How is technology helping to improve Facilities Managers roles?

It is a Facilities Manager’s worst nightmare to come into work and to find unexpected site emergencies and no-one on hand to deal with them. What if you could get early visibility of issues likely to cause disruption and put in preventative measures? This is completely possible with today's range of technology solutions. Plus they are easier and more cost effective to roll out that you may think.

The facilities management sector focuses on the tools and services that support the sustainability, safety and functionality of buildings, grounds and infrastructures. Facilities managers that are tasked with utilising their resources effectively and reducing costs wherever possible, ensuring that their client receives an efficient or effective service. Technology is fast becoming the driving force behind streamlining these systems and improving the efficiency of a facilities manager’s day to day tasks.

Facilities Management tenders and contracts often come hand in hand with ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) targets and budget cuts that require minimising spend and energy use wherever possible, which can be especially challenging in large, corporate companies with big office spaces across multiple sites. Thankfully, low cost technology is available to address these challenges and assist the FM sector.

What is IoT and how does it support FM’s?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term that refers to an ecosystem of sensors used to send data and receive actionable instructions. This smart network of connected devices, sensors, live data, reports and alerts is having a massive impact on how buildings are managed and run effectively. The growth and evolution in this area is transforming the roles of facilities managers, streamlining their workload and helping them to make more informed, accurate decisions.

Predictive Maintenance
Reduce large and unexpected repair costs, loss of revenue or replacement of assets by monitoring the environment and spotting any issues before they are beyond repair. An example of this is using sensors to monitor building issues such as water leaks in commercial or residential buildings. These sensors will provide early notification of a water leak, allowing inspection and repair before extensive damage is caused.

Reduce energy bills, carbon footprint and under-utilisation of office space
Power can account for almost half of a typical building's cost. Large office buildings with multiple floors and teams often have too much space compared to the number of employees within the company and the hybrid/ home working culture that is now commonly adopted. This will often result in multiple rooms remaining unoccupied for a vast majority of the day – however these rooms are still using energy and contributing to building costs.

Below we discuss two key areas for facilities managers and explain how technology can improve the management tasks.

  • Buildings Utilities Consumption Reduction
    - HVAC (Heating, ventilation, air conditioning) and lighting running costs can be reduced by only turning on when sensors detect that the room is being utilised and turning off once occupancy is no longer detected. Ensuring that all vacant rooms are not using any of the building's energy supply, reduces energy bills and carbon footprint.

    - Smart small appliance power management will also help companies by not emitting power to plugged in appliances when sensors detect that the room is vacant. For example, Monitors and TVs being left on standby by employees will automatically turn off.

  • Occupancy Optimisation & Internal Navigation can ensure increased utilisation of vacant meeting rooms. Employees in large buildings can get interactive directions to their next meeting room based on where their employee badge shows that they are in the building, whilst also allowing them to book rooms that are vacant and navigate to them quickly – saving time and improving productivity within the working day whilst also ensuring more rooms are utilised. 

Boost productivity and compliance by providing a healthy office environment

Tracking room usage and capacity is also important for creating a healthy office environment. Rooms with a high occupancy are more likely to have more carbon dioxide within them, making employees fatigue quicker – smart technology can ensure that the air is filtered to optimum levels, creating a better working environment.

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Asset Tracking within the FM world can help to ensure that sites are kept clean, safe and secure.

Asset Tracking helps businesses to benefit from better operational efficiency within large complexes, residential sites or office buildings to help reduce replacement and maintenance costs for owners.

Waste Management
Large sites with high waste disposal can monitor when bins are becoming too full or even indicate which waste locations are used more than others, allowing companies to increase bin capacity in those sites or direct the waste to other areas to prevent overflow or incorrect use.

Fire Safety Compliance
Do you always know your fire extinguishers are in place? Asset Tracking can also be especially important for safety requirements. Fire extinguishers can be monitored to keep in line with building regulations and keep them in the correct places. Sensors can also be placed on fire doors so that alerts can be triggered if they are left open.

Security & Smooth Maintenance Schedules
Security and protection of business assets is an important consideration for companies who need to reduce costs. Keeping track of assets helps to reduce disruption, cost of lost opportunities and also helps to reduce insurance premiums on lost or stolen property.

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Business communications solutions are key drivers for team collaboration and effectiveness of facilities management.

Empowering employees with fast and effective two way communication is a key driver in increasing FM productivity. One of the recent developments in digital two-way communication technology is Push To Talk over Cellular (often abbreviated as PTToC or PoC). PoC allows a two way radio communication at the press of a button on a mobile device, reducing the need for employees to carry multiple handsets and benefit from the functionality of a two-way radio over their phone network. We have written a recent blog on the different types of two way radio communication here.

This use of PoC technology increases coverage across sites, benefits from a higher contingency due to more available networks and also helps businesses to reduce costs by simply implementing an app onto already existing mobile devices.

Additionally, sensor networks installed within office buildings can detect the location of a PoC device, allowing FM Managers to direct the nearest employee to the site of an issue for quicker resolution.

Are you ready to review your current business set up? If you are looking to improve your facilities management solutions, streamlining workloads or implementing smart building sensors, get started with our IoT Accelerator guide.