WEBINAR: Got Data? Data for Facilities Management Success
Engaging conversation about the myriad of ways that smart data can provide insights for better facilities management decisions and surface opportunities for significant savings.
Join us on a deeper dive into the ways that customers are using data that is captured, categorized, and correlated by Fexa’s Smart CMMS for asset management, decision support, and continuous improvements.
Engaging Discussion on Ways that Facilities Management Teams are Leveraging Data
Opening Video Introduction
01:25. Welcome & Overview: Data for Facilities Management Success
Marc Balzamo and Kim Goei discuss how customers are using rich data to solve challenges and find new opportunities for their businesses.
15:16. Introducing the Guest Panel
Hoang Nguyen, Sr Manager, Workplace Resources, Global Customer
Luke Hannon, VP National Accounts, DH Pace
Chet Lang, Dir Fleet, Facilities, & Construction, McCoy’s Building Supply
17:01. Facilities Data, Data Analytics, & Decision Support
For a successful fast-growing global client, data for facilities management success must provide robust decision support capabilities. Hoang brings a history of facilities experience and finance experience to his role. In this portion of the webinar, Hoang shares the many ways that his company is using data, analytics, and reporting from Fexa as a decision support tool for the business.
Regular capture and analysis of regional data from across the globe informs decision making and brings to light areas where improvements in processes can be made. Hoang also discusses the role that data integrity plays as his company uses sophisticated integrations with Fexa to take their analysis even further.
23:06. Improving Provider and Operator/Retailer Success Through Data Analytics
Luke Hannon, VP National Accounts, joins Kim for the conversation from the perspective of an industry veteran and a Fexa Integration partner. Data for facilities management success enables the business outcomes that operators/retailers and providers can achieve together. Luke shares how data – not emotions – is at the foundation of better outcomes and results for the operator/provider partnerships required to get effective facilities work done.
Luke also shares some of what they are seeing with leading customers in the way of integrating next-generation asset management capabilities.
29:30. Leveraging Data Analytics for Asset Management and Preventive Maintenance Programs in Innovative Ways to Save $$$
Chet shares how the flexibility of creating multiple asset classes with unique attributes and programs has allowed McCoy’s to use Fexa to manage everything from their fleet of on-road vehicles, their material handling equipment, and their HVAC and other store systems. For McCoy’s, data for facilities management success must enable more granular management of classes of asset types.
Chet also shares how they have created “proactive procurement” strategies, using data and reporting in Fexa to negotiate attractive supplier contracts and assure a pipeline of assets that can be diverted if disaster strikes.
30:40. Closing on Analytics and Surprise Peek at Fexa’s Newest Advance Analytics Module, Fexalytics!
Marc and Kim close out on analysis options by sharing a mini-demo of Fexalytics. Fexalytics is Fexa’s newest analytics module, available today!
Got Data? Data for Facilities Management Success Webinar Transcript
VOICE INTRO: So let’s get started, our moderator today is Kim Goei, the COO of Fexa. Kim’s career and reputation precede her. She’s known for her passion to connect and serve the Facilities Management community. If there’s a way to make the lives better for her favorite people, facilities managers, she is all over it.
Kim will be joined by the founder and CEO of Fexa, Marc Balzamo. Marc has been quietly and unceremoniously working to bring exceptional technology solutions to the Facilities Management community, his entire career. Fexa has been the culmination of his vision to build that platform. So Welcome to this session. Let’s get started.
KIM GOEI MARC BALZAMO
Welcome, everyone. I’ve been looking forward to this discussion today, As so often is the case, last year’s endless disruption brought innovation to the forefront. What we saw and continue to see is that those who have been planning for technology found themselves just getting on with it and adapting it at a much faster rate than their plans had anticipated. It was their only option. They had to be resilient and innovative to survive and thrive. But before we dive in, a lot of our attendees don’t know you, Marc.
Can you share briefly how you came to start Fexa.
