Is technology helping or hindering FM professionals?

February 15, 2017
Posted in Resources
February 15, 2017 GraemeH

There’s no doubt that the evolution of technology has vastly affected the way facilities management professionals perform, but as we stride into a world that’s becoming more dependent on technology, is the human role of facilities management becoming redundant?

Let’s have a look at some of the innovations that are changing behaviour.

Drones

Drone technology has quickly been embraced by the world of business, the most high-profile example being Amazon’s adoption of drones as delivery-bots.1 In the FM sector, drones with cameras have far-reaching potential to reduce time spent performing mundane tasks, like surveying hard to reach areas of your site or patrolling car parks.

They’ve even been trialled2 for use in pest control, using thermal sensors to determine the presence of nesting birds on rooftops. Specialist drones can even tackle the problem themselves by mimicking birds of prey to scare smaller birds away.

Smart devices

Smart phones and other devices have become increasingly useful in FM thanks to the rise of Cloud-computing. Taking an iPad on a weekly inspection now means you can log issues as you go, and your maintenance team will see updates in real-time.

This has led to Bring Your Own Device company policies, and now nearly half3 of employees now use their personal devices for work, allowing them opportunity to work from any location, at any time.

Robotics

Robot security guards might conjure up memories of sci-fi icons Robocop and Judge Dredd, but in 2017 they’re more fact than fiction. Enter K5, the autonomous security guard with extensive sensors4 and the ability to patrol for up to 24-hours on a single charge. They can “see, hear, touch and smell” the surrounding area and if they notice anything suspicious they simply alert a human security engineer or even the police – although their ability to tackle stairs is as yet to be determined.

Holograms

Holograms5 have come a long way in the last five years and they’re now being employed6 in airports to help direct travellers to the right terminals.

Adopting this technology in FM could solve the issue of on-site worker navigation, with access to 3D maps on request. There’s also the potential to pair this with GPS technology on mobile devices to ensure destinations are reached.

Building Information Management and Modelling

BIMM sounds complicated but it’s simply “a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility”7, and is used to help professionals across a wide range of industries.

Whilst the application of this technology is obvious in regards to construction projects8, it’s specific use in FM is focused on the increased availability of data.

BIMM companies are collecting a large and varied range of building data, including heat-retention, energy use and noise penetration, which FM professionals can use to determine which on-site changes can result in a positive desired change.

Physical Security Information Management

PSIM is another recent development that’s allowing human security staff to do their jobs more intelligently by connecting security systems and providing a single interface to control them.

It’s not ludicrous to predict9 that in the coming years, most FM business will adopt PSIM systems that not only notifies them when any alarm on-site is triggered, but allows them to fully investigate the alarm without leaving their seat.

Internet of Things

IoT is quickly becoming a game-changer in facilities management because the entire maintenance process can now be performed without the need for human intervention.

HVAC systems, for example, currently require regular checks and maintenance, but now we’re seeing the rise of self-scanning systems that can detect if they’re performing optimally10. They can determine the issue, automate maintenance scheduling before scanning again to sign off the work.

Smart Buildings

So, what happens if you take combine the above and put them in one site?

Smart Buildings can reduce energy consumption, detect system faults, reduce minor disasters and just generally improve the experience of the occupants whilst saving roughly 10% on costs11.

Enter the new FM Professional

The world of FM is changing due to rapid technology evolution, but there remains a need for human intervention.

The industry is shifting people away from mundane and labour intensive tasks, to creating opportunities for FM professionals to deliver added value for clients. And with so much of the industry in the hands of expensive machines, you could even argue that the human element of FM is going to be more important than ever. Learn more about Timegate & Servicetrac

Sources

  1. https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Prime-Air/b?ie=UTF8&node=8037720011
  2. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/05/31/mitie-unveils-plan-to-use-drones-for-pest-control/
  3. http://www.crowdresearchpartners.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/BYOD-and-Mobile-Security-Report-2016.pdf
  4. http://www.livescience.com/42118-robot-security-guard-predicts-crimes.html
  5. http://www.planetrock.com/news/rock-news/watch-footage-emerges-of-entire-ronnie-james-dio-hologram-performance/
  6. http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/holographic-boarding-agents
  7. http://www.facilitiesnet.com/software/article/Building-Information-Modeling-on-Rise-in-Facility-Management–13687?source=part
  8. https://www.thenbs.com/knowledge/what-is-building-information-modelling-bim
  9. https://fmlink.com/articles/global-physical-security-information-management-psim-software/
  10. http://www.energymanagertoday.com/mobility-iot-gradually-transforms-hvac-0120531/
  11. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/education/school-leaders/smart-buildings/default.aspx