Facilities Management Middle East
IOT AND AUTOMATION IN FM
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.
DATA-DRIVEN PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE
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.
WORKFLOW AUTOMATION FOR EFFICIENCY
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.
SAFETY AND SECURITY SYSTEMS
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.
SUSTAINABILITY IN A SMART WAY
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.