MARC: Yes Thanks, Kim, I was looking forward to talking about this topic as well. You know I’ve been working in this industry for 20 years now, and I started with companies like Lockheed Martin, L3 Communications, QVC, and others. And then I spent about 10 years at Nest International, which is one of the larger integrated facility management companies in the industry. The reason I started Facilities Exchange and then subsequently Fexa was I really saw a good set of problems that needed a much better solution using technology. I was able to put my educational experience, which was a Bachelors in Computer Science and a Masters in Computer Science with my direct experience and come up with solutions that were really solving problems in a much better way for industry.
KIM: And that Shift to Fexa, and ultimately the software as a service platform occurred about four years ago. It really opened up the platform to support new industries. It really diversified the reach of a system like Fexa.
That is part of why I joined the team at Fexa. I joined for two reasons – I saw the great technology and recognized the diverse and talented team of folks, whom I was joining. And so, like you, my own experience in the industry has given me a real insight into just how significant this past year has been. And prior to last year most of the customers were interested in using new tech were those who were very focused on a strategic and planned approach to making their businesses better. But then came 2020. Global pandemic, natural disasters – fires, hurricanes, floods – and civil unrest, political unrest, economic challenges. And suddenly this perfect storm actually became the catalyst that sort of jolted folks into actually accelerating their adoption of technology.
MARC: Our customers were definitely put under a lot of pressure to make sudden changes, and under immense pressure to adapt to those changes.
KIM: So true. There are so many examples of adapting faster with tech, and it really hasn’t slowed down at all. Retail stores continue to reconfigure their stores to reinvent their delivery models with changing consumer preferences. Home Improvement businesses like McCoys are seeing a surge in business and equipment rentals as everyone spiffs up their homes. Restaurants are extending into outdoor spaces and sometimes even in the middle of the streets of big cities to provide more distancing for guests. There’s new use of space as regional warehouses accommodate ecommerce, sometimes back of store inventory spaces become regional ecommerce warehouse distribution sites overnight.
So, resilience and agility were the words of the day for facility management teams across the board, and they had to react to support these changes. And as I work with the community at large, both with our customers and our Fexa family and also in my role on the board of Connex. I hear these two things over and over again.
First of all, how can we do more with less. How do we contain costs but not detract from our brand and our business. Doing more with less is more important than ever.
And the second thing, I always hear is that our business is going through a lot of consolidation and a lot of shifting. There are new company functions, there is a shifting of responsibilities among groups, there are mergers and acquisitions. Companies face downsizing and rightsizing. Our greater facilities community really needs a solution to support those shifts.
MARC: The role of technology became especially pivotal in that scenario. And we talked about tech automation and how it opens up so many opportunities, and the kind of automation we’re doing here at Fexa, I mean really smart automation leveraging data and business logic to deliver cost reductions in savings and time savings. Who doesn’t need more of that!
KIM: Right so that ties back to the crux of today’s discussion, Got Data. And I know for our existing customers, it’s incredibly helpful to be able to flex our platform to take advantage of the automation and the data in new ways. And I can’t help myself. Yeah, they found lots of ways to take advantage of what I lovingly call and everyone will hear me call – our Fexability. Which really is true and it shines more than ever in this challenging year in facilities maintenance. Some immediate examples of how Fexability was actually put into action include how one of our customers is taking advantage of being able to automatically pull the trigger for specific actions on hygiene compliance based on specific locations. With different states having different policies, that was very helpful for them. And of course, flexing workflows, it’s often incredibly important to apply different rules to different types of locations in the system. Whether you’re a retail location or a warehouse or distribution center or a corporate facility. There are all sorts of different varying needs, and each requires different processes and different workflows. And then, of course, the topic that’s really near and dear to my heart, is how communications are being leveraged. Where we see folks most effectively adapting to the business changes, they have frequently found new ways to successfully utilize communications and make sure that the information is filtered to the right, parties, and at the right time. Technology, data, and automation actually put communications on steroids! Communications can be delivered contextually at the exact time that it is needed most. It can be delivered consistently and professionally. It can be captured in an audit trail for compliance, and it can be shared across departments and functions as needed.
MARC: Yeah, about communications… for all of my years in the business, it was really refreshing to see a new dynamic among facility managers and providers. I think in history, I’ve really seen a wall between them. But now it’s really great to see those silos and walls coming down.
