7 Ways to Implement 21st Century Digital Facility Management
Doing rounds and manual procedures are a thing of the past. Facility management in the 21st century is digital, with the Internet of Things playing a central role.
Increasing demands on building services supplying commercial property paired with the more and more individualised nature of the tasks involved won’t make the job of future facility managers any easier. How do you provide appropriate room temperatures, adequate building security and carry out all the required MRO whilst sustaining high efficiency levels at a minimum expenditure of time, money, materials and labor? We show you how to use Conrad Connect and the Internet of Things to automate facility management procedures in order to both improve performance and minimise effort.
Benefits of Using IoT-based Facility Management
Their nature may change, but, essentially, the tasks remain the same. Doing everything to ensure continual air conditioning, proper air quality and uninterrupted water supply as well as providing adequate building security and coordinating work carried out by external service providers will always be among the responsibilities of facility management.
However, due to the emergence of wireless sensors, cloud-based platforms and the Internet of Things, doing inspection rounds and carrying out manual procedures becomes increasingly redundant. Nowadays sensors allow keeping an eye on building and equipment without personal attendance. Smart data processing algorithms continuously monitoring the readings, alerting the responsible party at once in the case of a departure from the norm. Think thermostats that connect to the internet and hence enable remote operation. Think automated control systems adjusting settings according to the circumstances.
In the long term, sensor data monitoring not only helps simplify control mechanisms, but it also turns the readings into an asset: collecting data from across a wide range of building sections and displaying them on a single GUI allows a building-wide performance analysis that identifies any sectors that need improvement.
This means that digitalisation doesn’t just lower the operating costs in the short-term. It’s also about using building information to develop a data-based facility management strategy aimed at the future property market, addressing the following aspects:
1. Efficiency and Comfort: Getting Heating and Cooling Right
Costs incurred by heating and cooling company premises take up a big chunk of a business’s operating expenditure. What’s more, HAVC is among the main offenders when it comes to carbon emissions responsible for climate change. By using smart technology to minimise energy consumption, facility managers significantly contribute to companies meeting their efficiency and sustainability goals.
Deciding against a building-wide blanket approach with regard to heating and air conditioning, and opting for settings continually catering for the actual demand comes with a range of benefits. After all, what temperature levels are considered comfortable in offices or holiday accommodation depends on the individuals who work in the building or rent the cottage. Moreover, with more and more people now working from home, the occupancy of meeting rooms or cubicles may fluctuate to some extent. In this context, timer-based heating control centered around fixed presets doesn’t address the issue. On the other hand, people might forget to turn down heating or air-con when leaving the place.
Smart controllers and sensor technology make doing round after round looking for thermostatic radiator valves set to maximum a thing of the past. Nowadays, retrofitting intelligent wireless thermostats and external sensors and connecting them to our platform is an easy way to smarten up radiators and heating systems already in use.
This allows heating holiday homes and meeting rooms based on Google Calendar entries. Conrad Connect switches on the heating prior to holidaymaker or room occupant arrival. If the meeting is over, or the tenants have left, the heating turns off. In addition, wireless contacts detect whenever someone opens a window or a door. As a result, Conrad Connect temporarily turns down air conditioning or heating. As soon as doors or windows have been closed again, HAVC kicks back into action.
Consequently, you save energy, you don’t waste time and effort on deploying staff to carry out manual checks, and you increase the comfort and wellbeing of vacationers and the workforce.
2. Keeping Perishable Goods and Sensitive Technology Cool
Sensitive technology overheating or perishable goods going off prematurely can massively impact the bottom line. On the other hand, keeping the cooling operating at maximum significantly increases business expanse. And manual checks on-site are time-consuming and don’t prevent a system failure right after you’ve left the premises, only to be discovered at the next inspection. This means it’s all about getting the balance right between adequate cooling, energy consumption and staff deployment.
Smart sensors are easy solutions that help chemists store drugs at the required temperatures preventing a loss of potency. Back in the day, the staff needed to take and record temperatures manually. Nowadays, sensors collect non-stop temperature readings and forward them to a cloud-based platform such as ours. Pharmacy employees are notified instantly, even outside the opening hours, if storage temperatures stray outside their preset limits, and hence can instantly respond accordingly. Moreover, the stored data can be exported for reporting purposes at any time.
A similar concept applies to technology essential for operating a business, including the enclosed racks that house servers. Temperatures exceed a preset level triggers an automated notification is sent by Conrad Connect to company staff who then take the necessary action. Since the data are also viewable on mobile browsers, IT staff on the way to the server rooms can use their smartphones to figure out how best to deal with the situation. Moreover, using IoT enabled hardware also allows cooling server rooms only to the extent necessary to protect the equipment, preventing excessive power consumption in the process.
3. Germ-free Warm Water Supply: IoT Stops Legionella Growth
Legionella bacteria growing in warm water pipes in large numbers pose a serious health risk to holidaymakers, tenants and employees. As the germs favor moderate water temperatures, building services need to keep the warm water temperature at a sufficiently high level. In the past, this necessitated deploying staff doing the rounds carrying out spot-checks. These days, smart wireless sensors and algorithms provided by our platform allow you to monitor water temperatures around the clock – without having to send someone on-site to take readings.
The sensors are widely available which keeps set-up costs low. In fact, you can fit the sensors yourself, no need to call in an engineer. All readings collected by the sensors are automatically forwarded to your Conrad Connect account. Log in to our platform, and you will be able to view the information on a dashboard. If temperatures deviate from preset levels, you’ll get an automated message, and thus can take action right away.
