Smart buildings enable businesses to reduce energy consumption and run more environmentally friendly and sustainable operations through data-driven decision-making. But what opportunities do they offer for FMs?
What is a Smart Building?
Smart buildings are connected buildings that integrate all energy sources for maximum efficiency and environmental benefit – as Interclean sums up. Energy systems integrated within a smart building operate by using information technology and IoT to connect a variety of energy subsystems. These systems share information to optimise performance within the building.
A good opportunity for FMs
Focusing on smart buildings is a good opportunity for the FM function to assume a strategic role within businesses – Finance Digest points out. Facilities managers are responsible for driving through change within most organisations, tasked with identifying, integrating and managing connected devices and services.
By connecting the platform that controls up to several buildings’ heating and light systems to their own devices, FM and business leaders have access to data which enable them to make more informed, strategic decisions and manage the performance of both property and people.
One of the biggest FM challenges
But no matter how innovative and connected a building might be, if it is not clean and does not meet the heightened expectations of end-users, then it will not be an attractive proposition to workers or customers.
Still, cleaning is also often overlooked when it comes to strategic discussions around the future of the industry. Whereas in the everyday routine FM leaders know that rising labour costs, high level of staff turnover and an absenteeism rate makes cleaning one of the biggest challenges within facilities management.
Smart building, smart cleaning
In response to this situation, rather than viewing commercial cleaning as peripheral to their innovation plans, forward-thinking FM leaders are placing cleaning alongside security, heating and lighting. They are ensuring that their smart buildings have in place the smart cleaning operations they require.
A great example of smart cleaning is the implementation of robotics within the cleaning industry. Collaborative robots carry out repetitive or strenuous tasks which would otherwise be performed by a person, but they work alongside that individual or team, not in their place. Within FM and cleaning, we are already seeing cobots working enhancing service levels and making a real difference to end-users.
New business models with Cobots
Cobotics is also ‘smart’ in the way that it offers FM companies more flexible and scalable ‘as a service’ models for new machinery. This negates the need for massive up-front capital expenditure to access the very latest innovations easily and cost-effectively. A monthly leasing cost, with all servicing and upgrades included, provides greater control and transparency on costs and ultimate flexibility – Finance Digest highlights.
What’s more, cobots themselves are smart, connected devices which capture a range of cleaning data as they go, allowing FM professionals to measure cleaning performance, track improvements and continually optimise operations.