The Value and Benefit of Predictive Maintenance
Generally speaking, parking structure repair becomes top-of-mind for parking structure owners and parking management companies when there’s a problem — or worse, when they’re informed of a problem by someone else. With predictive maintenance, the surprises are eliminated, including damages, associated costs and unexpected downtime.
Predictive vs. preventative
Preventative maintenance is probably already a familiar term. It’s simply using past knowledge to stop larger repairs from being needed via routine, expected maintenance. As part of our business model, it helps parking structure owners with keeping repair costs down.
Predictive maintenance takes it a step further. Predictive maintenance assesses everything about a structure and uses that information (alongside our existing knowledge) to make informed predictions about what’s needed over the next three to five years. Predictive maintenance, unlike preventative maintenance, is based on figuring out what could happen to a structure due to how it was built, where it is and what it might experience.
A note to keep in mind, here: Most parking structure owners think that predictive maintenance isn’t really needed for a newly constructed garage. That’s not the case. In fact, the best time to start a predictive maintenance program is just after construction is finished.
The biggest benefit of performing a predictive audit on your newly constructed garage is that we may find issues that are still covered under warranty. Most parking structures come with a one-year warranty from the general contractor, so if we find a construction issue, like poor concrete cover, fixing it may be covered at no cost to you. Construction issues like these can accelerate deterioration, and that means a much shorter life for your garage and more potential repairs. By catching issues early, predictive maintenance can cut down on those problems and extend your parking structure’s service life.
The true cost of deferred maintenance
“Cost of deferral” is a term we use a lot at StructureCare. Simply put, it’s what can happen when small repairs aren’t made, leading to larger, costlier repairs. There are three types of service that a parking structure needs:
Interim maintenance: These are routine, small-ticket things that need to be done for a garage to be kept in good condition — your basic parking garage maintenance.
Service life replacements: This is the process of keeping up with items that have a limited service life, like waterproofing systems. These items wear down over time, so replacing them regularly is important.
Repairs and restoration: These range from relatively small to time-consuming, expensive repairs. Small or large, these types of projects are almost always avoidable when routine maintenance and service life replacements schedules are kept.
The good news is that we’ve found keeping up with the first two items on the list above makes the third item almost nonexistent for parking structure owners. And that’s what we’re talking about when we refer to “cost of deferral.” If interim maintenance and service life replacement is not done regularly, a parking garage will need repair and restoration. And that comes with a lot more cost and time. But keeping up with interim maintenance and service life replacements lets your approach to maintenance be routine and predictable, not reactionary.
Predictive maintenance in action
Predictive maintenance is an ongoing process that investigates not only how a parking structure was built but what is affecting it today and can potentially affect it in the future. It helps uncover the underlying cause of a problem instead of just the symptom, allowing for a long-term fix. Predictive maintenance strategies also evaluate the effectiveness of previous repairs while proactively monitoring and addressing service life replacement needs.
On top of that, a predictive approach assesses structural maintenance and repair strategies for value. By making sure to maximize repair and maintenance dollars, predictive maintenance can reveal the cost of addressing repair needs now compared to the cost of deferral.
In short, predictive maintenance is a program that looks at likely areas of accelerated deterioration, investigates likely areas where deterioration can occur and plans maintenance and upkeep to maximize the value of repair costs.
The entirety of predictive maintenance hinges on proactive solutions, reducing risks and managing life cycle costs. At StructureCare, we condense these ideas into anticipate, mitigate and control.
Anticipate — For our service contract clients, we perform a combination of full-scale assessments, field investigations and reviews. We use our findings to develop strategies to mitigate the root cause of any problems and help our clients prioritize the work that needs to be done.
Mitigate — When StructureCare finds a problem, we move into the mitigate phase. This is where we complete preventative repairs and maintenance.
Control — With both the anticipate and mitigate steps in place, you gain control over the future of your parking structure. Control, in this case, means you can plan for repairs with less disruption to operation, stretch your budget further and not wake up to a big, costly problem.
Predictive maintenance, at its core, is about making decisions rather than responding to issues. Slowing down the rate of deterioration, managing life cycle costs and maximizing service life all lead to the best return on maintenance investment.
Why predictive maintenance is so valuable
Predictive maintenance is all about time. Without it, you’re stuck reacting to problems — and typically not at a time that is convenient. When you’re focused on interim repair and service life replacement instead (discovered in the “anticipate” phase and handled in the “mitigate” phase explained above), you aren’t just responding to problems. You have time to plan out when repairs are going to happen.
For example, with predictive maintenance, you can plan to install a new waterproofing treatment on your schedule. Instead of an emergency repair that shuts down your garage during your busiest month, you can look ahead and select a slower period when this service life replacement will happen. That way, you avoid an emergency leak situation, minimize disruption and can budget for the repair.
Another big benefit of predictive maintenance is how much it can extend the life of your parking structure. Typically, a garage’s service life is 70 to 75 years, and neglect can drastically reduce it. But with a predictive maintenance program in place, parking garage owners can see double or triple the service life of a neglected garage.
Predictive maintenance also helps you maximize the use of your garage. If even a part of your garage is in bad shape, it may take hundreds of parking spaces out of use, which costs you revenue. By keeping up with maintenance and addressing issues proactively, you ensure the whole structure is usable for the long term. And although you’re going to spend more consistently on maintenance over the life of your parking structure, it’s still far less than you’d spend tearing down and rebuilding a brand-new garage.
How to get started
Getting started with predictive maintenance can seem huge, but the truth is the right partner can help. Instead of depending on an assortment of groups (structural contractors, engineering firms, project managers, consultants, etc.), it’s best to find a single partner who can own everything. And that’s what we do — from assessing a parking structure to inspection and repair. With one partner who owns the program, predictive maintenance becomes the key to unlocking the longevity of a parking structure. Partner with us for a predictive audit of your parking structure. From there, we’ll work with you to determine maintenance and repair strategies and discuss what practices and structural preservation systems can be put in place to avoid more costly repair work in the future. Plus, we’ll educate your training and maintenance staff so they can spot issues and get them resolved faster and more accurately.