This means you are able to spot problems at an early stage, improving the safety of vacationers, tenants and staff. And it’s still you who is in charge means you don’t rely on external service providers carrying out tap water quality tests on your behalf.
4. Productivity Boost through Air Quality Improvement
Providing an appropriate work environment contributes to employee productivity. Indoor temperatures, RH and carbon dioxide levels are known to impact people’s ability to focus, the worst-case scenario being extremely low air quality causing costly mistakes or even accidents at work.
Wireless sensors enable constant monitoring of room temperature, relative humidity and C02 levels in buildings of any size. Data collected by the different sensors fitted all over the building are displayed on a single Conrad Connect dashboard which makes staying on top of things easy. Either opt for ready-to-use templates to automatically adjust heating, humidifier and air conditioner settings or set up automated notification routines that tell you or your co-workers that now is the time to give the room a thorough airing. Also, as the HAVC data are stored, you can display and analyse changes over time, to identify areas that need improving.
The sensor set up and automation procedures are based on the plug and play principle. Means no wiring or specialist knowledge required. This means improving employee wellbeing in a cost-effective and efficient way, boosting l company productivity and bringing down operating expenditure.
5. On-demand Services: Resupply at the Push of a Button
Even in normal times, digitalising processes to streamline business operations makes sense. With post-lockdown building use now being much more sporadic than it used to be, digital transformation comes with added benefits. These include only hiring contractors if needed instead of them calling regular prearranged intervals. The same applies to restocking consumables. And this is where wireless IoT buttons are making things really easy.
Means you just need to press a smart button to call in let’s say the cleaners, and that only if the building has reached a level of grubbiness that warrants action. After all, cleaning offices that aren’t being used since everyone is working from home is a waste of time. Also, returning post-Corona to scheduled cleaning arrangements isn’t really necessary either. Someone clearing sleet off the pavement right away before it spoils the goods on display keeps shop staff and customers happy.
IoT buttons are also an ideal choice for placing on-demand orders on the internet. The process is called Smart Ordering. Continuing to buy toner cartridges for office printers, or muesli and washing up liquid for on-site kitchen facilities at regular intervals despite cabinets being sufficiently stocked doesn’t make sense. Smart buttons are an easy way to place orders only in the case of stocks running low.
To link a smart button to an individual service provider, log in to your Conrad Connect account. Providing and saving supplier contacts ensures that you are dealing with the right person - whether it’s via email, text or WhatsApp message. What’s more, smart button messages may contain instructions that contractors need to follow. The above steps also apply to placing smart orders with online retailers or services.
6. Improving Building Security through Smart Access Control Systems
Facility management continuously keeping an eye on all site access points is vital, particularly when it concerns large commercial premises. This is where wireless sensors come in. They enable remote monitoring of doors and windows. If any door or window is being opened at a time no one is supposed to be inside the building, Conrad Connect sends an automated message to a provided contact address. Wireless sensors are easy to retrofit, come with long battery life and built-in technology that ensures wide-area coverage, and makes them suitable for those parts of a building that do not allow electrical wiring.
In addition, why not expand your smart building security system by incorporating digital locks? Allows you to hand out an unlimited number of keys in the form of access codes or key cards to company employees, contractors, and visitors. This minimises the risk of security being compromised as a result of people losing company keys. If this happens, you just need to deactivate the respective code.
In the time of Corona, there’s now another reason why building access control has moved to the top of the agenda. It’s no more just about deciding who will be allowed into buildings or on-premises. Now it’s also about limiting the total number of people being on-site at a time. In this regard, hiring more security staff may turn out costly whilst using tally sheets lacks accuracy.
Using smart technology to automate crowd management ensures high accuracy without the need to hire or deploy staff. Sensors detect both movement and the direction thereof. The collected data are stored on and processed in real time by our cloud-based platform. Afterwards, the information is returned to the point of collection and visualised in the form of a short message on a screen placed at the entrance. This means if the permissible amount of people allowed inside has been reached, the digital access control system tells customers to wait outside.
7. Digital Floor Plans: Smart Sensor Location at a Glance
Above examples show that it is sensors that are right at the heart of pretty much every concept aimed at smartening up facility management. In this respect, digital floor plans are an easy way to locate individual sensors that need testing or a battery change.
Conrad Connect’s brand-new floor plan service allows you to do precisely that. And the best way of doing it is linking the increasingly popular Roomle floor plan app to your Conrad Connect account. Afterwards, you just need to place the sensors connected to our platform on the layout of the premises.
If you are not using Roomle, simply create a new floor plan for the room of your choice with the room planner service from Conrad Connect. First, upload a floor plan and you're ready to go. Simply drag and drop your smart devices into the right place in the room planner. By the way, colour-coding sensors facilitates identifying individual devices when carrying out status checks.
Facility management across the board benefits from the Internet of Things. Conrad Connect constitutes a cost-effective way to get started, providing a high degree of flexibility and scalability. All the above-mentioned types of sensors can be retrofitted. Moreover, the Conrad Connect ecosystem lets you use products from a wide range of brands. Instead of dealing with different low-interoperability solutions, a cross-compatible single dashboard displays the collected information. This allows both instant streamlining of processes and in-depth data analysis resulting in significant cost-savings in the long term.
Thinking about digitalising parts of the building services supplying your premises? Let us help you implement the facility management of the future.