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How IoT Transforms Facilities Management Processes

Illustration: © IoT For All

The increased availability of Internet of Things (IoT) devices has allowed facility managers to implement automation which was previously impossible with legacy facilities management systems. IoT devices have also allowed facilities managers to gather a rich data set that allows for more data-driven decisions.

Utilization Based Facilities Management

Traditional equipment maintenance involves scheduled inspections. Regardless of usage, equipment is serviced at regular intervals or cleaning arranged at regular frequencies. Clearly, for equipment or spaces where use is irregular, such an approach is inefficient. IoT sensors allow granular monitoring of equipment utilization. For example, people counters can be deployed to count persons entering a toilet, and cleaners deployed only when a fixed number of persons have used it.

Tracking Asset Locations in Real-time

IoT technology can make assets location-aware. Indoor positioning technologies utilize RFID or Bluetooth to enable facilities managers to track the indoor positions of critical assets in real-time. Without IoT, location tracking of assets can be very tedious and error-prone, with users having to report the latest locations manually. Accurate real-time knowledge of asset location often also translates to the need to store less inventory. For example, in a hospital with portable ultrasound machines, finding out where these machines reduce handover time to the following user and optimize their utilization.

Automated Fault Triggering

IoT sensors affixed to equipment can automatically trigger maintenance requests. When a piece of equipment stops functioning, these sensors can alert a workflow management system which can immediately alert the appropriate technician. The result is lower equipment downtime or increased building user satisfaction. The concept of automated fault triggering applies to a varied range of Facilities Management processes.

In the context of Covid-19, for example, temperature sensors can alert technicians when refrigeration levels of vaccines have exceeded prescribed thresholds; and indoor air quality sensors can trigger alerts when ventilation is insufficient.

Improving Employee Well-being

Companies have started giving more attention to the welfare of their most valuable assets, their employees. The utilization of sensors and smart building systems allows organizations to improve the well-being of building users by tracking the indoor environment and regulating it to suit the users’ needs better. Instead of constantly having disagreements over the building temperature, crowded areas can be created to fit the demands of the users. This allows for the easy environment adjustment following the users’ preference by incessantly monitoring the space’s temperature and humidity. Additionally, air quality can be monitored and modified to look after the health and welfare of the employees.

These benefits are only some of the biggest reasons modern that drive IoT and analytics deployment in modern facility management. Another factor that’s boosting the implementation of IoT is predictive maintenance which leads to the next point.

Moving Towards Predictive Maintenance with IoT Integration

More often than not, several facility management teams wait to fix something when it has been broken, but this reactive attitude happens to be very costly. Facility management can be proactive and nip the bud of the problem before it arises.

The holy grail of facility management, predictive maintenance, will only be possible by leveraging IoT by constantly monitoring asset conditions and letting them self-monitor; facility management services can determine whether an asset is bound to fail to give them the chance to act before a failure occurs. Moreover, assets that communicate with each other in an interconnected system can inform other assets that they are due to failure to stop the process before failure extends to the entire system. Altogether, these predictive measures can increase asset performance and prolong the asset’s lifespan through optimized asset operation.

Practically, every asset, equipment, and system generates data. Keeping track of this data instantaneously will alert if something is out of order – or about to be –so the problem can be addressed in its infancy before it turns out to be an expensive repair or replacement.

Inevitably assets and machinery will deteriorate over time. Still, with predictive analysis and machine learning techniques, historical data is taken into account to arrive at predictions as to when a specific asset requires, for instance, a refurbish or a significant overhaul. IoT gives way to improved building operating systems, averting failures and keeping building users happy.

Building Management

Building management is no simple activity. Facilities vary, team members are spread out, and assets function independently from each other, which pave the way for operating in a silo, hindering management from making more informed decisions and leading to repetitive tasks.

Taking advantage of unutilized data sitting within these assets and systems is needed to create an efficient building operation. Now is the time for connected facility management. Fortunately, it takes no wizard-like figure to create an entirely digitized IoT smart building in today’s world. Instead, it presses for a collaborative effort from management, who has set up comprehensive and actionable goals. When done right, facility management can transform into an automated system beneficial to the occupants, management, and owners.


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