Automated facility management: How it works
By Archita Datta Majumdar

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Integrated facility management has been quick to adapt to new technologies and trends and improve on existing deliverables. The use of emerging technologies in facility management systems has been a boon for bringing about better and more precise delivery of service. One key element in the use of these technologies has been to automate the entire system so there is instant data and information transfer between the various units and faster mobilization of resources.

So how exactly does an automated facility management work?

An intelligent network of electronic devices is formed and then manipulated by computerized control systems. This control system is designed to manage and monitor all the mechanical and electronic aspects, send signals for plumbing errors and even security breaches. It also controls the lighting system and interior temperature, keeps tabs on all devices — their functioning and failure — and sends immediate notifications through emails to parties concerned.

What we see here is something beyond great service. Automated facility management leads to perfect streamlining of services, which reduces scope for delay and error. Along with maintenance costs, it is focused on creating more energy efficient buildings, which should be one of the chief aims of all building management services. Integrating green initiatives in the core functionality is perfectly possible with the right application and leveraging of emerging technologies.

To benefit from automated facility management, however, it is important to train the human resources involved in the process as well. To do this effectively one needs a step-by-step approach, where:
  • The needs for the automation are identified and analyzed so exact system requirements can be defined
  • All human components are taken into the fold and involved in the process so they know what to expect in future
  • An initial pilot phase is rolled out so the necessary adjustments and changes can be done before final applications
The core function of facility management is make life easier for anyone who is a part of the intelligent building network. Technology in this case is the catalyst to bring about the ease of operations and provide the comfort aimed at. It should be appropriately aligned with the facility needs and future goals to bring about 100 percent process improvement. Since facility management is a continuous process, automation is perhaps the best answer to realize maximum value from the services.

The integrated facility management approach is focused on connecting the on-site and off-site management seamlessly, weaving all services into a cohesive network. This means:
  • creating and monitoring a database for all services and tools,
  • monitoring work schedules and setting up preventive maintenance,
  • reporting on errors and defects,
  • resourcing expenditures,
  • setting up periodic inspections and quality control sessions,
  • maintain records,
  • sending reports,
  • tracking and detailing costs
  • maintaining documentation
Automating the process will naturally bring in better mobilization of all resources with fewer delays and errors in the process.

Automated facility management also helps in ensuring easy compliance with local, state and federal regulations. The system is designed such that it can sense and detect hazards whether internal or environmental and send appropriate alarm signals. It enables better customization of services and life-cycle management, which means better return for one's investment, even if installing the automated systems seems expensive at the moment. In the long run it will decrease one's liability and bring in better profits and a higher level of customer satisfaction.

Facility management is all about customer service. It should therefore focus on the best possible methods to bring this about and also provide constant upgrades on the same. What will automation of services actually lead to? Higher quality of deliverables along with increased security and energy efficiency. This will definitely mean more financial gain for all facility management companies.

Archita Datta Majumdar has been writing for various industries for more than 14 years. She has contributed articles to The Economic Times, the leading financial daily of India, and she loves research, business analysis and knowledge management, which paves the way for a steep learning curve.