When you talk to the real estate and FM industry today, despite all its fancy sensors and automation systems, it is startling to note the inadequate access to real-time operational data is limiting CRE owners. Traditional models of managing facilities typically comprise of multiple software and automation solutions operating in isolated silos even at a single individual site, and the lack of integration is compounded several fold at an enterprise portfolio level. And what we found out at our recent Future Proof conference is that CRE owners are feeling shackled by the lack of ownership of data, the gaps in the collection of meaningful data and generated insights, the limited performance transparency across portfolio. What they are seeking is almost like a magic wand that will address all their worries one-shot, in one place. And an enterprise-wide data platform does exactly that. Created specifically for the real estate industry, enterprise-wide data platform is the Wizard of Oz that will collect and collate all the data by unifying the multitude of systems across a building portfolio, and empower insights-led efficiencies across the three core components of a building - assets, workforce and sustainability.
Predictive and strategic operations, to replace a reactive and tactical approach
Automation generated data is lying unused and dormant in legacy operations. This goldmine of information represents an opportunity cost in the default situation of divided workflows & systems. It is the key to enabling data-driven decision making that can empower CRE owners and FMs to access optimal performance across maintenance, energy, sustainability, workforce management and more. Such a repeatable, scalable and predictive model transforms profitability, resource consumption and occupant experience, adding to the value-perception of properties as modern, service-led facilities.
Machine learning based predictive analytics optimises diagnostics and extends the lifespan and performance of these high-value assets. Breakdowns in the FM industry involve huge capital outlays and downtime that adversely impacts the occupants of a facility. Neither reactive nor preventive maintenance can result in optimal resource utilisation. Open, agile, centralised and enterprise wide O&M empowers businesses by acquiring automation data in real-time, supporting multi-vendor systems and common protocols, and providing accessible & actionable insights across an entire portfolio.
The primary value additions enabled through software empowered FM
The basis of the approach is not to replace but to transform existing automation, by unlocking and activating potential. Benefits of the approach include:
- Better asset lifespans: All automation, from chillers to elevators, can gain from real-time, predictive control. Deep system visibility and centralised control enhances functional capability, reduces downtime and diminishes maintenance costs, while crafting premium occupant experiences.
- Better workforce productivity: Data and insight empowered workforces save hours in planning, investigation and diagnostics, while benefitting from operational enhancements by leveraging connectivity and tools such as mobile work orders and unified maintenance apps.
- Greater sustainability and savings: Harnessing actionable insights can radically overhaul the power and water consumption of buildings, predict resource utilisation, and effectively benchmark energy savings. IoT-based data acquisition creates portfolio-wide performance transparency, while predictive analysis enables real-time action.
A three tiered platform of unified control
The process of unlocking value, across a portfolio of built spaces, comes from consistently reconciling apparently conflicting factors. This can be through addressing both modular and enterprise-wide concerns concurrently, remaining agile but predictable, or by optimising both systemic synergies and specific metrics. On the face of it this is a daunting task, what makes it possible, however, is an elegantly tiered solution, in which each layer builds from the advantages gained by the previous one.
- Connect: Centrally connected automation systems and workforces result in unified operations across entire portfolios. The truly empowering synergy, however, is derived from the hardware and protocol agnostic edge that an optimal IoT deployment can enable, especially when enhanced by an enterprise scale cloud network.
- Optimise: Centralised Machine Learning based fault detection and diagnostics frameworks enable real-time detection of asset inefficiencies and process bottlenecks across an entire portfolio. Pre-configured resolutions and proactive solutions can be seamlessly integrated across the entire gamut of workflows.
- Control: Automated set point adjustments, based on real time AI generated insights, can be leveraged to optimize asset health and energy efficiency, empower workforce though live contextual data, and attain full-blown, fully mobile CAFM capabilities.
Ease of implementation and immediate returns
Implementation of software based solutions is both rapid and relatively low cost, especially taking into account the tremendous value they can add. Minimal additional hardware, such as sensors, some distributed processing power and a central hub, can result in a potentially complete transformation of operational efficiencies and capacities. An IoT and AI-driven software based approach essentially allows the ability to tap into an enterprise-wide and comprehensive approaching to managing building operations, maintenance requirements, sustainability goals, and the tenant experience from a single unified platform. Such an approach not only makes sense due to low price of entry, it also enables almost immediate returns, as well as ensuring easy updates and tweaks, which cause minimal disruption. Unlocking such substantial but dormant potential from existing assets is an undeniable value-addition that cannot be ignored.
The FM sector is presently undergoing a massive and long overdue digital transformation. CRE owners and FMs are also very open to this software-led disruption of the industry, and the positive experiences of early adopters are likely to further catalyse change. Unified Facilities O&M can potentially unlock endless avenues for enhanced efficiency. Profitable, predictable, and standardized O&M functions across an entire portfolio enable a far more stable business model that creates the space for a new way to think about FM.
The real value is in an optimised portfolio
No one-size-fits all, especially in FM. This is where use-case driven modules allow businesses to optimise across diverse elements and performance requirements, as they expand. The future belongs to an enterprise-wide data platform for facilities operations and management harnessing the power of IoT, AI and ML. Centralised collation of real-time performance data using IoT technologies, and AI and ML generated actionable insights for targeted and unified process control, is the single most empowering enhancement that can transform current FM business models. Data, contextualised in real-time, helps CRE owners and FM’s anticipate, troubleshoot and manage to an unprecedented degree, making operations predictive rather than reactive – truly enabling the smartest way to manage facilities.
(The Author, Prabhu Ramachandran is the founder and CEO of Facilio Inc.)