Tomorrow’s Facilities Management: Winter Maintenance Warning For Facilities Managers

Facilities managers get a timely reminder about the value of robust winter maintenance amid predictions of another ‘Beast from the East’ spell of extreme weather.

Predicting the weather is something of a mug’s game… But that doesn’t ever stop meteorologists and other climate experts from trying!

That’s precisely what climate researchers from University College London have done. They warn that the 2019-20 winter in the UK will be amongst the coldest for 30 years. This could mean scenes similar to the havoc caused by the ‘Beast from the East’ back in early 2018.

Only time will tell whether these cataclysmic conditions occur or not. But however harsh a winter we face, facilities managers can’t afford to be complacent.

Respected monthly magazine Tomorrow’s Facilities Management (Tomorrow’s FM) takes a look ahead to the coming season with a special section offering winter maintenance advice and guidance.

Why Does UPS Maintenance Matter During Winter?

Cold weather increases the stresses on the country’s power grid. Renewable sources such as solar and wind contribute less to the mix, putting pressure on other power generators.

Build-ups of snow and ice, or strong winds, can damage overhead power lines or fell trees that take down integral infrastructure on the transmission network.

And then as the snow and ice melt, there’s increased likelihood of hazardous flooding.

All this adds up to raise the risk of major power outages and disruptions, which for a facilities manager, threatens to put essential equipment, machinery, and other electronic devices into cold storage.

That’s why a UPS is an integral part of most estate management plans. But even the most reliable uninterruptible power supply isn’t infallible. Faults and failures can occur.

Consumables like fans and capacitors will require replacement when wear and tear takes its toll.

And batteries must be considered too. Typical lead-acid UPS batteries work at their best in a controlled environment at 20-25oC.

If they’re kept in a room affected by any sub-zero temperatures, then performance and service life will be heavily impacted.

How Facilities Managers Can Avoid Getting Caught Cold

Robust UPS maintenance is the best way of minimising the risk of downtime. Regularly servicing a UPS system – also known as a Preventive Maintenance Visit (PMV) – allows engineers to update firmware, check connections, and identify components that might need replacing.

It’s the equivalent of having an annual service on your car. UPS maintenance optimises performance and efficiency, reducing energy costs in the process, while it encourages better budgeting and future-planning.

Preventive maintenance is also proven to lengthen the life of many UPS parts by as much as 50%.

Our article cautions facilities managers to double-check several crucial criteria with any prospective supplier.

The most important of these is to clarify what a provider’s emergency response constitutes. Is it speaking to someone in an overseas call centre? Is it an automated email or SMS acknowledging the incident, or a highly-skilled engineer working on the UPS to fix the fault?

It’s also essential to find out which consumables are covered under the terms of the contract and which might incur a charge, and whether labour costs are included or not.