O&M is expected to be decentralized and technology-driven

Many of the changes brought about by the pandemic became permanent in 2021, gradually transforming the way operations and maintenance (O&M) teams work. Let’s see the trends for 2022!

In recent years technologies made a significant difference to the lives of O&M (Operation & Maintenance) teams. Thanks to the innovative solutions operation and maintenance professionals, who work mainly in external locations, can perform their tasks easily and efficiently away from the office.

With the help of Jin Jiang, director of solution architecture at InterPro Solutions., buildings.com has listed the most important trends the industry will pay attention to in 2022!

Gradual transition to cloud-based software

O&M software is expected to move to the cloud in the new year. Except for some highly sensitive operating environments, most FM providers are open to working with solutions available in the cloud. „They don’t want to deal with upgrades and maintenance releases, want someone else to manage the underlying hardware and middleware, and want to have access to on-demand capacity to manage any processing spikes. And, of course, they want to reduce their costs” – as Jiang sees, relying on his first-hand experience working with O&M teams in a variety of industries.

The entire O&M team works on mobile devices

In 2020 and 2021, everyone rushed to equip field staff with mobile devices to minimize the physical strain on headquarters. Companies have quickly realized the benefits of mobile: their employees can work from anywhere, the costs are lower, the data quality is better and integration with older systems is easy. These benefits are expected to be extended to the entire O&M team in 2022, not just professionals working in external locations.

While earlier the mobile version of a desktop application offered reduced functionality, the new generation of apps provide a mobile-first approach.

Jiang also adds that mobile devices have moved more decision making to managers in the field. Their knowledge of the facility and the team’s skills allows them to match the right people to a particular job, resulting in faster repairs, better first-fix rates and reduced downtime.

Vendors and Contractors involved

By equipping employees with mobile solutions, the demand also emerged to provide field service vendors and contractors applications to help communication, sharing relevant information and tracking KPIs in real-time.

AI on the rise

Things like voice assistants and applying predictive models have been available for some time in O&M. According to the InterPro director the next generation of AI, enabled by the rapid expansion of real-time monitoring devices, will start to come into its own in 2022.

„Leading the way are the manufacturers of specialized equipment that are able to remotely monitor the equipment and intercede to prevent a fault or failure. By virtue of their ability to monitor hundreds of machines across their client base, they are better able to train and tune their AI models, and in doing so are able to predict and prevent failures to a much greater extent than a customer trying to do so on their own” – Jiang writes.

He also mentions that persistent labour shortage is another factor that could amplify the use of MA in 2022.

Automated Planning and Scheduling 

Planning and scheduling have always been a challenge for O&M leaders, with many still using whiteboards or spreadsheets, even with desktop software available for 20+ years.

In 2021, new mobile planning and scheduling tools have emerged that are significantly easier to use and allow users to perform most operations from any of their devices. They make it easy to create schedules for multiple people to work across multiple locations and projects.

Automated scheduling of maintenance and operation tasks is expected to become widespread this year based on pre-defined business rules ranging from labour availability and overtime costs to downtime risk and customer impact.

„These new apps are already changing the game, and I think by the end of 2022 most companies will have ditched those whiteboards and spreadsheets in favour of mobile scheduling apps”– Jiang sums.


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