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EXCLUSIVE How the University of Salford got fast maintenance service

18 August 2014

The inside story of how a CAFM suite supplied by McLaren Software has helped the University of Salford get fast maintenance service

The University of Salford has been using CAFM Explorer since the early 1990s and since that time has been one of the pioneers in helping direct the future development of the product. CAFM Explorer is currently handling the university’s built asset, about 157,000m2 of space in buildings situated in parkland on the banks of the River Irwell and less than two miles from Manchester city centre. More than 20,000 students use the buildings, many structures dating from the ‘60s and ‘70s.

CAFM Explorer handles the university’s planned and preventative maintenance, from fixing a door-handle to upgrading boiler systems. Salford has grown to 31 buildings on three campuses, plus the huge Castle Irwell Student Village of 68 houses and 10 blocks of flats.

A major campus upgrade strategy currently underway includes the Gateway media and arts building to open in September 2015. In 2006 the £22m Mary Seacole Building, a purpose-built five-storey facility for the College of Health & Social Care opened and the £10m Lady Hale Building for the Salford Law School opened in February 2008.

To maintain this, Salford’s estates function has 350 in-house staff including about 100 trades and technical people for fast-reactive work, something for which CAFM Explorer has proved invaluable. The CAFM Explorer software has enabled the facilities staff, as well as academics and students in accommodation, to get the fast well-coordinated maintenance service they deserve.

“Our use of CAFM Explorer initially grew slowly but has now reached a major milestone,” says Vicky Booth. As head of administrative services within the university’s estates & property services department for the past five years, Vicky overlooks the
management of CAFM Explorer and promotes its expansion through the estate. “The software has enabled the facilities staff, as well as academics and students in accommodation, to get the fast well-coordinated maintenance service they deserve.”

CAFM Explorer is now essential for helping the university’s strategic expansion plans and cost-effective use of current space. Building drawings have all been uploaded into CAFM Explorer which can display data about individual rooms including which department owns the area, room size, renovation and maintenance history. “If we knock down a wall and update the drawings, CAFM Explorer takes the new data and automatically adjusts the building and room information,” explains Vicky.

Estates maintenance staff is kept organised through the CAFM Explorer Help Desk which handles more than 1,400 requests a month. Of these, about 900 are reactive work orders that take priority. To improve further the efficiency of maintenance staff, Vicky is looking to introduce the latest CAFM Web module. It will allow facility staff to constantly be aware of jobs pending, completed and the next job due.

All academic and administrative staff throughout the university have access to the CAFM Explorer portal so they can log a request for maintenance to the facility staff. Booth also says a fast efficient maintenance service is especially important for 1,060 students living in the Castle Irwell Village.

A dedicated portal for students
A special portal specifically for students has been developed to meet the 24/7 accommodation service the students have paid for. “Each student flat and house can access the portal which is a direct link to the on-site facilities people. If something needs attention, then reactive maintenance happens very fast,” says Vicky.

CAFM Explorer will greatly aid in the relocation of students and academic staff when the Gateway Project’s School of Arts & Media building in Chapman Square opens in mid-2015. Facilities will include a theatre, recording and photography studios, café areas, performance and rehearsal spaces, computer suites and lecture theatres.

Easy monitoring of stock levels
About 1,500 items in the university’s onsite warehouse are being strategically monitored by the CAFM Explorer Stock Control module - a module created in large part from Salford’s
needs and experience. The University of Salford was instrumental in helping set up the CAFM Explorer Stock Control module based on its own experience and which is now widely used by many CAFM Explorer customers.

A visual check of stock levels for everything from drain plugs and drainage grills to combat trousers are available through CAFM Explorer. Sign-out of stock items is onto a job ticket and re-order point notifications are automatically sent out when levels are depleted. Stock levels can also be tracked and analysed per project, showing what has been issued, for what work and over what period of time.

A novel use of CAFM Explorer Room & Resources Booking is to keep track of the university’s vehicles which are used around the campus for relocation as well as making deliveries within the city. Resource Booker gives a clear view of where the vehicle is and
will be several weeks thereafter.

Powerful reporting capabilities
Vicky Booth says one of the most strategic uses of CAFM Explorer is the software’s Report Explorer. It’s a cost and performance system that analyses compliance to service level agreements (SLAs). These SLAs range from reacting to an ‘immediate’ job order within an hour, within eight hours for an ‘urgent’ job and within 10 working days for a ‘non-urgent’ job.

The Report Explorer module is extremely flexible, allowing a performance analysis of any facility team member. It can show how many jobs have been started, finished, put on hold and how many SLA’s the person has met.

Report Explorer also allows the estates department to re-charge some of its services back to a client, such as work done for the on-site sports centre, says Vicky. Salford uses the CAFM Report Scheduler to alert senior management when contracts are coming up for renewal. The alert is set for two to three months before renewal, allowing manager’s time to review the contracts well before re-tendering or resigning.

CAFM Explorer User Group
The University of Salford has benefited greatly from its relationship with the CAFM Explorer User Group who are constantly sharing best practices and providing feedback allowing CAFM Explorer to be enhanced further. “Learning solely from your own experience is much harder,” says Vicky, who regularly attends the user development groups. “The biggest strength of CAFM Explorer and working with McLaren is the partnership. People, especially those in user development groups, share experiences to make a great product even more user-friendly and better all round.”

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