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Frank Maes, Manager
(22 years with Department, 13 years as manager) 37 technicians and support personnel

Mechanical Craft Shops include HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning); Sheet Metal (duct work, exhaust vents, venting hot water heaters, installing ceiling grills, installing air conditioning units, and locker repair); and Plumbing (domestic water, gas, and sewer maintenance).

The Department attends to all that isn’t seen but essential to schools’ daily smooth operations and wellbeing of the occupants. Mechanical functions have nothing to do with outward appearances and everything to do with nearly everything else that makes it possible for teachers to teach and for students to learn in a comfortable environment. It is indisputable − the personnel in this department carry much of the weight of the District’s very purpose on their shoulders. If these invaluable members of M&O were to disappear, the education process would abruptly halt. But there’s not a chance that would happen. At APS, steadfast high quality mechanical service to the District is a given. Due to the unfaltering preventive maintenance attention to the District’s plumbing and HVAC systems — aided by subcontractors — APS has not known a school closure due to mechanical failure in decades!

The HVAC Shop stays abreast of the cooling and heating systems that ensure the necessary environmental conditions supportive of the education process. Unsuitable classroom temperatures cause discomfort and distraction that compete with learning! In making certain this doesn’t happen requires performing regularly scheduled PM inspections and upkeep (monthly, quarterly, or yearly depending on usage) on the District’s over 50,000 pieces of equipment. When issues do occur M&O provides quick professional response to correct the problem. Systems and their controls — becoming more high tech and energy efficient every year — are set for optimum classroom conditions and are continually monitored.

The Department’s Plumbing Shop’s incessant upkeep of plumbing systems results in the reliability of water delivery District wide. The Shop’s monthly preventive maintenance work guarantees that the sanitary drinking water systems are unrestricted and contamination free. PM on sewer systems abate sewer backups at schools that would cause classroom disruption, if not complete closure. Jetting sewer lines has proven to be a valuable preventive maintenance protocol.

Monthly inspections are also performed on all fire protection sprinkler systems, kitchen hood fire suppressant systems, and boiler systems. The scheduled inspections and equipment service delivers assurance to students and staff that they have functional mechanical systems and the most comfortable classroom environment possible.

The one-man Locker Repair Shop is the sole craft not on a PM program as lockers rarely wear out. Regrettably, senseless vandalism is typically the sole reason for much needed repairs and parts replacement.


Highly skilled new hires elevated quality of Department


Four out of five vacancies were filled in the HVAC Shop which resulted in taking PM work for 20 schools away from contractors and assigning them to in-house technicians possessing a high level of ownership. In addition to saving dollars, M&O techs with a sense of proprietorship for the schools they are in charge of cultivate face-to-face relationships with the Principals and school Administrators.


Three retirees in the Plumbing Shop were replaced by experienced and highly skilled technicians — no learning curve necessary. In addition, the Shops’ highly knowledgeable and experienced Assistant Supervisor, Joe Salas, was promoted to Supervisor with expedient results. With the District for over 20 years, he possesses firsthand knowledge of so many systems he has personally worked on. New to the District and filling the vacated position of Assistant Supervisor is Johnny Madrid. He joined M&O with extensive commercial plumbing experience including serving as a Backflow Prevention Instructor at CNM (currently teaching evening courses). Mr. Madrid is certified in testing, inspecting, and preparing all backflow devices. (See following Highlight).

Six technicians certified in backflow testing and prevention are taking back work from contractors

Because Mr. Madrid answered the call to get all plumbing technicians certified in backflow testing and prevention, the function is being brought back in-house. An estimated $20,000 was saved within four months of M&O plumbing techs assuming some of this work formerly performed by contractors. There are approximately 980 backflow devices throughout the District. If inhouse techs test each one, saving $100 per device currently paid to contractors, APS will save $98,000 on testing alone. Add the savings of also performing repair work internally and the total saving is enormous.

Saving costs in buying backflow parts in bulk

The Plumbing Shop is now comparative price bidding (for parts) and saving funds by buying parts in large quantities and stocking the inventory in the M&O Warehouse. The price difference may be nickels a piece for some items but the worthwhile savings greatly add up.

