The Challenges and Opportunities presented by IoT for Facilities Management Companies

The Challenges and Opportunities presented by IoT for Facilities Management Companies

The Industrial Internet of Things is creating new possibilities for facilities management by allowing the evolution of intelligent and integrated buildings. IoT data and analytics allow the supervisors to understand what is happening within every aspect of a building and oversee the operations undergoing in an automated building environment. Ultimately, IoT brings a real possibility to understand how people are using buildings so that services can be tailored to suit their demand and the means to drive efficiencies in their operation.

The Opportunities

Through connecting HVAC, lighting, environmental sensors, and security and safety equipment, along with external information, such as weather data or the smart grid, facilities management companies are maximising resource efficiency, reducing costs and risk, and increasing visibility across all operations. Facility managers can then capitalise on the integration of data from multiple sources within the building to improve security, energy management and operations.

For instance, DeviceLynk - an asset management solutions provider, gained a significant competitive advantage by developing an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solution that gave its customers the ability to monitor the status of a field asset, building, or other infrastructure from miles away. By developing an IoT platform with the required connectivity and scalability, the company was able to capture data more efficiently and focus on meeting customer needs. The single pane of glass story is what enabled DeviceLynk to extend over the top of existing systems no matter what they were.

InVMA are currently engaged with various FM companies wishing to understand the occupancy and usage of building assets. One such example is in Airports where there is a desire to understand the status of facilities such as washrooms and cafes. Understanding more clearly the flow of people through these facilities, tracking levels of consumables and in the case of cafes making it visible where free seats are can drive efficiency and availability for customers who use the facilities but crucially also maintenance teams. Such information can be delivered in customer designed dashboards that provide real-time information on usage and build up a history that can be analysed for greater insight, understanding the impact of certain events and reacting accordingly. Delivering improved services on the front line while simultaneously driving down cost of ownership are very real gains that companies operating in the arena can achieve through this technology.

The Challenges

One of the main challenges in implementing any IoT technology is data security. With more devices and equipment connecting to the internet, your network is more vulnerable to attack. For example, hackers may use a piece of connected equipment to gain access to private data on your network or cause destruction on building automation protocols. The traditional enterprise security perimeter no longer applies for remotely connected facilities and devices. Therefore, you need to treat each asset as its own network access point, build defence in depth at the asset itself by way of tamper proof authentication, integrity and provide an end-to-end data privacy model.

A significant aspect to consider is cost. The maintenance staff are usually clear on benefits that the IoT brings including improved operating efficiency and ability to predict and prevent maintenance issues earlier. However, senior level management may not see the immediate Return on Investment. As the IoT matures costs are collapsing, and it is easier to find resources to help you get a better idea of saving the IoT will bring to your company, including labour costs. Draw on all the available training and support provided by technology vendors, manufacturers and solution providers.

More importantly, implement the IoT gradually and continue to refine your requirements as you learn more. As you update your electrical, mechanical, and other systems, you can integrate them with your building analytics system. One of the benefits of IoT technology is its scalability. Building analytics systems can take on additional components as you add them, which allows for centralized control and monitoring, even if you don’t implement every system at one time.

The Bottom Line

A true “smart” building is built on an ability to integrate with other technologies, and it must convert collected data into action. Therefore, they will require software that can enable a deeper understanding of a building’s usage by both analysing newly gathered data and where needed interfacing with existing software. By delivering on these aspects it is possible for tangible improvements in operations to be achieved.


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