New advances and innovations in technology are paving the way for many businesses and industries; Facilities Management is no exception.
Technology is modernising the way we look at our industries and this exciting revolution has only just begun. Smarter technologies are enhancing business and investment more so than ever before, and improved connections and automations are having a crucial impact on all aspects of business. Let’s see what technological developments we can expect for this forthcoming year. Service Works Group delves in to what facilities managers can anticipate for 2017 and beyond.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things is constantly evolving, and this seemingly complex system can really change the way we work by linking people, processes, objects and data. How many times can you say the word smart? Work smarter not harder. The IoT allows your smart devices to work more effectively so you can reap the benefits. Linked together on a single system, it is becoming the norm to use devices to develop smarter buildings and environments that constantly adapt to their employees’ needs. I’m sure many of us are utilising the IoT in our homes by linking our smartphones up to our heating systems, or recording programmes when we’re out and about. Why not take advantage of IoT as facilities managers?
There are major developments occurring with LiFi providing super-fast wireless network connectivity through LED lighting. Li-Fi, or Light Fidelity, provides the opportunity to incorporate devices with Li-Fi capability into a large number of LED environments and applications in commercial, industrial and government facilities. One of the great advantages of Li-Fi is that it can be incorporated into existing lighting systems. Li-Fi can expand network coverage, complement Wi-Fi access, or in some cases, actually make Wi-Fi access points redundant. LiFi could have a significant impact on the IoT, with data transferred at much higher levels with even more devices being able to connect with each other. This in turn minimises infrastructure commitment, lowers the associated capital expense and ongoing operating costs, and also reduces emissions and waste.
Mobility: what you want, when you want it.
Ok, so this isn’t so much a trend as it isn’t a new concept…but it won’t be mobile as we know it. Imagine running your entire business from a smartphone? Imminently, facilities managers will be able to function with a level of mobility that enables a more effective and efficient way of managing work on-the-go. Whichever device you chose, handling and overseeing assets, workforce, and collaboration with co-workers or customers will become accessible anywhere, any time. Your world at your fingertips.
The sky’s the limit for ruggedized devices.
For 2017, the only way is up for the ‘ruggedized device.’ Those clever IT boffins are refining new mobile hardware technology which utilises current mobile device attachments, such as thermal imaging cameras and nifty tracking devices. Functioning without connectivity isn’t an option, let’s face it. Ruggedized devices will ensure facilities managers are able to work in remote places such as oil rigs or even underground whilst enjoying fully operating devices. Thankfully, developments in battery life will assist facilities managers in using their devices much more frequently than they have been able to previously.
Standardised operational data
Another popular trend for this year is the use of CAFM within a building. An enterprise’s second largest expense is efficient management of the facilities lifecycle. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could rely on CAFM and system integration to allow better access to information? Indeed it would. CAFM can make your life a whole lot easier with intelligent workflows automating processes for high efficiency. Data across all applications can be standardised, and this will crusade the market forward in areas such as ‘Automated Guided Vehicles’ which will in turn increase productivity and workplace health and safety.
Powering up to BIM Level 3
While BIM level 2 is still being developed, the results are incredibly reassuring and exciting. Now it’s time to look ahead to level 3. Through critical evaluation and a solid understanding of the advantages and developments that level 2 brought us, we can strive towards the next digital standard for the construction sector. Level 3, or ‘Open BIM’ is a fully collaborative model, allowing more complex and extensive data to be used and shared. In addition, the data could also be used in a wider sense to provide asset information for ‘Smart Cities’ or ‘Smart Grids.’
Wearable Technology for Tomorrow.
Wearable technology is huge in the fitness industry as well as several others, and there’s no reason why facilities managers can’t enjoy the benefits too. This type of technology will soon feature in the work lives of FMs with the potential to improve workplace safety, convenience, security access and collaboration. Wearable technology will also support data collection in varying physical work environments.
‘Reemo’ have utilised wearable technology in an innovative way: to enable individuals with limited mobility to live more independently. The ‘Reemo device’ commissions hands-free interaction and includes seven gestures that a user assigns to different devices. Typical examples include turning on lights or adjusting the thermostat. For facilities managers, wearables can revolutionize the workplace and can allow them to see which parts of the facilities employees spend the most time, how they spend their time and how the experience can be improved.
Location, Location, Location.
We’ve all got one; that friend on social media who ‘checks-in’ at various locations while out and about or geo-tags their pictures. Location-services are incredibly popular on social media and in Facilities Management, it’s set to be on the rise too. In reality, by using an app, location-based services could support managers in overseeing multiple sites by delivering up-to-date inventory of supplies. When a mobile phone enters the site boundaries, the app would pull up a list of available materials, flag supplies that are not sufficient to meet immediate needs for the users of that building, and facilitate ordering.
Making the most of big data
Many companies are using big data which is analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends and associations. Big data is used on a daily basis to make predictions about customers, and most of these aren’t even aware this is happening. Let’s touch upon a case study to highlight the significance of big data: Tesco collected 70 million refrigerator-related data points coming off its units and fed them into a dedicated warehouse. The data points were analysed to keep better tabs on performance, gauge when the machines might need to be serviced and complete more pro-active maintenance to cut down on energy costs. Now that’s making big data work for you.
Netflix utilise big data and offer suggestions based on the genre of programmes previously watched. Another company making use of this system is Amazon. It’s easy for facilities managers to have a piece of this pie as well. The principles of analysing, managing and maintaining big data can be applied to facilities managers. Imagine being able to predict and control energy consumption in a hospital or business premise according to the weather, day of the week or a time of the day? How impressive would that be? It could be highly possible to create individual employee daily facilities usage profiles, to model and employ your most effective workspace.
Power to the people
‘Fix my street’ is a fantastic community led service which allows members of the public to ‘self-manage’ and report problems in areas throughout the U.K. 2017 will see increased access to end user map based services such as ‘fix my street.’ Applications developed by groups such as mysociety, have already started taking advantage of new technology and open data to enable users to log issues, which in turn notify relevant parties. Members of the general public can track the progress of reported incidents, and this creates an inclusive and empowered community. It is increasingly important for facilities managers to be savvy to the needs of their community, and an empowered and responsible community is a happy one.
This year will see the development of technology that permits interaction between user and machine using spoken or written language. Yes, we are talking about robots. One particular one we all know and love is ‘Siri’ (Apple), and Google have ‘Google Now’. In the future, facilities managers are likely to deliver an increasingly intelligent contextual experience.
The interaction may be a simple request or question such as “Stop!” or “can you open the door please?” resulting in a simple response or answer. However, the interaction can also be more complex such as collecting workplace data from a large number of employees. This highly detailed set of results can be used for the creation of new and improved workplace plans or the results can be utilised to enable printed 3D structure driving facilities decisions.
That’s it for now folks, plenty for you to get your teeth in to. Hello 2017!