The Smart Building Revolution: How IoT is Transforming Facility Management
Whether you are running a healthcare facility, a network of workplaces, a hospitality venue or anything in between, facility management comes with a plethora of high-stakes responsibilities. From preventing unauthorised access to reducing the loss of expensive equipment with RFID tracking and monitoring and optimising safety and profitability, there’s not much that doesn’t get covered by the role.
Today, we explore the key ways that IoT is transforming facility management through smart building evolution. We’ll first explain exactly what IoT is before exploring how it can be used to enhance efficiency and performance and some of its most popular applications in facilities management.
What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The Internet of Things, also referred to as IoT, encompasses the network of physical devices, vehicles, appliances and other items that are embedded with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity. This allows all of these devices to connect and, most importantly, exchange data with each other. This enables managers to create an all-in-one environment for managing different aspects of facility management including finance, paperwork, and even customer service. This in turn equips everyone from your c-suite to your workers with real-time data to help them make better decisions; optimise operations, reduce costs, improve efficiency and identify areas of opportunity.
So, what are some real life examples of how IoT can be used by FMs?
IoT helps to streamline occupancy and access control
By utilising occupancy sensors, FMs can easily track the working patterns of staff and facility occupants. Facility managers will be able to quickly identify whether the space is continuing to meet the needs of the business; do you need more or less space, are hot desks more appropriate than dedicated workspaces, or do you need better communication between offices and warehouses?
It’s also easy to integrate your occupancy data with your access control. By automating tasks such as issuing and revoking access credentials and monitoring access logs, you can increase the security of your people and properties while reducing the administrative burden that comes with maintaining traditional logs.
RFID tags help to plan maintenance, reduce theft and loss and improve efficiency
It’s hard to maintain a predictive maintenance schedule when you don’t have a clear view of where your assets are, or at what point of their lifecycle they are in. RFID tracking is one of our clients most popular requests. By placing RFID tags on equipment and tools, it’s much easier for FMs to monitor their location, usage, servicing history and other essential data. Not only does this empower managers with real-time data on where every single piece of inventory is, but it can also dramatically reduce loss and theft while simultaneously ensuring that assets are being used properly and efficiently.
Using the healthcare industry as an example, RFID tags can be used to track and manage a huge array of assets including medical equipment, medication, and patient records. By attaching an RFID tag to items such as defibrillators or patient monitors, FMs can track their location, status and maintenance history all in one place. This helps to ensure that equipment is always available when it’s needed, and reduces the risk of equipment failure with proactive, condition-based, maintenance schedules.
RFID tags can also be used to track medication. By attaching RFID tags to medicine containers, facility managers can monitor inventory levels, track usage, and ensure that medications are properly stored and dispensed. This can help reduce medication errors and improve patient safety.
Learn more about how RFID tags can be used to improve patient outcomes.
The positive impact on energy consumption when using IoT in facility management
With the current surge in energy prices hitting businesses of every size, one of the most significant reasons given for implementing automation by facility managers is the opportunity to improve their energy efficiency.
Devices that continuously monitor systems and equipment during their operation can flag when it is operating at decreased capacity or has seen an increase in energy consumption which is often suggestive of maintenance or imminent failure. Rather than waiting for breakdowns to occur, a team member reporting that the lights are always on in an unused part of the building, or that HVAC systems have ground to a halt, facility managers can undertake predictive maintenance to indirectly reduce energy waste across their built environment.
As an example, the healthcare industry is one of the UK’s highest energy consuming industries, with the NHS spending approximately £500 million a year on energy. Lighting accounts for around 16% of a hospital's energy costs, but presents a unique challenge as they are in operation, and need to be well-lit, 24/7. However, some simple, automated, measures could help to reduce this significantly. In fact, according to Signify, “IoT-enabled smart lighting can reduce lighting-related costs by up to 80%”
One of the simplest ways that the healthcare industry, or any industry, could improve their energy efficiency is by integrating daylight sensors into their lighting strategy. Daylight sensors are part of an intelligent suite of lighting systems that use photocells to adjust to the amount of daylight in a room. Bright sunny day? Your daylight sensors will dim or turn off the lights; saving you energy. Likewise, if it’s a cloudy day they will automatically adjust to ensure a good level of visibility within the building.
Occupancy sensors work in a similar way. Part of a connected lighting system, they will automatically light and dim rooms and other spaces such as storage facilities, hallways, and closets when occupied or unoccupied. Reducing the reliance on out-dated lighting schedules or reliance on workers to remember to switch off the lights when they leave.
It's clear to see that facility management technology is becoming increasingly popular, and dare we even say, necessary, for FMs to successfully carry out their jobs. From improving the efficiency, productivity and safety of their built environment, IoT has revolutionised the way that we think and carry out management tasks. The real time data provided by IoT technology equips facility managers with the right data to assist with fast, effective, and well-informed decision making. As FMs embrace technology to enhance operational efficiency, IoT-enabled smart buildings are becoming the norm, paving the way for the future of facility management.
Interested in learning more about how The Barcode Warehouse can help you plan, design, and implement FM technology? Contact us today!