Industriepark Höchst bei Nacht

Is your site operation organization still up-to-date?

Things used to be simpler: Every industrial company had its own business locations and ran them through an in-house facility management department. Today’s environment is far more complex: The traditional model has been joined by multi-user sites with highly specific operating conditions. Changes to the use structure affect all aspects of site operation. That is why companies should regularly check whether their current operator model still meets all user requirements.

When does site use change?

Sites are like living organisms: They constantly evolve. Globalization and digitalization introduce sweeping changes; mergers and acquisitions may require site operations to be completely realigned. Similar changes are brought about by:

  • In-house reorganizations
  • Spin-offs of business segments
  • Integration of other independent companies
  • Relocations of production to another site
  • Implementation of new plants and equipment

Regulatory tightening, whether in health and safety or other fields, constantly drives change, too. Likewise, legal requirements or certification criteria may prompt companies to revisit their operator model.

Why adopt a new operator model?

Every industrial site presents its own unique challenge for operators. Many companies still handle all their facility management in-house. However, the work involved in operating a site has become increasingly more complex and requires more and more niche expertise. Facility management also ties up resources that cannot be used for research, development or production in the core business. At the same time, facility management is fast becoming a key success factor. When FM and support processes are designed for maximum efficiency, they can dramatically reduce the administrative effort and associated costs.

It may make sense, as part of a continuous process optimization drive, to work closely with an external service provider on all or some aspects of facility management in order to trim costs and administrative overhead and streamline internal processes as much as possible.

Organizations switching from a single-user to a multi-user strategy have no choice but to modify their operator model. There are clear benefits to making this change. Modified operator models often provide an opportunity to:

  • Reduce management overhead
  • Lighten operating and administrative workloads
  • Improve transparency and controllability
  • Integrate best practices from other sites
  • Flexibilize costs to drive total value optimization

Efficient, cost-effective facility management helps to cut costs and save on resources. Read more about how to gear your operator model for success in our free guide.

Download the guide

Who does what?

When reviewing your operator model, it helps to first clearly define the three roles that are present at every site:

  • Who is the owner?
  • Who are the users and what do they need?
  • Who operates the site?

The operator has a wide variety of tasks and responsibilities. The most important are:

  • Providing business space and services
  • Meeting user and property requirements
  • Maintaining the value and fabric of plants and facilities
  • Ensuring data availability and solid evidence of compliance

Occupants of multi-user sites generally share access to the central infrastructure. One party must be responsible for operating it – if only to meet all legal requirements. The infrastructure can consist of various systems: from central generation systems and supply lines for steam, electricity and compressed air to sewer systems for collecting and properly treating wastewater.

While the original parent company may have done well so far in managing the infrastructure itself, continuing to do so would dramatically change its business model as soon as the site becomes multi-user. The parent company would then become a service provider for its “guest companies”. It may want to think about whether this change meshes with its core business and corporate philosophy.

The operator model should always be tailored to the site’s requirements and those of the companies based there. This explains why so many different models are in use:

  • A company operates the site itself with specialized personnel and departments.
  • Some or all aspects of facility management are outsourced to one or more service providers.
  • Services are outsourced based on whether they are hard or soft FM, critical or non-critical or belong to certain building clusters (production, laboratory, administration).
  • Users at multi-user sites operate their own infrastructure themselves.
  • Shared infrastructure is operated centrally.
  • The site owner is the operator but not a manufacturer.

What operator model is best for a given site? The answer to this question depends heavily on the size of the company and site, shareholding structures, user needs and complexity of the infrastructure services. Also, does the company want to operate this secondary business itself or focus on its core business and consider employing a professional service provider?

There is no one right model. If a decision is made to bring in service providers, the next step is to lock in standards for quality, availability, response times and access to knowledge. Luckily, there are parameters that help in creating the selected model.

Regardless of which model is chosen, the basic terms of site operation must be laid out in detail in a contract between the site’s operator and its users. Key aspects include:

• Responsibilities and authorities

• Scope of service and compensation

• Compliance aspects

• Administrative aspects

• Government permits

• Emergency organization

• Risk

The terms have to take account of the structures that have evolved within the company. Outsourcing whole or partial processes to service providers is a big change that can provoke anxiety among workers previously responsible for those matters. This anxiety can be alleviated by training these employees to take on new or additional tasks or by having the employees transfer to the service provider – and take all their vested rights and benefits with them. When dealing with matters this sensitive, it helps to communicate as transparently and early as possible.

When employees transfer to the service provider along with the outsourced tasks, they are joining a company that views their skills as integral to its core business. This can open up attractive career opportunities for these people.

All operators of sites, whether single-user or multi-user, face the challenge of developing a detailed operator model. What is the best way to go about it?

We recommend the following steps:

  • Who assumes which role (owner, operator, user)?
  • In-house facility management or external service provider(s)?
  • What operator model is the best fit for the site?
  • Who assumes responsibility for what areas?
  • How are stakeholders involved in the model?

Experience has shown that there are tremendous benefits to outsourcing site services as a block along the entire value chain:

  • It only takes one call for proposals and one 3- to 5-year-long contract – instead of a slew of small project-related inquiries with service providers.
  • You only have one service provider to deal with. Its employees regularly work at the customer’s site during the entire term and, by being part of the site, develop a greater sense of responsibility than employees of regional service providers who solely come to the site to handle specific projects.
  • When entire service packages are awarded to a service provider, its employees regularly work at the site and so do not need to be accompanied or trained by the customer’s employees.
  • When entire packages are awarded, the service provider’s employees can enter the documentation right in the customer’s system.

Being a professional operator of industrial sites, Infraserv Höchst has extensive experience in operating, designing, building, maintaining, converting and expanding future-proof infrastructure. We have carried out innumerable projects at sites throughout Germany.

We have seen all imaginable user structures and know the challenges they present. We will gladly help you make your business processes as smooth and efficient as possible – from managing and supporting entire sites to operating and maintaining integrated infrastructure over extended periods to providing individual processes and services. When we take over groups of non-core processes, we transform cost centers into success factors for our customers. We will improve your nimbleness and site performance and thus turn your infrastructure into a bona fide locational advantage.

If you are thinking about changing your site’s ownership, user or operator structure, you should look into which operator model provides the most benefits for you. See our free guide to learn what factors to consider in this process.

Download the guide

Save time and money with the right operator model

Facility management is becoming more and more complex and keeps presenting companies with bigger, newer challenges – especially firms operating sites based on multi-user models.

There is no one-size-fits-all operator model. Every model has to be carefully customized to the applicable site.

Handing off operator tasks to outside service providers often cuts costs dramatically and enables your employees to focus on their core tasks.

Read here how to find find the ideal operator model for your site.

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