How will facilities engineering transform in the years to come? See what the ISS subject matter expert and Global Head of Critical Environments, Energy and Sustainability - Tim Green responded.
1. Internet of Things
Data, technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) will penetrate the facilities management profession in the years to come. Facilities engineering will move towards data analytics and professionals will use it to make more informed decisions about assets and risk.
This technology enables sensor to sensor or system to sensor communications, allowing decisions to be made through machine learning and /or artificial intelligence.
We are going to see more autonomous robotics. In terms of facilities we are likely to see more robot cleaners and pallet trucks to lift and move items in warehouses and factories.
From an engineering perspective, the use of drones will increase in order to carry out roof and gutter inspections and the introduction of automative low-level vehicles that carry out asset management inspections and information gathering.
3. Data analytics
IoT will be used more in predicative maintenance which will result in a more proactive, planned approach rather than reactive.
Being able to use data to predict when a part of an asset may be likely to fail and then be alerted to possible defects will free up the time of facilities engineers. This will lead to incident reduction and more productivity.
This approach will mean more reliability and risk avoidance. As technology becomes more sophisticated, managing an asset’s energy will become easier and of course, sustainability and the climate change crisis means this is a pressing issue as well as having a cost savings advantage.
As technology becomes more important the type of worker the industry attracts will become different.
We will need a worker who is less physical but who can analyse data and make concrete decisions from that data. People will be hired in a way that measures their ability to carry out data-related procedures with accuracy and precision.
There will be a closer assessment of applicants’ behaviour to determine whether they have the skill set needed for this kind of work. The sector will become about training people to know how to harness technology and data to provide a healthier and safer place to work.
There will be a reduction in the volume of low value tasks as sensors become more apparent in the workplace. This will, consequently, lead to a reduction in our environmental footprint. In the past a planned preventative maintenance activity would result in a physical site visit. This is now changing as the cost-effective nature of sensors allow for remote monitoring.
For example, historically, an electrical meter would require a person to carry out a physical reading onsite. But now we can introduce online remote meter monitoring for large consuming sites and wi-fi camera technology for small electrical consuming sites – it is a very easy, fast and effective way to do such tasks.
A further example of this is waste management – where sensors are fitted on bins so that you can monitor whether the right items are deposited and when the bin becomes full and needs emptying. If a sensor picks up a particular piece of data, then it will be able to send out another command automatically. For instance, if an item of equipment fails or needs replacing a sensor may then trigger an automatic order out to the supplier to have that item delivered to site. An engineer can then co-ordinate, by using the same data, to arrive at that site and replace the item and carry out repairs – ‘just-in-time maintenance’. But while sensors do surely reduce low value tasks, it does not mean they will be eliminated– just that the skills required may change.
Tim Green - ISS Global Head of Critical Environment, Energy and Sustainability
Prior to joining ISS, I have spent the majority of my career within the banking sector working for a number of large banking organizations.
Predominantly in Technical services and environmental management, managing an extensive and complex portfolio globally. I worked in North America for 2 years, restructuring the new engineering and energy organisation for an American bank. I then spent time in Asia where I carried out both strategic and operational roles in the delivery of Engineering and Environmental services. Joining ISS I am the Global Head of Critical Environments, Energy and Sustainability delivering FM Engineering and Environmental Services across the Banking Sector.