John Rimer 2017-11-21 03:46:06
The facility management industry has grown by leaps and bounds the past few decades; the most significant change being the advance of technology in the built environment. An FM's inner geek cannot help but get excited when considering the capabilities available at our fingertips in today’s facilities. Expand that purview to include the latest in web-based management systems, building automation, wireless monitoring and 3-D modeling, and this explosion is all the more exhilarating. However, that mood is quickly dashed with the realization that while such power and efficiency lie at our doorstep, most facility organizations have yet to truly embrace or leverage them. The FM struggles that have existed for decades encumber us still today. It is as though we are stuck in a time warp, while technology has blazed light years ahead. As FMs that are very passionate about this industry and the great people who work in it, it is incumbent upon us to grab hold of these tools and wield them to deliver value to our organizations, mature our respective facility programs and grow the profession. Consider how asset management systems have blossomed from two or three choices 20 years ago to the innumerable array of site- and cloud-based systems currently available. Not only have they become more powerful and user-friendly, but many are fairly inexpensive and readily integrate with other corporate systems, such as purchasing and accounting. Couple this with the variety of mobile solutions on the market, and the possibilities for increasing staff efficiency and effectiveness are seemingly endless. Not to mention the plethora of strategic data that can be quickly harvested and distributed from a robust implementation. As those that are very passionate about this industry and the great people that work in it, it is incumbent upon us to grab hold of these tools and wield them to deliver value to our organizations, mature our respective facility programs and grow the profession. As discussed in the March/April 2014 FMJ article, CMMS: Realizing the Value1, a CMMS/IWMS is, or at least should be, the central nervous system of a facility management program and a necessary business tool for today’s FM. If an organization does not have a robust maintenance management system, it is imperative that it resolves that paralyzing shortfall now. The advent of mobile technology has landed amazing power in the hands of facility professionals. With on-board timers, built-in barcode readers, cameras, touchscreen dropdown lists and speech-to-text features, data collection and work management can be significantly streamlined and return increased accuracy and completeness. Add wireless data capability and the field technician can quickly search warehouse inventory for a required part and reserve it. Or they can view O&M manuals, operating procedures, drawings and other asset information. We should embrace and encourage the use of such in our facility programs. However, do not force these requirements on those who are not ready to adopt. Ease them into this cultural shift, and they will see the value of keeping these tools in their toolbelt. The systems that support operations and maintenance are not the only advances of the past few decades; the buildings they aid are smarter, too. From security and access to energy management and building automation systems (BAS), these technologies collectively act as the central nervous system of the built environment and efficiently deliver productive workspaces. Sadly, these capabilities are drastically underutilized, relegating sophisticated systems such as these to provide elementary performance. For example, a BAS is often used as a “fire alarm panel,” in that engineers use it to identify what fires to fight that day, which further promotes the reactive mindset that is widely adopted. To the contrary, a BAS should not just be used to alert users when limits are breached, but it should monitor and inform, if not correct, system performance that strays outside the optimum range. To explore such opportunities, read On-Going Commissioning — Leveraging Technology to Ensure Efficient Operations2. Furthermore, the mountains of data collected could feed into the maintenance program, shifting the organization to be more proactive by employing Condition Based Maintenance (CBM). With the incorporation of onboard logics and automation systems, the need for commissioning (Cx) and retro-commissioning (RCx) is all the more apparent. Any measure of RCx on existing systems will reveal miscues and their associated missed opportunities. Lowering Utility Costs and Increasing Facility Performance3 — Commissioning and Retro-Commissioning, as published in the November/December 2015 issue of FMJ, provides details regarding implementation. Our buildings have gotten smarter; we need to be smart in how we implement and use them. As the facility industry has matured, the demand for operational data and integration with other organization systems has correspondingly increased. Thankfully, the open structure of these independent applications provides a means for seamlessly sharing information bi-directionally. Integrating improves transparency and promotes the value of FM, and it also mitigates much of the double and triple data entry that plagues organizations today. For example, invoices can be linked to work orders and costs tied to their respective GL code. Chargebacks can be sent to financial applications, so that departments and customers can be billed for services with the necessary supporting documentation. Time keeping and staff training can be captured in the CMMS/IWMS, then shared with human resources software. All that said, it is important to identify the desired integrations or data sharing and their respective stakeholders when defining software requirements prior to shopping for a new CMMS/IWMS. Facility software can also play a key role in managing customer relationships. Automated surveys can be submitted and received electronically via the CMMS/IWMS. New mobile applications equip occupants with the ability to share their feedback regarding comfort and heating/cooling requirements, which helps identify and furnish a more productive work environment. Customer care is further elevated with request status updates and relevant reports being delivered to customers and stakeholders at prescribed schedules or events. These capabilities combine to build relationships and to sell the value of facility management at all rungs of the ladder. No matter the organization’s current level of technology adoption, the continuing exodus of the baby boomers and their expertise will further drain the skilled labor pool and strain our industry. This loss of people resources will force our hand to grasp hold of the various technologies to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our facility programs. Those willing to accept the challenge will have an opportunity to advance, benefit the team and elevate the FM industry to the stature that technology is poised to assist us with achieving. REFERENCES 1) CMMS: Realizing the Value fmj.ifma.org/publication/?i=200431&p=67 2) On-Going Commissioning – Leveraging Technology to Ensure Efficient Operations http://fm360consulting.com/ocx 3) Lowering Utility Costs and Increasing Facility Performance – Commissioning and Retro-Commissioning fmj.ifma.org/publication/?i=280956&p=68 JOHN RIMER, CFM is president of FM360 Consulting and has over 20 years’ FM experience. He is an IFMA Qualified Instructor and presents regularly at industry events. Visit www.fm360consulting.com to view John’s other articles and resources.
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