Facility Retrofit: Software Spurs Efficiency

Relying on donations, Rawhide Boys Ranch in New London, WI practices stewardship with high priority on accurate maintenance.

software-efficiencyThis charity for at-risk youth operates 25 buildings that are at least 20 years or older. With new computerized maintenance management software (CMMS), the ranch streamlines work orders, weighs equipment “repair or replace”, and tracks energy use.

Brendan Ganser, facilities manager at the ranch, discusses the impact of implementing the software.


By Facility Executive Staff
From the November/December 2015 Issue

What is the mission of Rawhide Boys Ranch? And please describe the facilities involved in this project.

For 50 years, Rawhide has offered residential care and outpatient mental health services dedicated to helping at-risk youth and their families lead healthy, responsible lives. For the past 25 years, I have been proud to be a part of this charity that has redirected the lives of thousands of youth that have either lived on our residential campus or received services through our outpatient counseling clinics. As the facilities manager, I am responsible for the oversight and management of the facilities for the entire ranch, including the buildings and grounds as well as the upkeep and operation of major systems and machines, including appliances and HVAC units.

The Rawhide ranch encompasses 600 acres of property and 25 buildings (three of which are used as respites in Northern Wisconsin for staff and, from time to time, our at-risk youth). With the average age of the buildings at 20+ years and the oldest built in 1908, our maintenance team has a full-time job keeping the buildings and grounds operational for the boys and their families that live and visit with us.

What was the motivating factor and goals for this project?

Rawhide Boys Ranch was founded in 1965 by Wisconsin natives John and Jan Gillespie. Helping to support the founding was Bart Starr, then quarterback of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers. Starr raffled off a Corvette he received as MVP from Super Bowl II to complete the down payment on the Rawhide property. (Photo: Rawhide Boys Ranch)

As a charity, Rawhide runs off of generous donations, and every dollar that is saved by controlling facility maintenance costs represents additional funds that can support the care and comfort of the children. A major aspect of my role is ensuring we are as efficient as possible with a lean team and keeping costs of repairs and replacements at a minimum.

We needed a better way to manage our facility maintenance operations, keep up with work order requests, proactively organize our inspection schedule, and determine if it was more cost-effective to repair or replace major systems based on tracking the age and previous repairs performed on those systems.

What problems were you encountering before this retrofit?

Using a paper based system to track facility maintenance was cumbersome and made tracking repairs and regular inspections difficult. Everything has to be tested and inspected, including our wells and our furnaces. Without having an easy way to track our maintenance needs, we had to rely on guesswork to calculate the risk of repair and replacement.

The Rawhide Boys Ranch continuum of services includes outpatient counseling, residential treatment programs, equine assisted therapy, summer camp, and foster care. (Photo: Rawhide Boys Ranch)

For example, we realized one of our major HVAC systems needed to be replaced in the largest building on the ranch, and we were getting to a point where we weren’t able to replace the system as-is. The estimated cost of the replacement with a new option was more than $250,000, and we needed a way to justify that expense by more efficiently tracking energy consumption and reducing associated costs.

Allocating and tracking maintenance budgets was difficult. We were spending too much time sifting though papers determining what had been repaired and when. Without having a streamlined, automated system, our resources and budgets were stretched.

How did you research the options? And how did you arrive at the final decision?

We researched a few different facility management software options, and in the end we made the decision to use FacilityDude based on the ease of the technology. The team at FacilityDude was ready to help get us up and running and customize the software based on our needs.

We implemented MaintenanceEdge, a web based CMMS that provides us the capability for centralized requests, automated maintenance workflow, and reporting to help protect assets. For energy management, we chose UtilityTrac, an application that allows us to track, analyze, and report on utility consumption and cost.

What have the results been?

MaintenanceEdge and UtilityTrac have been a lifesaver for us operationally. After we sprung for the new $250,000 boiler/chiller equipment, we were able to measure energy consumption and spending as well as monitor weather events and trends with UtilityTrac—and adjust our usage based on that analysis. Our Board of Directors couldn’t believe how much we were saving in energy costs. It justified 100% the major expense for the new system.

Further, UtilityTrac gives us the ability to make incremental changes and monitor and track the savings. Then we can determine if it’s worth it to implement new technology across the ranch. After tracking what were supposed to be energy saving ideas, we have sometimes seen that the payback isn’t great enough to outweigh the investment. The impact has been dramatic; at one point our utility costs for one building were down 74%.

With MaintenanceEdge, I can pull up my team’s work orders and have the facts right in front of me for each piece of equipment. This is very beneficial when we are determining which brand and models of appliances to buy and to maintain a record of service.

In addition, MaintenanceEdge gives us the ability to track and schedule reminders for regulatory inspections including wells (tested monthly) and furnaces (tested yearly). When we do find an issue during an inspection, we are able to enter it into MaintenanceEdge as a work order, and in turn it gets completed. For compliance purposes, this also provides a record that the issue has been addressed.

Visit the Rawhide Boys Ranch website. To learn more about FacilityDude’s MaintenanceEdge and UtilityTrac offerings, visit www.facilitydude.com.

Have a question or comment on this project? Visit the Comments section below. To share your Facility Retrofit story, e-mail the Editor at acosgrove@groupc.com.