Six Innovations in Facilities Management Technology

25 February 2016

Six Innovations in Facilities Management Technology That Are Helping to Create a More Sustainable Future



The world is evolving faster than ever, with new technologies rapidly changing the way humans interact with one another and the world around them. We’re also living in a time in which environmental issues are at the forefront of our minds, thanks to the very real threats of climate change, pollution and the depletion of our finite natural resources.

If you compare the role of facilities manager working just 10 years ago to the role of one working today, it is clear that the influences of technology and sustainability are having a powerful impact on the sector. But could the former be a tool for tackling the latter? Here, we outline six of the biggest innovations in facilities management technology, and discuss how they’re paving the way to a more sustainable future.

1.   BIM Technology

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a tool that enables architects to create a complete digital model of the building before building it. BIM visualises every aspect of a building, and so enables businesses to make better-informed decisions that account for its complete lifecycle.

In addition to saving money, BIM supports the creation of more sustainable, environmentally friendly buildings. For example, businesses can set environmental targets for things such as embodied carbon, water usage and waste management, and can also use the model to identify the construction materials with the lowest environmental impact.

Most importantly, BIM supports the sustainable management of buildings by giving businesses the opportunity to analyse dynamic data from the building and to identify inefficiencies and malfunctions at the earliest possible stage.

2.   ‘Smart’ Buildings

Large facilities can be inefficient spaces. Someone in an office gets too hot because the pre-programmed heating has come on, so they open a window. Another person in a warehouse turns on a light in the storeroom, and it stays on all day. All little actions in themselves – but it can add up to a big waste company-wide.

In a smart building, all of the different systems – heating, lighting, ventilation, security and sanitation – are integrated and controllable from one centralised location. Smart sensors identify inefficiencies – a leaky tap here, a light left on there – and work to rectify them. For a sustainable business, such innovations represent a huge opportunity to boost energy, water and waste stream efficiencies.

3.   The Internet of Things (IoT)

As machines gain the capacity to communicate with each other using wireless technology, the face of facilities management is likely to change dramatically. As well as improving productivity and efficiency, it is predicted that machine-to-machine (M2M) technology will have a positive impact on sustainability.

For example, when applied to energy, smart meters could be combined with demand-response applications to reduce CO2 emissions. Or, when applied to transportation, real-time M2M between vehicles could facilitate more fuel-efficient route optimisation. The possibilities to create a more sustainable business are endless.

4.   Automated Systems

The use of automated systems and smart robots has already made significant inroads in facilities management in the healthcare sector, where robots are being increasingly used to provide portering, waste management and catering services. However, over the upcoming years, we can expect automated systems to become mainstream across a wide variety of sectors; think drones carrying out property surveys, or robotic security systems.

Of course, replacing human labour with robots reduces costs and frees up staff availability and facilities space. However, the utilisation of robotic technology in facilities management can also bring about sustainability benefits in terms of reduced energy costs and more efficient management.  

5.   Increased Integration

Over the next few years, expect to see a growing trend in computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) software that can be integrated with the systems of other departments – from HR tools to space planning applications.

From a sustainability perspective, the integration of CAFM with environmental management systems presents a particularly exciting prospect, as this increases cross-departmental collaboration to ensure that all employees and contractors are on the same page, and using the same data, to create a sustainable business.

6.   Supermobility

The explosion of Smartphone technology, cloud computing and wearable technology is contributing to a fundamental shift in the ways that facilities managers conduct their business, leading to a rise in ‘supermobility’ – being able to carry out tasks, irrespective of where you are in the world.

Facilities managers are benefiting both from mainstream technological innovations – such as improved video conferencing and multimedia instant messaging apps – as well as a rise in facilities management mobile apps, which are opening up new worlds of opportunity. For instance, at OCS we use the Logincident app, which gives our employees unprecedented power to instantly and easily record unsafe conditions and near-miss incidents using their Smartphone, which means that preventative action can be taken to reduce the risk of accidents at the earliest possible stage.

As a result of such developments, facilities managers are increasingly able to manage their operations remotely, enabling them to respond more quickly, and with more data, without even having to visit the site – a truly energy-efficient progression.

As you can see, the facilities management landscape is changing fast. The challenges that lie ahead in terms of creating more sustainable facilities is a significant one; however, with the right facilities management technology, there’s no reason businesses cannot rise to the challenge.

To find out how we can use the latest technologies to manage your facility more efficiently, visit our facilities management page or get in touch on 0844 846 7608.