Lee Sands examines how embracing the Internet of Things makes real sense for facilities managers.
In the not-so-distant past it would have been an expensive luxury for facilities managers to have proactive, intelligent sensors spread throughout the particular facility they managed. Butwith the speed at which technology has developed, the use of sensors is rapidly increasing, so what was once a luxury is now swiftly becoming the norm. Sensors that proactively measure such variables as temperature or light levels are now not only cheaper, but much smarter. The relatively recent advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) has also seen an upsurge in such intelligent technology, meaning that for facilities managers, it shouldn’t be a case of if they embrace IoT, but when.
One of the hurdles that has seemed somewhat insurmountable to facilities managers in the past has been the sheer amount of data that such sensors generate. However, as with the sensors themselves, technological developments have seen major improvements in the solutions that handle this abundance of data and enable quick, effective and automated analysis. This provides facilities managers with in-depth insights into the performance of assets and equipment, as well as delivering early warning as to when equipment might fail. For facilities managers, this means that technology has the potential to be a real value-add, revolutionising the very way in which facilities are managed.
Not only does such technology afford greatly enhanced control over facilities, keeping track of where equipment is locatedin real-time, how it’s performing and at what cost, but the insight provided enables facilities managers to improve their levels of customer service, via effective, proactive and timely support. Such technology enables facilities managers to remotely manage their facilities, using the data generated by intelligent sensors to swiftly identify equipment faults and to accurately anticipate equipment reliability. For example, if a faulty smoke detector is remotely detected, it can be repaired or replaced before it becomes a problem. In the past this would have been undetected until a routine manual inspection or until it failed to operate, a potentially deadly oversight.
This real time insight into equipment performance means that as well as predicting potential equipment reliability problems and being alerted to actual problems, you can effectively schedule preventative maintenance, focusing time and resources where most needed, and guaranteeing minimal disruption for your individual facilities. In terms of customer service, this results in less need for tenants or facility users to report issues, or indeed face issues that might interrupt them, as well as reducing the frequency of manual inspections and planned preventative maintenance. This complete visibility also guarantees best practice in terms of potential financial, operational and customer service optimisation, with IoT and associated technologies the key enabler to achieving all of this.
However some facilities managers don’t view IoT as an opportunity, but rather a threat to their jobs, potentially replacing roles and demanding new skill-sets of facilities managers. In reality, the skills required to repair and replace equipment will still be essential, but the addition of new technology serves as a means to better focus these efforts, in a more cost and labour-effective manner.
As with a great deal of new technological advances, the more readily facilities managers embrace it, the sooner they will reap the benefits, leaving them more time to focus on adding real value to their roles, rather than constantly fire-fighting the seemingly never-ending lists of problems that facilities managers face on a daily basis. The time to act is now, with those who are slower to move with the times at real risk of losing out to those who recognise the benefits that the IoT can bring.
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