10 Ways to Keep Your Facility in Great Condition
Anyone who has ever experienced a flat tire in a rental car has likely encountered the same dilemma: Now where is that spare?
With each new model year it seems every vehicle manufacturer must o come up with a new and creative place to hide that spare tire. Now where is that spare? Hmmm… is it under the chassis? Under the floorboard? Over a wheel well? And once you find the compartment, how do you open it? Where’s the latch? How does this jack set work anyway? To figure it all out, sometimes one must surrender to the mystery and look at the owner’s manual . . .
If one can find THAT little treasure.
Some busy parking and transportation facility owners and managers do the same thing: they wait for their garage to “get a flat” before they understand how it was built in the first place. Like an owner’s manual, here are a few items relating to the construction of a deck that every Mobility Manager should know, do, or have handy:
1. Get a copy of the plans – A full set of plans, including structural, electrical, and plumbing can come in handy in so many situations, including repairs, renovations, new equipment, expansion, and even security incidents. If you don’t have a set, find out who the original architect or engineer was and obtain one; it’ll cost a bit to have them copied but it will be worth it when you have one of these situations.
2. Key or code your signage to the drawings – If possible, label your floors, but particularly your columns, to match the legend on the drawings. This makes repair and renovation work so much easier; you don’t have to necessarily show the problem to the vendor, you can direct them: “Here’s a copy of the plans. The issue is on Level 3, two meters north of Column 36.” Some customer service side benefits: Delineating the columns with large size characters can help your patrons remember where they parked. Also, it will provide some color in what may be otherwise a drab, gray facility.
3. Identify the deck’s architect, construction contractor and engineer – You should know not only the name of the key players who developed the deck, but have some contact information as well. Most of the time, if you have a set of drawings, the names of these key players will be located in the various legends on the document. Look them up and make contact before you need them.
4. Understand the general construction of the garage – Is your deck “poured-in-place”, precast, steel, or a combination of different construction elements? Knowing that the garage is built with high-tension, post-stressed support cables embedded in the concrete will help you stop that maintenance guy who is about to drill some holes in the floor before he gets everybody in a whole lot of trouble.
5. Document the baseline condition of a new structure – If you are taking over a new deck, use photos, video, and notes to record the condition of the deck at that time. Not only will this show you how your deck has aged, but also comes in handy in warranty disputes with contractors.
6. Develop a maintenance schedule – Every deck needs some basic, routine maintenance, such as sweeping, scrubbing, drain clearing and the like. Commit these to a schedule based on the advice of your engineer or use a commercially-available checklist, such as those shown in the books “Parking Structures” or the “Parking Garage Maintenance Manual”.
7. Schedule an engineer’s bi-annual inspection of the deck – Whether it’s the original engineer or one that is selected at a later date, a formal inspection of the deck every two or three years can identify problems before they become expensive repairs. Because deterioration is usually slow, early identification can also aid the budget process, allowing time to prep decision-makers and build up maintenance reserves in advance of catastrophic repair.
8. Know your enemies – Monitor continuously for those two primary enemies of reinforced concrete structures: water and chlorides (road salts). Pooling water is a slip-and-fall liability hazard but it’s also slow death for concrete, leaching out minerals from the mix, thereby reducing its weight-bearing capacity. Also, water carries chlorides deep into the slab where they attack and rust the embedded steel reinforcing bars.
9. Keep an eye on the moving parts – Parking garages have some key moving elements that need to be watched for wear and tear. Revenue and access control systems and elevators are obvious ones, but owners and managers should monitor items like expansion joints, pan-and-tilt CCTV systems, fire control systems, and photocells as well.
10. Walk your property every day – With many managers captive to administrative requirements and face-to-face with a computer monitor for much of the day, getting out and strolling through the deck is both a welcome break, good exercise, and an excellent way to observe changing conditions.
While the above advice is tailored toward parking decks, the thought process is valid for any infrastructure or asset under your purview, such as toll plazas, meters, exterior lighting poles, or vehicles.
Don’t let a “flat tire” at your parking or transportation facility catch you unprepared!
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