Bill Hayden 2017-11-21 12:28:41
Data analysis and automation technologies are reshaping FM Imagine a world where machines and equipment send a notification that they’re about to break. A world where an autonomous vehicle delivers tools to a jobsite and an intelligent facility’s data is automatically synthesized into actionable recommendations. This world isn’t too far off in the future, and in fact, many aspects of this technology are alive and well in today’s facility management industry. It wasn’t long ago that maintenance service providers were reluctant to employ technology. Their focus was only on their trade. The evolution of technology hadn’t intercepted their world, and maintenance professionals relied on communication with customers via fax and paper contracts. Today, service providers and their customers are equally clamoring for new technologies that will streamline processes and bring forth efficiencies. Gone are the days of fax-based routing and paper trails, as now we are working toward a mobile and digital facility workforce. BETTER MOBILE ON THE HORIZON Technology and digital connectivity are the building blocks of improved customer service and a streamlined workflow. While the industry has already transitioned to a mobile-based workforce for customers and service providers, the next progression will be to a convenient, data-rich mobile experience for facilities — one that will open new worlds of opportunity. Take, for example, customers who can report maintenance needs by simply taking a photo on their smartphone and uploading it to their facility maintenance app. Service providers can receive this information on their mobile app while out on a nearby job, communicate directly with the customer and physically check in and out of this maintenance request using the app’s built-in geo-fencing. With all maintenance communications and signatures done via mobile, paperwork becomes obsolete. This is an obvious environmental benefit, and it creates a digital process that is streamlined and efficient. The transition to mobile apps has proven beneficial for the customer and the service provider. Mobile provides a level of reassurance for customers that they won’t be overcharged, as geo-fencing tracks the exact amount of time a service provider spends on a job — from the moment they check-in to the moment they exit — ensuring customers will be charged for the exact number of hours spent on-site. On the service provider side, the freedom that comes with mobile apps allows providers to spend more quality time on jobs and to receive new requests remotely, rather than returning to a landline or desktop device for updates. Mobile technologies will continue to improve efficiencies in facility management, especially as wearable technologies become mainstream. This will lead the industry to a crucial shift in how facility managers conduct business, where a service provider can receive and relay information to clients, regardless of where they are in the world. A user-friendly mobile experience for customers and service providers equates to more use of mobile apps, which increases the chances of capturing rich data at scale. For example, an electrician may receive a work request to service a lighting outage at a local retail location. Upon completing the request, they report into their mobile app what actions they took, what parts they used, how long the service took and their skill level as an electrician. This results in a more detailed bill for the customer. Once those specific details have been gathered from the mobile transaction, that rich data is collected to later inform predictive analytics. FROM AUTOMATE TO INFO-MATE The ease and efficiency that comes with these technological advancements is only one benefit. The deeper evolution will stem from the tens of millions of data points collected from not only mobile interactions, but also from sensory-connected devices and artificial intelligence over time. Consider this: If a single sensor on an HVAC system captures one piece of data per second, that’s more than 80,000 data points collected in just one day. That data is then analyzed and can be run through countless algorithms to synthesize rows of analytics into dashboards of actionable recommendations. These recommendations are used to solve maintenance issues quickly and efficiently to ensure maximum equipment performance. By capturing and monitoring the consistency of this data, facility managers form the building blocks to implement a predictive maintenance strategy. The data helps detect issues before they arise and prevents downtime. Data analytics opens the facility management industry to a new way of doing business that is rooted in data-centric decision making. The automation trend has begun, but it’s the data that will transform automated maintenance into info-mated maintenance, where the data guides real-time business decisions. Advanced data analytics is only beginning to influence the industry and shape the future. It will continue to be a cornerstone for “next generation facility management” where the Internet of Things, or IoT, will be leveraged. Predictive maintenance will be an expectation in the future of FM, and autonomous transportation could play a role in that maintenance. INTELLIGENT FACILITIES AND PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE In most businesses, a phone ringing off the hook is the sign of a successful company. It means more interest, more sales and more revenue. For facility managers, however, it tells a different story. A silent phone means the facilities team has foreseen any emergencies, and all the equipment is running smoothly. Rather than put out fires all day, facility managers are transitioning to either a preventative or predictive mindset. Scheduling a service provider or technician for a regular check-up is essential, and there is now a shift into intelligent facilities and predictive maintenance. As a facilities manager, there are three different methods for how to manage the upkeep of the facility. The first is “run to failure.” This method is self-explanatory — it means letting equipment run until it fails and then hiring someone to fix it. The second method is preventative maintenance. Think of it like changing a car’s oil every 3,000 miles. Does the car really need the oil changed at 3,000 miles? Maybe, or maybe not. But it’s a guideline to follow, and it’s better to be safe than sorry to avoid the risk of failure and downtime. However, time isn’t always the best indicator of a facility’s condition. Preventative maintenance could lead to over-maintaining a facility and spending more money than necessary. The third, and most recommended, method is predictive maintenance, which relies on machine learning, artificial intelligence and data collected from a facility’s connected devices and sensors. This combined information helps facility managers predict when maintenance is needed. The data from machine learning and sensors measure a certain piece of equipment’s electrical throughput, and once that equipment reaches a certain level, the machine can predictively tell you it will fail in a certain number of hours or days. Once data has been collected and analyzed on a consistent basis, facility managers begin to see what regular behavioral patterns look like and the data can be monitored for possible patterns of failure. The future of facility management will see machines and detected sensors triggering an automated work order and dispatching a technician before the customer even knows there is an issue with something in the facility. One of the main benefits to predictive maintenance is the decrease in downtime, as facility managers aren’t constantly reacting to unplanned emergencies. There are also facilities where downtime isn’t an option, for example an HVAC cooling system in a large data center. If predictive sensors send an alert that the system will have a failure in the next 10 days, facility managers can get ahead of the issue before it happens. Instead of spending greater costs on premiums for emergency repairs, facilities can rely on connected devices to predict maintenance needs. Then maintenance can be scheduled for times that won’t impact uptime and productivity. WHAT’S NEXT FOR FACILITY MANAGEMENT? In only the last decade, technological advancements have already had exponential effects on the FM industry. Automated vehicles and drone technology are already starting to transform how facility managers work. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the commercial applications market for unmanned aerial systems and vehicles is projected to grow from US$2 billion in 2016 to more than US$127 billion by 2020. Subsequently, the facility manager of the future may see driverless cars that deliver parts and equipment — or even service providers themselves — which saves trips to and from warehouses or supply stores. This could streamline the logistics of a repair, as well as create potential cost savings from improved efficiency. Facility support by drone could also be eminent and they could potentially increase safety for service providers by capturing aerial footage without requiring the expense of scaffolding. Facility management innovators have witnessed and participated in the evolution of this industry over the last 15 years. The only certainty when looking at the future is the guarantee of a far-reaching wave of change to come. This momentum will continue into the coming decades with data analytics in the driver’s seat of improvement and innovation. BILL HAYDEN is CEO of FacilitySource, a facilities management company with the industry’s largest and most reliable data repository that provides innovative, end-to-end management and support solutions to more than 65,000 retail, banking and restaurant locations nationwide. Prior to joining FacilitySource in 2006, Bill held leadership roles with several major facility management companies. Bill holds a Bachelor of Arts in both computer science and business administration from Furman University and studied international finance at the University of London.
Published by International Facility Management Association . View All Articles.
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