Heightened focus on HVAC PM

While equipment PM has held steady and never slowed, it has been a challenge to expand the program due to unending immediate demands and a dearth of financial and consequently manpower resources. To aid in the effort of improving productivity efficiencies and numbers, the HVAC Shop shored up training on servicing the latest equipment being installed in school renovations and re-builds. M&O is also looking at KPI numbers and approaches to continually tweak the Shop’s corrective action in improving results. This data aids in recognizing when valuable resources can be redirected to make a positive difference. This includes focusing on minor changes that don’t result in the biggest bang for the effort, such as completing PM work in a timely manner and a consolidation of work orders to be more time and cost efficient. Quite simply, when major funds are not available to address the problem, minor procedural tweaks add up and can have a major total impact on results. In addition, leadership is working toward ensuring that corrective processes are sustainable and replicable across departments wherever possible.

Maintenance costs decreased Department wide

When PM work was first introduced, it was assigned to both contractors and in-house technicians. As workers were basically playing catch up with the condition of the equipment, PM work was initially time consuming and costly. In addition, a work order was generated for every PM task as all M&O departments were driven to meet PM work order number requirements set by leadership and the PSFA. The Department has shifted to more efficiently combining many PM functions into one work order saving time, effort, cost, and paperwork. For example, air conditioning shutdown used to be performed at the end of the warm weather season and air conditioning prep performed just before the return of warm weather. These and many other Department wide PM functions are now combined into one work order saving 16% in total maintenance costs and 56.7% in PM costs in 2014-15 over the previous fiscal year — that’s $2.3 million! (Note chart below.) Both PSFA and APS have become much more enlightened regarding the management of PM and maintenance labor and administrative costs.

HVAC Shop decreased reactive work

As the following chart illustrates, HVAC reactive work decreased just shy of 2% in 2014-15, largely the result of PM work. Misleading, however, is the decrease in preventive work order numbers as actual PM work activity increased as indicated by the 24.2% increase in PM Cost Ratio over the previous fiscal year. As with the entire Mechanical Department’s reduction of PM work orders and all maintenance costs, it is the outcome of efficiently combining work orders (See previous Highlight). The HVAC Shop also decreased all maintenance costs 26.3% and PM costs 8.4% over the previous FY.

HVAC technicians processing paperwork faster

As noted below, HVAC Shop technicians improved the time to close work orders by two days over the previous year. Ideally, it is the time to actually perform the work that should be measured, but the SchoolDude WO system starts the clock with the initial request from the school, even before the school Administrator has reviewed or approved the request. The following does not exemplify that techs are working much faster than they did from 2007 through 2010, but rather that all now have access to computers and have adjusted to the necessity of processing paperwork efficiently (a requirement of their job function).


Sheet Metal Shop reactive work orders down

As there are no moving parts in grills and corner guards, the Shop performs no PM work at this time. Reactive work fell 26.3% over the previous year as previous years’ repair work restored grills and other metal works to a higher standard greatly eliminating breaks and emergency calls as well as resulting in low or no backlog.


Reduced cost for air coolers’ prep, start-up, and walk-through work

Due to a new “per unit” contract fee versus a “per hour” fee negotiated with vendors at the end of the previous fiscal year, the Department has cut costs for this PM work by approximately half!

Upgraded old rusted out HVAC equipment at various schools

While technically functional, ancient equipment that has been beat up by rain, snow, and hail coupled with gale winds eventually becomes more expensive to operate than to simply replace. Not even PM work can win a battle with Mother Nature. New equipment was installed at various school sites in 2014-15: new multi-zone heating and cooling units at Valley High School; evaporative coolers were replaced or refurbished at Kirtland, Zia, Sandia Base, Highland, Barcelona, Navajo, La Mesa, and Emerson Elementary Schools, among others; air washers were refurbished at Tomasita, Griegos, and Reginald Chavez Elementary Schools.

Participated in the design of VRF and DDC HVAC systems for Del Norte High School’s Industrial Arts Building

Heating and cooling variable refrigerant flow systems and direct digital controls (low voltage electronics on heating and cooling systems individually operated via the APS Intranet) save energy, maintenance labor hours, and ultimately costs. This has become one of four standard applications on new or replacement projects.

