FM to move more towards IoT and automation amidst Covid-19, says expert
Robert White, head of technology and innovation, ENGIE Solutions, sees FM moving more towards IoT and automation amidst Covid-19.
If there is one positive outcome from the ongoing pandemic it is the realisation of having to adopt more technology in the facilities management space. One such firm that has always been on the forefront of IoT (Internet of Things) and automation is ENGIE Solutions, and it is now reaping the benefits of its advanced solutions.
Robert White, head of technology and innovation at ENGIE Solutions (part of the ENGIE Group), has observed a rapid uptake in IoT and automation since the onset of the pandemic. He says: “From an IoT point of view, we have been deploying wireless sensor technology for remote monitoring services including air quality and condition-based maintenance. With regards to automation, our clients want to be able to remotely control their buildings and ensure minimum energy consumption during low or no occupancy.
“The market continues to grow with technology, which also enables optimisation of services and energy costs. However, it’s important to remember that hardware and software alone does not provide value. Partnering with the right organisation for digital transformation is key to realising value.”
White says that the outsourcing of these solutions “gives their clients a peace of mind and allows them to concentrate on their core business, whilst we use our knowledge and expertise to keep things running in the background with minimal disruption”.
However, White says that as with any disruptive technology, the biggest challenge is market adaptation. “We are overcoming this by focusing on educating clients and demonstrating regional case studies.”
Increasing efficiencies in FM operations
Clients see the financial and service level benefits of integrated solutions, and the appetite for this in the region is growing, says White. ENGIE Solutions as a provider of Integrated Facilities Management, Energy and Smart Buildings solutions, allows it to provide value to the client and outperform traditional service models in the market such as through the deployment of new services including IoT, smart buildings and air quality services. White adds: “We have demonstrated that the deployment of IoT technology has a sufficient return on investment in relation to operations, maintenance and energy, and the key is deploying the right level of required technology.”
ENGIE Solutions’ experience in utilising technology to increase efficiencies leverages on both local knowledge and global expertise, which is vital to operate in the region. The firm claims that its IoT platforms already have over 7,000 companies worldwide, which allows it to leverage global best practices and experience from 110,000 colleagues who deliver solutions worldwide. White says: “We empower our skilled staff with technology to identify and capitalise on further efficiencies and savings that were not possible before. This achieves energy, O&M and time efficiencies.
“Organisations with a diverse geographic footprint can leverage on service value even more so. Technology can be utilised to make significant savings in cost, travel time and service standards. When choosing a technology provider, clients who have a diverse property portfolio must ensure solutions are scalable and adaptable to all property types.”
IoT and automation have come a long way in establishing itself as an integral part of every sector including FM. ENGIE Solutions’ Smart Buildings Platforms include artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, which monitor asset, energy and FM data in real time to optimise operations and make informed decisions with regards to operations in the future.
Data is collected from existing systems and assets using smart gateway technology. For parameters that are not traditionally recorded within buildings, the firm deploys wireless sensors technology to collect data.
White concludes: “In the future, when all assets become smart, the traditional approach to facilities management will become obsolete. However, it is important to remember that the existing asset life can be 15 to 20 years. We are bridging the gap by using the latest IoT technology to collect additional information from existing assets and make data driven decisions on asset performance and lifecycle.”