Client: Brian Bixler, Senior Business Advisor, Properties and Facilities Management, Federal Express Corporation

Facilities Management Consultant:  
Frederick A. Hackl, AIA, President, FAH Inc.

Federal Express

Federal Express Corporation
Memphis, Tennessee

Room for Growth: Computer-Aided Facilities Management Promotes Efficient Planning

Guaranteeing on-time delivery of more than two million packages overnight requires the effort of more than 108,000 employees worldwide using more than 35,000 trucks and 484 airplanes.

Our operations take up 82 million square feet of leased and owned facilities worldwide. In other words, it's like being responsible for the payments, maintenance, periodic renovation, furnishing and taxes for 32,000 2,500-sq.-ft. homes.

In 1987, FedEx began implementing a computer-aided facilities management (FM) system to help manage the way we use and maintain our facilities. Then we hired an architect with FM expertise to act as our consultant and get our system up and running.

Our FM architect's work isn't glamorous. Rather, by telling us what facility assets we have, it serves as an executive decision-making tool for increasing efficiency and productivity.

Many architects are familiar with the computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) concepts we employ. CADD takes a floor plan and converts it into a database that can show us how to optimize the interior space in a facility.

At the time of the FM installation, we didn't have up-to-date floor plans for many of our buildings, so these had to be redrawn into the system. The task was enormous. Our in-house architect was in constant communication with many different departments and levels of our company—from the headquarters to the airport ramps—to determine their needs. He helped establish a team of FM representatives who perform semi-annual field surveys of our facilities. We use this information to update our floor plans and report how our facilities are actually being used.

Before using the survey process, sometimes we found that the company was preparing to lease new space for expansion, not knowing that we already had usable vacant space. Our staff architect helped develop a system that allows the planning staff to check which buildings have space available. And the CADD floor plans show them exactly where the space is located.

Our FM architect also helped develop standards for how our facilities design would be represented—from office furnishings to Federal Aviation Administration ramp parking requirements for one of our fleet of aircraft.

This standardization allows drawings to be shared by any CADD system around the world. Now, our architects in Japan don't need to have the same CADD system we use in Memphis to design a FedEx facility in Tokyo. This expedites growth. Plus, standards make the work environment more democratic. For example, now even cubicle size is standardized so that everyone has adequate room in which to work.

FM is essential for a dynamic company today. It allows the planning staff to be proactive with the company's growth. To do it right, teamwork among managers and a qualified facilities staff is required—no one could handle this workload alone. From my experience, an architect should be an integral part of the team.

Our FM architect's CADD training, combined with his understanding of architectural possibilities, established the foundation of our FM success. We continue to utilize his services because he has the vision and expertise we need to make FM work.

AIA Website: http://www.aiaaccess.com/

AIA Architect Review: http://www.aiaaccess.com/institutional/ifedex.asp

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Last modified: June 29, 2003