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4 Top Digital Trends Changing Facility Management

Technologies that are helping facility managers solve significant challenges and meet specific goals

Digital Trends in Facility Management

You may have noticed increased adoption rates of facility management technology among your peers. Many professionals realize that carefully chosen technology could positively impact their workflows. Here are some of the digital trends shaping the sector now and likely to affect it in the future.

1. IoT sensors provide more visibility and control

People are increasingly interested in using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to gain insights that previously remained hidden. Using the IoT can give people information that helps operations run more smoothly.

An IoT sensor might alert a technician about abnormal component behavior. It’s then more likely that they can address the problem before it causes a massive disruption, such as by reordering a part or scheduling a service call.

Additionally, the IoT can help with building occupancy comfort levels and energy efficiency. For example, sensors might activate to bring the room to a preferred temperature shortly before a meeting begins in a specific part of the building.

IoT sensors in restroom dispensers can alert staff before paper products run out so they can be refilled. IoT sensors can even help you pinpoint indoor air quality issues in your facility.

These are some of the many reasons why facility managers are getting on board with installing IoT sensors or at least strongly considering it. The real-time sensor data can give them a better understanding of what’s happening throughout a facility.

2. Cloud software and apps supporting mobile working

A facility manager’s typical day at work probably doesn’t involve much staying in one place. Fortunately, cloud-based software and apps let them get the information they need regardless of location or the device they use to access the content.

Suppose a facility manager is communicating with several parties about upgrades in progress. A cloud-based app could keep everyone on the same page and even allow people to upload pictures for context.

Similarly, cloud-based apps can assist with scheduling. A manager might need more people at a facility on a given day due to a large event or another demanding occasion. If so, they can use an app to see how many people are currently on the roster to work and contact more to come in if required. Cloud functionality means they can pull up this data from anywhere rather than needing to be in a particular place.

3. Security tech facilitating risk management goals

Risk management is a significant part of running a successful facility. Statistics indicate that workplace violence affects 2 million people annually. Depending on the type of business a facility manager oversees, the potential dangers extend not just to employees but also to students, tenants, patrons, and other groups.

Managing the risks entails protecting assets, too. For example, if someone breaks into the building and damages all its critical equipment, such an outcome would severely interrupt operations and harm profitability.

However, facilities management technology includes products that help keep buildings secure. Taking the time to assess risks and plan mitigation strategies will help you get the best return on investment from such solutions. Additionally, even the most advanced security technologies will not work as well as they could if you never maintain them after the initial setup. Including the security tech in your overall maintenance strategy supports best practices for risk management.

4. Augmented reality minimizes the need for site visits

Augmented reality (AR) is becoming more widely used in industries such as manufacturing. A person could stand in front of an advanced piece of machinery in a factory and see a digital overlay with instructions for using it. Alternatively, the digital content might show a checklist that people should follow before turning on the machine. Likewise in the cleaning industry, product manufacturers are developing similar systems that allow workers to call up product labels and usage instructions for cleaning specific areas, such as a glass mirror or sink in a restroom. 

AR is becoming more widely chosen in the facility management sector, too. A survey of people using it for that purpose found that 27% of respondents cited physical contact reductions as a primary benefit of the technology. That’s a notable outcome, given that we are in a global pandemic. Additionally, 47% said AR helped them automate maintenance needs. That advantage could also minimize the need to take trips to physical sites.

The study revealed that 40% of people thought the cost was the biggest factor limiting adoption, however. That’s not to say that individuals who are interested in possibly implementing AR will hold off for good with their intentions. However, it could take time to get executive buy-in and convince decision-makers that AR may have a higher-than-average upfront cost, but it could pay off over time.

Facility management technology is worth consideration

These four trends illustrate how facility management technology is changing the industry. However, merely deciding to adopt a certain technology solution does not guarantee it will pay off as people hope.

Instead, the relevant parties must take the time to identify their most significant challenges and goals. From there, they’ll be in a better position to conclude whether technology could make headway in those areas, and if so, how and when they should adopt it.

Emily Newton

Emily Newton is an industrial journalist. As Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, she regularly covers stories in construction and facilities management.

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