The Irons Age

West Ham United is a club steeped in history, having originally been formed as Thames Ironworks FC in 1895.  Renamed West Ham United FC in 1900 and nicknamed "Irons" or "Hammers", they have played a significant and lengthy role in British football, not least their contribution of three players to the victorious 1966 England World Cup-winning squad, including captain Bobby Moore.

Although they have moved grounds three times, United have been installed in their now redeveloped Upton Park home since 1904, yet only over the past few years, with the increasing use of CAFM systems at sporting stadia, has the club been able to organise their facility and system management to a level that befits one of the Premiership's biggest clubs.

The Hammers use FSI Concept™ software, with the department's decision to procure a CAFM system being prompted by the development of their new West Stand, which also houses a 72-room hotel belonging to the Quality chain, and a variety of retail outlets.  After much research, the club selected Concept™ SQL Lite, the entry-level version of Concept™ first seen at FM Expo by Deputy Stadium Manager Ron Pearce.  The FM department admitted that they hadn't used any kind of CAFM system before, so a high performance but user-friendly system was a necessity.

"We'd seen one of FSI's systems in use at Chelsea Football Club and were impressed, and obviously interested in what they could offer us", says Pearce.  "The scale that we would be working was slightly smaller, so what was of particular interest to me was its ability to offer a fully scalable product range - hence the selection of Concept™ SQL Lite as our operating system".

At present, Concept™ SQL Lite is used to cover the club's nine shops and two training grounds.  As one would expect, it is the usual kind of maintenance that fills the FM department's job sheets; broken seats, unsecured railings and general building repair issues.  On the face of it, the maintenance challenge may seem simple for a football ground, yet there are so many elements of a stadium that can go wrong.

With the hotel on site, Pearce also sees requests for maintenance in areas such as corridors with torn wallpaper or carpets in public areas that are in need of deep cleaning.  These kinds of issues really require the co-ordination of the nine maintenance staff on the team at Upton Park, and Pearce is the first to comment on how time is stretched to the limit for all his staff at the club.

So, what are the benefits of the Concept™ SQL Lite system for West Ham?  "The reporting function is invaluable for us, allowing a detailed time analysis to be produced - crucial for when our staff are stretched to the limit", says Pearce.

"What we want to do now with the reporting function is to use it to analyse the information that is being recorded on a particular job, and to examine how closely this compares to the data that was logged at the start of the task.  This will enable the FM team to see whether the data logged in a fault is accurate, and can provide a robust case to encourage staff to report any maintenance issues more concisely."

FSI support has always been regarded as 'first class', and according to Pearce was one of the main reasons the company was selected on this contract.

AS far as the future goes, the relationship between FSI and West Ham looks set to strengthen.  Following a turbulent, if not uneventful season at Upton Park, the Hammers successfully retained their Premiership status on the final day of the season with victory at champions Manchester United, and with significant financial backing the club now have the potential to scale previously untapped levels of success.

Their ability to do that in the knowledge that their background maintenance provisions and software selections are in safe hands can only embrace optimism for a traditional club embracing state-of-the-art systems.