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Top 10 emerging tech trends for FMs in 2016

Facilities, property and space management software company, Service Works Group (SWG) has released its top 10 predictions in FM technology trends for 2016 and what these mean for facilities managers to remain competitive and relevant as the industry adapts to meet changes in standards and growing demands.

SWG’s predictions of future FM technology for 2016 and beyond are as follows:

1 Machine to machine (M2M) technology
Machines that talk to each other, through wireless technology, will improve asset management and remove waste from maintenance processes without the need for human interaction. Workplace productivity will improve, whilst the impact of downtime, lost revenue and the risk of negative reputation, caused by badly maintained or failed equipment, will be reduced. Research reveals that there will be over 22 billion M2M connections by 2023. The use of smart temperature sensors for HVAC systems; remotely monitored security alarm systems; and remote tracking and status information of assets, from fleets of trucks to vending machines, will result in less cost, less energy use and less time.

2 Integrating FM software for cross-departmental collaboration
There is a new wave of integrating CAFM with other departments’ expert systems to ensure that conditions in the workplace encourage high productivity. Facilities managers will embrace the coherent and collaborative use of technology to increase business efficiency and improve data quality. Integrating FM software with BMS (building management systems), ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), space planning applications, HR tools and environmental management systems gives the capability to deliver one version of the truth.

3 On the move: mobile access on and offline anytime, anywhere
FM is a mobile profession and the use of mobile technology is revolutionising communication in the industry. Rapid developments in mobile technology and the proliferation of mobile devices have created ubiquitous connectivity and the ability to access data everywhere. Businesses are embracing the trend for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the rise in mobile FM software apps. This offers facilities managers better flexibility and control of daily operations, along with improved reporting and huge potential to drive service levels up. An increased use of touchscreen and interactive tablets facilitates the logging of jobs and booking of rooms, as well as improved interaction with the premises.

4 Improving staff skills through online collaboration
Maintenance and engineering technicians need to be constantly on the move and mobile devices will make online collaboration with industry experts and remote task management possible. HD images, video, calling facilities, such as Skype, and 4G will give staff the ability to confer live on site. Overseen by more experienced colleagues, they can seek expert advice on the job, increasing the opportunity to secure a first-time fix, improving the work process flow and reducing costs. This allows remote resources to be intelligently assigned, based on work schedules and operator skills, to provide users with an intuitive single point of contact.

5 Decentralised helpdesks
The relationship between the helpdesk and supporting functions is critical in achieving ultimate customer service performance. The automatic, smart allocation of jobs is streamlining the helpdesk process and allowing for the reallocation of critical resources. A better service quality and customer-focus can therefore be delivered through a smaller helpdesk team that can concentrate on exception management, rather than being bogged down by standard everyday issues.

6 Voice-enabled helpdesk apps
The first voice-driven mobile apps for helpdesk are enabling the logging, tracking and signing off of jobs, from start to finish, simply through a vocal command. Voice recognition auto-populates the helpdesk to allow mobile request management, reduced response times and increased operational efficiency.

7 Smart tagging and resource scheduling
Smart tagging technology and the use of dynamic resource scheduling software, combined with GPS tracking, locates the closest service provider or operator (e.g. using Google Maps) to pinpoint building locations and smart routes within a facility. Technology is optimising processes and productivity bringing time and efficiency savings to the customer and the company.

8  Smarter assets
Smart assets can make processes more efficient, give products new capabilities and lead to new business models. New technology, which gives assets the power to capture, communicate and collaborate, is transforming the management of assets to make them more productive and less costly to maintain. As smart assets become increasingly sophisticated, with the capability to self-diagnose and highlight problems by raising alarms, this will support asset lifecycle management and deliver strategic information to implement change.

9 Integrating BIM with FM software for quality data
BIM is one of the most talked about concepts in the FM industry, especially with the mandatory use of fully collaborative 3D BIM (Business Information Modelling) for all public sector-procured projects in 2016. The opportunity for BIM lifecycle management to integrate BIM with existing CAFM systems to provide reliable and meaningful data, is encouraging FMs to adopt BIM from the planning phase to the de-commissioning of built assets. BIM offers a great opportunity to FMs, who deal with end-user needs, to impact the whole life-cost of a building by working collaboratively with the construction and design industry.

10 The rise of the robots
The robots are coming and automated systems are on the advance in FM, particularly when it comes to energy management and use in hospitals. In hospitals, from soap dispensers, which send out alerts when they are empty to robotic Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs), which transport food, linen and hospital stores, robots are helping FM staff to carry out their work in a safe, hygienic and efficient way. However, it’s not just the healthcare system that can benefit from intelligent FM technology, robots are already being used in cleaning; for security control and food delivery; drones are being used for property surveys; and in one hotel in Japan the receptionist is a humanoid with blinking lashes.

About Sarah OBeirne

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