Being upfront with the design team can prevent backing into problems later.

To follow up my June discussion that system training starts with the building owner as part of the owner’s project requirements (OPR), I want to continue that thought with a discussion on O&M manuals. Like system training, requirements for O&M manuals begin with the building owner outlining his OPR for these manuals. To date, O&M manuals have been specified by the design engineer. I’m not sure how this practice began, but I do know most owners (if not all owners) are never happy with the contract specifications that outline what will be included in the equipment O&M manuals. If you think about it, seldom does the design team, at the programming phase, meet with the individuals who will be taking ownership for the building’s mechanical and electrical systems to discuss this issue.

Instead, standard design team specifications will outline what the contractor will provide without owner input and/or without an operation budget. I guess you could consider this a wishlist rather than a contract requirement. For the contractor’s part, she will probably not put a lot of time and effort into accounting for this wishlist and will assume it will be the responsibility of the subcontractors to deliver the O&M manuals. So the requirements will eventually trickle down to the equipment vendors, who will pull something off their shelf and send it on up the chain of command.

If you are a building owner and you disagree with me and you have a construction project coming up, consider this: when interviewing an HVAC design engineer to design the building systems or the contractor to build the job, ask the prospective engineer/builder what CMMS stands for and if he doesn’t know then you probably don’t want this person responsible for establishing your O&M requirements.

Putting In The Time

Maybe I’m exaggerating the process, but my point is that although there will be requirements for O&M manuals, no one is going to devote the time needed to compile a useful document for the O&M staff after the design team, contractor, subcontractors, and equipment manufacturers are gone.

If O&M manuals are needed (and they are), it is the building owner’s responsibility to tell the design team just what it is he needs from the designers and builders and how much he is willing to invest in procuring the right documents for the job.

Electronic documents, the equipment/asset database, and maintenance requirements must be provided immediately after the close-out of the shop drawing submittal phase, so that the O&M staff can take this information and input it into the CMMS and begin the creation of the PM workorders. Using my Iceberg Law, 15% of the cost of a building, over the life of the building, is first cost. Eighty-five percent of the lifecycle cost of the building will be in O&M and modernization. Without that O&M roadmap documented at the onset of the building program, this program investment, over the life of the building, could increase out of control relative to O&M costs (as well as shorten the useful service life of the equipment).

Using my car analogy, as a building owner you can be one of those people on the TV commercials saying you are still driving your automobile after 260,000 miles, or you could be in one of those pay me now or pay me later commercials where your car’s transmission just gave out with only 55,000 miles on the vehicle. Just like the person who sold you the car, you won’t find your design engineer or contractor when the fan bearings fail due to a lack of O&M instructions for fan bearings and no PM workorder in place to ensure the maintenance is done on a timely basis. The owner needs to make sure that an integral part of any building program’s OPR is the O&M manual requirements and that this criterion doesn’t get left to the designer or builder to deliver their idea of what is needed within these manuals. Compilation of O&M manuals begins with documentation within, and it starts with the client.ES