The digital revolution is the most crucial ‘game changer’ in the lifespan of any business, irrespective of the sector. Even relatively labour intensive industries such as FM are now very much on the tech’ highway with smart monitoring devices and gadgets performing effectively for their respective businesses. Less than ten years ago this might have been the exception, now it is fast becoming the norm as buildings and work environments become smarter and adapt to the needs of the employee.
At Farnek we’ve developed a range of innovative solutions to keep up with the ever-evolving technology market in the Middle East FM industry, these include a remote monitoring system from Urbanise, a cloud-based analytic system which monitors critical assets, which can now be linked to mobile technicians or a distant control centre, alerting them if a particular asset begins to fail. The trigger effects could be vibration, temperature, pressure or humidity, all indicators that are available in today’s complex buildings, operating with next generation property management systems (PMS).
The Internet of Things is common terminology in the FM sector and has been instrumental in connecting people, smart gadgets and processes either in the office or out in the field. Major developments such as LiFi, have the potential to further improve productivity. Dubai is reportedly set to become the first city in the world to incorporate LiFi, and in the process, provide superfast wireless network connectivity through LED lighting, or, as is the case in Dubai, through street lights! Given the large and extensive LED environment in the workplace, this not only creates incredibly high speeds of data transfer, it also expands existing network coverage, lowers costs and reduces emissions and waste. Given the potential business benefits LiFi will offer companies it is hardly surprising it is estimated it will be valued at more than US$81 billion by 2021.
3D printing is another area set to revolutionise the business world. According to a report by Wohlers Associates, the worldwide 3D printing industry is expected to exceed UD$21 billion in worldwide revenue by 2020. Currently more commonly associated with housing and buildings, it is another technical advancement that could become an integral part of the FM industry. Cost benefits through long term savings and reduced environmental impact will be common features of those embracing 3D printing. Five years ago, we would never have dreamt a machine would be able to create the integral component of a specialist piece of machinery if it broke down, and we certainly wouldn’t have envisaged being able to do it onsite, within minutes, and at the simple click of a button – it is now reality and will be an important element of increasing efficiency within the FM industry.
For those companies with fieldbased operations, like Farnek, technology and innovation are the key drivers, with vehicle telematics reducing fleet costs, mobile automated time attendance reducing overheads, mobile solutions improving the accuracy and transparency of contract performance combining to deliver cost and operational efficiencies and ultimately benefitting the client.
Wearable technology, most commonly associated with the fitness and security industries, is arguably already an integral part of the FM industry. The advantage wearable technology offers are focused on workplace safety, security access, collaboration but also to support data collection in different physical work environments. At Farnek we have developed our own Time Attendance Solution, launched in collaboration with Google Apps Partner Exeo and used via the use of smart watches and smartphones. The online facility benefits Farnek and its customers, by optimising its operational efficiency, introducing online learning, improving health and safety, managing risk better and delivering a higher quality of service.
Technology, often, also leads to significant benefits for the environment, by reducing carbon emissions, waste, energy and water consumption, principally because they are faster, greener or more cost-effective than older technology – if they weren’t business would not invest in them. As automation now dominates many industries including government, manufacturing, healthcare, construction, security and surveillance and transportation; FM must adapt to these advancements to broaden its reach and effectiveness in these sectors.
(The Author, Markus Oberlin is the CEO of Farnek)