The following is an article written by Gary Ainsworth, Franchisee of Metal Supermarkets Boston North, and edited by Diana Vlamis Koster.

Maintenance Costs
Photo by freedigitalphotos.net

Picture the lowly stainless steel corner guard installed on a corner in a hospital, a care facility, a restaurant, or a school. Got the picture? Maybe not – it’s tough to visualize, because you probably never noticed it! As most facility managers know, there are economic, decorative, and safety reasons for installing corner guards and other metal based building accessories in high traffic areas.

There are many opportunities to use metal products in building maintenance, beyond the immediate repair of a facility and its equipment.  Often the material costs are modest when compared to periodic repeated repairs over a few years.   Let’s take that corner guard.  A stainless steel guard is installed to minimize damage to corners which, when unprotected, are typically sheet rock with a corner bead. These materials quickly show the wear and tear that comes from constant assault by wheelchairs, gurneys, serving carts, hand trucks, and other points of contact. I’m sure many maintenance managers deal with having to assign or subcontract the “corner and wall crews” for wall prep, repair, and painting of damaged walls and corners in high traffic areas.

Year over year, these costs can add up quickly because the same areas get damaged repeatedly.  Even a modestly sized facility can have dozens of trouble spots in high traffic areas including corners, stairwells, hallway wall impact areas, door kick plates, and door push plates.  For example, a damaged wall corner generally requires scraping and material removal (20 minutes); compounding and sanding, usually twice (20 minutes over 2 days); and finally painting (20 minutes).  That’s 60 minutes per corner or $30-35 dollars per corner per year for internal burdened labor – and likely twice that for an external contractors. Add to that the costs for material and equipment, and the cost per corner can be $50-$100 or more per repair. Consider that a repair is needed annually. That means once installed, a corner protector could save $1000 in maintenance costs over a 10 year period FOR EVERY CORNER!

Beyond economics, there are other benefits to protecting high traffic areas. Consider the aesthetic appeal of clean, undamaged surfaces. Facilities with protected surfaces maintain a visually acceptable appearance for a longer time.  Customers or patients will have a positive perception of a building that appears to be clean and well maintained. Excessive nicks and dings can make a facility look prematurely tired. In addition, the persistent presence of maintenance crews is inconvenient and compounds the sense that a facility is old and worn. While perception is an intangible factor, humans often base their decisions on it.

In some applications, beyond aesthetic reasons, there are also safety reasons to keep high traffic areas neat and undamaged.  Possible injury can be caused by exposed building materials, from cuts and scratches to falls, slips, and trips from loosened material.  In some cases, hygiene and custodial ease can justify the cost.  Stainless steel push plates on doors reduce wear and tear of these high use surfaces, allowing them to be cleaned with ease.

Distributors of metal often carry  materials and have the processing capability that allow maintenance personnel to specify and buy the exact size and geometry of virtually any corner guard, wall surface protection, door kick,  and push plate needed to maintain and ultimately save money.  Often these items need specific lengths and holes patterns, or surface finish requirements to match specific architectural design.  Metal Supermarket – Boston can shear, finish, and fabricate these products to your specification and deliver them to your plant or your work in the field.  And you can rely on distributors to cut down your contractors’ time by delivering to the site.

The new breed of small quantity metal distributors fulfills a key role in today’s mission-critical, need-it-now marketplace. A metal distributor is a natural partner to any business with metal needs because it offers a wide range of metals with immediate availability, provides services such as cutting and shearing, takes on the risk of holding inventory of expensive materials, and delivers solutions right to the worksite.

Gary Ainsworth is a local entrepreneur with a background in operations, product development and supply chain strategy.  He recently opened a Metal Supermarkets® franchise, the world’s largest supplier of small quantity metals, at 16A 6th Road, Woburn, Massachusetts. For more information on the Metal Supermarkets Boston – North store, contact Gary Ainsworth by phone at 781-933-0176, fax at 781-933-0518 or email at gainsworth@metalsupermarkets.com

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