PM programs (on-going)

As many HVAC and plumbing service inspections are state-mandated (but not state funded), the Mechanical Department is ahead in developing PM programs; however, many of the following PM programs are not required. All PM work is automatically generated by the PM Direct work order system. PM work orders are scheduled monthly, bi-monthly, semi-annually, and annually (depending on use and function) and visual inspections are performed weekly. PM Direct inspection and/or service work orders are automatically generated for the following:

    • Fire protection sprinkler systems
    • Kitchen hood suppression systems
    • Exhaust fans
    • HVAC filter change-out
    • AC equipment inspection and fully serviced (pads changed every other year)
    • Spring AC start-ups (evaporative)
    • Winterize AC shut-downs (evaporative)
    • Cooling tower and chiller service
    • Hot water heaters inspection (quarterly)
    • Steam boiler service
    • Steam boiler prep for winter heating
    • All heating system start-ups (with and without boilers)
    • Steam boilers layup
    • Steam boilers (summer)
    • Hot water boilers (summer)
    • Hot water heaters
    • Boiler inspections (visual, weekly)
    • Chemical treatment for boilers and chillers
    • Plumbing systems (annually, primarily summer)
    • Water softener treatment
    • Chlorinate treatment
    • Plumbing inspections at all school sites (drains, faucets/fixtures, toilets, urinals, water fountains)
    • Septic pumping and disposal
    • Grease trap pumping
    • Backflow testing and inspection / backflow prevention
    • Air compressors
    • Chillers
    • Fire pump flow
    • Dry pipe system drip test
    • Chiller water closed-loop service
    • Ground source closed-loop service
    • Natural gas pipe run/inspection: Per the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, by Congressional Mandate the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety act, all gas lines from the meter to the building, in accordance with Mandate (Docket PS-135, Amendment 192-3), all buried gas lines are to be periodically inspected for leakage and repaired if unsafe conditions are found. One third of APS gas lines are inspected on an every third year rotation (summer). APS pressure tests at 5 PSI or service line pressure, greases all gas stops, and repairs any gas lines as needed per the pressure test.

Special Challenge

Aged plumbing systems are requiring more attention District wide. The Plumbing Shop realized a 10.3% increase in reactive work in 2014-15 due to breaks in old sewer lines and main water lines. Old infrastructure is expensive to repair or replace and will undoubtedly continue to burden APS.



Status of 2014-15 Goals

    • Provide training to the remaining Plumbing technicians yet to be certified in backflow prevention inspection and testing. Six trained, others to following in 2015-16
    • Implement new Plumbing Shop PM to clean out sewer sanitary lines and storm drains with the jetter previously used only for emergencies. The jetter provides a high pressure washing system to address the heightened need as newer systems being connected to existing systems is resulting in increased backups. The PM for sewer lines will help reduce sewer back-up emergency calls dramatically. In progress
    • Replace the multi-zone heating and cooling units at Del Norte High School’s Performing Arts Center. Designed and equipment ordered (see Highlight above). Installation upon arrival in 2015-16 FY

2015-16 Goals

    • Complete an updated inventory of equipment. Leadership is evaluating options regarding adopting a better method for capturing new equipment added to re-builds, additions, and renovations as well as deleting discarded equipment. M&O sorely needs but is lacking a full-time inventory clerk to bring equipment databases current and implement a sustainable system to keep the inventory up to date. A sustainable method needs to include all replaced (new) HVAC and electrical equipment (motors, fans, control panels, and more) when construction work is completed.
    • Complete training and certification of most if not all technicians in testing, inspecting, and repairing backflow devices District wide. It is estimated that once accomplished 90% of this work can be performed in-house at an astronomical savings.
    • Complete training and certification of all HVAC technicians and Supervisors in variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) and Direct Digital Controls (DDC). This would qualify more personnel to proficiently work on these advanced systems that are steadily being integrated into the District.
    • Replace the multi-zone heating and cooling units at Eldorado High School.
    • Assign simple, low skill level work to contractors in freeing up the highly skilled in-house technicians to perform more difficult work orders. This will require a thorough and scrupulous analysis of work order data to determine how to strategically shift work assignments to make the best use of both in-house techs and contractors. An annual savings of $450,000 is projected.
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