Sun or snow, PPD handles thousands of repair requests



By Tilly Finley

In the treacherous winter months when many students opted out of visiting campus, one group of workers came without fail to maintain 800 acres of UK’s campus.

With the worst of the weather over, the Physical Plant Division is now looking ahead at larger projects while trying to balance the everyday repairs hundreds of UK employees request every week.

PPD is responsible for 15 million square feet of buildings. Bob Wiseman, UK vice president for Facilities Management, said PPD receives between 600- 1,000 work orders from staff and faculty each month.

“These include anything from custodial and housekeeping functions, grounds, roadway maintenance, building maintenance and daily operations that include mechanical rooms, interior lighting, restroom facilities, roof maintenance and more,” Wiseman said. “Our internally generated work orders for normal preventive and routine maintenance run in the thousands per month.”

As always, Wiseman said, the winter season poses unexpected challenges, especially in the form of grounds maintenance and heating and cooling systems.

“Winter is always a challenge with cold temperatures, frozen pipes, snow and ice removal and then later roadway potholes,” he said. “But our staff does an excellent job in responding and dealing with problems in all weather conditions at all hours of the night and day, on weekends and often on holidays. We have staff on hand 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

Like all academic and business buildings on campus, PPD is facing budget constraints. Wiseman said PPD is trying to keep up with the work orders with less people.

Because of the challenging financial times PPD is adjusting by increasing the use of technology and readjusting cycles, Wiseman said. This means less time in private office cleanup and more time cleaning public spaces.

Work orders are prioritized by urgency, Wiseman said. Some problems get put behind others on the to-do list based on the immediate need for maintenance.

“Life safety is clearly an immediate and rapid response while other matters are dealt with in the quickest time we can,” Wiseman said. “Buildings associated with patient care (clinics and our hospitals) are likewise immediate priorities.”

Despite any delays, Student Center Director John Herbst said he relies on PPD frequently.

“Some days I’ve had to put in 3 to 5 job orders in a single day … especially with an aging center such as the Student Center,” Herbst said.

Even with budget constraints leaving fewer people to handle such a large workload, Herbst said he prefers the work ethic of the PPD to any outside maintenance company that could be used instead.

“I would put their quality of work up against any trade, and their costs are below the market value of any other privately hired company,” Herbst said. “With all sincerity, these workers are the unsung heroes of this campus.”