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A Parking Asset Management Plan Will Save You Money and Headaches, Parker December 2015
8 PARKER | 4TH QUARTER 2015 | 4ER TRIMESTRE 2015
A PARKING ASSET MANAGEMENT
PLAN WILL SAVE YOU MONEY
There has been a lot of discussion in
recent years about Canada’s “crumbling
infrastructure.” City, provincial, and
national decision-makers are facing
hard choices—and potentially enormous
bills—about how to repair old and worn
roadways, bridges, and viaducts.
This infrastructure crisis should serve
as a cautionary tale for parking owners,
both public and private. As with any
infrastructure component, your parkade
requires maintenance and routine repairs
over its lifetime. To borrow a cliché,
it’s easy to be penny wise, but pound
foolish. Deferring (or ignoring) routine
maintenance will inevitably lead to far
more expensive repairs down the road.
But protecting your parking investment
doesn’t end with maintenance. It’s
just as important to have an asset
management plan to operate, maintain,
and perhaps even plan for the
decommissioning of your parking assets
at the end of their useful service life. An
asset management plan should revolve
around the specific characteristics,
uses, and plans for each individual
parking asset as well as the organization
it supports. It should also take into
account the resources that are available
to manage the parking asset in the
short-term, as well as anticipated parking
assets in the years to come.
MAINTAINING YOUR PARKADE
For many parking owners, maintenance can be an elusive concept. As one long-time operator once
told me, “I know I’m supposed to be picking up the trash, sweep the elevator lobbies, and mop up the
spills; but are there other maintenance items I may be forgetting?”
In fact, a maintenance plan is much more than occasional spot cleaning. It’s a comprehensive strategy
designed to keep a parkade operational and structurally sound. Of course the primary purpose is to
prevent structural degradation of a parking asset, but maintenance plans can also help keep parkades
operating at optimum efficiency.
What does a maintenance plan involve? The
most obvious elements are regular sweeping and
semi-annual power washing of floors, emptying
trash bins, and washing windows. But there
are also other very important elements too.
These include replacing lights throughout the
parkade, painting walls and ceilings, snow
removal, and maintaining the grounds. All of
these elements contribute to keeping parking
facilities functionally and structurally sound.
Two areas are particularly important when it
comes to maintenance: electrical and mechanical
systems. Electrical systems include light bulbs,
exit signs, outlets, electrical panels, conduits,
generators, and building automation systems.
Today’s garage is much more technologically
advanced than those of the past, and the
electrical systems, which can be intricate,
are essential to assure a parkade’s smooth
operation. Not only does regular maintenance
of these systems assure that the garage
will operate as it should, but many of these
elements, particularly lighting and wayfinding
equipment contribute to patron safety and the
overall parking experience. It’s essential to
implement a schedule of maintenance to assure
that all electrical systems are operating properly.
Equally important are the mechanical systems.
Elevators, heating ventilation and cooling
systems, fire protection, snow melt systems,
oil water separators, stand pipes, overhead
doors, building automation systems, and parking
access and revenue control systems are all
essential operational elements of a parkade. It’s
important to have a regular schedule for both
inspections and maintenance to assure that
they are operating at full capacity. In the case of
stand pipes, regular pressure testing should be
conducted to make sure that they work properly
in the event of a fire.
By Andrew Vidor
PARKER | 4TH QUARTER 2015 | 4ER TRIMESTRE 2015 9
In addition to these operational maintenance
items, there are also many structural preventative
maintenance elements that must be adhered to.
For instance, cracks in concrete surfaces must
be sealed before they have an opportunity to
allow salt intrusion and cause corrosion of the
reinforcing steel which will expand and cause major
damage. In general joint sealants should regularly
be replaced, waterproofing sealants every 7 to 10
years and architectural sealants every 15 to 20
years. Likewise, floor surface sealers should be
reapplied every 5 to 7 years and traffic topping
should be recoated every 5 to 10 years, or when
wear is noticed. Expansion joints should also be
replaced if glands are torn and header materials
should be repaired if they are damaged. Finally,
structural steel should be painted on a regular
schedule to prevent rusting, and comprehensive
inspections should regularly be completed to look
for other potential problems.
The importance of these preventative maintenance
initiatives can’t be overstated. Too often, owners
and operators ignore them until it’s too late and
costly repairs are required. Often it’s a matter
of perceived cost, but the price of repairs vastly
exceeds the cost of implementing a comprehensive
What type of repairs typically arise when
maintenance is ignored? There are relatively minor
issues that crop up, including the need to fix trip
hazards and knock down loose overhead concrete,
both of which can cause safety hazards for patrons.
More seriously, ignoring maintenance can lead to
major overhauls, including post tensioning repairs
and fixing concrete spalls in beams, columns,
and floors. Both of these issues often reflect
structural issues that can pose significant hazards
to parkers and staff alike, and they can be very
expensive. Ultimately, these are the types of issues
owners and operators are trying to avoid through
scheduled maintenance because they are so costly
and potentially dangerous.
