Gary, one of our Flagship division Contract Managers, tells us how we can help our clients with critical buildings to be as prepared as possible with planning for an unexpected situation (business continuity) and for the failure of specific equipment (threat mitigation).

What’s the first step in understanding what’s critical to the client and how we can help them mitigate risk?
At the beginning of each contract, we’ll carry out a condition report. This highlights any critical systems or pieces of equipment, and considers common system faults and the impact of these. We’ll also look at the potential risks and downfalls that might lead to critical failures. An initial meeting with the client follows to review the findings and discuss what we think is critical, as well as to get a better understanding of what’s critical to them. From that, we’ll establish the key business continuity and threat mitigation issues and put in place response procedures.

What are the main points of failure within commercial buildings?
Generally, the areas for concern will be boilers, chillers and generators. These are critical to the running of the building as they provide power, air conditioning and heating. If a building has a server room, it will be vital to keep it at a certain temperature, and ideally it will have its own system. If back-up equipment is available on site, then the risk is lowered.

What can be the impact if critical services fail?
The failure of critical services can be costly in many ways. The main areas are loss of life or injury, loss of revenue both for landlords and tenants, damaged reputation of the client and contractor, and the impact on regulation. The landlord may default on the tenancy agreement if they are not able to provide the agreed working environment. Plus, tenants will not want to take the cost of replacement equipment or temporary fixes and they may not be able to operate without stress to them. Health and safety can be also compromised by the failure.

How can we reduce the risk of failure?
Our regular M&E maintenance tasks are important to make sure equipment is working effectively. We can monitor the performance of pieces of equipment to identify problems and critical components that may lead to failure. We can then make sure spares or replacement parts are readily available in the event of failure.

Can you give us an example of where you have worked with the client to resolve a critical failure situation as quickly and effectively as possible?

During the hottest day of the year, in a fully occupied flagship building, the first of three chillers failed, shortly followed by the other two – an unexpected manufacturing fault on the chillers occurred. Our client was obliged to provide cooling as part of the tenancy agreement. With the replacement part taking ten weeks to manufacturer, they needed a fast temporary fix to meet the agreed level of service.

Carrier Rental Systems were quick to respond to our need for temporary chiller hire to provide cooling to the site, whilst essential maintenance of the site chillers took place. The location for the temporary chillers meant an out of hours installation service was necessary and Carrier tailored the transport and installation to meet the on site conditions and cause minimal disruption.

The temporary chillers required needed their own separate power source which didn’t affect any of the other services.  Pipework was needed to supply chilled water from the plant work to the temporary chillers outside and return pipework back to the air conditioning system.

Throughout the whole process regular, detailed, timely communication was key in managing the expectations of the client and achieving a positive outcome for all.

If you’d like us to meet to discuss your plans for business continuity and threat mitigation, give us a call on 0208 293 6606 and ask for Natalie Turner.

Hemlow provides expert M&E maintenance that’s on hand every day.