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IoT Drives Efficiencies in Facility Management

18 Aug 2020

IoT discussions within the Facility Manager profession is described by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) as “a profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality, comfort, safety and efficiency of the built environment by integrating people, place, process and technology.” Undoubtedly, the role of the facility manager (FM) involves extensive responsibilities as the two core elements of the definition include both people’s wellbeing and the overall efficiency and maintenance of the building.


Table of Contents:
What are the facility manager’s responsibilities?
What is the role of IoT in Facility Management?
What are the benefits of a centralised IoT solution that powers facility management?


What are the facility manager’s responsibilities?

The FM responsibilities may include:
facility management - the FM responsibilities

  • Operational maintenance
    – keeps the building, and overall property assets, at efficient levels, running routine and emergency maintenance on building systems such as lighting, HVAC, lifts, plumbing, etc.
    – coordinates and selects vendors/supplier contracts
    – manages the cleaning of the building, both for single occupiers’ demise and shared spaces
  • People’s wellbeing and helpdesk
    – provides helpdesk services to occupiers which may include meeting rooms, car parking spaces and desk booking, climate control, etc.
    – manages space utilisation and facilitating movements
    – executes lifestyle management activities, organises amenities booking and other ancillary services
    – tends reception including visitors’ welcoming and check-ins
  • Communication
    – ensures open and efficient methods of communications between both the staff and the occupiers of the building
  • Adoption of technology solutions
    – leverages technologies to drive efficiencies in the built environment
  • Security and risk management
    – executes audit and implements measures to ensure risk reduction and security of the building
  • Sustainability monitoring and impact analysis
    – becomes an agent for best-in-class processes that drive sustainability including improving energy consumption, water consumption and waste management

What is the role of IoT in Facility Management?

Considering all that Facility Management entails, it is clear how streamlining processes and receiving real-time actionable insights can become critical to efficiently operate the built environment.

As a result, we are seeing a growing trend for the utilisation of the Internet of Things (IoT) which can offer a solution to the challenges faced by facility managers.

Thanks to cognitive IoT and the use of Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) such as Smart Spaces®, facility managers gain an incredible amount of accurate data on the building and its inhabitants.

The use of AI and machine learning helps transform this treasure trove of information into 360° control over, and understanding of, the built environment. All of this into one single platform, the IWMS.

A powerful tool, a smart building operating system (BOS) is the node that connects the different suppliers’ systems and legacy networks in the building into this single platform.

The interface with smart technology – such as smart sensors, beacons and meters – as well as all the other building systems serve a vast amount of real-time data that would be difficult, if not impossible, to make use of otherwise. The IWMS platform filters and translates this into actionable insights, helping property owners and FMs make the right decisions at the right time.

The platform gives also full remote operative control to the FMs, whilst providing the additional benefit of predictive analytics to boost maintenance performance.

What are the benefits of a centralised IoT solution that powers facility management?

Implementation of IoT technology gives FMs various benefits:

  • 1 Automation to drive efficiencies
    Thanks to building automation, Facility Managers benefit from full control of the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), lighting, windows/blinds, lifts, access and other building systems, making their monitoring, set up, maintenance and performance analysis extremely efficient and effective. Through the installation of smart sensors and the implementation of an integrated workplace facility management system (IWFM)  – which doesn’t require extensive hardwiring installation -, FMs can centralise operations of all core building systems in a quick-to-implement solution as lightweight software is simply applied to pre-existing building management systems. In fact, an integrated IoT platform becomes a cost-effective gateway to smart building enablement, offering remarkable value for all stakeholders.
  • 2 Space optimisation
    The sensor infrastructure helps optimise the workspace utilisation, providing a greater understanding of the patterns of space usage and, most importantly, non-usage. This means that FM’s receive information on how, when and if a space is occupied. Unoccupied space can be quickly detected, and lights and HVAC automatically switched-off to bring consumption at minimum operational levels and, therefore, efficiently save energy and costs. A deeper understanding of how occupiers use space can also lead to the identification of underused spaces that can be repurposed differently.
  • 3 Improve operational efficiency to achieve a sustainable workplace
    sources to achieve net-zero carbon for operational energy efficiency - source: UKGBC Source: UKGBC

    The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) recently suggested that offices should make a 60% reduction in energy use to be in line with the Paris Agreement and the global framework that aims at reaching the net-zero carbon emissions goal by 2050. To reach this goal, FMs need a tool that provides them with complete sight over the built environment operational energy use, to have a chance to reduce it by the approaching deadline.
    Interfacing with the Building Management Systems (BMS), a fully integrated smart building operating system can easily connect with the legacy networks and other third-party APIs, to provide in one single screen the capabilities required to help achieve this challenging goal. Real-time monitoring, setting up target goals and predictive analytics and insights about the energy consumption and water consumption across the whole building and single occupiers’ demise, can help reach the systems efficiency levels.
    Additionally, for those buildings already investing in on-site production of renewable energy, IoT platforms can also connect and give direct access, for control and maintenance, to – roof or window blinds – installed solar panels and other renewable energy technology.
  • 4 Enhance workplace experiences
    Active, two-way communication with occupiers and improved wellbeing in the workplace are core aspects of an FM’s role. An integrated IoT platform can give FM an organised and direct channel of communication with occupiers and their employees to update them on workplace news, activities, and events. Active communication is especially important as people start to return to the office. This can also act as a social platform, to help maintain a connected and engaged workplace community.
    It can also become a tool to offer an enhanced workplace experience that goes beyond working 9-to-5 and, instead, can let occupiers book lifestyle amenities for them to enjoy. These can range from as simple as booking a gym or other fitness class, to booking a beauty treatment or a cocktail class.
  • 5 Accomplish occupiers’ wellbeing
    Several studies in the past few years have found out that indoor air quality affects people’s cognitive abilities (The New York Times). Giving occupiers power over the intensity, colour and rhythms of the luminaries in their own workspace, can help them achieve a healthier mix of natural and artificial light. Thanks to the use of sensors that collect data on lighting, climate, humidity and various potentially harmful compounds (CO2, VOCs, PMs, etc.), FM can boost occupiers’ overall wellbeing.
  • 6 Predict, don’t react
    FMs gain an invaluable asset with the introduction of machine learning (ML) in their operations. ML makes predictive maintenance a time-saving and cost-effective tool for FMs which can, therefore, maximise the assets lifetime as well as their operational efficiency. The IoT platform analyses and visualise this data and provides information and insights about the state of the building assets, predicting when maintenance is needed and warning of any irregularities. Maintenance can also be executed remotely via the platform.
  • 7 Services working for people
    Other operations gain from prediction, too. Cleaning services, in fact, can be made efficient by using sensors to inform staff when supplies are running out. With COVID-19 calling for improved and increased cleaning routine, knowing when a desk or a room has recently been used can help staff quickly organise for a thorough disinfection of the surfaces, too.
  • 8 Keeping people safe on-site
    Ensuring the security of everyone on-site in case of emergency can be extremely challenging in buildings that let in thousands of staff and visitors every day. IoT systems can grant access at role-based level, ensuring only those with the right permissions can enter determined parts of the building. Visitors, too, can be granted temporary access only after being appropriately registered in the system. Real-time view on the accesses enables FMS to have a constantly updated list of who is on-site in case of evacuation.
  • 9 Visualisation and remote operativity
    The introduction of Digital Twin technology boosts operational and engineer maintenance bringing them to the next level. Thanks to this interactive 3D replica of the built environment, paired with an IWFM platform, FMs visualise in real-time and remotely manage the systems in the building, making maintenance efficient and reactive.

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