Updated: Dec 9, 2019
Digital transformation has undoubtedly been one of the biggest business trends in recent years. More and more businesses are now implementing technologies such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence in order to stay ahead of the competition.
One of the most prominent aspects of digital transformation is a move towards paperless processes. This enables businesses to save both time and money as a result of reduced administration and filing, and significantly less paper waste.
However, replacing paper-based processes with digital alternatives offers another major, often overlooked benefit: digital data capture.
Facilities managers that have embraced digital transformation can now easily collate a huge amount of data, much of which would previously have been almost impossible to gather.
This information can then be analysed to make more intelligent decisions, in a new data-driven approach.
Facilities managers now have access to a variety of new ways of digitally collecting data. Some of the most useful of these for facilities managers are IoT applications such as sensors.
Smart sensors can be used to regulate things such as lighting and climate, and can even detect motion to monitor the use of hot desks and meeting rooms. They can also automatically flag up an array of maintenance issues, for example, connected sensors can identify burned out light bulbs by detecting changes in current levels.
This improves efficiency by reducing the need for certain routine maintenance inspections, and the information recorded by each of these sensors then feeds back to a central reporting platform.
Another new way for facilities managers to collect data is to replace traditional paper forms and reporting systems with mobile data capture solutions. Mobile data capture solutions allow facilities managers to build digital forms or reports. These can be sent out instantly to a staff member or contractor’s mobile device, simplifying the job allocation process. The report can then be completed and filed without the need for physically returning to the office, which improves productivity as it gives workers time to attend a greater number of jobs.
The information in these reports can then be automatically integrated into the same reporting platform as the sensors. Not only does this greatly increase the amount of data that can be collected, it also reduces the risk of human error by eliminating the need for manual data inputting. In some cases, these reports can even be geo-location and time-stamped, which is additional data that can also be stored and analysed at a later date.
A new way of working
By collecting and analyzing this data digitally, facilities managers can remove any element of guesswork from their processes, replacing it with evidence-based insights.
Without these insights, a maintenance program is more likely to be reactive rather than proactive and could be falling short – opening up the risk of asset failures and unexpected costs.
Preventative maintenance inspections and repairs are traditionally scheduled based on an arbitrary time periods. Digital technologies make it possible to move beyond these costly maintenance routines, under which machines are serviced at regular intervals without taking into account usage or importance. Similarly, ordering new supplies is often a routine task, which can result in unnecessary money being spent.
Using the data gathered by these digital technologies, facilities managers can instead accurately predict when inspections will need to take place or when inventory will be running low and allocate assets accordingly.
In an increasingly digital world, the ability to adapt is going to be crucial for any business looking to stay competitive and relevant in the coming years. Facilities management is no exception, and those who embrace a new digitally-enabled, data-driven approach now will be best placed to refine their business strategy in the future.