With the speed that technology is changing and impacting our lives it is clear that there is a new generation that thrives on technology. And the story is no different in the Facilities Management sector. In an exclusive interview, Benjamin Wessendorf, Head of Soft Services, Dussmann Middle East GmbH speaks with Megha S Anthony about the impact technology has had on the industry.

     Benjamin Wessendorf,
     Head of Soft Services,
Dussmann Middle East GmbH

How has technology impacted FM services over the last five years?

As technology evolves its impact on the FM business is becoming pronounced. The FM industry has embraced cutting edge technology to deliver efficient, real time and cost effective services to its clients. Such utilization of technology is visible through smart security surveillance systems, intelligent energy savings modules, utilization of the thermal imagining analysis process, smart building management systems and the use of smart robots in various cleaning tasks. Technology has replaced many tasks that traditionally have required the use of labor; rather than being seen as an organization that simply offers manpower, in Dussmann Service UAE we are taking the lead in utilizing such technology to make sure the client benefits from such added value. We have utilized robots in various cleaning tasks and delivered a specialized cleaning technology to our clients that use nanotechnology.

The trend of “Internet of Things” has become increasingly more relevant and achievable due to the advanced communication technology that has been integrated in great deal into the monitoring and control of complex technical systems. It is no longer dependent on a technician’s visit for inspection to determine a system failure before he can act but rather on proper analysis of the output of the equipment’s measurement criteria; the focus on labor skills has seen a paradigm shift from traditional training methods to complex training and assumption of computer skills to utilize the available technology. Sustainability has been the most important trend over the last few years and will continue to do so over the next years to come. Sustainability and technological development are strong partners and have changed the conditions of the manpower market for FM industry and how FM services are delivered.

What are some of the drivers behind integration of technology within its business?

The internet now allows us to expand the model of a manpower based reactive model to a smart, real time and efficient predictive based asset management model, allowing asset maintenance companies to reduce costs whilst staying true to the core principle of maximizing the life of assets of its clients. One of the main drivers behind the integration of technology is replacement of low qualified manpower. We see increasing utilization of technology and this creates new demands for certain skills.

In cleaning and security for example, it is no longer the matter of a sweeper and broom for the first and no longer a pair of eyes for the later. For cleaning, the utilization of robotic technology in various cleaning requirements has resulted in improved solar panels cleaning methods to high and low level cleaning. In cleaning measurable results are required which leads to more complex methods like adoption of more mobile technology to confirm the attendance in certain areas to be able to comply with contract KPIs to deliver the agreed process and service. In security services the complexity of smart security systems ensures the utilization of integrated software (face recognition, motion and heat detectors and smart locking mechanism). When it comes to hard services, more and more clients want to apply technologies that allow real time monitoring of assets and its energy utilization profile. This is a cheaper and more effective and accurate alternative to some of the legacy BMS systems which have constrained effective asset management and service delivery.

What are some of the latest technologies that have emerged in the market?

Some of the latest technologies being utilized in the FM industry are the advanced robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials technology, and information including communications technology, such as the latest trend which we earlier referred to as the internet of things. This enables the communication between humans and machines (robots and tracking systems for cleaning machines) which gives important information to optimize and change processes to save time and enhance quality and be able to act more proactive. In Dussmann Service UAE we have utilized some of those trends in the local market including the nanotechnology and the introduction of robotics. Dussmann Service is part of a research project together with Europe’s largest research organization “Fraunhofer Society” and a wellknown German university. The project develops a service robot which is able to recognize dirt and to utilize equipment to clean floors and to empty trash bins in offices.

Is technology still seen only as a means to cuts costs, improve time scales, and instill accurate reporting for transparency?

The utilization of more and more technology for the services has had an impact on the different elements of service delivery: - Labor-saving such as the utilization of robotics, BMS - without compromising quality - Resource optimization such as intelligent planning tools and (CAFM) and Communication (mobile systems) – empowering service personnel - Materials and equipment (nano, cleaning equipment’s, measuring) - enhancing the impact of services provided and providing sustainability - Dussmann Service has a wealth of experience of 53 years. This knowledge and experience developed within the company has the following USPs which define its success as a leading FM Services company.

- Knowledge-based on experience helping in development of new technology which enhances the quality of services - Benchmarking of delivered services allows proliferation of newer technology, benefitting the clients and giving them choice and competing approaches to quality FM - Customer resource optimizationis a desired output for any client. Adoption of new technology only increases the optimization without compromising the service quality - Prevention and cost savings- The ever evolving technology in reducing labor intensive and repetitive processes, enhanced productivity through latest technology and embedded products and significantly the analytical tools and equipment’s underpinned on the “internet of things” principle which allows real time monitoring of asset status and utility consumption of client asset base are significant contributors to the core FM industry principles of prevention and cost savings - Incremental innovations in knowledge services are possible due to the continually evolving technology which allows fine tuning of processes and improve the efficiency and deliverables in a quantifiable and qualitative manner.

What do you see as the future of technology in facilities management?

We are still at the beginning of a long but exciting journey, where the ultimate destination has endless possibilities but allowing us at the same time to savor the excitement of the milestones that are being covered. We can deliver through technology more sustainable, transparent, reliable and safe services than we might be able to imagine at this point. Technology will help our clients and us to save precious resources, to extend the lifecycle of facilities and to ensure that people can focus on their core business by being more productive and experience a higher standard of living. I strongly believe that technology and its influence will integrate facilities management better into the society without exception. At the end we will all profit from this - clients as well as FM Companies.











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Nivedha Sridhar is a member of the founding team at Facilio Inc