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New-style repair and maintenance expands to west campus

The redesigned repair and maintenance service provided by Physical Plant will begin operation in a second area of campus, Zone D, on May 13. Nonresidential buildings in Zone D (see map) will now receive the services of a cross-functional repair and maintenance team assigned to this area.

People who work in the affected buildings have been invited to information sessions on April 30, May 1 and May 2. The sessions will describe how the new service will operate.

In the redesigned repair and maintenance process, the campus will be divided into five areas or zones, designated A through E. The zone concept is very different from the old process in which tradespeople were dispatched centrally from Building E19 to provide service to different buildings and customers every day.

Each of the new local zones will have a resident team made up of tradespeople and maintenance mechanics who will interact directly with their customers. Basing each team in its own zone will enable them to become more familiar with their buildings and customers and to provide faster service. It also makes it easier for team members to spot and fix problems even before customers report them.

Local zone team members who do the work will make decisions without asking a supervisor. There will, however, be a few coaches to support the teams rather than making decisions for them. Maintenance mechanics will take care of basic tasks, allowing the specialized tradespeople to focus on more complex problems.

This new concept was tested in the east campus, Zone E, last August through December. Customers contacted the team directly via e-mail, the World Wide Web or by telephone with requests for service.

Survey feedback from customers in the pilot was very positive, and one summed it up by saying, "The East Zone team has done an excellent job of responding quickly to routine repairs. In the past, we often used to wait a month or more for this kind of work to be completed, but now the repairs are almost always done within 24 hours."

The East zone became the first permanent team of the new repair and maintenance process in January. The remaining zones, A-C, will be put into operation this summer.

The zone concept is just one piece of the entire repair and maintenance redesign. As the redesign continues to be implemented, several new centrally located teams will be formed to focus on projects and specialty work, local zone backup support, and life safety issues. Implementation of the entire repair and maintenance design is scheduled to be completed by the end of this summer.

"Initiating the new process and changing the culture of how people work in Physical Plant is a long journey, and many loyal and dedicated people are working very hard to make it happen," said Victoria Sirianni, director of Physical Plant. "Our goal is to provide better service, perform an increased number of repairs and improve the overall condition of MIT's buildings as well as to save money."

For more information, send e-mail to .

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 1, 1996.

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