PRABHU RA­MACHAN­DRAN, FA­CILIO

IoT-and AI-driven fa­cil­i­ties man­age­ment tech­nolo­gies must be adopted dur­ing the pre­con­struc­tion phase

Construction Week - - FACILITIES MANAGEMENT -

Build­ings, ubiq­ui­tous are they are to our ex­is­tence, have slowly but surely been trans­form­ing - in how they are built, man­aged and main­tained. Tech­nol­ogy has com­pletely changed the most fun­da­men­tal facts about com­mer­cial real es­tate (CRE), and shifted the fo­cus from be­ing en­tirely on lo­ca­tion or cost sav­ings or en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, back to the orig­i­nal pur­pose of cre­at­ing build­ings – adding value to the lives of the peo­ple us­ing those build­ings, and keep­ing them pro­duc­tive and com­fort­able.

The fa­cil­i­ties and build­ing man­age­ment in­dus­try is un­der­go­ing a rapid dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion, born of a grow­ing de­mand for cost sav­ings and en­ergy and op­er­a­tional ef­fi­ciency, as well as the need to go beyond and cre­ate value for cus­tomers, by en­hanc­ing ten­ant com­fort and the fa­cil­i­ties ex­pe­ri­ence. New­gen­er­a­tion au­to­ma­tion and in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies such as in­ter­net of things (IoT) and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) have had a mas­sive role to play in how the built en­vi­ron­ment is reach­ing for these goals.

As the sus­tain­abil­ity di­a­logue gath­ers steam glob­ally, the ‘fix­ing’ of ex­ist­ing build­ing stock in the form of retrofits has seen grow­ing de­mand and main­stream­ing. Mas­sive stocks of ex­ist­ing build­ings are be­ing au­to­mated and dig­i­tally trans­formed to op­ti­mise their op­er­a­tional and en­ergy ef­fi­ciency. How­ever, when it comes to new con­struc­tion, de­spite this pro­lif­er­a­tion of tech­nol­ogy, the pre-con­struc­tion and post-con­struc­tion phases of build­ings have con­tin­ued to be vi­su­alised and ex­e­cuted in iso­la­tion. Where tech­nol­ogy in­ter­ven­tions like build­ing in­for­ma­tion and 3D mod­el­ling dom­i­nate dis­cus­sions dur­ing the pre­con­struc­tion and con­struc­tion phase, IoT and AI-driven fa­cil­i­ties man­age­ment tech­nolo­gies, that can sig­nif­i­cantly im­pact the man­age­ment of the build­ing and its fa­cil­i­ties, are still a post-con­struc­tion dis­cus­sion.

But change is round the cor­ner. The ‘re­ac­tive’ ap­proach to ef­fi­ciency in the form of retrofits is def­i­nitely forc­ing CRE own­ers to think about how they can op­ti­mally pre­pare new con­struc­tion for the ‘pre­dic­tive’ era of build­ings and fa­cil­i­ties man­age­ment. Adop­tion can be ac­cel­er­ated by in­creas­ing aware­ness about the ben­e­fits of bring­ing in au­to­ma­tion into the de­sign and plan­ning stage of con­struc­tion. Not only can this help CRE own­ers to op­ti­mise their au­to­ma­tion in­vest­ment to de­liver multi-fold value post con­struc­tion, it will also al­low them to plan for IoT driven real-time FM from an early stage it­self.

There are sev­eral rea­sons why CRE’s should start think­ing about IoT and AI-driven fa­cil­i­ties man­age­ment early in the pre-con­struc­tion phase. Some key ben­e­fits are that the fa­cil­ity can be de­signed bear­ing in mind the op­ti­mi­sa­tion of post­con­struc­tion op­er­a­tions and main­te­nance; the easy in­te­gra­tion as foun­da­tion for IoT-led au­to­ma­tion sys­tems can be laid from the start; and con­sid­er­able sav­ings on time and cost in the long run as pre­ven­tive and re­ac­tive main­te­nance is re­placed by a pre­dic­tive model. Tech­nol­ogy in­vest­ment can be op­ti­mised best with post-con­struc­tion op­er­a­tional ef­fi­cien­cies and sav­ings, and CREs can move beyond a fo­cus on cost re­duc­tion to fo­cus on value-cre­ation and -ad­di­tion from the pre­con­struc­tion phase it­self

En­ter­prise-level adop­tion of IoT and AI-driven fa­cil­i­ties man­age­ment dur­ing the pre-con­struc­tion phase can have a mas­sive im­pact on the ef­fi­ciency and per­for­mance of a build­ing post­con­struc­tion. The CRE in­dus­try is uniquely po­si­tioned to har­ness IoT-en­abled build­ing man­age­ment sys­tems (BMS) to make build­ing per­for­mance more ef­fi­cient and also use sen­sor-gen­er­ated data and in­sights to en­hance build­ing user ex­pe­ri­ence.

Re­search in­di­cates that nearly six times more money is spent on op­er­a­tional costs than on con­struc­tion costs, with 20% ex­pen­di­ture on con­struc­tion and 80% on op­er­a­tions, re­cap­i­tal­iza­tion, and re­pairs. Given this break-up, it holds to rea­son that in­clud­ing IoT and AI driven fa­cil­i­ties man­age­ment tech­nolo­gies needs to be part of the blue­print stage of a build­ing, as it can im­pact 80% of its ex­pense.

Dur­ing the de­sign and con­struc­tion phase, au­to­ma­tion- and IoT-led BMS can help pre­pare the build­ing and get it ready for op­er­a­tions. This can flow into the post-con­struc­tion phase, where IoT- and AI-driven fa­cil­i­ties man­age­ment can help CREs un­der­stand their com­pre­hen­sive fa­cil­ity and as­set port­fo­lio, and use the real-time data and in­sights to drive busi­ness de­ci­sions.

Prabhu Ra­machan­dran is founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of cer of Fa­cilio.

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