Facility maintenance engineers are often under-appreciated in the world of science and technology but their important roles should not be overlooked. They are tasked with various duties such as retrofitting machines and components, replacing equipment, and preparing maintenance schedules to make sure everything is working smoothly and continuously. A strong background in machine design, electromechanical interfacing, HVAC design, and project management is required to keep a facility in working order. Of all the other things not mentioned already a facility maintenance engineer has to assess damage and create a recovery plan in the case of a system failure. Just last July, a local university campus experienced a terrible water main rupture. The break of the 100 year old, 30 inch main resulted in the release of more than 20 million gallons of water compromising 900 vehicles, submerging athletic fields, and flooding nearby structures. What a tough gig for any engineer! The goal of this brief Open Mind is to show how I would reconstruct after such a terrible event.
The first plan after analyzing what exactly happened is to perform a major clean up. I would establish a best way to clear the parking structures and other flooded areas to minimize damage done to structures, vehicles, and exposed equipment. Pumps would have to be sized and storage/where the water will go will have to be determined.
Next, deep analysis of structural integrity will be performed to make sure all exposed buildings are sound. Not only can water lead to mold and soften building material but it can also get into the thinnest cracks causing localized damage over the long run. All exposed building would have to be cleared before being opened for use.
Finally, active prevention action will be used to ensure no further catastrophes happen again and if they do, not to the magnitude of this recent event. I would undergo a full and regular inspection of all major systems used by the campus/business. Emergency detection systems can be developed to continuously monitor various system parameters and issue an alarm when critical levels are reached. In an ideal world with endless money, I would also employ inspection robots that can go into piping networks or other systems that are hard to inspect and have them repair issues as they come up. Easier said than done!
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Until next time…