How Can FM and IT Work Together in Smart Buildings

Ravi Lakhani, Business Development Manager at ENGIE delivered his talk “Connecting Data Unlocks Smart Opportunities” in the Workplace Technology Theatre at the 2019 event.

A smart building is about being connected. The smartest buildings join up all activities and operations, regardless of systems, to enable interaction and automation, making them more efficient and responsive. Integrating data produced by a building’s systems, technology and sensors into one single platform, can have a significant impact on your buildings performance, operations and occupant wellbeing, resulting in substantial benefits and cost savings across your business. 

Integration within smart buildings is key

Most companies will continue to buy products that only fix their immediate problems.

Facilities Managers and IT often have the same goals, but they never align. There’s a disparity between business units.IT/User Facing priorities are Room Control (which encompasses Room Booking, AV, Wayfinding, Desk booking, Desk Sensors, Desk Utilisation, Co2 Sensors, Smart Wearables and Help Desk/CAFM services.

FM priorities are Leak Detection, Lifts, Security and CCTV, BCWS CHW, Lighting, Fire Safety, Fridge Monitoring, Weather, Energy and Power Management, CRAC, Pumps, HWS, Alarms BMS and General Sense and Control.

That’s why integration is key.

There are buildings full of data that needs to be harnessed – from lighting, temperature, blinds connected to BMS. Traditional “Connected Buildings” monitor environmental control, Building Management System, Time Schedules and Occupancy Detection.

Businesses need a holistic solution of what integration can look like in order to understand the value of Connected Data. The bridge between IT and FM could be Asset Management, Automated Maintenance, Operations Manuals, Maintenance Contracts and Plans, Connections, History, Up/Down Stream Impact, Enhanced Ticketing, Cause and Effect, Analytics, 2D Drawings and Schematics.

Accidental Efficiency

According to Ravi, “Accidental Efficiency is borne of the idea that people fundamentally don’t know what they want. They think they know what they want in that moment to solve the immediate problems within their bubble of the business, and so they either spend a lot of money and time building something, or a little money and time buying something.”

By-products of Good Integration

Proactive Maintenance: Aggregate all known data, actual run-times and usage against assets to seamlessly service the building before the occupants become aware of the problems.

Automated Analytics: Streams of data from all integrated systems can be analysed, categorised and prioritised assist facilities managers in day-to-day operations and to identify trending or out-of-normal behaviours.

Future Ready Networks: Extendable networks allow for cost-effective additions to wireless and battery-less sensors, switches and controls devices – all without disruption to users and services.

Single Plane of Glass: Access all daily functions, controls, monitoring, and reports from one unified application – providing views of all integrated applications and functions that the user has permission to access

Mobile Applications: Fully functional Single Pane of Glass access on a mobile device, making use of WiFi and Bluetooth local communications.

How to Harness The Power of Connected Data

To bridge the needs of the business across departments. According to Ravi, “When we combine these tools across systems and departments, we see the real efficiencies of integration.

For example, we can take the alarms in from devices in the field and feed them into the right helpdesk, queue, and get the key information to the engineer. That includes the location, asset and connectivity information, drawings, and documentation.”

Optimised Building Controls

Optimised buildings use the least power, are able to automatically maintain and commission wherever possible.

You need to know how space is being used, how many people are in each room, how much Co2 is there?

The question is, how can we move away from operating based on time schedules or running 24/7 and shut services down as we don’t need them?

We need to start incentivising people to use applications by booking a room and using it – when mobile users are given flexibility, it empowers their user experience. Voting systems, for example, to understand how people feel in different zones, decrease complaints and increase empowerment.

Ravi then took questions from the audience.

Q: Typical facilities management will move from mechanical engineering problems to being software problems - surely it will be difficult to re-teach skillsets?

This technology is not replacing engineering tools, the idea is that it takes away the monotony of getting to do that job. And it’s about avoiding human error – like cutting out the time to relog information and accurately log the information while you’re doing the job. It makes it more efficient. Technology is aimed to enhance an FM’s ability to do their actual job as opposed to retaining them.

 First published16/07/2019