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Communication and information management are among the key areas of management operations at every stage of a construction project life-cycle. Automation has long been a focus for facilities managers, whether it means the installation of dynamic thermostats in offices or working with full building automation systems. This new generation is changing the very nature of the facilities team’s work.

Clean India Journal brings expert critiques from Rajesh Pandit, Managing Director CBRE South Asia Pvt Ltd. Global Workplace Solutions & Asset Services and Sanjiv Saklani, Director Strategy & Operations, Updater Services Pvt Ltd

Rajesh Pandit “Evolution and Technology” are the key words describing the present scenario in the world of Facilities Management (FM). It has transformed radically over the years and is evolving at a rapid pace. Over the years, the industry has seen a significant technology led, modernization, revolutionizing the FM space to great heights.

Every day we stride towards a technology-driven real estate, which can deliver for organizations. Global influences such as demographic and social changes are contributing to a shift in how the workplace is viewed and what people expect from it.

Unlike in the past when facilities teams have worked from behind the scenes, they now have much more exposure, and FM leaders are driving initiatives related to sustainability, energy management and modern workplace concepts. Predominantly the FM industry is witnessing increased connections, greater automation, added impact in business and investment than ever before. Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), augmented reality, and intelligent robots, all have been transforming FM services in terms of both service delivery and customer behavior.

IOT and automation are no longer just buzzwords or a speck on the horizon. They are relevant now and demonstrate the growing role of technology in meeting today’s demands.

Imagine arriving at a building for a meeting where the electronic security system automatically recognizes you, scanning your iris or fingerprint and allows you to go through the barriers. You take the lift, which already knows which floor you need and when you come out; your phone shows the most direct route to your meeting room. As you arrive, the temperature and lighting adjust to take into account the fact that there will be two people in the room and the telecom system automatically dials you into your conference call. Much of the technology already exists to make this happen – the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) as it’s known, relates to the ability to connect devices over the Internet and allows them to talk to us, to applications, and to each other.

In the coming years, we will continue to see greater automation, greater connection, and an increased impact on business in the wake of IoT. The IoT is just at the beginning of its lifecycle – linking data, objects, processes and people.

Another breakthrough elevating the FM space is the development of “Robotics”, simplifying several related tasks and activities. Traditionally FM is about labour and man hours and therefore, by its very nature it is challenging to make it efficient because the cost of labour goes up every year – so the more stretching end of the industry is looking at what changes it can make in order to keep up with other industries. Robotics fits that category. Technology will take over more domains and functions, as robot technology improves in quality, and prices for advanced technologies decline and labour costs increase. Technological development is squeezing low-quality labour out of the market, thereby, creating new demands for skill sets.

The benefits of using robots go beyond savings on headcount. Tasks can be performed ‘out of hours’ when buildings and grounds are empty. It’s also possible to save on light, heating or cooling, because when robots need to ‘see’ they can carry their own lights and sensors.

Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) systems today have evolved to a great extent and can do many things that one couldn’t have thought of before. The data flowing through a CAFM implementation is, for most organisations, no longer simply limited to providing information to assist with building services, maintenance and upkeep. With the combined benefit of latest systems, which has extensive asset management modules, cloud hosting, BIM (Building Information Modeling) and a rapid increase in the use of mobility by the workforce with tailored apps on smartphones and tablets, one is able to achieve strategic excellence in operations… Mobility is now extending to provide apps, integrated with CAFM and IoT (Internet of Things) sensors, for use by all stakeholders in a facility, including the executives, customers, suppliers and the workforce to drive measurable and sustainable facilities services.

With a view towards achieving higher efficiency, Facility managers are taking on additional roles and more challenging responsibilities, as the building systems they oversee gain “smart” capabilities. This has been possible by the Internet of Things (IoT), robotic technology, BIM, CAFM software and automation. This has increased reliance on software and technology companies. This is not only to bridge the perception of ‘futuristic’ technology and make it more accessible with something more familiar, but also to extract the full value of the abundance of data gained to allow FMs to provide better, faster, more cost-effective service.

To summarize, every day it seems technology is pushing the boundaries of what real estate can deliver for organizations. All of which means that facilities management is transforming: from an asset, building and plant-centered activity to one which focuses on end-users and stronger outcomes.

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