If your team doesn’t have an established inspection rounds routine or your existing one needs a refresh, it’s time to get organized. In this guide, I’ll show you some simple steps to get started:
Identify your locations
Grab a notebook or open the notes app on your phone and walk through your facility. On this first pass, note every location that your FM team is responsible for and will need to stay on top of.
Approach it as if you were mapping out a day. What happens when the team arrives for a shift? Are the fire panels checked on the way in? Loading dock? Do you look at your BMS? Note everything at first…you can always pare it down later if need be.
Cooling towers and other large pieces of equipment should be listed as locations.
- Boiler room
- Chiller plant
- Cooling towers
- Generator room
- Water meters
- Electric meters
- Parking lot
For each location, write general notes of why it’s being checked. Ex. “Boiler room – make sure both boilers are operating safely and efficiently, and stay on top of routine maintenance. Or “Stairwell A – ensure stairwell is safe and clean for tenants.”
List your checkpoints
Once you have your locations, indicate what needs to be checked. This may seem daunting, and it won’t be perfect right away. But remember, it’s an iterative process and you’re taking the most important step: the first one.
Before you worry about the details, simply list out everything you can think of. Here are some things you might want to check in a boiler room, for instance:
- Visual inspection (anything to report in this room?)
- B-1 (Boiler #1) Water Level
- B-1 Control Switch
- B-1 Flue Gas Temp
- B-1 Pressure
- B-1 Oxygen Level
- B-1 Combustion Air Temp
- B-1 Blower Motor Speed
- B-1 Firing Rate
- B-1 Flame Signal
- B-1 Fuel Supply & Feed Water Valves
- B-1 Burner Operation
- B-1 Gas Meter Reading
Indicate routine activities in this location as well…
- B-1 Test Low Water Cut-Off
- B-1 Blow Down Boiler
IMPORTANT: Your daily maintenance routine may be significantly shorter than this initial list, so don’t hold back. Include everything, better to take it off the list later than to forget to check it.
Eventually, you’ll need to do this for every Location in your building, but if that’s too much to tackle right now, start with one location and move onto the next step. You can always go back and repeat for each location once you get up and running.
Create your schema (template included)
Now it’s time to create what we call a “schema.” Basically, it’s just an outline of your plan. Ultimately, it will help build your log sheets, but it’s an important step that lets you visualize things at a high level. This can also be invaluable to new employees, future owner/managers, contractors, engineering, etc. It’s the framework of a custom maintenance manual tailored to your building.
We created a template to help you with this part. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE TEMPLATE. Follow the examples at the top as you fill in the details for your own building.
For each Checkpoint you listed in the previous step, note all of the details you can:
- Unit of measure – this can be an actual unit like °f or psi, or it can be something more general like Off, Completed, or Everything OK
- Frequency – how often should your team complete this check or perform this action?
- Minimum and maximum values – this is optional and only for items with a numerical value, but if you know the target operating range, be sure to put it in here
- Explanation text – finally, this is a catch-all for anything you think might be relevant to completing this task. It can take the form of an instruction, description of what to watch out for, a phone number of a vendor, a part spec, or anything else…put any relevant notes here.
Remember, you can edit any of this information later.
Having trouble filling in your schema details?
Unsure of how often something should be checked? Can’t remember ideal operating ranges? Here are a few ways to uncover missing information to make your schema as complete as possible:
Check the manual. This might be a bit obvious, but if you can find manuals for your equipment, they should include maintenance recommendations. Use them.
Search the internet. If your manual is missing, most can be found online. Search by your equipment’s model number. There is sure to be something useful out there.
Ask your service vendor or sales rep. Send someone to observe, record, and ask questions next time your service rep is on-site. If you express a genuine interest in the equipment they know so well, you may get a little tutorial. Ask what they think you should check between services. Your sales rep may have this type of information available as well.
Look into what you already have. Most engineering rooms I’ve seen have a big messy file cabinet or bookshelf somewhere. Now is the time to dig through it. Does your have building have engineering or equipment documents stored somewhere?
If possible, look through your equipment’s commissioning reports. They can be a bit technical but worth looking into. All the testing performed on your equipment when it was installed should be recorded in these docs. Equipment lists, operating parameters, test procedures, drawings, manuals, and more could be in there as well.
Newer buildings are even including a formal maintenance plan with the commissioning report. This change is an indication of how critical maintenance is.
Ask your staff. Your team may have experience with some of this equipment, or have contacts or resources that could help. Sometimes you just need to ask.
Post questions to The Wall. Dan Holohan’s web forum is primarily focused on steam heating, but it’s full of experienced FM pros who are often eager to provide answers to your questions.
Create your log sheets
Your logbook and log sheets, be they digital or on paper, are your most important deliverables.
This is where my bias is going to show…at this point, the best thing to do is email your schema to firstname.lastname@example.org and my team will set you up with a free trial customized to your facility. (If you just want to learn more about LogCheck fill out the form on this page, no schema necessary).
We turn each “checkpoint” into a “log” in our system. A digital logbook is far more useful than any paper log sheet and will help you get much more value out of the rounds that your team does.
If you must stick with paper log sheets, your schema file is a great starting point. Create and rename a copy of your schema file. Reformat it to make it useful for your team. Print it and give to your team to fill in as they do their work in the field. Like the schema, make each task a single row and save the columns for organizing details.
Tips for paper log sheets
One row, one reading – You may be tempted to put a slash between similar readings, but you should resist that urge. You may need to reformat your log sheet one day and you’ll be spending time separating the readings you grouped together.
Organize by time interval – Group tasks that will be completed together. Put the weekly boiler room tasks adjacent to weekly pump room tasks. LogCheck automatically shows you what needs to be done, when. Paper won’t do that, so you need to get ahead of that yourself.
No checkboxes – They may save space on a sheet but they don’t provide an opportunity for any notes. On top of that I don’t think they convey the criticality of maintenance. Make checkbox items into “select a choice” and always make one option see notes. It’s easier to encourage recording notes when there is a good place to put them.
Leave space for notes and tips – You should encourage and be particularly interested in notes. Nothing is hunky dory every day, write it down. These notes are where problems are identified and solutions begin.
Don’t overformat – Don’t try to get too cute with this. Almost all log sheets will and should change over time. The more formatting you add the harder it will be to make the inevitable changes in the future. Do not merge and hide cells either, it’ll cause you more trouble down the road.
Don’t worry about too many pages – Not yet. You need to get your content right first. Keep it simple even if it means having a few more sheets to carry around. When you have it nailed down you can start optimizing the real estate on your log sheet.
Paper log sheets aren’t ideal, but sometimes they’re all you have. Request a free LogCheck trial to see what you may be missing.
Test and deploy
Once you have a log sheet or digital logbook put together, take it for a test drive! Walk through your building doing ONLY what’s on your log sheet. Did you cover everything you want done? If not, add to it. Did checkpoints occur in the right order or were you doubling back? Reorder or put the checkpoint in a more appropriate location.
If you have a team, get them to test and help you refine it as well. Not only will it help you uncover things you might not have caught before, it can help instill ownership in your team. Getting buy-in can be difficult, but including them in the process can help with that.
Finally, start doing rounds based on the plan you’ve made! If you’re a Chief, pay attention to the readings that your team takes each shift and hold them accountable for them. It can be easy to lose sight of how important rounds are, but in my experience, it truly separates great buildings from the rest. So start building your plan today!
Ready to take your plan to the next level? Request a demo to see how LogCheck can help you get the most of our routine inspections.