The present pandemic, and the possibility of another one in the future, have fundamentally altered the way facilities are designed and how they are operated. Many facilities have introduced cutting-edge technology in their premises, while those that are still in the designing or construction stage are integrating these solutions into the overall plan for the building.
Pancham Narkar, Executive Housekeeper, Jio World Centre (Mumbai) writes about the trends in FM technology that are being embraced to make a building ‘healthy’ for its occupants.
Design plays a major role in the architectural structure of any building and is an important factor while planning its interiors and functional utilities. There are some infrastructure changes which have been adopted by many companies for safeguarding all people and assets for the future and keeping areas disinfected.
Some equipment which has been introduced is still being continuously improved upon with the integration of technology, enhancing services and qualities rendered:
- Sanitiser dispensers: Sensor-based, foot-operated, tabletops, wall-mounted
- Mask dispensers: With QR code integration for ease of purchase
- Temperature detection gadgets: Handheld or integrated in the system at all security checkpoints
- Q managers for line control and crowd management
- Stickers and various standee collaterals for constant reminders
All these have become a part and parcel of life in the past one year. While on one hand, all facility management companies strived to keep all their premises safe and disinfected, there were some companies who began developing some new technologies, innovations and processes which could be adopted in the building structure and incorporated as the future of building design.
“Escalator handrail sanitisation gadgets contain UVC lamps and run along the belt of the handrail with the movement of the handrail, sterilising the area passing in front of it. This reduces the requirement for manpower and the time taken to disinfect”
Some such technologies which we have seen are:
- UV: All items that have been received in any premises are to be disinfected with UV machines that use UVC lamps and assist in sterilisation of surfaces. These have been majorly used in two ways:
■ UVC lamps: Using intense short wavelength UV rays to safely target and kill harmful pathogens, these lamps are portable and moved to various locations and sterilise the area. They are being adopted majorly in all medical locations such as hospitals/clinics/dispensaries.
■ UVC chambers: Creation of rooms with UVC lamp technologies for ensuring that all procured/received items pass through this room for a certain time for sterilisation before it reaches the final recipient.
■ UVC units: These are units of various capacities meant for cutlery sterilisation/cash sanitisation/bags sanitisation, and are used by various departments like the Food & Beverage team, cashiers and retail malls.
■ UVC units in air circulation units: Ultraviolet and Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) and Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) treatment of air handling units (AHU), air recirculation system to eliminate airborne particles and kill microbes. These units are fixed in the Central Air Conditioning units used for disinfecting environmental air and surfaces.
- Escalator handrail sterilisation: There are gadgets which have been developed which can be fixed on any company’s escalator handrails. These gadgets contain UVC lamps and run along the belt of the handrail with the movement of the handrail, sterilising the area passing in front of it. This reduces the requirement for manpower and the time taken to disinfect.
- Automated doors: Which open by sensor detection so that there is minimum contact with handles and doors, as these are the high-touch points.
- Applications/coatings: There are certain chemical applications and coatings (with nanocoatings) for surfaces which have been introduced, which are effective for a period of 90 days to reduce and break down the bacteria and viruses and don’t allow them to develop and breed on those surfaces.
- ATP meters for auditing: To test and monitor real-time disinfection efficacy. Enables ‘I know it is clean’ over ‘It looks clean’ end results.
These are some of the changes being designed and planned while the building interiors and utilities are being decided for any new units. There are many existing structures which can also be enhanced similarly by adopting these technologies in the current premises, making them future-safe.