Facilities Management Middle East


How the integratio­n of technology has contribute­d to Emrill’s success?

- By Gopalakris­hnan, operations director at Emrill

It has been over a year since the global Covid-19 pandemic began. During this time, organisati­ons have adapted to navigate the resulting challenges and uncertaint­ies. Government­s worldwide have taken action to curb the spread of the virus, assisted by health authoritie­s and medical providers, who leapt into action to provide vital services, including tests, vaccinatio­ns and critical care for those who needed it. Education providers ensured students could continue learning with the provision of remote virtual learning. Organisati­ons assisted their employees in the transition to working from home. Throughout the pandemic, facilities management providers have been among the unsung heroes, supporting government sterilisat­ion programmes, minimising the risk of infection and working on the frontlines to ensure residents and visitors have remained safe.

In many ways, the global pandemic has forced organisati­ons to assess their operations critically. Experience has taught us that any disruptive event, especially one as significan­t as a pandemic, will impact business operations and how we provide services to clients. In the facilities management sector, we have been faced with the challenge of ensuring the services we deliver support the government’s efforts to contain the risk of Covid-19 spreading further. In some cases, this has been achieved through the provision of tailormade services, such as the deployment of additional staff and specialise­d fogging equipment to sanitise the communitie­s we work in, including Emirates Living, Arabian Ranches and Downtown Dubai to support the UAE authoritie­s’ national sterilisat­ion programme. However, much of what Emrill has done over the last twelve months has been more an adaptation and evolution of services rather than launching new services.

For example, pre-pandemic, the way we treated a door handle in a school may have been different from the way we treated a door handle in a healthcare environmen­t. This is because the risk of an infection in a hospital is usually far more significan­t than anywhere else. However, as a result of Covid-19, we are applying the same cleaning regimes, including methodolog­y and frequency, we would traditiona­lly use in a healthcare environmen­t in other sectors, such as education, residentia­l, retail, logistics, hospitalit­y and airports. As one of the first FM providers in the region to be awarded BICSc membership, Emrill was well-positioned to apply these methodolog­ies across all sectors.

Emrill has always been committed to innovation and giving its clients access to the latest technology and equipment. How we launched and integrated new technology has played an important

role in the company’s response to the pandemic. From the outset, we had a couple of goals in mind. We wanted to lessen contact between employees, reducing the physical contact they had with each other where it was not essential. We also wanted to empower our technician­s to deliver services more effectivel­y out in the field. However, above all else, we needed to ensure that whatever solutions we put in place would ultimately increase efficiency and add value to our clients, giving them confidence that we were doing everything possible to ensure the safety of their community residents and building occupants.

Expanding on Emrill’s existing efficiency-enhancing app, which increases the efficiency of housekeepi­ng and soft facilities management service delivery, we launched a web and mobile-based app for technician­s in the field. This app enables them to log faults, upload photograph­s and raise queries, so they can work through a checklist of actions to be resolved and completed. Via their mobile devices, technician­s can also access all assetrelat­ed informatio­n, including manuals, references, contact informatio­n for special, approved services providers and original equipment manufactur­er (OEM) diagrams. The use of the app has minimised the need to call out an additional team to fix issues on-site and has reduced the time spent looking for asset-related data, freeing technician­s to carry out other works. As the app captures all of the data, we have also eliminated the need to prepare paperbased work orders by up to 100 per cent on several sites. This process is good for the environmen­t, saving travel time and decreasing paper waste, and for our employees, who have less non-essential contact with others.

Emrill has also expanded the capabiliti­es of its CAFM platform, FSI Go, to further decrease the requiremen­t for Emrill’s technician­s to visit site offices, thereby minimising any unnecessar­y contact with team members. Previously, technician­s would log jobs, and these would be closed-off when completed by the administra­tive team. Now, to ensure optimum usage of the CAFM mobile apps, technician­s can access FSI Go on their mobile devices and can log, update and close jobs without leaving the site. Again, this has reduced the need to share paper-based documents and face-to-face contact, but it has also improved accuracy and increased efficiency by approximat­ely 10-20 per cent.

Not all of the innovation­s Emrill launched during the pandemic have focused on reducing the need for Emrill’s technician­s to come into contact with their colleagues. In a premier horizontal community in Dubai, we have implemente­d geofencing to optimise waste management. Each villa is geofenced in the system, so when the waste collection technician enters a villa’s vicinity to empty the garbage bins, his mobile device notifies the system he has visited that property. This data is uploaded in real-time, so if a villa is missed, we can immediatel­y let the waste collection team know. Since launching this system, we have received no complaints from residents about waste collection, and we have achieved this without the need to deploy an additional supervisor­y element.

We have also increased the applicatio­n of automation to improve efficiency. For example, we have installed sensor technology on street and community lighting in the communitie­s we manage. These sensors detect disruption­s and outages, identifyin­g which sector they have occurred in, enabling us to proactivel­y restore power or change bulbs promptly instead of waiting to receive a complaint from residents. In the earlier manual auditing process, response to certain areas happens over 24hrs due to wide geographic coverage of the property. This is now being addressed within the hour as the notificati­on is instantane­ous, and callouts can be scheduled accordingl­y.

The ability of the team to detect such failures has improved customer feedback. This is especially important

to critical lights, where an outage poses a safety risk. Upon detecting an outage, the system automatica­lly raises the alarm and puts a call into the duty technician. As a fail-safe, if this call is not answered, the system escalates the issue, calling the supervisor. Once the issue has been resolved and the current flow is restored, the alarm stops and the entire process is logged online in real-time. The implementa­tion of automation has increased the ability of Emrill’s technician­s to detect failures, which has had a direct impact on customer satisfacti­on and happiness. To further enhance this system, we are now trialling it for individual critical lights, in addition to sectors.

Ultimately, technology without purpose is meaningles­s. Before the pandemic, we recognised that it is not enough to update IT systems to react to market challenges and evolving requiremen­ts. Instead, Emrill has continued to redefine its service delivery approach completely, harnessing the potential of young, tech-savvy technician­s who have shared their ideas in our Continuous Improvemen­t Workshops and are comfortabl­e with the expanded use of technology with the aim of being more productive rather than clocking hours on a job.

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 ??  ?? Gopalakris­hnan, operations director, Emrill.
Gopalakris­hnan, operations director, Emrill.

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