IoT Thought Leadership Facility Management

January 27, 2022

The role of facilities management (FM) is changing and with those changes come new opportunities for FM providers. The COVID-19 pandemic has the industry rethinking workplace utilization and Brexit, has made it difficult for FM providers to cope with staff shortages. During these unstable times, FM providers must change to support the people and the places that will help companies thrive and succeed. Monitoring how buildings are being utilized is the first step in understanding how each needs to be serviced and maintained. FM providers must watch, listen and learn before acting. Automation and Simpro IoT technology is helping FM businesses to smartly solve these modern day challenges.

A successful FM business has to integrate other disciplines, adopt new technology and applied strategy to support the organization.

  • Martin Pickard, president of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) UK Chapter

Brexit and Covid-19 Consequences for FM

The consequences of Brexit have brought its challenges. FM services such as cleaning, security and catering are primarily dependent on migrant labor from the European Union, so this restricted access post-Brexit is having a significant impact on fulfilling job roles.

Additionally, the COVID-19 outbreak has forced mass closure of buildings and workplaces, resulting in less activity across customer sites. Although the restriction was finally lifted in September 2021, according to a recent RICS UK Facilities Management Market Survey, 59% of facility managers still report difficulties sourcing workers in building operation and maintenance.

The scarcity of FM workers means that innovative FM providers are looking to technology to bridge the resource gap and create operational efficiencies.

How Automation and IoT Makes FM Business More Competitive in Today's Changing World

Seventy-six percent of UK FM businesses are increasing IoT and technology investments to get the edge on competitors. IoT remotely monitors assets and environments via small sensors which transmit information for real time remote management.

There are unlimited use cases for IoT. For example, IoT sensors can monitor air quality, allowing facilities management professionals to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among classrooms, hospitals and aged care facilities . According to Siemens, keeping humidity between 40-60% can reduce the transmission of cold and flu viruses by up to 70%. Other use cases include water metering for multi-tenant buildings for accurate billing, electricity efficiency and meeting room usage for corporate offices, room temperature for server rooms and even monitoring fridges in retail outlets to ensure the milk is always kept cold.

Facility managers gain transparent data through sensors and, using the IoT system,have a better understanding of their managed assets. They are able to study the facility data trends, optimize the building environment, save money through less energy waste and increase operational efficiency through condition-based maintenance. These changes in service offering could contribute greatly to FM providers and their customers.

Smart building environment with various attributes recorded by IoT sensors

Small Technology Investments Can Help to Grow Your Business

A common misconception is that introducing new technology and innovation is that it is expensive, or that it is only for new building environments. It doesn’t have to be. Simpro allows customers to retrofit their existing equipment or assets, or even use existing sensors to maximize their ROI. Envirologik helped a customer install a Simpro IoT-enabled refrigerant pressure monitoring system instead of an expensive refrigerant leak detection system. Shortly after the installation, they spotted that the chillers were running 24/7 due to an error. By fixing the problem early, Envirologik helped its customer save £5,000 in monthly energy costs.

Remotely Manage Assets for Smarter Scheduling and Less Onsite Visits

By moving to a proactive and condition-based maintenance model with Simpro IoT, you can remotely manage your customers’ workplaces with reduced on-site maintenance visits. IoT sensors can send real-time notification of alarm and faults, limiting the time your field service staff spend on-site conducting routine maintenance checks. So, your business becomes more operationally efficient, and you can reallocate staff to more urgent customer requests, or even manage a larger portfolio of customers.

The London Royal Exchange engaged field staff from Polytek to monitor plant rooms, water tank temperatures, chiller energy consumption and refrigerant pressures for signs of deterioration through reactive maintenance and via a building management system, which was time consuming and difficult to find failure early. However, through the introduction of the Simpro IoT system, Polytek monitored asset data in real time, and avoided frequent onsite presence. Most importantly, Simpro’s IoT system enabled the FM provider to carry out services when, and if, an asset’s specifications fell outside predefined parameters. With greater visibility, Polytek became more responsive and enhanced its customer service.

With the Simpro IoT dashboards, we are now alerted to potential issues before tenants even advise the building manager of an issue.

  • Darren Wills from Polytek

Simpro IoT Dashboard

A System that Helps you Automate Staff Schedules

A powerful, but simple automation is enabled from the IoT sensor to Simpro’s job management software, which means that when there is an alarm or fault set by your conditions, a job is automatically created for you in Simpro, ready for a technician to be scheduled.

Simpro job automation flow chart

Yes, the world is changing through events like Brexit and COVID-19, but these changes also present us with innovative ways to operate smarter. Simpro IoT is helping FM organizations all over the UK and the world to embrace simple solutions that open doors to bigger opportunities.

Want to find out how Simpro IoT can benefit you and your customers? Visit our dedicated IoT page to learn more.