Technlogy: an enabler for automated FM?

This month we explore the impact of mobile platforms in FM, as well as the different approaches to data centre security

Alexander Sophoclis Pieri
Alexander Sophoclis Pieri

It has been quite a tech heavy month. This month we explored the impact of mobile platforms in FM, as well as the different approaches to data centre security. We also have CommScope’s Jim Curran sharing his insights on enhancing building intelligence with sensors, which introduces an interesting viewpoint.

Imagine a future where building maintenance could become a fully-automated process by combining a sophisticated sensor network and a central mainframe. The second a spill occurs or a lightbulb goes out, the system would detect the discrepancy and immediately send out its robotic response unit to address the issue.

The only human element left in this scenario will likely be the facility manager, who can manage daily requests, such as procurement orders through the use of mobile technology. Introduce programming with the knowledge and authority to procure supplies however, and you’ve just delivered an autonomous system.

Sound far-fetched? We are already at a stage where the right technology exists to bring this vision to reality. What is lacking though, is the necessary technological expertise and support structure from the FM side of the equation, much like driverless car.

Just as the lack of an infrastructure hampers the availability of driverless cars, so does the lack of IT infrastructure hamper the FM industry from contributing towards building intelligence. The simple truth is that a client with a highly sophisticated facility, will not want bring on-board an FM company whose back-end is still dependant on paper-based systems.

FM providers have begun to explore the topic, but it hasn’t quite reached the level yet, where the discussion is ready to talk automation. Technology is still seen only as a means to cuts costs, improve time scales, and instil accurate reporting for transparency.

Most FM companies are also hesitant to commit resources for transitioning into a cloud-based system and to develop mobile platforms. Many do not yet see the value of technology in improving service delivery. In fact, the integration of next-generation technology is seen as a burdening cost, rather than an enabler for business opportunity.

Part of the issue is that there isn’t a ‘culture’ within the realm of FM for technology. The industry also suffers from a lack of IT expertise within its ranks. More importantly however, many FM companies have yet to develop an effective cost model to address the high operating costs of investing in technology. Until this mentality shifts, the vision of a fully-automated facility will be just out of reach.

About the author
Alexander Sophoclis Pieri is the deputy editor of fmME.

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