Facilities & Construction Office at Texas A&M Health Science Center

Building Asset Tracking
University Business, July/August 2012
Texas A&M Health Science Center
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The use of iPods for communication allow technicians like plumber Sam Perry to know where the next job is without checking back in at the office.

Before August 2011, Texas A&M Health Science Center Facilities & Construction office (FCO) employees frequently used hand-written notes to record and track building problems reported on its eight campuses. Faculty, students, staff, and visitors used a variety of methods to report problems, including phone calls, email, and catching someone in the hall to request help. From building temperature issues to electrical problems or falling ceiling tiles, there was no process for tracking requests or operational trail of the department’s daily work, outside of purchases made. Identifying which equipment was starting to fail and making projections were tough, says Clay Hanks, director of operations and facilities management.

“We had silos of information, with purchase orders managed in one database, human resources managed in another, service contracts tracked in an Excel spreadsheet, and space management tracked in an Access database,” he explains. Budgets were also standalone.

In the fall of 2009, FCO operations was centralized under Hanks and Mark Cervenka, facilities manager, to enable financial decision, planning, and reporting to be made with all eight campuses in mind. Then, in 2011 in response to state budget cuts, FCO implemented AiM, a web-based enterprise asset management solution from AssetWorks.

AiM makes reporting and tracking of problems simpler, using a website where anyone on campus can log a request for repair. The system turns that request into an assignment to be distributed to an FCO technician. Every work order is tracked and linked to labor and parts costs, which aids the office in spotting trends and anticipating equipment failure. The system also keeps the original customer informed regarding progress on the problem reported, including if a delay is due to out-of-stock parts, explains Cervenka.

Implementation of AiM is expected to save the Texas A&M Health Center $98,475 annually, based on the efficiency of reporting it provides, reports Corey Losinski, assistant director for Facilities and Construction. Streamlining business processes across eight campuses has been one of the single most important factors of this savings, he adds.

To aid in communicating with employees on-site, FCO purchased 24 iPod Touch devices. Now technicians don’t have to return to the campus office in between each repair request, says Cervenka. Using the iDesk app for iPhone and iPod, FCO first ran a one-month pilot with technicians who already owned iPhones, to see how a paperless process might work. After confirming a positive ROI, the office spent $5,500 on the additional devices. Hanks conservatively estimates that first-year efficiency and productivity savings will exceed $44,200.

“Everyone needs to be more accountable, to operate with the leanest of budgets, and justify how money is being spent,” says Cervenka. “This system provides efficiencies and reporting capabilities to make that possible.”