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Technological convergence is when different, previously unrelated technologies come together to provide greater benefit for the user. For example, the convergence of AI, sensors and robotics is enabling the development of self-driving cars so the ‘driver’ can arrive at their destination feeling more refreshed. In terms of FM, integrated technology has been increasingly adopted to provide ‘one version of the truth’ in terms of managing operational data across separate systems, but convergence goes beyond this to enable innovation and a heightened experience for both FM and building user.

Introducing Building Lifecycle Management

A prime example of converging tech within the FM world is the creation of a smart building – a connected technology ecosystem that can adapt to provide a more user comfortable environment, while making efficient use of resources. But where to start with this project? The fact is, building and property managers are most likely looking after an older building as these account for 96% of current stock. This is where we see the biggest impact for starting the digitisation journey. A digital model can be created of a building either from digital architectural drawings or by laser scanning the interior and exterior, and then when connected to an asset register and CAFM software it can become a BIM model with a wealth of data to inform FM operations.

Empowered by Data

Such access to extensive data can allow an FM to build more accurate maintenance regimes and allow for more efficient reactive maintenance. It can even help avoid a crisis like what happened last year in the UK, where over 200 schools had to be closed down in part or entirely by the Department of Education because of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) – or “crumbling concrete” – in their structure. Many students are still being taught in temporary buildings and chilly portacabins. For FM, occupant safety is always the number one priority and schools could have been a step ahead in dealing with this problem if they knew what materials were present in the building fabric and where. Integrated data at an operative’s fingertips is also essential for daily work: accessing CAFM via a mobile app saves time and travel compared using paper job sheets, and the operative always has the latest information available. Likewise, a BIM model of the asset related to the work order can be seen from within CAFM software (without having to access separate BIM software), providing additional detail such as materials, layout, accessibility, and location of parent / child assets.

Transforming Building Experience with AI and IoT

Undoubtedly the current hot topic is how AI and IoT can transform the built environment – but how futuristic is this? Imagine running late for the train, only to find the escalators are out of service and having to drag heavy luggage up the stairs with hundreds of other commuters. Our client, Jernhusen, has implemented such tech at Stockholm Central station so that escalator PPMs are informed by IoT to drastically reduce breakdowns. Sources include escalator run time, humidity, footfall and weather – grit from roads in the cold weather trampled into the station can easily build up into the escalator mechanism causing breakdown. The IoT platform uses this data to calculate the most convenient, cost-effective time for maintenance.

Stockholm Central Station’s digital twin helps commuters more directly too – commuters will be able to download an app to help with wayfinding. By searching for any two points, like the current location to McDonalds, the user can hold up the phone to see their surroundings on screen and arrows will guide them to the destination.

Adapt and Adopt

Smart buildings, augmented reality apps and IoT-powered maintenance schedules are no longer the future of FM, but the reality. While the benefits for large public buildings are easily understood, FMs within smaller private sites may feel less persuaded to adopt such measures. But as we have seen, technology exists to make our life simpler and lessons can be drawn from larger scale projects. Perhaps a digital twin is not on the agenda, but creating a digital model with an integrated asset database will lead to fewer surprises and delays; and perhaps IoT requires more data than is available, but reviewing current data for accuracy and evaluating if sensors could make a difference is a step that could be taken.

For more information on converging technologies and how SWG can help implement them for your FM team, contact us here