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DUNEDIN, FLA.—February 7, 2007—Thanks to a warmer than normal start to the winter, hoteliers have had a respite from the sharp energy increases experienced in the recent past. Still, on average, energy prices were higher last year than the previous year for the fifth straight year. Who knows what the remainder of 2007 will bring? What we have all learned from the past is to expect the unexpected.

One proven way to ensure that your hotel stays as energy efficient as possible is to implement a comprehensive preventive maintenance (PM) program that targets areas most vulnerable to excess energy consumption. Leaky buildings and inefficient equipment easily consume more energy than those properly maintained. They also eat up profits and can negatively impact guest satisfaction.

According to the 2006 edition of Trends in the Hotel Industry, a report published by Atlanta-based PKF Hospitality Research, hotel maintenance expenses grew 18.3 percent from 2001 to 2005. Maintenance department costs as a percent of total hotel operating costs averaged 6.8 percent each of the four years studied. That was up from the long-term average of 6.0 percent. With maintenance costs on the rise, why increase expenses by running a hotel that is not energy efficient?

How to Minimize Energy Consumption

What preventive maintenance steps can you take to ensure that your hotel runs at maximum energy efficiency? Here are 10 tips from Dunedin, Fla.-based Mintek Mobile Data Solutions, the lodging industry’s leading provider of automated asset management systems.

  1. A mid-winter PM strategy should emphasize areas of the property where improperly sealed areas allow heat to freely escape. Weather-strip and seal around all windows and doors. Weather stripping on outside entrances typically lasts less than two years.
  2. Check HVAC controls for proper calibration, regularly change filters and inspect system insulation for moisture. Replace insulation if necessary.
  3. Check air handlers consistently. Improperly maintained, they can waste up to 32 percent of the energy they consume.
  4. Check all electrical systems for loose connections or poor motor conditions. Without proper PM, these systems typically generate a 5 percent to 10 percent energy loss.
  5. Conduct a boiler combustion analysis to ensure boilers are running at top efficiency. Unchecked boilers can produce unsafe levels of carbon monoxide. (See article).
  6. In the kitchen, clean interior oven walls to improve heat transfer, and regularly clean grease and food particles from exhaust hoods. Also, check seals and temperatures on all refrigeration equipment. Clean refrigerator condenser coils at least every three months. Defrost freezers frequently.
  7. Set water heaters to the proper temperature.
  8. Fix all water leaks. Why heat water that is going to leak?
  9. Watch for scale build-up in boilers, hot water heaters, cooling towers, humidifiers, washing machines, dishwashers, and showerheads. Hard water that leaves scale buildup results in more energy consumed. Water conditioning can address scale issues.
  10. If you have an indoor pool, check pool temperatures consistently to ensure thermostats are working correctly. Also clean filters and strainer baskets.

Mintek’s Leading PM Solution

Since 1999, Dunedin, Fla.-based Mintek Mobile Data Solutions has helped hundreds of hotels throughout the United States and Canada automate their PM processes. Mintek’s WinTrack PM software, which incorporates handheld devices and bar coding, ensures that PMs, rounds, inspections and work orders are accomplished on time. The result: a much more energy efficient operation.

WinTrack PM replaces inefficient paper-based processes still found in many hotels. Bar codes are discreetly placed on every item needing a PM. When an engineer scans a bar code on a piece of equipment, it prompts him to answer previously determined questions. After the PM has been completed, the bar code is scanned again. Each step is recorded within WinTrack PM.

Mintek’s system adds accountability to the PM process because managers know exactly when an engineer was at a piece of equipment, what was recorded, and how long the engineer was there. WinTrack PM automates PM scheduling and streamlines the work order process. Work orders can be generated automatically through the handheld based on answers provided by engineers. WinTrack PM also tracks parts information for each item needing checked, as well as the costs associated with parts and equipment replacement.

WinTrack PM can be used throughout a hotel—not only for expensive equipment but also for guestroom inspections. Meter readings related to energy consumption also can be captured with Mintek’s PM system. If a meter reading is out of range, WinTrack PM can generate a warning message. If a PM becomes overdue, it is flagged within WinTrack PM. Mintek’s Maintenance Portal centralizes reporting so that work can be monitored from anywhere there is Internet access.

WinTrack PM Results

“Any mechanical system running properly is going to use less energy,” says the chief engineer at a leading hotel in Canada currently using WinTrack PM. Where there is reduced friction between parts, reduced leakage of steam, and clean filters, there is definitely going to be energy savings.”

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“WinTrack PM most definitely has helped prevent breakdowns,” adds the director of facilities at a 438-room hotel in North Carolina. “It gives me assurance going into an owner’s meeting to know that every piece of equipment has been properly maintained. It most definitely improves the guest experience.”

“Each part of WinTrack PM ensures that energy is saved where it can be saved,” says Lind Hutton, Executive V.P. and COO of Mintek Mobile Data Solutions. “Studies have shown that when being proactive rather than reactive with maintenance, savings related to energy and asset replacement can be as much as 12 percent to 18 percent on average. Without a doubt, a well designed PM program can help maximize energy efficiency, extend the life of valuable equipment, minimize labor and repair costs, and keep guests and staff comfortably warm and content.”

About Mintek Mobile Data Solutions:

Mintek Mobile Data Solutions is the developer of turn-key solutions for city utilities, lodging and cable companies that provide access to customer, employee and asset information beyond the “traditional office.” Mintek’s solutions have been implemented in more than 1,500 individual locations with more than 5,000 mobile field users. Among Mintek’s clients are Plant City, Fla., Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Bright House Communications, Marriott International and Loews Hotels. For more information, call Ty Abrahams, director of marketing, at (727) 734-9175, or visit Mintek.

Ty Abrahams, Director of Marketing
Mintek Mobile Data Solutions
(727) 734-9175
E-mail: ty.abrahams@mintek.com
www.mintek.com

Glenn Hasek, President
Hasek Communications
(440) 243-2055; cell: (216) 702-0334
E-mail: hasekcom@aol.com
www.hasekcom.com