The next generation of building management – and why sensors are crucial to it
As we head in to a new decade, thoughts inevitably turn to the future and predictions of what our world will look like in another ten years’ time. Technology is changing and growing at a more rapid pace than at any time in our history and businesses that want to survive, and thrive, will need to embrace these changes and ensure their systems are future-proof.
Building management is one area that is already being transformed with the use of new technologies, something which will only become more common as the decade progresses. This article takes a look at the next generation of building management, particularly the role that the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart sensors will play in ensuring buildings are fit for the future.
Only a few years ago, the phrase IoT would have meant nothing to most Facilities Managers but now it’s something that, if they are not already using, will most definitely be on their radar.
The development of the IoT – a global network of devices connected to each other and the internet – is already beginning to transform the building management landscape and open up new possibilities, something that will continue to grow exponentially throughout the next decade. Last year there were believed to be around 22 billion devices connected to the internet globally – this is predicted to rise to 50 billion by the end of 2030 .
Facilities management will become data-driven, enabling FMs to take a predictive, proactive approach, rather than continually reacting to situations. Buildings of the future will be connected and automated, meaning the role of the FM becomes less hands-on and more all-seeing, all-knowing. With the wide range of data made available by IoT and sensors they will be able to plan and predict in a way that was impossible before.
There are three key areas where IoT and sensors will become commonplace for virtually all businesses:
- Energy management: With climate change at the forefront of everyone’s minds, the need to ensure your business is doing all it can to limit its impact on the environment has never been more paramount. Ambitious government-set carbon saving targets are already in place, and we can expect the focus on these to intensify.
Sensors play a crucial role in helping to eliminate waste energy by allowing businesses to see how much energy is actually being used. They give real-time insights in to peaks and troughs in demand and areas of wastage, helping businesses to not only save vast amounts of energy, but also dramatically reduce costs.Click here to read how Pressac’s sensors helped one company reduce their clients’ energy usage by 10%.
- Predictive maintenance – One of the biggest benefits of sensors is that they can spot problems before they happen, freeing up Facilities Managers to take a more proactive role.
This is particularly important in the manufacturing sector where this data could be vital in helping to reduce costly breakdowns or avoiding disruption to productivity.
CT clamps, for example, can measure the current travelling through cables and will flag any unusual use of power before a machine comes to a standstill, meaning predictive maintenance can be carried out, as opposed to costly delays once the machine breaks down completely. Temperature sensors can also help to spot equipment in danger of overheating, enabling a quick response to resolve the problems.
As a result, there will be less need for FMs to spend their time on the front-line, something that can be a drain on resources, particularly if your business is spread over multiple sites. The information from multiple sensors can be fed into IoT cloud platforms and viewed all in one place, in real time, usually on a laptop or mobile device, freeing up FMs to work where and how best suits the business, rather than being constrained by a physical location.
- Employee satisfaction: Undoubtedly, one of the biggest changes in business in the last five to ten years is an increased awareness of employee well-being. A new generation of staff are entering the workforce, with very different expectations to their predecessors – they are more aware of their rights, more vocal when things are unsatisfactory, and more aware of the need for a work-life balance.
Likewise, employers are increasingly recognising the need to look after their staff better and to provide them with fun, inspiring places to work. With flexible working on the rise and more staff choosing to work from home, offices of the future need to be places people actively want to spend their time.
Studies have repeatedly shown that staff are more productive and more loyal if their working environment and conditions are.
Sensors can play a key role in this, from under-desk occupancy sensors which link to cloud booking systems, ensuring no more annoying double-booking of rooms, to those which monitor temperature, CO2, humidity and ventilation, providing a comfortable working environment.
Whatever your industry and whatever the size of your business it’s unlikely it will remain untouched by smart technology during the course of the next decade. As technology develops it is likely to become cheaper and more accessible to all, with smart sensors and IoT systems no longer being the preserve of large corporates.
If you’d like some help navigating the world of IoT and smart sensors, and are interesting in trialling them for yourself, contact our team for advice.