KIM: Absolutely. That was super exciting for me to see as well. Getting the work of facilities management and maintenance done takes a community, as we have always said! So now you’re seeing existing customers and also our prospective customers really think creatively about how they can collaborate across functions and move fast and efficiently. It’s kind of like an all hands on deck mentality. You know, working together to meet the opportunities and the challenges of the business as a team.
MARC: Yeah, for sure. Good technology when applied and adopted can be the engine to make it all happen easily Kim. You know some examples of just the natural disasters and challenges of the past year with hurricanes, floods, civil unrest. You know, our customers have to make asset management decisions in real time, quickly and accurately, to make sure that the right resources are dispatched, to the right places, and at the right time. And sometimes the difference would be a savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars or avoiding losses that could be in excess of hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.
KIM: What I really love about that too, MARC, is no two customers of ours are exactly the same. So there are so many different types of requirements that came to the table, given all the challenges that we’re being faced and, like you mentioned, some of the tools that we’re able to offer them. It wasn’t a one size fits all solution for people. You know, the different verticals that we serve all have different needs. So I really appreciated the Fexability of the system for addressing some of those needs. And of course coupling the data with tracking and reporting solutions that meet the needs. Beyond facilities management, folks like accounting, legal, real estate, and construction benefitted. I mean, that’s the kind of solution that makes everybody happy and more efficient. Our customers got the benefits of making sure that no additional costs were incurred by the retailer inadvertently, that were the responsibility of a landlord or some third party. And, it made it easy for accounting and finance to assess total expenses and submit insurance documents as required.
It also made the legal team happy since the system prompted the team to capture photos of stabilization and safety precautions taken. I mean, these kinds of disasters can be really, really strenuous on all of these departments so the fact that the system was able to support those processes and support all of the different departments involved really, I think, was a breath of fresh air for our customers.
So spreadsheets, and a lot of facilities management software out there in the marketplace, would not be able to provide that kind of data to be leveraged in this way.
MARC: Spreadsheets definitely have their place in the world but they cannot accomplish these things. You know they get out of sync easily. People have different versions of the same spreadsheets which affects data integrity. Some of the other CMMS solutions that we’ve seen are not really built with the kind of flexibility and configurability that today’s world demands. Customers using those other system or no system at all, really found themselves using workarounds to address the challenges they faced. Laborious, time consuming, cost consuming workarounds.
I knew when we built Fexa that we couldn’t anticipate all of the future needs of our customers. So we built it in a smart way so that our customers could adapt with the industry when it changes, and not have to anticipate the future.
KIM: We’ve seen folks using less adaptable systems do a lot of supplementation of those systems with spreadsheets – really as a crutch they lean on to get what they need.
You know, it’s really our goal that the data that’s housed in those spreadsheets can really be brought to the forefront and leveraged in a new and cutting edge way so I’m really glad that you built it with the proactive sense of not really understanding 100%, exactly, every single use case that our customers would use it for, because that’s really allowed us to be flexible for a lot of different types of use cases.
And so that’s the real stuff that our customers are doing with Fexa today. And a lot of it has been in the platform from the beginning. But the motivation to adopt it also seems to have changed. And it’s also why the conversation with prospective customers have really started to be all about understanding the numerous ways they could leverage our smart, Fexibility, to solve problems differently to find new savings and to also work across teams differently.
Now just last week I was speaking with a customer who concluded that the automation features alone would give them a 600% ROI within the first year of using Fexa. And this is not hype, or a promise of future capabilities. You know they were spending several hours a week per facilities manager exporting data into spreadsheets, getting it into accounting the way accounting needed it. Not only was that time consuming, but half the time they were late getting it to accounting because of the emergencies and the fires that they have to put out every day.
MARC: You know I’ve lived a day or two in the shoes of our customers and facility teams. Businesses today are hearing a lot about data and analytics as the savior for their businesses during these challenging times. There are a lot of promises made based on limited or misleading metrics. In some cases, they are getting promises of capabilities that will, in fact, cost them extra. From the very start, we applied our experience and understanding about the myriad of ways in which the facilities management community needs to access data. And we made sure that we built the system in ways that were going to be helpful for them to drive those analytics.
