested and repaired if found to be bad.
- Generators: Backup power distribution systems, generators must be inspected and tested.
- Outlets: All sockets, cables, equipment and electrical systems must be inspected and repaired if any damage.
- Electrical Code: All electrical devices must be properly coded so as to ensure compliance with regulations
- Power Distribution: There must have been no changes in the power distribution and requirements for the facility.
- Wiring: Very important is the wiring which must have been inspected and repaired for any damage.
HVAC & PLUMBING SYSTEMS
The checklist for restoring HVAC and plumbing systems to any facility, after months or years of being inoperative varies across facility specifications and the type of HVAC systems previously implemented. The following can be reviewed as a general guide:
- Operational: The whole system must be checked to confirm if operational and any necessary repairs must be made.
- Maintenance: when the coils, heat wheels, louvers, and dampers are all confirmed to be clean, it ensures that the louvers and dampers are in good working condition.
- Floor Drains: No obstacle must be blocking all drains. This needs inspection and cleaning to be carried out.
- Flush: It is a good idea to flush the facility’s water system to eliminate the possibility of bacteria or mold.
- Manufacturer’s requirements: All maintenance specified by the manufacturer must be followed. Filters should be cleaned or replaced, pumps and motors lubricated.
MACHINERY AND EQUIPMENT
- Restart: The manufacturer’s guidelines and procedures for starting up equipment and break-in periods for machinery should be adhered to.
- Cleaning/Disinfection: Before operations resume, all tools and machinery should be inspected, cleaned and disinfected.
- Training: Employees can go take a crash course or be re-trained on machinery use and safety.
- Machinery and Equipment maintenance: For critical equipment, all safeguards should be properly in place, lubricants replaced, also cooling fluids, belts, etc.
- Machine Tolerance: Sensors and monitoring devices should be checked to be working properly. This means monitoring the calibrations and alignment.
- Inspections: Inspection frequency should be ramped up until it is certain that all equipment and machinery are working at normal capacity.
- Sanitation: The local health guidelines for sanitation procedures should be followed for the facility’s reopening.
- Social Distancing: The guidelines on social distancing should be followed for the reopening.
- Protective Gear: Communication on the usage of all protective equipment such as masks, coverings, etc., should be explicit to employees.
- Contingency Plan: On the possibility of an infected person entering or visiting the facility, a contingency plan for emergency sanitation should be in place to protect employees.
The checklist above is comprehensive, but not exhaustive. They are just part of the recommendations a competent facility manager may want to implement after a shutdown. There is also a need to protect employees, keep environments safe, ensure IAQ, keep equipment running at peak performance, proper documentation for inspections, keep inventory well stocked. Having CMMS software ensures that maintenance operations continue to work through any disaster.