Have you ever considered, why does the building specification, designed by an architect years ago matter today?
When facilities are planned, a tremendous amount of effort goes into designing the look, the feel, and the functionality of the space. There are the under the hood questions, such as “what sort of plumbing and electrical systems does this building need, over the potential 50+ year lifespan of the facility? How many people will use each space, and how many restrooms will be required? How high will we need to pump the water, in order to maintain pressure in upper floors? There are also the customer facing decisions, such as what type of flush valves, faucets, and partitions would best serve this specific audience? The answers to all of these questions become the standard building specifications.
There are 3 primary reasons why maintaining building specification is important.
1. Commercial Quality Material
2. The Time and Cost of Maintenance
3. The Consistency of the Customer Experience
Commercial Quality Material
Plumbing maintenance and repair professionals know, commercial quality goods have a higher sticker price than residential plumbing, but it may not always be clear why. The secret is, commercial quality plumbing is designed to handle high volume usage, and be easily repaired, not replaced.
Commercial plumbing is intended to take a much more robust beating than your typical residential plumbing, which may only get used a handful of times a day. Commercial restrooms are designed to be used near constantly for years at a time with maximum up-time. In commercial restrooms, you will find heavy duty quality materials such as solid cast-brass flush valves and faucets, with minimal plastic parts. You will also find added functionality, like touchless operating toilets, urinals, sinks and hand dryers or towel dispensers. Some restrooms are uniquely equipped to meet specific use requirements, for example toilets capable of carrying 1000lbs, or mirrors that can’t be broken. If that’s what your facility calls for, these are all specialized commercial grade plumbing solutions.
Because the applications are so much more specific and demanding, they require a heavier grade of material, more advanced engineering and design, and typically a higher initial cost. The good news is, commercial grade material is also designed to be repaired using readily available, reasonably priced parts that can be sourced locally from specialty suppliers like The Part Works. Combine better quality materials with affordable repair parts and, the facility will enjoy cost savings over the life of the installation. Literally Time is Money.
Time and Cost of Maintenance
In the words of Mike McLeod, Field Technical Specialist for The Part Works, “When the maintenance team has a building standardfor plumbing fixtures and parts, they can keep repair parts in stock, so they don't have down time. When there is no building standard then the maintenance person ends up spending excess time searching and researching for repair parts and new fixtures.”
For most facility maintenance teams, labor is the biggest cost, dwarfing the cost of materials by 10:1 in many cases. While it may seem prudent to spend time shopping for better prices, or cheaper products, smart facility managers will ask the question; did the short-term material savings equal more than the costs of
a. Research time spent searching for alternatives
b. Building or section shut down and material installation time
c. Multiple trips for excess replacements time and materials
In some cases, you may find that the short-term material cost savings does outweigh the short-term labor cost. Maybe you saved $100 and it only took 20 minutes to find an alternative solution. But does that solution require major retrofit, opening walls, moving piping or power? Is it sufficiently industrial quality to sustain years of use in a demanding environment, or will you be replacing it again in 6 months? Usually cheaper is exactly what it sounds like, and will require significant extra time to repair and replace.
The biggest unknown with the time/cost of maintenance is the major, growing shortage of qualified plumbing professionals. By moving away from the original building spec, you compel your maintenance team to learn new, varied repair protocols, which can dramatically increase facility downtime, as your team learns new products. Not only will they be slower at each unfamiliar repair, but you will also find your stock room ballooning with repair parts for multiple mismatching products, and face even longer downtime ordering them.
By far, the most substantial hidden cost in sourcing your own materials, is the loss of support from knowledgeable outside technical specialists. At The Part Works, as at many other local distributors, we send out our technical specialists to help facilities find the right solution, in person, as quickly as possible. We do the product research, the sourcing, and the local warehousing of commercial quality goods, so that you don’t have to.As one of our technical specialists, Tyler Jones says “Especially in hospitals, we have to match up to spec, to keep everything in order as far as repairs. Techs know what they’re working on, the time it takes to get the product and the time it takes to fix the problem. This coincides with how long a room might be down and that costs the customer big money, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars a day in lost revenue.”
Consistency of customer experience
Finally, customer experience is essential to the success of facilities teams in all applications. If you work for a commercial real estate team and you manage buildings that others lease, those customers expect a professional, functioning, and aesthetically pleasing space, where all of the equipment matches and provides a consistent user experience. If you manage a hospital, your customer is the patient, their family and the healthcare staff. They expect properly equipped facilities that meet high demand, and specialized use requirements. And if you are the maintenance supervisor for a school district, your customers are the families and community whose tax dollars fund clean, functional facilities. By maintaining consistent, high quality, situationally appropriate plumbing, you can manage the customer experience, ensuring as much up-time as possible. In the future, this level of exceptional customer experience will support capital funding requests for needed improvements and expansion.