You cannot do powerful analytics, when you don’t start with systems that effectively capture, categorize, and correlate data making that data useful for analytics.
KIM: It’s such a good point. And if you step back and think about how FM’s navigate their jobs, how they actually use data – It takes a few forms. First of all, they need accurate data in real time, and in the context of their workflow to make real time decisions. And I know our customers and our esteemed guests are really talking a little bit more about that as well.
Or they need to use data to sort and filter and prioritize activities. When resources are limited so they can do more with less, so you can really understand what’s the most important thing that I should be looking at at the moment. And of course, they want certain types of data to flag or trigger a downstream activity or a response. For example, like the automated communications that we spoke of before. They want to be able to flag … anytime this happens … and send a communication to alert somebody. Or anytime this date changes or anytime something’s overdue – make sure somebody knows about it. And then finally, when the dust settles on a crazy day they need to be able to look at the historical data for easy visualizations and call attention to the outliers and the issues that can be tackled for continuous improvements.
So our customers are taking advantage of this data to save time or money or collaborate more effectively with other teams. And in the next portion of our program, I’m going to be joined today by three esteemed veterans of the industry, who will be sharing some of their strategies for using data successfully. Following their stories, we’ll wrap up by sharing a little preview of one of the newest and most exciting tools available in the Fexa toolkit, Fexalytics! So stick around for that.
So to begin, I’m honored to welcome our guests. We’re joined by Hoang Nguyen, Luke Hannon, and Chet Lang. Hoang Nguyen works as a senior regional workplace manager for one of the most cutting edge global, and influential companies in the world, and comes to us as a veteran of facilities management, but also with a strong finance background. Hoang Nguyen and his team have played a major role in working with us to drive the requirements for the Fexalytics module that you will see more of, at the end of the session.
Then you’ll hear from Luke Hannon, of DH Pace. DH Pace’s tagline is “Everything doors since 1926.” And who would know that doors could be such a technology treasure trove! DH Pace is one of our valued Fexa integration partners, and Luke will share the ways they use data to partner with their customers to get better business results for everyone.
And last but certainly not least, we are joined by Chet Lang of McCoys Building Supply. Chet brings an extensive background in fleet management to his work there at McCoy’s as he manages fleet, facilities, and construction. And he’ll share some significant ways they’re leveraging their asset data in the business and how it saves McCoys hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.
So, a warm welcome to my guest panelists.
KIM GOEI HOANG NGUYEN
Let’s get started with you, Hoang. And Hoang before we really dig in, can you give us a little bit about your background?
HOANG NGUYEN: Sure. I started at a pretty big retailer in managing their Canadian region. And then I moved over to finance to get more understanding of how, you know, facilities costs work. Really understanding how budgeting worked. So I transitioned over to the finance aspect of facility management and I did that for five or six years and then I just recently transitioned back into facilities.
KIM: Can you talk a little bit about how your teams are leveraging data to make business decisions?
HOANG: So when we look at the data, we are determining, you know, how our resources are being spent. Currently, we are determining things like:
- Are there any areas of efficiency that we could implement?
- What are we doing now that is really good?
- Or are there areas of improvement? Are there areas of savings that we could implement with repair services for example?
We look at the spend of certain trades. So a perfect example of this is if we, if we look at doors and door replacements. These are ad hoc replacements or ad hoc repairs that our location does when door issues come up. So we implemented recurring door repairs as a category to track. And one of the things that we look at is, you know, given a three months time do we see repair costs going down? Do we see the total cost of certain trades going down? Or, is the costs continually going up?
And we have to dig more into the data to understand what’s driving all of this cost and so data plays a critical role in determining what kind of decisions that we have to make. Data gives us a micro level view on the regions that we are taking care of, but it also gives my leadership team the macro view of how our entire fleet is doing. Not just certain pockets of the world but it gives kind of an entire viewpoint of spend and where improvement can be made. Where can we allocate more resources in different parts of the region.
KIM: And I love how you distinguish between the macro level versus the micro level. Can you talk a little bit about why data integrity is so important to you?
