How to boost hospital building safety and asset maintenance

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In recent blog articles, we’ve been exploring facets of hospital resilience as they relate to facility management systems and infrastructure. In our view, these aspects of resilience are the most important attributes hospitals need to stay flexible, adaptable, fully functional, and safe in dealing with everything from utilization fluctuations to natural disasters. To ensure continuity of services, asset maintenance tops the list.

asset mainenance

Beyond the areas of hospital resilience covered so far–power reliability, holistic cybersecurity, and the growing use of remote services–we encourage hospitals to think about enhancing their efforts to maintain the availability and longevity of their building management system (BMS) components as part of a broader focus on resilience.

One healthcare executive who participated in a recent Schneider Electric panel discussion on resilient hospitals observed that “Asset maintenance frees up funds for investing in and improving healthcare delivery and ultimately raises the system’s performance and effectiveness.”

Because hospital operations depend so heavily on the BMS and its associated technologies, safeguarding and maintaining these systems is mission-critical.

The most effective approach to asset maintenance and protection in the future will be the ability to tap into the power of predictive maintenance using analytics and algorithms based on big data to anticipate problems well before they can lead to costly downtime or disrupt the continuity of services.

Though predictive maintenance capabilities for hospital infrastructure are in the early phases of development, hospitals can put themselves on the right path by embracing digitalization and the cloud-based apps and analytics tools that are currently available.

Digitalization to the Rescue

Smooth building operations are a cornerstone of the safe and reliable delivery of patient care. An electrical network, HVAC, or BMS failure can halt a hospital’s ability to deliver that care. Fortunately, the digitalization of facility infrastructure systems is yielding a smarter strategy for asset protection.

Digitalization puts infrastructure components, such as electrical circuit breakers, water pumps, lighting, and other critical systems on a network using IoT and IT networking technologies. This enables the hospital to collect vast amounts of data related to device status, health, and changing environmental conditions so that software management systems can proactively and increasingly predictively respond to, maintain, and protect the infrastructure. Without digitalization, management and maintenance remains slow, manual, and reactive.

Innovations are spurring a rapid evolution in building management systems away from calendar-based maintenance that uses staff time inefficiently to condition-based maintenance that uses data analytics to identify issues in their earliest stages.

These services can be managed remotely by an external partner, with on-site asset maintenance visits by technicians only when they’re needed.

Asset Maintenance Made Smarter

More hospitals pursuing resilience are moving to the proactive monitoring of their management system components and condition-based preventive asset maintenance to preemptively address issues that might otherwise put their operations at risk, disrupt continuity or reduce the life span of assets and raise the total cost of ownership. The approach reduces downtime costs and operating costs and can defer capital expenditures.

Condition-based asset maintenance brings technicians on-site when the system is in or approaching a “less than acceptable” state, that is, when a variable such as temperature, voltage, or current falls outside of set thresholds and when maintenance is most needed. The approach reduces unnecessary maintenance on systems that are currently performing at acceptable levels, as well as time previously spent on calendar-based checks. These efficiencies free facility management staff to focus on other, more critical tasks and help reduce the risk of human error.

The computations used in condition-based asset maintenance take into consideration an adequate margin to ensure the system remains in operation until maintenance can occur. A familiar example of condition-based maintenance is the “check engine light” on modern car dashboards, in which the engine and vehicle systems management computers detect readings that are out of the expected range well before the driver notices anything amiss.

The data-driven, condition-based approach to asset maintenance and protection has clear safety implications, as well as financial benefits in terms of asset longevity, total cost of ownership, and the more productive and efficient use of staff time.

EcoStruxure for Healthcare helps to identify problems before they become an issue for the hospital by using the best data to help track energy spend and allocating resources wisely. For more information, please download our white paper on effective maintenance for data center physical infrastructure.

Keep the conversation going! Tune in to Schneider Electric’s new Podcast Series for Everyday Extraordinary Healthcare focusing on Resiliency. Start listening.

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