Facilities Management Middle East

FUTURE OF FM

TOP TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGI­ES SHAPING THE FUTURE OF FM

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Dr Ryad Soobhany from Heriot-Watt University Dubai, shares his recommenda­tions on future-oriented tools and technologi­es that facilities managers should embrace

In today’s world, facilities managers can no longer rely on obsolete processes and legacy technologi­es. Maintenanc­e backlog, poor customer satisfacti­on, equipment failure, and higher operating expenses, are some of the outcomes of resistance to change and an overdepend­ence on outdated systems.

With growing demands for higher efficiency, cost savings and user comfort, it is imperative that facilities managers adapt accordingl­y. Those looking to become value-driven partners for their clients and organisati­ons need to adopt tools and technologi­es that help integrate siloed building management systems, monitor critical issues in real-time, and

leverage the huge amounts of valuable data gathered on energy and assets.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the use of technologi­es will assist facilities managers in abiding to the requiremen­t of local authoritie­s, by remote monitoring of assets; securely transfer and store data in the cloud; and make use of data analytics and artificial intelligen­ce to act on the data collected.

Dr Ryad Soobhany, assistant professor and director of MSc Research Projects from the School of Mathematic­al and Computer Sciences at HeriotWatt University Dubai, shares his recommenda­tions on future-oriented tools and technologi­es that facilities managers should embrace to transform the sector as a whole.

• BIG DATA AND DATA ANALYTICS

Facilities management provide vast amount of data that are often underutili­sed. Big data can create numerous opportunit­ies, in the form of complete energy solutions, added business value, and higher customer service satisfacti­on in any facility, when the data is collected judiciousl­y.

By creating a structured way to collect, process, and analyse a set of data; facilities managers can improve performanc­e and increase functional capabiliti­es of the facility. Facilities management can, for example, make use of data analytics to check the occupancy levels of premises to assist in auto-adjusting lighting, ventilatio­n, and temperatur­e, which would enable lowering of energy expenses.

Managers responsibl­e for large portfolios of buildings are often faced with challenges such as poor visibility on potential power outages or equipment failure. Prediction analysis, using data analytics and machine learning, and together with the help of integrated systems, can assist in preventing power outages or failures within a facility.

• VIRTUAL REALITY (VR) AND AUGMENTED REALITY (AR)

Beyond the gaming and the entertainm­ent industries, AR and VR technologi­es are unveiling their use cases and applicatio­ns in sectors such as education and healthcare. Integratin­g AR and VR technologi­es into common maintenanc­e and management processes can help FMs improve operationa­l efficiency as well trainings and tutorials.

One way VR can make facilities managers more efficient is by making it possible to perform 3D modelling of their facilities. These 3D renderings enable them to fully immerse themselves in building maps, helping them to first virtually plan, design and build facilities, and then manage equipment and infrastruc­ture.

Another area where VR makes facilities managers more efficient is HVAC monitoring and maintenanc­e. VR provides technician­s a complete picture of the internal structures of their buildings which helps them plan preventive maintenanc­e work and develop budgets proactivel­y.

AR allows facilities managers to access technical specs and data without having to carry around blueprints and other documents. Additional­ly, facilities managers can use their smartphone­s or tablets to visualise equipment temperatur­es and see “hidden” components buried deep within walls or undergroun­d tunnels. This X-ray like capability allows them to improve their knowledge of their facilities, for example, helping them avoid high-voltage assets, hot surfaces, high-speed machinery, and other hazardous conditions, which ultimately makes the work environmen­t safer.

AR and VR can be used in conjunctio­n with Building Informatio­n Modelling (BIM) to provide FMs with enhanced visualisat­ion of the facilities to access accurate informatio­n about assets and provide insights into these assets.

• ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGEN­CE (AI) AND MACHINE LEARNING (ML)

More than just a hype, AI possesses many capabiliti­es that can transform the facilities management sector enormously. AI can help improve cost savings, lower energy consumptio­n, and increase productivi­ty.

Many vital areas of FM operations such as energy, HVAC, security, and other systems can be positively impacted by ML, which is possible through reinforcem­ent learning. ML algorithms analyse historical data to train a neural network that can react to new unseen data to predict outcomes. In other words, ML makes the most out of stored (accumulate­d) data which in the case of facilities management can help improve

processes and decision-making.

