While the use of Internet of Things solutions is expanding into many new spheres, some fields are true leaders in adopting IoT-powered tools and systems. One of the most significant of these is IoT in facility management. The benefits to facility managers and operators of using IoT devices are practically endless. This explains why these solutions have already become standard for facility management.
In this article, we’ll discuss the role of the Internet of Things in improving and modernizing facility management solutions and the main trends projected to lead the transformation in this sphere.
Facility management overview
Maintaining and monitoring the state of corporate office buildings, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and other objects is challenging and time-consuming, especially if all the related tasks are handled manually. Facility managers may have dozens of tasks related to tracking various factors simultaneously, and they carry a serious responsibility for assuring the operational safety of company properties and assets. Regardless of managers’ skills and experience, the risk of errors and unexpected events remains high, as the human factor always has an influence on processes and decisions.
However, using IoT in facility management can significantly alter the equation, greatly increasing the efficacy of monitoring systems. Though the Internet of Things is one of the most popular technologies used in facility management systems today, it is definitely not the only one. Other technologies that can play a crucial role in digitalizing facility management include VR and AR, ML and AI, as well as mobile technologies mainly used by employees for tracking what’s happening in facilities and reporting any possible issues.
Trends in development of facility management solutions
Technology adoption and evolution are happening quicker than ever before, and facility operators should stay flexible and ready to familiarize themselves with new solutions and implement them.
Let’s have a look at the most important IoT facility management trends seen globally today.
Compatibility with mobile devices
As we noted above, mobile technologies hold a very important position in the overall evolution of facility management solutions. Thanks to mobile IoT app development, operators can always have access to real-time data about their facilities and therefore can respond to all possible issues without serious delays. This ability to be notified about any devastating factors ensures great working flexibility and productivity for facility managers and their teams. Moreover, mobile apps help to comfortably organize communication among team members, the process of assigning tasks, and workflows.
Integration of third-party solutions
A lot of ready-to-use solutions are on the market, and often it’s feasible to use them instead of developing the entire functionality from scratch. That’s why one of the most important tasks for programmers who create a facility management system is to reliably integrate third-party tools into the existing custom solutions without causing any damage to the integrity of the system infrastructure.
AI-powered predictive and analytics tools
The facility manager position involves making important decisions related to the activity of the entire company. With reliable analytics software, these specialists can make better-informed and, consequently, smarter decisions, with a minimized risk of error. IoT devices, in combination with AI tools, provide facility staff with valuable insights related to metrics including resource use, employee performance, equipment state, etc.
Given the complexity of IoT systems and their security vulnerabilities, they have always been an attractive target for hackers. That’s why one of the priority tasks for developers is to ensure a sufficient protection level, as any attack can lead to enormous financial and reputational losses for the company. The introduction of additional authentication layers and tools for detecting threats as well as customizable data-access permissions are among the most popular and effective ways to ensure security.
Using a cloud platform can help companies reduce operating costs by nearly 40%. Cloud apps can also provide staff with more flexibility and mobility as they gain access to required materials and real-time data regardless of their location. As a result, many important processes can be efficiently managed even in a remote format.
Use cases of IoT in facility management
To better understand what solutions can be built for optimizing facility management processes with the help of the Internet of Things, let’s analyze the most popular use cases for this technology.
Today, businesses can have a fully comprehensive overview of all their inventory, assets, and properties, something that was impossible before IoT devices and systems. There are a lot of solutions that can help managers in tracking stock. For example, companies can place QR codes or NFC tags on strategically important items and places, for tracking the number of products using smart IoT devices. When stocks reach a chosen critical level, a device will send notifications to a common server and operators will be alerted. As a result, they will be able to react in time and order a new delivery. This approach to inventory management helps to optimize logistics as well as to increase the company’s productivity and client satisfaction.
IoT is considered a key technology for ensuring safety at facilities and buildings of all types and sizes. Smart sensors can detect smoke, critical temperatures, unauthorized entries or door openings, and many other factors and parameters that can indicate threats to company property and staff. IoT applications accumulate real-time information from all the connected devices and automatically pass alerts to the relevant authorities. Such solutions play an especially crucial role in high-risk environments and plants where the speed of response is one of the main conditions for saving hundreds of lives.
