By Leah Grout Garris
Cutting-edge facilities management technology isn't just tech for tech's sake: It can help you mastermind major improvements at your company. The right tools can save you time and help use your resources more efficiently.
Here are four areas to think about:
1. Streamline Communication with Vendors and Occupants
Facilities management software comes in many iterations. In terms of communications, two areas have the greatest potential.
- Work-order management software tracks work requests and facilitates communication with tenants and occupants about progress and priority levels. This type of software can also schedule and dispatch requests among staff, and help manage billing if necessary.
- Maintenance software tracks historical maintenance data, keeps you updated on upcoming required maintenance tasks, and maintains notes about your vendors.
Software can eliminate unnecessary steps in your processes, make miscommunication much less likely, and provide a centralized reference resource to help you make better decisions.
2. Stay on Top of Space Utilization
Improved data can help you reassign areas for new tasks or departments as needed. A combination of surveillance cameras, software and RFID technology helps you see firsthand how your organization is using space. For example, when surveillance cameras are integrated with software, video analytics can watch for and alert you to certain events: empty rooms, spaces where lots of people gather at certain times of the day, spots where long lines form, etc.
If you notice symptoms of poor space utilization, you can use this data to address business needs. For example, if your data shows that a conference room on the third floor is full of office supplies and files, it might spark a conversation with occupants about how they're using that space. They may note that they have plenty of conference rooms but nowhere to store certain items — leading you to convert that area to a true storage room. Or, if occupants say they're squeezed for space in general, investing in off-site storage can free up more space that occupants can use for other needs.
Visible monitoring can also identify potential problems that tenants and occupants aren't noticing — or aren't telling facilities management about. If you see desk fans running constantly, there might be issues with the cooling system. If occupants are leaving lights on in empty spaces, you might want to install occupancy sensors to reduce energy bills.
3. Help Occupants Stay Comfortable and Efficient
All the systems that make up your facility — from the fire alarm and access control to the lighting and HVAC systems — require lots of hands-on work. These disparate systems need individual maintenance and operating schedules to keep the work environment comfortable for occupants.
However, wirelessly connected building devices and systems can use sensors to monitor environmental changes, collect and share data, and send signals to each other to make adjustments without human interaction.
Depending on the age of your building and its equipment, as well as the bandwidth and speed of your enterprise network (typically managed by IT), your systems can be connected to each other and to the network if they use IP technology. Many of today's phone systems, surveillance cameras and access control devices already have this capability built in, and even more building systems will be IP-enabled in the future.
For example, if your lighting system is connected to the enterprise network, its sensors can tell when people are in a space. Based on what the system learns about activity and occupancy, it can create its own schedule and automatically dim, turn on or turn off lights as it notices patterns. This relieves you from having to create and manage lighting schemes and schedules.
4. Keep Supplies Stocked
Making sure restrooms, kitchen areas and supply rooms are stocked requires lots of time and labor.
Automated dispensers can save valuable time. Many of today's dispensers have integrated sensors that detect when supplies run low. Instead of manually checking every day (or every few hours), your team can spend its time elsewhere until it's time to refill. Some dispensers even send mobile alerts, telling you what's needed.
Maintenance staff can clean restrooms more efficiently because they know that dispensers don't need to be manually and individually checked as part of the process; they can also move more quickly without having to carry extra supplies with them.
The right technology can make work easier for facilities managers. Look into it today, and you can streamline processes and save time.