The Internet of Things: Revolutionising the FM Sector
The Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming part of our everyday life.
Many new motor vehicles are equipped with software, sensors and internet connectivity that enable software updates to be made remotely without needing a garage visit, and monitor the need for servicing to call you in when needed. We also know that driverless cars are being trialled at the moment.
‘Smart homes’ fitted with the latest technology allow you to control your heating from your phone, be alerted when the smoke alarm goes off or your home is broken into, and even watch a video of what’s going on in your home while you’re out.
This is the reality of the Internet of Things in our lives today.
Many industries are already using IoT applications including agriculture, health, defence, retail, hospitality, manufacturing and transportation.
For example, to meet the demand to feed an ever growing world population, the agriculture industry is turning to the analytics and increased production capabilities the IoT can provide. Applications include sensors monitoring soil conditions, weather conditions, air quality and disease spores. With this data, specific treatment can be arranged exactly when and where it is needed.
The hotel industry is at the forefront of IoT adoption with smart-card room keys, room control devices and internet-enabled televisions. In addition, many hotels are now using beacon technology to smooth the check-in experience.
Retailers are using IoT devices to monitor supply levels, target offers to customers and collect data to improve business practices and customer experience.
What you may not have realised is how the IoT is set to revolutionise the FM sector.
The IoT has mushroomed as a result of the development of Internet connectivity, mobile technology, and the miniaturisation of sensors. We are now at a stage where anything can be fitted with a microchip sensor to collect and report data.
The data can then be analysed by software to trigger actions without human intervention, and to inform management decisions.
In the FM sector, new buildings are being designed and built to include IoT devices, particularly in the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. These devices give greater control and greater efficiency which leads to reduced energy consumption and reduced costs.
It’s not just new buildings either. Existing buildings can be upgraded to include IoT devices to control HVAC energy usage, keeping costs down and reducing the carbon footprint.
As well as the physical buildings, IoT devices can also be used for ‘soft-FM’ applications.
For example, the average washroom needs soap and paper towels to be replenished before they run out. Doing this manually can lead to a lot of wastage in consumables and manpower. With IoT sensors reporting the levels of soap remaining in the soap dispensers, or how full the paper towel dispensers are, cleaners can be alerted to ensure they have appropriate quantities to re-stock when they next visit the washroom.
IoT devices can also be used to track mobile staff, such as security wardens. If they swipe a sensor at specific points on their rounds then the central system knows where they are and can raise the alarm if they don’t check in at any point. This keeps the staff much safer – help could be on its way immediately in the event of a health issue or if the security guard is overpowered by intruders.
There are many more possible uses for the Internet of Things within the FM sector which is the topic of the next FMCentral meeting on Wednesday 24th May from 6pm-8.30pm.