HOANG: Yeah, I know for sure. I mean, data integrity is super important because, you know, we are making critical decisions based on the results of the data. It’s super critical that the data that we’re putting in is as accurate as possible. And it also affects how we integrate this data with our internal systems. Right now, using Fexa, all the data is aggregated within Fexa and then we would extract that data and input it into our other systems through APIs. So if there are any integrity issues during that transition, it would definitely create issues on our end when we are, you know, processing those payments or making any further analysis.
KIM: You know something that’s really important to us at Fexa is the enforcement of data integrity and oftentimes we’ll take data from other systems and input it into Fexa, and there’s a lot of missing data which ultimately affects overarching reporting, and also how additional data gets flows to very important systems to your businesses like accounting systems and ERP systems and so forth. So the one other question that I thought of, I would love to ask is about performance data, whether it’s vendor performance data or internal performance data, how are you leveraging those data points to make decisions?
HOANG: So the great thing about Fexa is that we have, at the location level, a lot of details. The site, along with the site details we also have a lot of vendor information and so how we leverage the data is that when we are running reports on how quickly our vendors are responding or how quickly our project managers are handling certain projects. It gives us an idea of not only the speed of repairs or service, but the feedback that we’re getting from our customers, which is, you know, the retail locations. And it’s super important that we are always on top of those data because a great example is during this COVID pandemic. We have a lot of vendors who are their strength, are in, you know, either COVID deep cleaning or very quick responses. And so we have data that shows that there are certain vendors who are very responsive in an emergency type environment. We use that data, when those situations occur.
KIM: That was a really smart distinction that you just made and it’s something that we’ve heard a lot about, you know, sitting in the seats that we’re sitting in. But like you said, If you can’t look at that data with a larger context. If you’re only looking at first time completion, or check-in compliance, but you’re not actually looking at things like:
- What type of work it was,
- What was the priority,
- What was the location,
- Where was the location
- What was the trade that was being serviced.
Those kinds of things. It’s very hard to compare vendors as apples to apples, you really have to look at it in a more contextual way. We know that this business is not transactional, you have to use data like vendor performance data to guide your decisions in the larger context.
Thank you for sharing that Hoang.
KIM GOEI LUKE HANNON
It’s actually a great segue to our next guest, Luke Hannon of DH Pace. DH Pace is a Fexa integration partner, and Luke is an industry veteran who will be sharing some of the benefits and business results they have seen from effective data sharing between vendor and operator. So welcome Luke. Before we dive into the dialogue further, can you tell us a little bit about your background?
LUKE: Introduce myself my name is Luke Hannon, I’m with the DH Pace company. DH Pace is a national provider of door loading and dock services and one of the largest contractors in the United States. We have about 55 Regional Offices from coast to coast and about 3000 employees today. The group that I’m in is our national accounts group. We focus on customers who are centralized, and have a broad geography base of locations across the country. We do this across all vertical markets, whether it’s healthcare, retail, industrial logistics, manufacturing. We’re definitely not a “jack of all trades” company, we’re really narrowly focused on the door and dock space. That’s all we do and we are, if not the largest, one of the largest companies in the nation that does that.
KIM: Thank you for that introduction. And it’s clear you have a breadth of experience across different verticals, I’d be interested to know what trends you’ve seen?
LUKE: What we’ve seen in the market and our experience is that customers are centralizing the decision making. And, you know, fewer customers are getting larger portfolios of locations and demand across major geographies. How do we do that, by basically putting some consistency behind the brand processes. So that’s been the biggest change. And so what facilitates that change? Well, the biggest thing we’ve seen is the adoption of software platforms, like Fexa. Obviously there’s other ones out there, but since 2006, where we maybe had one or two of our national clients on a software platform, now it’s nine out of 10 on one platform or another. And I think probably where we want to go with this today is that software platforms are great, that’s how we communicate with each other, but one of the really important offshoots or ancillary benefits is the data that you’re able to collect. And we learned over time that just having mountains of data is not enough.
Once you start figuring out how to utilize that data to make better decisions, find efficiencies, it’s been just incredibly valuable, particularly in the last five years we’ve seen leaps of improvements in the quality of data we’re collecting and how we’re using that to find real results. And now we are working with our clients and saying, what else can we do to use this data to help our businesses.