ASSET MANAGEMENT PLANS
As important as a program of scheduled maintenance is, ultimately,
it’s merely one element of an asset management plan. This is
where owners who only have maintenance plans in place often fall
short. As stated earlier, an asset management plan is an owner’s
long-term financial plan for maintaining their parking assets. Asset
management plans don’t come off a shelf. Rather they are developed
around the specific characteristics, uses, and plans for each
individual parking asset. The plan will also provide short- and long-
term strategies for obtaining and setting aside the necessary capital
for maintaining and repairing the asset—and even building it if a new
parkade is under consideration.
The idea of the asset management plan is to be proactive rather
than reactive. The worst thing owners and operators can do is
carry on hoping nothing will go wrong or break down in a parkade.
This is usually what happens when maintenance is deferred over
long periods of time. By the time owners and operators are paying
attention to maintenance issues the damage is done and the cost
of address them will be exponentially higher. Sometimes the damage
is so severe that repairs aren’t even cost effective. Figure one
demonstrates the extent to which managed deterioration (through
an asset management plan) extends the life of a parkade and
reduces repair costs compared to unmanaged deterioration (deferring
maintenance and operational planning).
So, what exactly does an asset management plan entail? There are five
primary elements of a comprehensive plan: budgeting, maintenance
and repairs, future planning, and programming continuity.
Budgeting is the essential first step of an asset management plan.
Parking system managers need an effective planning and budgeting
tool to properly manage, maintain, and repair their structured parking
assets. They need to be able to anticipate both actual costs and
available capital over the period of the plan, and they can’t rely
on past budgetary experience to make those determinations. As
with every business, some years are good and others are slow. In
budgeting for operations and repairs, owners and operators need
to be able to estimate when capital will be available, and when lean
times are likely. Only then can they create a realistic budget schedule
for the plan.
When the budget is complete, then owners and operators can start
planning for maintenance and operation. The first step is evaluation.
Understanding each parkade’s conditions and service objectives
provides the baseline for the asset management plan. There are a
number of key questions to be answered by the evaluation process.
What is the current condition of each parkade? Will the structures’
role or use change in the near future? How long much each
structure remain open? Which structure(s) need attention and in what
order? For long-term structures, which repairs will maximize service
life? For structures which are programmed for demolition, which
minimal repairs will ensure safety? What structural maintenance
should occur and how frequently? What are the long-term (usually
10 years) probable costs of each structure’s maintenance and/or
repair? Should upgrades (i.e. lighting, ventilation, accommodations
for persons with disabilities, EV’s, etc., functional, parking access
and revenue control, signage, etc.) be implemented in any structure?
Bris de structure
Détérioration non gérée
Démolition de la structure
FIGURE 1: PARKADE DETERIORATION CURVE
10 PARKER | 4TH QUARTER 2015 | 4ER TRIMESTRE 2015
There’s a lot there right? So let’s break it down.
First, what’s the current condition of the parkade,
and what’s its planned future. Will it continue to
operate indefinitely? Will it be demolished in five
years so the land can be put to another use? The
answers to these questions will obviously inform how
intensive maintenance and repair strategies are, and
how much capital will be put into it. For structures with
an anticipated long-term lifecycle, a comprehensive
maintenance and repair plan should be put in place.
On the other hand, the focus is more limited for those
deemed short-term: what will be necessary to keep it
operational and safe for the few years it will still be
For parking assets with long-term lifecycles, the asset
management plan will need to establish a budget
and schedule for maintenance, as well as operational
plans for accommodating that maintenance. How do
you provide maximum service to patrons while work
is being done? How do you schedule work to minimize
the impact on patrons?
And what types of work will be included in the plan.
Owners and operators need to be able to accurately
project what types of repairs will be needed in the
future. It’s not enough to understand the condition of
the asset when the asset management plan is being
created; owners and operators also need to be able
to predict the condition in each year of the plan. That
way, they can implement strategies to prevent system,
equipment, and structural breakdowns before they
happen. In essence, owners and operators need a
crystal ball that will tell them what’s going to break
and when so they can budget and plan for the repair or maintenance in advance.
Fortunately, there are a variety of technological tools and engineering approaches
that can help provide these answers.
The final step in creating and implementing an asset management plan is
programming continuity. It’s important to remember that the plan is a living
thing. It will change as conditions change. For instance, sometimes things break
unexpectedly and need to be repaired or replaced sooner than expected. Or capital
may run low because anticipated business opportunities don’t come through.
Owners and operators need be aggressive about evaluating the status of the asset
management plan and maintain flexibility when implementing it to be able to adjust
it as conditions and circumstances warrant.
PEACE OF MIND
An asset management plan provides a variety of different benefits. It can
minimize financial surprises; reduce operational surprises; reduce facility
downtime, which of course improves the bottom line; put owners and operators
in a stronger position to compete for limited dollars or capture program dollars;
and provide program continuity.
Asset management plans offer confidence by providing accurate records of
past repairs, quick financial projections for future repairs and maintenance,
and reliable support information for developing funding for managing and
maintaining each parking asset. They also offer overall master planning
capabilities and maximize the useful service life of the parkade. And they can
save owners and operators substantial money by helping them better plan for
the needed service life of each parkade using the minimum amount of capital.
Ultimately, combining all of these benefits, asset management plans can offer
owners and operators peace of mind, and that’s no small thing. n
Andrew Vidor is a parking consultant with Walker Parking Consultants.
He can be reached at email@example.com.