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Smart Buildings Integrated with CAFM

With 96% of employees indicating they need intelligent technology to improve workplace environments, it is becoming vital for FMs to start optimising smart technology for the benefit of their building users. Last month, London’s ExCeL exhibition centre hosted the Smart Buildings Show with over 80 exhibitors and 4 speaker theatres covering all aspects of creating and managing an intelligent building. 

This year’s show had a particular focus on sustainability and ESG (environmental, social and governance) targets, and how digitising processes within buildings can help achieve them.

Smart buildings centralise data from building systems such as lighting, HVAC or security. Through a combination of responsive automation and delivery of actionable information, more sustainable, efficient use of resources and an improved user environment can be realised. 

Integrating CAFM with Smart Buildings

SWI experts, Paul McCarthy, CTO, and Penny Brinsley, Account Director, led a discussion at the event exploring the opportunities for specialised FM software to optimise building performance. Many of the common challenges in the FM industry, such as minimising cost, increasing productivity and becoming more sustainable, can be dramatically helped by integrated technology solutions. 

McCarthy suggested that we are increasingly finding the need to collaborate smart building technology and CAFM (computer aided facilities management) systems to drive improvements for the industry. Critical to this is the need to source detailed accurate building knowledge from FM systems like QFM or QFM BIMi and partner it with innovative devices or sensors that capture real-time data. This allows FMs to gather insights on building usage, asset performance and energy consumption to make reductions, increase efficiencies and influence strategy choices for organisations.  

Real World Examples

Using an example from an SWI client who utilises such technology to manage maintenance alerts for an elevator, McCarthy showed the audience that by using sensor data it is possible to have a direct connection to the asset, through a CAFM system. You can ascertain information such as the status of the elevator, the maintenance history, its working duration, and even the number of door openings. The statistics gathered by the sensor itself identifies any proactive maintenance needed which can reduce reactive visits and maintenance spend. In this case, using sensors in the elevator could reduce visits by 20% meaning a lower total cost was lowered, a carbon footprint decreased with 120 fewer car trips a year by engineers and downtime of the elevators reduced by 240 hours.  

A More Sustainable Future

Through our own research within the FM sector we found that energy management was a key trend for the upcoming year with 77% of respondents identifying it as their top challenge, and sustainability is likely to remain at the forefront for FMs as we head into 2023. The use of sensors in a smart building can improve sustainability; sensors can detect when a room is in use so that lights and heating are only switched on when required, reducing energy consumption and, as utility bills escalate, keeping overheads to a minimum. 

During his talk, Alastair Tucker-Brown, Smart and Sustainable Specialist at Cisco, recognised smart buildings as the platform for sustainability, hybrid working and people-centric experiences. He highlighted technology as the fourth utility in a building that should be as readily available as gas, water and power.   

Starting Small

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a complex, high-cost technology platform in order to reap the benefits of a smart building. In fact, it is often better to start small; trial a solution to a specific problem and refine and remeasure to achieve the desired results. Beginning with a testing phase is the most effective way to determine how you wish to use sensors and what data is needed for your operations. 

“If you try to do everything all at once, you fail to deliver it” McCarthy states. “The key is not to just have a massive stream of data coming at an FM system, your business needs to know how to utilise the data collected by sensors.”   

If you’d like to know more about the benefits of smart technology and CAFM integration, and how SWI can help your organisation, contact us here. 

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