And I think that’s really where the future is going. We have a handful of our customers that are going down that path already, but really the next step in this is Fexa is going to have a scorecard report with a length of service and average cost per invoice KPIs, and I think that’s a great place to start. The future of where this is going to go is into asset tagging, asset serialization, asset tracking, to where every one of your assets – speaking to the door and dock space – every one of your automatic doors, every one of your dock levelers has a unique serial code identifier. These assets are tied back to a software platform. Now we’re not just collecting data on how to make sure the technician gets to the site quickly, how quickly they check out, how long did it take. We start looking into things like, how many times have we worked on this, this particular dock handler or how many times have we replaced the blower motor on this particular dock leveler.
Wow. We’ve spent $2500 on this leveler over the last six months, we need to capitalize this. Using the data for predicting and budgeting capitalization, really the sky’s the limit. And then the next thing that we’re going to see is basically remote monitoring of equipment, or at least the electronic components. You know, to where we can see the condition of an asset or a piece of equipment remotely. I can say my loading dock door has been open for eight minutes. After eight minutes, I wanted to send an email to the store manager saying, “Hey, go close your door.” We’re not trying to keep the parking deck air conditioned!
Or, on Dock#1 we observe through the data that it gets quadruple as many cycles as Dock#2. Maybe Dock#1 needs a higher cycle spring. Or we can use the data to pass on to the construction department and make recommendations about construction. “Let’s spend an extra $500 bucks when you build a building, and you’re going to save the boatload of money downstream by not constantly replacing springs.”
That’s kind of the future. And, you know, the ultimate goal, how many service calls can we save ourselves a year, if we can see the condition of this asset, that’s down the road but I think that is where it is going.
KIM: Yeah, we agree with you, Luke we agree with you. We’ve seen some of that already, and funny enough I’m not sure if you know this but we’re launching our asset tagging program this summer, so that’s exciting. And we have been in touch with some remote monitoring companies about integrations and things on the horizon. I think, as you mentioned, things are moving faster and it’s really exciting that we are working with a partner like DH Pace that has their eyes on the future of technology and what it can do not only for your business, but how it can help you help your customers.
LUKE: Yeah, and just, just having a platform that the vendor and the end user are working together in is key. We’ve done asset tracking, back in the day, but it’s our team, capturing it into an Excel spreadsheet and typing it in manually. And we’ve got a pretty big spreadsheet here but it’s not, it’s not exactly user friendly. The future is when it’s having an actual database that was built to run analytics against in a little bit more sophisticated way than that of the past!
KIM: What strategies do you recommend and employ, Luke, to make sure you are working with your customers and making the partnership as efficient, and as effective as possible?
LUKE: We don’t have any two customers that look just alike with exactly the same standard operating procedures. So it’s having that upfront dialogue. What’s, you know, we may find that a certain customer has one door that is critical, that thing goes down and the whole operation stops. We need to know all that stuff up front so we can build safeguards around that. And then I have pointed out to our teams and customers, you know, there’s no reason why this logistics company should take eight days, on average to complete the work order, versus this one that takes four. Let’s identify what those hurdles are that are preventing us from getting that length of service down. Having the data makes it real clear, helps us identify where to focus and, I keep repeating myself, but the data, it’s invaluable.
KIM: It’s arguably more important than ever, you know, to really ensure that you’re looking at the data, monitoring the data, leveraging the data to make, not only real time decisions and reactive decisions but also proactive decisions.
So thank you, Luke, we know that for many of our customers doors are a major budget item and the work you’re doing to help them be efficient makes a big difference.
KIM GOEI CHET LANG
But I want to now transition to a broader discussion on assets, across the business, Chet, you and McCoys have been a longtime valued customer and a partner with Fexa and we’re so grateful for you. Your insights were integral into much of the asset management and tracking capabilities that we have already implemented in Fexa. So thanks so much for being with us today.
CHET: Thank you, Kim.
KIM: Before we dive into the data questions, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and also about McCoy’s? I understand you had a banner year this year.
