Managing a facility can be difficult, especially when you’re working with a big facility or a large number of them. Understanding the concept of hard facilities management, though, can greatly help.
What Is Hard Facilities Management?
Hard facilities management, also known as hard FM, is an assortment of services that concentrates on the physical components of a facility. The services included in hard FM are essential to preserving a building and its assets. Without hard services facilities management, the infrastructure would be compromised.
Given Hard FM’s role, every facility should incorporate it into its business strategy. Hard facilities management not only extends the lifespan of the building, but it can also provide your facility with a competitive edge when properly used.
For one thing, a well-run facility promotes productivity. Employees who work in a safe, clean, and well-operated facility tend to be more productive than those who don’t. And this consistent and enhanced productivity can significantly impact your company’s bottom line.
Beyond providing a good working environment, prioritizing hard FM also helps your facility maintain a positive impression on customers. After all, who would want to frequent a business that looks filthy and on the verge of collapse? Plus, certain laws — such as Clean Air laws and Energy Consumption laws — can also dictate the need for hard FM.
Soft vs Hard Facilities Management Services
Facilities management consists of two categories. The first is hard facility management services. The second, as you might have guessed, is soft facility management. What is the difference between the two?
As previously explained, hard facilities management deals with a facility’s physical aspects or components. On the other hand, soft facilities management has more to do with managing the usage of the facilities. As a quick comparison, services such as plumbing and HVAC maintenance fall under hard FM, while cleaning and landscaping fall under soft FM.
Understanding the difference between hard and soft FM is important because it will allow you to manage your facilities better. Categorizing the services lets you stay on top of tasks in a more efficient and effective way. The difference is hardly noticeable when managing just one facility or a small building. However, the benefits start to come to light once you manage larger buildings or multiple facilities.
Examples of Hard Facilities Management
Services under the hard FM umbrella relate to a facility’s physical components and structure. These services generally influence the safety and welfare of workers and visitors. But what are the more specific examples of hard FM services anyway?
The list of hard services in facilities management includes but is not limited to:
- Lighting. These include lighting fixtures and the electrical wiring that runs through them.
- Plumbing. It’s not just about ensuring you have running water or functional sinks. Plumbing in hard FM also means having the proper systems in place to remove wastewater and provide fresh water.
- HVAC systems. Whether it’s heating, air conditioning, or ventilation, it all falls under the building’s HVAC system. Ensuring your HVAC systems run smoothly is the key to providing clean air, a comfortable working environment, and a safe space for everyone.
- Fire systems. Services under this include fire and smoke detection, alert or notification systems, risk management, and relaying information to authorities.
- Gas. If your facility uses gas for whatever reason, gas maintenance under hard FM is vital.
- Electrical. No building can run smoothly without power. Thus, managers should ensure the maintenance of all electrical components, wiring, and fixtures.
- Mechanical. These include mechanical equipment, machines, and contraptions.
- Building maintenance. Hard FM also includes general building maintenance related to the facility’s physical structure and components.
How to Manage Hard FM Services
When it comes to facilities management, hard and soft alike, business owners often find trouble keeping things on track. With a packed schedule and other obligations, this is unsurprising. Yet, facilities management remains critical to the continuous operation of a business, so owners should make a way to prioritize it.
Here are the different options available for proper facilities management.
1. Employ Multiple Contractors
The first option is to hire multiple contractors to take care of hard and soft facilities management. One contractor can handle HVAC maintenance, while another handles the cleaning. One contractor can manage the plumbing, while another manages pest control. There are several ways to mix and match the services with the contractor.
One advantage of this option is that not all services will be affected should one contractor become incapacitated. For instance, if your HVAC maintenance provider suddenly closes, other services will continue. However, services can become quite disjointed if there are multiple contractors working on the same building. If you decide to go with this option, communication, and collaboration are vital.
2. Employ a Single Contractor
The second option is hiring only one contractor to handle soft and hard FM services. Obviously, the benefit of this option is that there is no disconnect. If one contractor manages everything, they only have to communicate between their own departments.
However, the downside of this option is that you only have one provider for everything. That means being left out to dry should your contractor suddenly become unavailable. This will leave you rushing to find a temporary or permanent replacement.
3. Employ an In-House Manager With an External Team of Contractors
The final option is to employ an in-house facilities manager who will oversee everything. All the services, though, will be provided by third-party contractors. This has the benefit of the first option while sidestepping communication problems. The in-house manager can coordinate with all contractors, ensure there are no scheduling conflicts, and ensure that everything stays on the right track.
What Is Hard FM? Answered!
Hard facilities management is clearly important to all buildings. Unfortunately, finding the right contractor who can provide a wide breadth of hard FM services can be hard. This is where MSI comes in.
Maintenance Specialists Inc. offers a diverse range of facilities management services. Call us today at 704.405.6000 or contact us online for a free estimate!
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