Lifecycle Sustainability

Software Fit for a King

Medieval castles require constant upkeep and attention to detail. Unlike Hogwart's Castle in Harry Potter novels, plumbing systems are not magically repaired with the swish of a wand and complicated computerized central air and heating systems are amenities required by even the most steadfast historian or luddite.

Hence, when John Summers took the helm as head of support services at Leeds Castle, an English medieval castle in Kent dating back to the 12th century, he knew that effective facilities management would be a daunting, but necessary undertaking. While it withstood catapults and battering rams in the time of Edward the First, today's threats are of a more mundane nature. Corrosion, erosion and contamination aren't lethal but just as capable of shutting it down. The castle is currently used as a conference and tourist centre. As with today's manufacturing operations, organizing, scheduling and tracking the work done on the castle and its grounds is key.

Its facilities-management system was as antiquated as the castle itself - preventive maintenance was a pure paper system with no tracking or accountability. Summers needed to streamline and automate the maintenance process to ensure equipment was running smoothly before guests were affected. A seasoned veteran of facilities management, Summers understood the importance of an efficient computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). His maintenance staff consists of 10 tradesmen-two work inside the castle and eight manage the rest of the 500- acre estate. Equipment is diverse: boilers, plumbing systems, computerized lighting, vehicles, farm machinery, catering equipment, laundry, air conditioning, fiber optic lighting, computer systems, network infrastructure, security and fire alarms.


Before the implementation of a CMMS system by CWorks Systems, there was uncertainty in the status of work requests submitted by service staff. Similarly, maintenance workers were unsure whether a request had been duplicated. Employees now use the system's work request feature to enter a request using only the description of the work required. Additional information is added by the maintenance staff later. These work orders are printed from the backlog when they are to be executed and assigned by the supervisor. Details of the work done and materials used are filled in so the work order costs and details are recorded against the equipment on which it was performed. Work requests are entered directly on the computer thus saving several steps in the process.

The ease of entering detailed information into the database enables managers to see a full cost and repair history for every piece of equipment. High cost and inefficient equipment are highlighted for continuous improvement. Additionally, this system shows where maintenance time is consumed - not always where people think. The maintenance at Leeds is now calendar based and there is a record of whether work has been done. More importantly, data ensures the preventive maintenance being done is effective. Experience at Leeds illustrates that even for a small staff with no dedicated planner, the correct CMMS can be an invaluable tool for improving maintenance and making a positive contribution to the bottom line.

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