In the vast majority of PFI contracts there is an obligation to agree an annual planned maintenance programme, often referred to as the Schedule of Programmed Maintenance. These are pre-approved activities that the Hard FM contractor will carry out over the course of the year and for which they traditionally receive an Excusing Cause, in other words they are relieved from their obligation to maintain the Availability of areas whilst undertaking the planned maintenance activity without penalty.
Programme descriptions are often cursory in nature, therefore to understand the true nature of the planned tasks that sit behind an activity, it is often necessary to ask to review the ‘task sheets’ that sit within the CAFM system and which stipulate the individual tasks that make up the planned activity.
The important point to remember is that the relief that the Excusing Cause provides is limited to the planned works on the programme, not consequential works that are discovered whilst undertaking the planned maintenance activities.
So, taking an example of fixed wire testing, the planned activity is to conduct the test. If the test results show elements of the electrical system that are not compliant, this constitutes a fault and should be reported to the Help Desk by your service provider. Thereafter, it should be responded to and rectified in accordance with the requirements of the contract.
It appears to be common practice on some contracts for service providers to utilise systems outside of the Help Desk to manage the need for consequential maintenance activities that are necessary to address faults discovered as a result of planned maintenance activities. It is our belief that this is primarily an attempt to avoid the maintenance works being subject to the requirements under the contract terms to respond to and rectify faults within specific timeframes.
There are clearly examples where future maintenance needs identified as a result of planned maintenance activities do not represent faults. For instance a lift inspection may identify that a component is nearing the end of its useful life and, whilst still compliant at the date of the inspection, may need replacing within the next 6 months. It is perfectly acceptable practice in this regard for your Project Co to update their planned maintenance programme to pick up this requirement.
What is not acceptable, however, is for issues that are faults (ie issues that do not meet the contract standards) to be programmed at a future point or not logged on the Help Desk.
If you think that your service providers may be operating outside of the approach outlined above, please do not hesitate to contact us for further advice.