Productivity rates continue to be a global issue. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) concludes in its recent economic report that improvements will be achieved through ‘smart’ rather than just ‘hard’ work, by combining new ideas with technological innovations.
As we found in our recent FM technology survey, many organizations are taking a reserved approach to implementing advanced solutions like robotics, artificial intelligence and automation. While barriers to the latter include a perceived lack of immediate cost savings and shortage of skilled IT personnel to implement the process, automation is within the reach of FMs and can provide significant organizational change.
In addition to personal motivation, productivity relies strongly on organisational processes and the working environment. If machinery breaks down on a production line, for example, work grinds to a halt until an engineer can attend. Similarly, if an engineer hasn’t been allocated enough work, or given work they are unable to perform, job resolution time will be poor. The speed at which problems are identified and operatives dispatched is critical, and this process can be revolutionized with simple automation.
The pressure on an FM help desk in managing hundreds of work requests and dealing with large, multi-skilled operatives can be intense. Individually allocating each task to the operative with the right skills (and knowing which operative has which skills) can be time consuming and prone to error causing delays and frustration. However, advanced IWMS systems like Service Works’ QFM, can automate this process in a fraction of time without the need for lengthy programming from the IT team.
QFM’s Auto Allocation functionality intelligently assigns all FM requests with no technical skills required. The system looks at the skills necessary to complete each job, operative shift patterns and Outlook calendars, to identify availability, their location and current workload in order to spread the work evenly and accurately across the team. Performing these calculations in moments, the automated scheduler takes into account each request’s priority, allowing urgent jobs to take place before planned work, and respects preferred operative work groupings to facilitate positive team working.
Automation can be taken one step further, by removing the need for human interaction completely. By integrating QFM with BMS systems or an IoT network, the IWMS can manage the whole process autonomously. If a sensor on an asset predicts or identifies a breakage, an alert is sent directly to the IWMS software. A job is then raised containing the details of the problem is automatically dispatched to the mobile device of the appropriately skilled and available engineer. Once the issue is fixed the engineer can then mark the job as completed through the app, which in turn alerts the BMS to turn the asset back on (if applicable).
Asset management can be streamlined as well as reactive maintenance through setting performance trigger points. By creating benchmarks for asset usage such as 200 run hours or every six months, or condition benchmarks such as acceptable temperature limits, jobs are automatically created once these criteria are met. In these instances, an engineer can attend the problem potentially before it is noticed by building users, improving their working environment.
With the ability to create automated processes easily through a system already in place, the need to gain approval for further investment is no longer a hurdle and the rules for the automation process can be set up easily by the FM without the need to involve the IT team. With less time spent on administration, and more time spent on improving the workplace environment, automated work allocation is a win-win situation for all.
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