Today, when we consider heating and air conditioning, it’s not just about human comfort but also about energy efficiency. There are many opportunities today to create smart building systems that will track factors such as air temperature, humidity, and the presence of people in a particular room. Smart sensors can measure the use of resources throughout the day and detect the exact location of unnecessary use, if any. As a result, it will be possible to eliminate energy waste and not only protect the environment but also save money.
IoT solutions can be also used as room-booking tools, intended to optimize the use of indoor spaces. Smart scheduling systems powered by IoT devices, also known as occupancy management systems, are used to let all team members understand which rooms are occupied and which can be used for meetings or business talks. Thanks to smart devices, all the information is updated in real time, which allows employees to avoid situations when somebody simply forgets to update the room reservation schedule manually. As a result, employees can use their time and workplace more sensibly.
Equipment monitoring and predictive maintenance
This use case is particularly relevant to industries such as processing or manufacturing. These industries deal with a huge number of different machines and pieces of equipment, and it is quite challenging to track their state manually without relying on smart devices. Thanks to IoT systems, it is possible not only to detect any possible issues with equipment and react to them in a timely way but also to take proactive measures to minimize risks of downtime. It’s always more financially feasible to maintain machinery properly instead of repairing it after it has broken down.
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Advantages of using IoT in facility management systems
IoT brings a wide range of benefits to facility management. While some are industry-specific, others are universal. Here are some of these advantages that add extra value to the IoT-powered systems used for organizing facility management.
- Reduced operating expenses. IoT in facility management helps reduce operating costs in a variety of ways. First of all, remote building, equipment, and inventory monitoring can be optimized, which allows companies to reduce workforce and labor costs. Secondly, with IoT-powered climate control systems, it is possible to avoid unnecessary resource use. Moreover, predictive maintenance tools are helpful in smart financial allocation.
- Automation. Thanks to smart devices powered by sensors, a lot of processes and tasks can be efficiently automated. Smart systems not only automatically ensure the necessary control but can also correctly respond to any risks or threats without the participation of employees.
- Higher employee performance. With facility-wide process automation, people have more time and possibilities to concentrate on serious tasks that require their involvement, instead of spending time on monotonous tasks that can be easily performed by smart systems.
- Transparency. Using IoT facility management systems increases the visibility of all processes and helps teams gain access to the most relevant information, updated in real time.
- Risk mitigation. IoT systems provide managers with a comprehensive overview of the situation at the facilities. Connected cameras, smart sensors, tags, and other devices can detect any threats and promptly notify operators, as well as the relevant authorities (if necessary), about them. Thanks to real-time data gathered by smart devices, managers gain valuable insights for further planning and risk mitigation.
Challenges in facility management
To build powerful facility management solutions, it is crucial to understand the challenges that currently exist in the field.
- Security attacks. This challenge remains one of the top priorities for facility managers, as hacker attacks are a serious threat to sensitive business data and employees’ private information. As facility management systems are usually accessed by a lot of people, it is necessary to ensure there are role-based permissions for staff. Methods such as two-factor authentication, strong and regularly updated passwords, captcha tests, and others can help to deal with this challenge.
- Smooth collaboration. Legacy systems do not provide the ability for many employees to update and change information at the same time or comment on updates. As a result, team members do not have enough tools for building reliable cooperation and discussing their decisions. IoT facility management systems can improve this situation and offer an excellent collaboration tool to all employees, who can then get notifications about all the changes and updates taking place at the facilities. Moreover, with cloud platforms, teams can access necessary information from any device, regardless of their location.
- Data storage. Facility managers have to deal with huge volumes of data accumulated from different smart devices and keep them secure. That’s why modern facility management systems should be enriched with safe storage (usually cloud-based) that can be easily accessed and updated.
As you can see, IoT in facility management occupies a crucial position today, thanks to systems of connected devices that can significantly streamline and optimize processes related to facility management. Given all the benefits the Internet of Things can bring to enterprises, the growing demand for such solutions isn’t at all surprising.
If you are also interested in building such a system, at Cogniteq, we are always open to cooperation and will be happy to discuss your ideas. Please leave your inquiry on our website and our experts will get back to you.