As we leave the EU in a month’s time, (if all goes to plan!), there has been much discussion about the impact on the FM industry. One of the interesting, and sometimes alarming, discussion points has been around a potential shortage of labour, driving up costs and impacting the ability to perform contracts within agreed SLA’s. The reality is that no-one really knows for definite, especially with the current uncertainty of deal or no-deal.
One thing is for sure, it’s unlikely that there will be an excess of labour within the FM sector. The question therefore is, how can a mobile labour force be more productive? Is there a way of maximising the time spent by the labour force on site, and therefore producing value for the client and earning money for the client? Conversely, is there a way of minimising the ‘dead’ time spent by the labour force on ‘non-value’ or ‘non-earning’ tasks?
Let’s look at where the majority of dead time is spent. A recent survey by a major facilities manager revealed that the average time to collect materials was well over an hour. This astounding fact is even more revealing when you start looking at this across a 50 person mobile engineer force that collect once a day.
It comes to an enormous 12,500 hours. That is over six engineer’s time for the whole year. Put it another way, it is 12.5% of the labour force time spent collecting.
Time is also wasted on:
- Sourcing materials for jobs
- Raising requisitions
- Miscommunication to central office on what is required
- Late deliveries
- Damaged materials
- Lack of reporting
- Inability to raise quotes fast to the client
So how can engineers’ time be as productive as possible? By that I mean, earning money for the company which is, in the majority of contracts, time spent on site alone.
It’s taking a LEAN approach to sourcing, requisitioning, quoting, ordering and delivering materials to the engineer that can save astronomical amounts of time, vastly reducing the cost of performing the contract and reducing the exposure to changes in the labour market as a result of external factors such as Brexit.
Working with key suppliers, it’s absolutely critical that the following applies:
- A requisition should only need to be keyed once and ideally by the engineer on site.
- Deliveries should be on-time in-full and direct-to-site
- Engineers and planners should know exactly when deliveries are due and notified once delivered
- Bespoke and meaningful reporting should be issued to facilities managers to keep management in control
- Quotations should be able to be raised at point of visit to give clients rapid estimates of work
Through the use of technology, and strong supplier relationships, an incredible amount of time can be saved and errors reduced.
It allows jobs to be completed quicker and more efficiently, as well as freeing up engineers to do what they are best at, resolving issues on site.
And the great thing is, it’s not rocket science.