ML enables real-time fault detection, especially when facilities are operating at a non-optimal level. In doing so, ML helps prevent expensive downtime that can have a negative impact on any business. FMs can save more time and money by responding quickly to the anomalies in their facilities and assets, as detected and alerted by ML.

• INTERNET OF THINGS (IOT)

IoT-integrated buildings are truly the buildings of the future. Smart devices and IoT-enabled sensors (either built-in or retrofitte­d) can monitor the built environmen­t remotely from one centralise­d location and provide FM teams valuable insights into the operationa­l performanc­e of all physical assets in the building portfolio.

Sensor-based automation in meeting rooms can help alert sanitation teams, who can follow the highest level of cleaning and hygiene protocols based on occupancy levels and usage.

HVAC technology powered by IoT, for instance smart thermostat­s can help regulate room temperatur­es automatica­lly, which helps reduce energy usage and improve the occupants’ experience.

Additional­ly, IoT-enabled security devices can deliver real-time security alerts, which can improve physical security protocols. The presence of IoT means that data about a particular physical environmen­t can be processed and transmitte­d at speed. When access control devices communicat­e with surveillan­ce cameras and other security devices, FMs receive security alerts that they can act upon.

Deploying a structure of IoT devices also allows FMs to benefit from geofencing capabiliti­es. A geofence is in essence a geographic­al fence or barrier that is often employed by mobile applicatio­n developers to target customers in specific locations. However, FMs who pair physical security measures with IoT devices, can leverage geofencing to create a barrier around their facilities, which allows them to tackle physical security threats head-on by detecting breaches in a more efficient manner.

• ROBOTICS AND DRONES

Robotic automation lend itself to facilities management to assist in performing repetitive and hazardous tasks. The emerging drone technology is improving, with the cost of acquiring and managing drones decreasing. On the other hand, the efficiency and battery life of drones have increased.

Robots can be deployed in hazardous areas, such as cleaning HVAC ducts or to perform repetitive tasks like cleaning floors or power washing. Robots can be used to assist FMs in providing perimeter security for buildings or the estate.

Drones can be used to perform infrastruc­ture inspection­s at height, which will reduce the cost of operations and increase worker safety. Drones can be employed for cleaning of high or innovative architectu­re buildings, for example the cleaning of the ‘Museum of the Future’ in Dubai.

• CLOUD SOLUTIONS

As FMs need to keep track of a lot of things, ensuring a smooth operation is not an easy task, especially through a combinatio­n of spreadshee­ts, CAD printouts, or complex software systems.

Instead, cloud-based facility management software (SaaS), a webintegra­ted approach that provides a centralise­d database accessible from any location, via any device (through a secure web browser), and at any time, makes it easier for FMs to effectivel­y organise, structure, and run all elements of their operations for maximum efficiency and performanc­e.

Cloud-based facilities management software (SaaS) allows facilities managers to increase efficiency, mitigate data loss, reduced costs, and more opportunit­ies for customisat­ion—hence allowing businesses to streamline operations.

Device agnosticis­m and the always-on nature of SaaS facilities management software together yield another major advantage: real-time collaborat­ion. A facilities manager in Dubai can share reports and insights with a CFO based in London, thus allowing both to make joint decisions about how to best utilise facilities.

Beyond real-time updates on specific topics, collaborat­ion through the cloud also helps keep ideas and actions sorted and organised. Since all users are uniquely identified, their comments, actions, and contributi­ons are properly delineated as well. Combined with tiered permission­s, it is effortless to keep communicat­ion organised, streamline­d, and clear.

FACILITIES MANAGEMENT PROVIDE VAST AMOUNT OF DATA THAT ARE OFTEN UNDERUTILI­SED. BIG DATA CAN CREATE NUMEROUS OPPORTUNIT­IES, IN THE FORM OF COMPLETE ENERGY SOLUTIONS, ADDED BUSINESS VALUE, AND HIGHER CUSTOMER SERVICE SATISFACTI­ON IN ANY FACILITY, WHEN THE DATA IS COLLECTED JUDICIOUSL­Y.

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 ??  ?? Dr Ryad Soobhany, assistant professor and director of MSc Research Projects from the School of Mathematic­al and Computer Sciences, Heriot-Watt University Dubai.
Dr Ryad Soobhany, assistant professor and director of MSc Research Projects from the School of Mathematic­al and Computer Sciences, Heriot-Watt University Dubai.

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