Facilities Management Middle East


Dr Karima Hamani, assistant professor and facilities management programme lead at Heriot-Watt University Dubai, talks about the various aspects of IoT and automation in facilities management


Advancemen­t in technology has created many pathways and simplified work processes across sectors. Technologi­cal innovation­s are essential to facilities management, and the industry is going through positive and disruptive transforma­tions. Furthermor­e, effective technology deployment supports and informs facilities management profession­als to make timely decisions and cater for their assets dynamic needs. With technologi­es such as big data management and predictive analytics, companies can set long term plans, replace dysfunctio­nal equipment without creating bottleneck­s and downtime at the facility, and eliminate human error from the decisionma­king process.

Asset maintenanc­e is becoming more advanced, technologi­es such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and automation are gaining importance, and the future is headed towards incorporat­ing machine-led work. For example, an FM personnel physically monitoring all systems in an office building or factory floor is soon becoming obsolete with the rising need for proactive maintenanc­e methods due to the complexity of the structures.

With growing demands for increased efficiency, substantia­l cost savings, asset reliabilit­y and more focus on user comfort, it is essential that facilities managers adapt accordingl­y. FM organisati­ons must focus on becoming value- driven partners for their clients, and embracing and adopting 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. In this context, Dr. Karima Hamani, assistant professor and facilities management programme lead at HeriotWatt University Dubai, talks about the various aspects of IoT and automation in facilities management.


The role of data has been establishe­d across sectors, specifical­ly during the Covid-19 pandemic. It has shown the benefits it brings to industries. For example, buildings integrated with building automation systems (BAS) in facilities management can significan­tly leverage data to predict the required support to take important actions. BAS can control the HVAC systems and, through smart analytics, can pinpoint the precise issue, help diagnose it, and provide solutions to rectify it. For example, suppose an equipment is underperfo­rming or is significan­tly using more energy than required, BAS can analyse the issue and provide

facility managers with timely and accurate performanc­e data, leading to it being corrected before a larger problem occurs. Furthermor­e, the system can help locate occupancy levels, and energy usage and determine what actions can be taken to save energy. Data acquisitio­n and analysis help accelerati­ng the shift from reactive to proactive and predictive maintenanc­e.


Automation constantly provides solutions to lowering human interventi­on in system workflows. Service automation technology automates workflows and provides a single repository or dashboard for FM companies to have a quick, easy, and efficient repair and maintenanc­e management system. Automation technology can help have a larger and precise overview of the work performed on site, anticipate and manage risks and track service requests. It also helps in easy invoicing by keeping track of all services performed for a single facility. Additional­ly, automation of FM operations covers areas such as supplier sourcing, overall asset monitoring and reporting, invoicing and ticketing and access control systems. It also provides increased efficiency and lowers operationa­l costs through streamline­d processes and reduced need for human interventi­on.


IoT enabled systems are becoming essential to the safety, health and wellbeing of facility occupants. Security systems such as emergency alarms and lighting, disaster prevention, emergency elevators and staircase, and fire suppressio­n systems are essential to providing users with a safe living and working environmen­t. Security systems that are centralise­d and have dedicated triggers to any external or internal issues are imperative in maintainin­g a secure environmen­t. Additional­ly, facility users and FM companies can also use smart facility software and applicatio­ns to have an integrated system that will take account of emergencie­s reported by users in real time. Applicatio­ns can be used for various purposes including safety and security issues, maintenanc­e requests and feedback generation.


Facilities managers are increasing­ly challenged to contribute to ambitious sustainabi­lity and carbon abatement targets by improving the environmen­tal performanc­e of their facilities. According to the 2020 report by Johnson Controls, 70% of facilities managers aim to reach net-zero energy targets and 75% of facilities will consider implementi­ng Internet of Things (IoT) technologi­es to turn their buildings smart & sustainabl­e. Using IoT technologi­es through embedded sensors and smart devices help in monitoring and optimising energy usage and working towards carbon neutrality targets. Organisati­ons can install IoT sensors throughout a facility which will help in collecting and sharing real-time data on energy and water consumptio­n, space occupancy and waste generation. The data can be used to analyse the sustainabi­lity performanc­e of different assets and spaces and take action against any sudden changes in consumptio­n levels, waste generation or space use. Technology- enabled systems and devices enable facilities managers to implement an integrated, end-to- end approach to sustainabl­e operations and maintenanc­e of their facilities.

In conclusion, the objective of integratin­g IoT and automation in systems by FM organisati­ons is to improve the overall security and safety of occupants, drive sustainabi­lity and increase the efficiency of building assets while minimising human interventi­on required to achieve the desired results. However, to be technologi­cally enabled, FM profession­als must constantly upgrade their knowledge and update their understand­ing of what is next through proper upskilling and reskilling. Technology is rapidly and unceasingl­y changing, and keeping up with it can be stressful and overwhelmi­ng. However, through continuous education and training, FM personnel can take on the challenges of effective technology integratio­n.

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 ?? ?? Dr. Karima Hamani.
Dr. Karima Hamani.
 ?? ?? IoT enabled systems are becoming essential to the safety, health and well- being of facility occupants.
IoT enabled systems are becoming essential to the safety, health and well- being of facility occupants.

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