CHET: Yeah, we actually did. You know as we rolled into this year we didn’t really know what the future held for us. The pandemic was very stressful and scary for many retailers out there. However, the building supply industry – across the board – all had really great years. This was by far the biggest year we had ever had. It was our first billion dollar year. So, being the fact that we’re privately held family owned it was a pretty substantial year for us.
KIM: That’s incredible. And what about your background?
CHET: I originally started my career in the fleet leasing industry, and I have an extensive background in fleet management. I’ve worked with different companies managing fleets and facilities. Over the last years as I’ve joined McCoys, I initially started with fleet management and then added facilities and the construction piece to my department.
KIM: Awesome. I think that’s really relevant to some of the data questions, we’re going to discuss today really surrounding asset data, how do you approach your asset data when it comes to, you know, managing your business and how important is it?
CHET: Yeah so actually 50% of all our revenue is delivered on the back of a truck. So, it’s a pretty critical component. When we approached Fexa, I knew that we were moving CMMS providers away from Big Sky or Service Channel at that time. And we really were looking for the ability to have software that would help us manage our fleet, and they also support the facilities maintenance as another important piece. But the big driver for us was fleet management. Now, what’s really important in fleet management is knowing all the particulars about your assets.
So you have to know…
- What kind of engine,
- What equipment does the fleet asset have on it,
- What are the specific warranties,
- For D.O.T. compliance, you have to track back every maintenance to the transaction that was incurred.
But the other piece of that is that you are making your purchasing decisions, so it’s really important to understand how much does it cost to maintain the asset, and how much downtime was experienced during the life of the asset. And then on the back end, the disposition of that asset, how much value did it bring in on the wholesale market.
So, how you make the decision to buy things is really driven by tracking all that information about the assets which I think it has a really, really good application in the FM world as well.
KIM: So tracking those data points back to that specific asset. But the difference is if you’re managing an HVAC unit on the rooftop versus a truck the metrics and attributes are not the same.
How many asset attributes on average per asset, do you think you’re tracking in Fexa today?
CHET: I would say on the high end of any fleet asset you could probably have anywhere between 40 to 60 different attributes that go in there and then on each HVAC system, it gets a little bit more simplistic – you go down to about 10 attributes. Also for us, I know that we have a few packaging tools and material handling tools where we only have around four attributes in there.
KIM: And that’s really incredible because it really speaks to the adaptability of the software to where you can add any attribute anytime the track.
CHET: Yeah, one of the things I think that Fexa did a great job for us, Kim, was when we were setting up assets. Other systems that we had said, hey you could set up an asset but you had to have these fields, all across the board for every single asset. So we had forklifts and warehouse equipment that we have versus on-road transportation equipment and that flexibility from Fexa was a really good thing that y’all created for us. We did not have to have all the attributes for every single asset.
KIM: How often are you doing asset evaluations?
CHET: Well, right now, is mainly on our fleetside, we are starting to do it on the facility side of things. So what we did recently is I tracked back all of our HVAC units and their maintenance records, and we looked at the age of the units. We’re actually able to say, hey we want to put our HVAC units on a 15-year life cycle. And then I assessed where we were at today. And then, actually, I had all the service data that had been plugged into Fexa so that I could run reports to figure out what the next candidates for replacement were as we go into the next budget year. So what we did is we grabbed all the information, pulled it together, and actually used it for a competitive RFP for HVAC services. So we went out to the manufacturers themselves, saying that over the next three years we have this neighborhood of units coming up for replacement. It was in the neighborhood of about 75 units. Over the next three years, we were able to take that out to bid and secure a multi-tiered pricing agreement with the manufacturers.
KIM: You know, a lot of times when you talk about data, we talk about reviewing data to be reactive. But that’s actually a great example of how you would proactively package that data together and be able to negotiate a better volume cost.
CHET: Yeah, and the other piece of that is that we are a retail environment. So, you know, HVAC systems only go out when you really need them and that’s in the summertime. Having hot stores is really just not an acceptable thing. So, the other piece of that is when we had multiple units out for replacement, it gives us a pipeline of available units. So if we have an outage, we can divert a unit to a particular store that we had in the pipeline to the store that has an outage and not have to wait for six weeks lead time to get there. So it’s what we call proactive procurements. It gives us a little bit more purchasing leverage and it also gives us a little bit of flexibility when we have those unforeseen incidents come up.
