The facilities management industry has experienced a fast-paced year of change, and this is set to continue for 2018. In addition to the continuation of internet of things (IoT) and connectivity, new developments are refining how FMs provide service and maintain competitiveness.
Service Works Group (SWG) takes a look at the technology trends and advances facilities managers can expect in 2018 and beyond.
Virtual Reality (VR)
VR made a strong appearance during 2017 and is set to expand its reach for 2018. Companies such as Dulux and Ikea have developed VR apps to allow the user to see exactly how a product will appear in their home, and this popularity will spur the greater use of similar apps in FM. Teams will be able to ensure new assets fit in designated areas without needing measurements, or access virtual guides to show a 3D visualisations of parts, machinery or even buildings. This will save time and reduce costly errors, helping FM become more competitive by operating on tighter margins.
This year has seen LG create a flexible, transparent 77-inch OLED display, while next year Apple plans to launch a flexible screen iPhone, and Samsung has hinted at a foldable touch screen smartphone. Flexible screens are also more durable than current LED / OLED versions, meaning they will become more workable for engineers for whom cracked screens are more likely. With further development, tablets or smartphones could be wrapped around an operative’s arm to provide greater freedom and manoeuvrability.
The current Wi-Fi standard celebrates its 20th birthday this year, but the volume of internet-enabled devices in operation has prompted the need for change. A new standard, 802.11ax is set to become the solution, running at between four to 10 times the speed of Wi-Fi (up to 10 gigabits per second), offering more data channels and greater range. This will allow a greater number of devices to use the network without losing speed, even in public areas like airports or stadiums. 802.11ax also offers low power communication, targeted at IoT devices to extend their battery life.
The first 802.11ax consumer routers for use with products are due for release in early 2018 and transition into business is likely to follow soon after.
The maturing of the smart building ecosystem will lead to greater advances in facilities management. Connected devices are becoming more commonplace, allowing greater control and flexibility for building users. As smart buildings transition towards smart cities, FMs must gain the maximum potential from the data gathered and use it not only to reduce costs but also to improve the user’s experience in the building. The impact of hardware will also become more important, in selecting the right communication modules so the user can interact easily and seamlessly with their surroundings.
This secure method of information transfer is the technology behind Bitcoin, but is also invaluable for IoT security. A blockchain records every transaction in an exchange, which can be viewed by anyone within that network, but cannot be owned, deleted or altered. This decentralisation also adds security as there is no point of weakness for hackers or malware, and devices can be authenticated and accepted (or otherwise) by the system.
The popularity of blockchain for finance can be used within FM to speed up the supply chain with authenticated suppliers and transactions, secure against fraud or double payments; and also through the use of ‘smart’ contracts, where automated actions occur if certain rules are met (such making payment if goods have been dispatched), and the need for middle men is eliminated.
GDPR in FM
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on 25th May 2018, and will affect the way businesses process the personal data of EU residents. Those falling foul of the rules will incur a hefty penalty so processes must be in place to avoid data breaches. For example: photographs and contact details of contractors and visitors must be current and correct; steps must be taken to store data, including video surveillance, more securely; being able to show individuals the data stored about them; and ensuring contracted third parties also comply with GDPR regulations.
SWG is a leading FM software provider, and produces regular white papers, blogs and webinars to inform and educate FMs of the latest technology and industry trends – visit www.swg.com to find out more.