How Technology is Changing Facilities Management

What is a Facilities Manager

As we head into a brand new year, we want to take a look at prevalent and emerging technology and how it may have been transforming the face of facilities management. 2016 was a huge year for technology innovation, and we predict that it’s only going to become the driving force behind the profession.

The world as we know it is changing every single day. Technology is fast becoming the primary method in which we interact with one another, and how we manage our day-to-day lives. As well as the evolution of man and the devices we use, we’re also more aware of important environmental issues, how we treat our surroundings and how this has a direct affect on our planet Earth. Climate change is real, it’s something that we have to face and tackle, as well as how much negative impact we are creating with our carbon footprint, individually, and as businesses.

With this in mind, we sat back and took a look at our industry, our profession in its entirety, and realised that facilities management has changed a hell of a lot over the last decade. The way we work now is exceptionally different than we did 10 or more years ago. But why is this? Technology of course! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. In fact, most jobs will have evolved as technology has, and has the need to be more environmentally aware, while making room for more sustainable ways of living and working.

The power that both of these factors have had on the sector is astonishing, so when we mix the two together, when we think about how technology could help us to be more sustainable, how gadgets could allow us to lower our carbon footprints, you build a business that is a lot more efficient.

Let’s take a look at just some of the ways technology is helping us to build a sustainable future, and how they will become a lot more imperative in 2017 and beyond…

‘Smart’ Buildings

Many are guilty of it, with fluctuations of heat in the office, you may find yourself cracking a window open when the heating is on. Or perhaps you might leave a light on in the kitchen after making your morning coffee. Although these actions may seem insignificant to many, if they occur on a daily basis, then the implications are that it starts becoming costly for the business.

As technology has evolved, and we have become a lot smarter in the way that we run our companies, smart buildings have been taking the lead in office design, allowing different utilities such as lighting, heating, security and ventilation to all run from one system. This integrated approach allows the user to control everything from one main location, which is easier to use and much more efficient than the traditional and somewhat archaic methods.

All of these separate systems tend to be typically regulated by sensors, which will identify when a light is left on, or if there’s a dip in temperature and attempt to rectify it, or notify the user that something is wrong. Technology like this is recommended for a more sustainable business, although at first expensive, it will save costs in the long run.

Automation

There has been a lot of innovation in facilities management over the past year alone, with automated systems and smart robots becoming something that we see every day, and more so in the healthcare sector. This technology is allowing us to become a lot more streamlined and more importantly, productive, when it comes to waste management, catering and portering in hospitals.

We predict that over the coming year or so, automated systems will become ‘the norm’ and move into the mainstream, not only in healthcare, but across many sectors. For example, as we mentioned in a previous article, drones undertaking property surveys and much more.

Building Information Modelling (BIM)

BIM Technology is a very intelligent tool that architects utilise to create full digital models of a building before they set to work on getting it built. This type of technology will visualise every aspect of a building, and will enable architects and business owners to make informed decisions and changes to their design early, which will in turn plan for a more effective design, aesthetically and structurally.

Technology such as this allows for the construction of a more architecturally sound, environmentally in tune and sustainable building. It will help identify the right materials that have low environmental impact, as well as aiding in setting realistic targets for water usage and the management of waste, which of course, is important for any company’s bottom line.

Allowing both architects and businesses to spot inefficiencies and problems at the beginning of the project using dynamic data, BIM helps to support the creation of a fully sustainable building, limiting the chances of issues further down the line.

Supermobility

The way facilities managers look after their business is changing significantly due to technology such as smartphone apps, wearable technology and also cloud computing, which we have touched upon in a previous article. This means that fundamental tasks can be completed, no matter where you are in the world.

Facilities managers are able to manage their operations remotely using a smartphone, with video conferencing and instant messaging on the rise. This, of course, reduces the amount of times they need to visit a site over the year, and means that they can respond quickly to any issue. As well as being hugely energy efficient, it’s a time and money saver, too.

There are many FM apps available out there, which you can find in our earlier blog. These apps give a facilities manager the ability to simply record important data such as unsafe conditions and near-miss incidents, meaning that preventative action can be taken to reduce the probability of accidents happening further down the line.

Summary

Of course, there are so many other technological factors that are making a positive impact on the facilities management world overall, with increased integration of systems across departments and businesses. From the Internet of Things (IoT) allowing machines and gadgets to speak to each other through wireless technology; productivity and efficiency is being strengthened more and more. In fact, machine-to-machine (M2M) technology is set to take the FM landscape by storm, having an immense impact on sustainability at the same time.

It’s impossible to predict, but how great would it be if this technology could help us to reduce our C02 emissions to a minimum, creating a more stable and environmentally responsive for everyone across all sectors?

Peter Forshaw – Managing Director, Maxwell Stephens

Keep an eye on our blog for further articles on technology and its advances that can help you streamline your facilities management process and your business overall.