Why is smart technology so important for facilities management?
Like virtually every other aspect of industry, facilities management (FM) will be transformed by digital technology over the coming years.
Smart sensors and smart buildings are already big news but, instead of being the ideal to aspire to, they are likely to become the norm, with users’ expectations changing in line with this.
Buildings will no longer be passive shells that simply house operations, they will become automated and responsive, adapting to their users and the environment around them. The smart building market is expected to generate global revenue of $8.5 billion in 2020, up from $4.7 billion in 2016 .
This article explores the use of smart technology and its importance for facilities managers in the coming years.
How can smart technology help facilities managers?
- By predicting potential issues
Monitoring and maintaining the various different systems within a building is time-intensive and many facilities managers find themselves trapped in a reactive role, responding to things when they go wrong or dealing with complaints, with no time for forward planning. Smart technology allows you to take a much more predictive, proactive role as you have a clear picture of everything that’s happening across all your buildings or spaces at any one time.Sensors can measure thousands of different variables on an ongoing basis – far more than any human, or team of humans, could ever hope to capture manually. This gives you a wealth of information on which to base your decisions, enabling facilities managers to focus their efforts on planning where and when to spend their time.Occupancy sensors, for example, can help you to identify areas of high-usage which may become targets for regular maintenance, while current sensors, which monitor cables and machinery, can help you to spot any issues before they happen, preventing the inconvenience caused by breakdowns. This predictive maintenance can reduce overall maintenance costs and help increase the lifespan of buildings and the facilities within them.
- By reducing administrative work
Smart sensors gather a wealth of data which, when plugged into the internet or ‘cloud’, can be displayed in various formats, helping you to see what’s important to you. This work is all done for you, saving the effort of producing reports by hand.Cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure and IBM Watson can transform your data into easy-to-read dashboard or reports, making it easy to benchmark and spot potential trends.This clearer, overall picture helps to reduces siloed ways of working. All systems and processes can link better and you can stay constantly up-to-date on multiple buildings or spaces at any one time.
- By helping you comply with industry standards
Using smart sensors to monitor the performance of your buildings and machinery makes compliance with industry standards far easier. The data they produce enables you to spot potential problems before they occur and can also help to minimise things like energy use.For example, companies that have installed environment-monitoring and occupancy sensors, measuring things like CO2, temperature and humidity, have been able to make big reductions in their energy use by adjusting their air-conditioning and heating/cooling units.When you have a clear picture of which areas of your building are highly-used or under-used you can make adjustments accordingly, reducing energy use and bills. This type of information will be crucial when the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive – which sets ambitious targets for improving the energy efficiency of all buildings – is rolled out across the EU in 2020.
- By making your buildings nicer places for people to spend time
Smart sensors can play a huge role in improving the experience for those who work in and visit your buildings. They can be used to monitor everything from temperature to humidity and CO2 levels, ensuring a comfortable working environment.Occupancy sensors can be used to show which rooms are available and feed into automated booking systems, saving users the inconvenience of double-booked meeting rooms or helping them to find a quiet space to work.
But isn’t it expensive/hard to install?
While most new buildings will be equipped with some degree of smart technology, it need not be confined solely to new-builds.
Wireless technology makes it relatively quick and easy to retrofit older buildings with sensors. Many are battery-powered and simply stick on to surfaces like desks or walls. Their data is sent wirelessly to the internet or to your existing building management system (BMS).
However, it is not essential to have your own bespoke system installed. There are a wide range of programmes, known as cloud platforms, available on the internet which can help you interpret the data and display it in a clear and simple format.
To find out more about Pressac’s gateways and smart sensors – including our Discovery Kits which are designed for those just getting started with smart technology – get in touch.