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ATL
Digi

Atlanta
Digital

 

By Chris Barns

 

If space planning is part of your facility management duties, you strive to create efficient and effective facility blueprints and floor plans while simultaneously optimizing space utilization. Your challenges include maximizing every square inch of space to ensure it is functional, cost-effective, and efficient. This involves strategically grouping spaces together, repurposing or removing underused areas, and ensuring the facility is utilized to its full potential.

Yet, with all these challenges, one question remains: how can you transform these challenges into opportunities for further optimization?

How To Maximize Floor Space Utilization

When preparing for a facility space assessment, it’s essential to first differentiate between blueprints and floor plans. While facility blueprints present a comprehensive view of construction, including mechanical, electrical, and plumbing details, floor plans primarily focus on the spatial arrangement within a building, such as the walls, windows, and doors. This distinction aids professionals in precisely targeting their strategies.

floor plans
(Photo: Adobe Stock / mojo_cp)

 

A critical initial step is conducting a real property inventory. This process involves cataloging all elements, from land and structures to the intricate breakdown of building spaces. Understanding the dimensions and characteristics of each space is essential for effective floor space utilization.

Consider an office building where personal property, including desks and equipment, plays a vital role in how the overall space will be used. Unlike a warehouse or data center, the arrangement of these items directly influences space utilization metrics. Knowing the location and square footage of each item allows for a more effective layout and cost-efficient management.

Another crucial aspect is tracking personnel allocation and adjacency requirements — understanding which team occupies which space. For instance, if Team A frequently collaborates with Team B, it’s important to consider the best way to arrange their spaces to facilitate more effective and seamless collaboration. Evaluating and potentially rearranging these teams’ locations will ultimately lead to more efficient floor space utilization.

The Significance Of Space Utilization Metrics In Facility Management

Space utilization metrics serve as indispensable tools for ensuring the optimal usage of space within a building, significantly influencing cost optimization and energy efficiency. For instance, through detailed facility space assessments, managers can ascertain how square footage is allocated across different organizational units. This knowledge is instrumental in identifying areas where space can be maximized or reconfigured to better serve the organization’s needs.

Moreover, in sectors like government, higher education, and healthcare, the importance of accurate floor space utilization extends to financial implications. These institutions often rely on square footage as a basis for funding and investment decisions, making the accuracy of facility floor plans more than just a matter of spatial organization. It becomes a key financial consideration.

Furthermore, understanding space utilization metrics is essential in the energy management of a building. By analyzing how different areas of a facility consume energy, leaders can implement strategies to reduce costs and enhance efficiency. This approach aids in financial savings and contributes to sustainable practices.

Understanding Effective Facility Floor Plan Optimization

Facility floor plan optimization presents various challenges for professionals in facilities management, particularly in sectors such as government, healthcare, higher education, and commercial industries. A primary issue is maintaining a cohesive understanding of evolving floor plans and facility blueprints. These documents often undergo frequent changes due to renovations or reutilizations, making it difficult to keep a unified, accurate master plan.

Facility floor plan optimization presents various challenges for professionals in facilities management. A primary issue is maintaining a cohesive understanding of evolving floor plans and facility blueprints. These documents often undergo frequent changes due to renovations or reutilizations, making it difficult to keep a unified, accurate master plan.

An effective solution to this problem involves standardizing and consolidating the management of floor plans. Tools like AutoCAD and BIM, known for their capabilities in both 2D and 3D design, play a pivotal role in creating and managing standardized plans, including facility blueprints. Such tools should be used with version control to ensure all updates are accurately reflected.

Another aspect to consider is the streamlining of processes to overcome the challenges of siloed operations within an organization. This includes establishing common standards and methodologies for space utilization metrics and facility space assessments. Doing so ensures that different groups within the same organization can collaborate effectively, sharing a unified view of the floor plans.

Additionally, making floor plans digitally accessible across an enterprise or organization allows facility managers and teams to quickly identify and address any discrepancies. Whether the data is captured through advanced laser measuring tools, 3D visualization, or traditional methods, having an accurate visual representation in the management system is vital for keeping floor plans up to date.

Why Facility Space Assessment is Essential for Optimizing Floor Space Utilization

Professionals must prioritize maintaining accurate, up-to-date data on their facility floor plans and blueprints. This data is not just necessary for day-to-day operations but also forms the bedrock for strategic space planning and optimization.

A comprehensive facility space assessment aids in pinpointing discrepancies between the current usage of a space and its potential. Through these assessments, facility managers can identify spaces that may have been repurposed — such as a classroom transformed into a laboratory in an educational setting — and update facility blueprints accordingly. This ensures that every square foot is accounted for and utilized effectively.

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Moreover, routine visual inspections and evaluations, forming part of the facility space assessment process, are essential in confirming that the floor plan aligns with actual space usage. This alignment is critical in generating accurate space utilization metrics, which guide informed decision-making. For example, in healthcare settings, understanding the specifics of a facility blueprint is vital in cases of HVAC failures in critical areas like operating rooms, underscoring the necessity of up-to-date floor plans.

As a facility space planner, you understand that developing facility blueprints and floor plans with a focus on optimizing space utilization is an extensive process that involves continuous assessment, implementation, and refinement. However, this ongoing evolution in managing and optimizing space highlights your essential role in the future of facilities management. Ultimately, it ensures that every decision is driven by data and that each square foot reflects your technical expertise and strategic foresight.

Chris Barns, Vice President, Real Property Consulting, R&K Solutions, floor plansChris Barns is the Vice President of Real Property Consulting at R&K Solutions, an employee-owned small business specializing in real property business support for managers of some of the world’s largest facilities portfolios.

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