Mechanical Insights

How to Plan a Budget for Your Facility Equipment

Nov 5, 2020 8:30:00 AM / by Tate Engineering

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Making a facility budget is easy, right? The steps seem straightforward:

  • Make sure enough money is budgeted to account for all of the routine operating expenses the facility will have.
  • Make sure there's enough money for anything unexpected that might pop up. More difficult, but okay.
  • Ensure the facility can continue to grow and increase revenue while keeping costs low.

Okay, maybe it’s not so easy. And to make it worse, during tough economic times, it is often facility managers who are asked to tighten their budgets and reduce operating costs to help protect the bottom line.

One of the most difficult tasks every facility manager must accomplish is building a budget that accomplishes all of these tasks, and more, for the coming year. A well-thought-out facility budget should align with the goals of the organization and bring all involved parties together when approving the budget. While there is no easy button for making a facility budget, these tips can help to streamline the process.

Proper Preventative Maintenance (PM)

Having proper preventative maintenance that occurs on a predictable schedule is one of the easiest ways to keep operating costs low in the long run. PM helps to keep equipment running better, longer, and more efficiently. PM also helps to highlight potential points of failure or problems that may come up in the future. With proper PM, it can be a lot easier for the facility manager to note the decline in a machine’s performance over time, which allows him or her to schedule maintenance or replacement of that machine at a point in time when the budget and facility schedule allows.

Related: How Preventative Maintenance Can Save You Money

When budgeting for preventative maintenance, it is important to analyze what will happen if the maintenance is not done. Outlining the impact of skipping PM, and (more importantly) the long term costs, is a great way to demonstrate why PM is so important.

Know What’s Coming Up

Technology is advancing faster than ever, and keeping an eye on these changes can be very beneficial for a facility manager. Keeping track of how these things can affect your facility allows their costs to be included in the facility’s budget. Industrial automation has greatly advanced, and may be worth budgeting if you know it will add value to the facility. LED lighting and smart lighting systems are a great example. Although at first, the cost of replacing a facility’s lighting with LEDs may seem prohibitive, it is important to keep in mind the reduced electric and cooling bills after the change takes place. Factoring in these cost savings can really help justify the initial cost in a budget.

Laws and regulations are changing as well. As equipment ages, it can become almost impossible to get a direct replacement. Many older HVAC units run on refrigerants that have been phased out. By staying up-to-date with these trends, a facility manager can plan accordingly and properly budget the costs to replace these aging machines. Being able to highlight how a particular expense will add value, while also describing the total impact if the proposal is rejected, can help make sure that your budget gets accepted.

Minimize Operating Costs

Operating costs can be a huge portion of any facility’s budget. When accounting for operating costs, keep in mind how seasonal some costs can be (like heating or cooling the facility). This is an area where energy efficiency can really help improve a budget. Simple changes, like keeping the facility a degree or two cooler in the winter, will keep the gas and electric bills lower while minimizing the impact on the facility’s occupants. Longer term goals that can be included in the budget are things like improving the facility’s insulation or replacing outdated equipment to keep future operating costs lower.

Regardless of which approach you take, being able to document a facility’s known expenses, and being able to estimate its unknown expenses, is crucial. If these values are really difficult to get numbers for, the budget needs to have a buffer in it.

One of the most important things to remember is that maintenance can be one of the easiest line items to cut out of a budget, but often comes at the greatest expense in the long run. If you want help with getting maintenance, equipment, or other work done on time and on budget, contact Tate Engineering. Our staff is here to help with whatever you may need for your facility's mechanical maintenance.

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Written by Tate Engineering