This, in fact, is the primary strategic thrust of Industrie 4.0. Curiously, despite the ubiquitous presence of automation and software solutions in the facilities management space, a parallel evolution has been slow in coming to fruition in the management of built assets. Ultimately, Connected Buildings are smarter buildings – the units that will aggregate into Smart Cities. From a commercial perspective alone, transparency across an entire portfolio, access to real-time performance metrics through continuous feedback, and a single intuitive dashboard view of operations, is the ultimate gamechanger.
How unified enterprise-wide software platforms can add repeatability and strategic focus
The vast majority of contemporary CREs are limited in their ability to leverage real-time operational data, to enable predictive operations. It has been a standard operational model, in recent decades, to deploy multiple software and automation solutions, based on the need of the hour. These digital and hardware assets typically operate in isolated silos, with minimal integration even at a single site, with the issue compounded further at a portfolio level. The solution to this sub-optimal model can be found in leveraging automation generated data, lying unused in legacy models. When contextualised through real-time collation and analysis, this data can give CREs, FMs and CAFM providers an unprecedented ability to manage, optimise and anticipate, making facilities management operations predictive rather than reactive.
Ignoring the continuous system generated data-streams represents an opportunity cost in empowering real-time data-driven decisions. Connected buildings provide the solution, by enabling comprehensively predictive operations that fundamentally optimise and extend the lifespan and ongoing performance of these high-value assets. As with any other industry that utilises embedded automation, agile, centralised and enterprise wide O&M enables repeatable, scalable and predictive data-driven operations, with connectivity at the core of this transformation. IoT and real-time AI analytics based solutions, such as the one brought to market by Facilio, an innovator in the FM space, are set to transform possibilities in the current market.
Connected Buildings and a three tiered platform of unified control
Unlocking value within a CRE portfolio comes about by simultaneously addressing modular and enterprise-wide concerns. Operations need to reconcile being agile with being predictable which, on the face of it, seems particularly daunting across physical distances, multi-vendor systems and a diversity of protocols. This is where ubiquitous connectivity can help implement vendor agnostic and open ended systems, which leverage IoT driven data collation and AI based real-time analysis, to enable continuous performance efficiencies and predictive asset optimization.
Connectivity is perhaps the greatest single enabler of the latest generation of technological innovations. Centrally connected systems and assets deliver synergistic operations, using IoT enhanced by an enterprise scale cloud network. By leveraging Machine Learning to enable an effective fault detection and diagnostics framework, systems can proactively detect asset inefficiencies and process bottlenecks. Solutions, such as those offered by Facilio, leverage these analytical insights to either trigger pre-configured resolutions, or recommend agile real-time interventions, which optimise operations and workflows. Automated set point adjustments, driven by real time AI generated insights, are another tool to optimise asset health and performance, as well as empowering workforces though real-time contextualised data.
Value addition, optimal operations and real-time synergy
Perhaps what makes the connected building approach most compelling is that the implementation of the resulting solutions is relatively low cost and bears nearly immediate returns. The introduction of very minimal additional hardware – sensors, some distributed processing power and a central hub – can completely transform operational efficiencies and capacities. The challenge, in facilities management, is primarily that each individual asset has extremely specific requirements. FM is an inherently complex space, because the assets that fall within its scope cover virtually every iteration of technology in the last several decades. In terms of existing assets, no other class comes even close to the sheer scale of legacy infrastructure and investments, which FM has to account for.
While future urban expansion can certainly be pursued from the perspective of a bottom-up smart deployment, a solution to integrate current buildings into the paradigm is where the challenge lies. Connected Buildings enable the recruitment of unified enterprise wide software platforms, which can add an enabling layer of IoT and AI technologies, atop existing assets. It is real-time full spectrum connectivity that is the basis for evolution and transformation in facilities management.
(Facilio Inc. invited guest author Sangeetha B, Deputy CEO, Al Fajer Facilities Management, for this issue of Expert Talk)