Crown Melbourne: How we reined in our building maintenance time and cost

Maintenance around the casino and entertainment complex was getting too complex, so Crown decided to implement a new asset management system from IBM in a bid to speed up repair jobs and keep customers coming.

On the banks of the Yarra River sits Crown Melbourne, a casino, entertainment, and hotel complex that occupies 510,000 metres of riverside real estate. It is the city's biggest tourist destination, and 500,000 people can pass through the doors on any given day, bringing in AU$1.8 billion revenue per annum.

It's open around the clock, and to ensure that money keeps pouring in, Crown has to spend a lot of time maintaining every aspect of the complex. Time really is money for Crown, and downtime for any part of the casino can be costly.

Crown has a lot of assets to manage, from 2,500 gaming machines and 500 gaming tables — each with six pieces of electrical components — to 1,600 hundred guest rooms and numerous restaurants.

What is behind the wall is also very important to Crown. The complex has 2,900 air conditioning units, 2,229 air conditioning pumps, 31 boilers, 24 cooling towers, and seven chillers — all that, just so you can feel nice and comfortable while splurging on a craps table.

"When it gets cold in an office, workers still stay, but if it gets cold in the casino, customers will leave," Crown general manager Demara Jackson said at the Pulse IBM SolutionsConnect 2013 event in Melbourne.

Maintaining the building is no easy feat, and Crown employs 120 staff and a swathe of contractors, including electricians, plumbers, and carpenters, to ensure that things are running smoothly at the front and back ends.

Previously, the maintenance crew was struggling with working effectively. There were times when maintenance teams would double up on one job because it was hard to track the work orders, and there wasn't much clarity over costs of maintaining the assets in the buildings.

"We have a lot of premium customers and VIPs — frankly, our facilities issues just weren't being handled in the shortest amount of time," Crown manager for engineering services Jeremy Sampson said at Pulse. "Also, we live in a multitude of financial systems and work order systems. At any point in time, it wasn't clearly transparent how much we were spending on certain assets on certain budgets.

"Fiscally, that just wasn't good enough for us."

When things don't work in and around the casino, high rollers that come in and splurge money are more inclined to leave and take their dollars elsewhere, he said.

To make the work simpler for the maintenance crew and to better manage costs, Crown decided to implement a new asset management system in 2012. The company selected IBM's Maximo Asset Management system and Maximo Everyplace software, with the vendor helping out with the design and implementation process.

Everything was in place by November 2012. A hundred-odd shift team members were issued iPhone 4 devices with Maximo Everyplace installed on them to help manage the property around the clock. There are currently over 20,000 assets, including pipes, slot machines, and light fixtures, registered on the Crown Maximo system.

"Overnight, over seven of them are there to manage the entire property and to do that in the most effective way, and to minimise overall response times, the shift team members use their iPhones with Maximo Everyplace to receive, allocate, and record job activities," Jackson said at Pulse. "Team leaders can then ID priority jobs, from a kitchen fryer malfunctioning to lights out in a villa, to minimise travel time between jobs."

The average maintenance worker at Crown travels more than 7km each day, and that represents 25 percent of the cost on every job, she said.

"While it's unlikely to be able to remove travel time altogether, even halving that would reduce our costs substantially," Jackson said.

Through the new asset management system, if a job is to fix a leaky pipe, for example, and parts need to be ordered, workers can turn that job order into a purchase order in a few simple steps through their company-issued iPhones.

With a more efficient maintenance system in place, the next step for Crown is to gather all the data it can from the Maximo system to optimise inventory levels, according to Sampson. The company is also looking at ways to streamline maintenance processes even more, and is exploring ways to use geolocation or geotagging of photos to keep better track of assets that needs to be repaired.

Spandas Lui attended Pulse as a guest of IBM.