‘The FM industry is modernizing and technology will drive the change’
…Says Abdulla Al Wahedi, the Senior Director, Facilities Management at Emaar Properties. As the world moves forward in accepting technology and change, so too does the FM space. Individuals are using new technology in their daily lives to save time and give them greater control, and are beginning to expect this in the workplace as well. Al Wahedi gives us an insight into the impact of digital transformation in FM and the Facilities Management Digital Transformation Plan as part of the Corporate FM 2016-2021 Strategy of Emaar Properties.
What kind of impact does technology have on FM? How has the FM industry changed in this respect in the last 4 years?
Technology deployment is one of the key transformational trends in the FM market, and the current market trends highlight the increased pace of change in embracing new technologies. Over the last few years, the rise of digital technology has facilitated the progression of FM towards smart buildings that monitor themselves, advanced IT software, Internet of Things (IoT) solutions that enable analytically-driven diagnostics to enhance the effect of predictive maintenance and cloud-based analysis that reduce energy and maintenance cost whilst improving control over operations.
What are some of the key challenges faced while adopting new technologies that are changing so rapidly?
Having worked with so many service providers and IT Solutions, we understand how difficult it can be to adopt new technology. Utilising new technologies is challenging; many of them are useful, whilst some are just designed to sell. Companies need to ensure that the new technologies add value before buying them or risk wasting resources. Moreover, buying new technology is not enough, the right systems and procedures need to be implemented to ensure the right integration of a new technology into current business processes to utilize its full potential.
Winning over staff and making them understand how the new technology benefit is important. The staff must also be provided with additional training. It is crucial that the value proposition to the business through the new technology adoption must be sustained.
What has been Emaar’s approach towards adopting technology into their FM services?
In Emaar, we are currently looking at how technology is impacting the FM sector. We have put in place a Facilities Management Digital Transformation Plan as part of the Corporate FM 2016-2021 Strategy. This aligns with Emaar’s organisation-wide digital transformation.
The strategic pillars of our digital FM framework focus on operational effectiveness and customer experience. The outcomes we aim to achieve are cost optimization, improving people productivity, enhancing process efficiency and boosting our customer satisfaction levels. We follow a structured approach and roadmap towards our FM Digital transformation that demonstrates measurable business values to our stakeholders
What are some of the key benefits of using the digital path?
Like many industries, the FM industry is leveraging the advances in technology. New technology can improve efficiency and reduce the cost of FM activities as automation replaces manual checks and measurements. Other benefits include the role of new technology in enhancing customer experience and delivering better services by improving the quality of services.
In the last few years, IoT, big data, cloud services technologies and networked sensors are being increasingly used for remote, real-time asset monitoring and enabling asset tracking across facilities via mobile devices. The analysis of equipment provides actionable insights that help increase the operational efficiency of buildings, reduce energy and maintenance spend, and lowers the risk of equipment failures.
Are there any solutions that Emaar facilities have adopted to make them ‘Smart’?
Emaar has implemented several smart digital technologies. In Burj Khalifa, we have integrated an IoT solution with the existing Building Management Systems (BMS) enabling data generated via sensors from the air-conditioning system to be tracked and analysed using a series of algorithms in the cloud. The IoT smart maintenance has been applied to a few HVAC and mechanical assets resulting in the automation of several maintenance tasks and increased the level of predictive maintenance. It also helps save the total labour cost associated with the implementation of these activities while increasing equipment reliability and life span.
Another example is the Smart Bathroom project implemented in The Dubai Mall using high-end technology. By integrating sensors in dispensers, our soft FM team can now measure the current fill level of paper and soap and the number of visitors into washrooms. We can now optimize cleaning staff, measure washroom traffic, avoid empty dispensers, measure exactly the amount of consumables used and increase the standard of the service Other smart ongoing projects are the Smart Parking in Dubai Marina, and Digital Metering in different facilities.
What parameters help determine the right technology for your services?
With rapidly evolving technologies available, the decision to choose the right technology requires proper analysis and evaluation of the business needs and then selecting a technology that is scalable. It is important to make sure that the lifetime of the technology will be long enough for a good return on investment. Also, make sure to get the appropriate levels of support and training for the employees so they can benefit from the technology investments and keep up to date with continuing improvements.
How do these technologies ensure sustainability in FM services?
Technology is a key part of enabling FM operations to become more sustainable. There are effective technologies today that enable a more proactive approach to monitoring facilities in real time for better performance. The potential benefits are better understanding and management of energy consumption, decreasing eventual waste, and streamlining purchasing and storage. For example, Smart Metering provides real time monitoring of energy consumption and insight into highly dynamic environments. It enables proactive measures to be taken thereby avoiding waste in energy and water whilst maintaining the indoor air quality.
What kind of future do you see for technology being used in the FM sector?
The future of facilities management is increasingly focused around better use of technology. The FM industry is modernizing and technology will drive the change. There will be more connection, more automation and more significant impact in business and investment than ever before. The revolution will be through adopting technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud Solutions, Standardized Operational Data, Building Information Management (BIM), Big Data and Wearable Technologies.
IoT technology in specific touches every business, it will have a dramatic impact on the world and our business in the next years. Cloud services for real-time asset management will be driven by connectivity and data analysis. Every asset will have a unique identity and will be fully integrated into a networked smart building. These digital solutions will enable smart remote management of complex property portfolios.