KIM: You mean, Fexability! 🙂
CHET: Yeah (chuckles) Fexability!
KIM: You know, when you’re growing like McCoys where you’re adding locations and you had a banner year last year, you’re still always looking for smarter ways to do things like the proactive procurement strategy. And there are also groups on the other side of the fence that are actually shrinking their teams but still have a similar responsibility. Procurement has been a common one on the facility side where they’re having to source new contracts, but maybe not through a formalized RFP. And so, leveraging those data points like you’re talking about really has saved you money.
You talked about some ways that you are now practically doing it in HVAC, do you expect to extend this to really, all of the trades?
CHET: Yeah. So what we want to look at is everything that’s what we would call “wearable” asset. To us, that is any asset that has some kind of specific life on it. So you know, slider doors would be an example. Warehouse doors would be an example. Even our parking lot striping is an example! Although that’s not an asset as we normally think of them, that’s something that we put in Fexa as an asset and asset class. We know we could go out for striping our parking lots on a regular basis – so that tends to rotate it in 24 months. With the information tracked in Fexa, we can pull reports and identify the candidates in a particular area for re-striping and put together a plan and get quotes on the bundle or work. It actually gets us better pricing and we can drive a whole lot more value for the company. That’s just an example. So it doesn’t really have to be a total asset-based thing either. It can be anything that has a limited life cycle.
KIM: That’s excellent Chad. What advice can you give facilities groups that want to be more asset-centric?
CHET: I just think one of the things is, if you have the ability to get pictures of your assets in the system, that is great, you can store those and text them out as part of work orders. And the other piece is to get all the particulars off of that asset. Every serial number, every different type of warranty that you have. You can look at you know for things like HVAC systems, you have the air handler unit, the compressor and each will actually have different lives and different warranties on them. So if you had the ability to go out and capture all that information.
You know, there’s, you can never capture too much is what I think if you want to find ways to continuously optimize your operations and save money.
KIM: It’s interesting that Chet shares that sentiment. Hoang, what are your thoughts on recommendations for others?
HOANG: One thing that I would recommend is just for all retailers is, the more information that you are able to add on a platform like Fexa, the better your records, and the metrics. We are able to slice and dice our data in every which way and it really makes for better-informed decisions.
KIM: Excellent advice Hoang, and you’re so right. It takes a little bit of time to put in place, but the payoff is so worth it down the road. So our panelists are going to stick around for some questions, but I want to return to you, Marc.
And by the way, if you want to enter questions into the Q&A box for the panel, please do we will answer those questions at the end.
MARC BALZAMO KIM GOEI
So Marc, can you share some examples of how predictive or prescriptive analytics come into the picture of facilities managers? I know this is a hot topic for asset management, and also for maintenance.
MARC: Great question, customers really want to extend the healthy life of their assets, it can be a huge part of their expense budget, or in the case of Chet from McCoys, as he shared with us the assets themselves are actually generating revenue for the business. In addition to what Chet shared, some of our customers are using our communication tools and our alerts to look at assets and make sure that they’re not getting repaired too frequently within a time period. Or too infrequently in a time period and setting up alerts so that they know those things. And that’s really helping them manage the lifecycle of those assets in a much better manner.
KIM: That’s great. And also with our Fexalytics module, they’re able to have a quick bird’s eye view of assets by spend, and some of the history, immediately. So they can sort of ensure that they always have eyes on and predictability of replacements.
How are you seeing folks use historical analyses?
MARC: Well you know, how pumped I get about this stuff. Once you have the right data architecture in place in the system in a way that’s designed to support meaningful analytics, the sky’s the limit. You know, take this example I can show you, we’re going to talk about visual analytics, we sort of need to show that in action.
KIM: And the Fexalytics really is a huge game changer for quick bird’s eye analysis on trends and comparative data. So really we can help our community get to that stage where they can quickly understand the state of things.
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