Companies are increasingly evaluating the usage of IoT in facility management services to reduce costs, increase added value services, and expand the scope of their services.
Facility managers are responsible for the security, maintenance, and services of the work facilities of an organization and its employees. Supervising labor teams, ensuring maintenance of basic facilities like water and heaters, and managing energy efficiency are some of the daily tasks of facility managers. While it may seem like a completely human-driven role, IoT has emerged to be the biggest innovation in facility management in recent times. A 197-page comprehensive facility management report by Markets and Markets even pegs the market powered IoT and analytics to grow to $43.69 billion by 2020. “This represents a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.1% from 2015 to 2020,” says the report. IoT devices gather real-time data that helps facility managers to get insights into the needs of the workplace. For instance, sensors can constantly monitor the availability of water. They can also help to send notifications to facility managers to take action if water is not available. Leveraging IoT in facility management service has the potential to facilitate worker productivity, maintain aging hardware, and monitor stocks and usage.
How IoT in Facility Management Services Can Help Managers
IoT devices such as sensors, cameras, and embedded beacons are making tedious facility management more efficient and reducing the burden on managers.
Reduced Energy Wastage
Energy is the most essential facility required to run a business. And wastage of energy can cost a lot to businesses. IoT devices can help reduce energy wastage. They can gather information about energy consumption and monitor its wastage. For example, if sensors are embedded in air conditioners, then they can be set to auto switch off when the temperature of the workplace reaches a specific level set by the facility manager. Similarly, sensor-based cameras can monitor the presence of people inside a cabin, and when not in use, they can send alerts to the facility managers. Managers can then switch off all the energy-consuming equipment in the cabin to reduce wastage. It is not just reducing energy wastage; IoT is also capable of generating renewable energy.
Optimal Workspace Usage
Which facility manager wouldn’t want an optimized workspace? It doesn’t matter how big an organization is; there is always a shortage of workspace at some point in time. Facility managers might be getting complaints daily about congested workplaces. Empowering the workspace with IoT sensors unlocks many workspace optimization opportunities. For instance, they can monitor when space is used and how it is used. For a business operating 24/7, they can also identify what work hours have the highest traffic in the office to determine when more space is required. Such insights can help facility managers to collaborate with team managers to plan different possible shifts for employees to reduce the load on peak hours.
Efficient Inventory Management
IoT devices, with the help of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, can monitor stocks and usage for enhancing the efficiency of inventory management. Also, data gathered with the help of IoT devices can help in predictive analysis for enhancing inventory management. Predictive analysis can provide information about weather changes and increase or decrease in demand for a particular facility. For instance, if the weather becomes hot, then demand for water and air conditioners will increase, and facility managers can be prepared for those changes with the help of IoT predictive analytics.
Better Employee Productivity
According to a study, just one hour of a conference room meeting can make CO2 levels reach 1,400 parts per million (ppm). 1,400 ppm is enough to impair the cognitive functioning of the human brain. IoT sensors can monitor the internal environment of a workplace for employee wellbeing. Facility managers can utilize CO2 data to take appropriate actions like alerting the meeting conductor, increasing oxygen levels inside the room through inlets, or using automated systems to ventilate the air in the conference rooms. Suppose an employee is not feeling well and has vomited on the floor, then the facility manager will have to call and locate a member of the cleaning staff for services. But, locating staff can consume a lot of time, and that will affect workplace hygiene. Facility managers can monitor staff using wearables and call the nearest staff quickly. This approach can be used across service staff for parking, catering, and cleaning to reduce turnaround times and minimize the loss of productivity.
Higher Service Efficiency
Facility managers usually create a schedule for how many times a service team has to perform that service. But, the issue with pre-planned schedules is that it does not reflect real-time needs. Imagine a washroom used by hundreds of employees. It would require cleaning several times a day. The number of times the washroom must be cleaned is typically based on a static service level agreement. But what if a washroom does not need to be cleaned as often on some days, like the holiday season? Inversely, what if the washroom needs to be cleaned more often on some days? A pre-planned schedule does not work in such scenarios. With IoT devices, facility managers can get real-time updates and create a more dynamic cleaning schedule. Thus, IoT can help improve the service efficiency by reducing unnecessary work of facility staff. Facility managers can also alert cleaners if more cleaning instances are required. Over a period of time, cleaning patterns can be decoded to plan more efficient cleaning schedules.
The facility team also plans on proactive software and hardware quality checks for maintenance purposes. For instance, the facility team can plan to check hardware three times a month. But there are chances that one hardware might not need three quality checks a month, whereas another might need it four times. And that's where real-time IoT data comes in handy to increase service efficiency. With real-time data, facility managers can get insights into which hardware needs maintenance checks and when. Thus, IoT has the potential to eliminate the need for a pre-planned schedule and instead provide higher service efficiency as per the needs of organizations and employees.
Higher Risk Mitigation Efficiency
Organizations hire and deploy security guards to prevent any unauthorized access to their buildings. But, an unauthorized person can get access to a building with the help of a duplicate identity card. A building equipped with IoT and analytics devices helps to minimize risks of such unauthorized access. For instance, AI models trained with unauthorized users’ behavioral pattern data can match each person’s behavioral patterns gathered by cameras and sensors. Any unusual behavior can thus help AI models to identify unauthorized users in the workplace. AI systems can then send real-time alerts of unauthorized access to facility managers who can then take appropriate actions.
Predictive Maintenance Services
Operational tools like hardware, machinery, and equipment are essential for the proper functioning of businesses. Early fault detection in these tools is critical for seamless interaction between a business and its customers. Failure in operational tools can result in a breakdown, which can be costly for businesses. Facility managers can use IoT to shift from proactive maintenance to predictive maintenance for reducing the risks of tools failure. According to a McKinsey study, offshore platforms, on an average, run at only 77% of maximum production potential. IoT sensors can determine the issues that can reduce the production potential of machinery. The facility managers can then collaborate with the engineering team to fix those issues and enhance maintenance services. IoT devices can also determine software problems and hardware life. Based on the predictions, facility managers can plan maintenance for avoiding machine breakdowns.
The use of IoT is now inevitable in our organizations, and facility managers should look for ways to leverage this technology for their daily tasks. That said, using IoT in facility management services does not mean robotizing the entire workplace. Instead, it means figuring out what metrics are most important and useful to your business. Further, the data collected by IoT devices is only useful if it can be processed to get useful insights. Thus, facility managers should also consult with their IT teams to develop a strategy to integrate IoT with analytics technologies that can process data gathered by IoT devices and process it to provide useful insights.
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