Innovations Shaping the FM Industry

The Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a hot topic for a number of years now. Though its impact hasn’t been as quick or as all-encompassing as some predicted, it is beginning to make itself felt in the FM industry. In facilities management, AI has already started to give businesses a greater understanding of how people are adapting to the way their buildings function and also provide tailored services to suit demands. The regional FM sector has embraced technological advancements and automation. The popularity of which is on the rise thanks to the growth of urban environments. We’re now on the verge of a world where things (pumps, controllers, heating systems, ventilation pipes, AV conference rooms) have enough inbuilt intelligence to predict that they are going to go wrong and to use internet technology to let us know before it happens. That completely changes facilities management from a reactive “fixing it” mode to a proactive “preventing it from failing” role. The transformation is also helping FM companies balance the ultra-price sensitive industry. There’s just one drawback – people’s expectations will simply rise, until the new normal is a seamless, trouble-free, smoothly flowing building environment where the temperature is always perfect, robots silently clean and everything is fixed before it ever breaks down. If it sounds like a dream, it isn’t – it is a reality. Megha S Anthony lists out a few innovations, some of which that have been in the market for a while but have left a lasting impression.   


Drones are not something new, however, what is unique is that now Drones are being used as an addition to the security and cleaning wings. Companies have deployed special drone technology that provides a 360° inspections to ensure availability, safety and reliability of the asset and bird’s eye views which help property owners or managers assess the sustainability of the business operations. Drones are also helping out with one of the most terrifying jobs imaginable for anyone afraid of heights. These drones are successfully taken the place of a human window washer. The system uses powerful drones that are designed for heavy payloads. The water comes from a hose connected to the drone from the ground (which would have to be an exceptionally long hose in the case of some skyscrapers). The drone does more than just give people in offi  ces an interesting show. It might be a safer option. Professional window washing is an unsurprisingly harrowing job. They also ensure that the job is done faster than humans. 


Middle East’s first digitally monitored washroom that was launched earlier this year enables one to maximise customer satisfaction and promote cost efficiencies. Using the most advanced and innovative technologies, IoT sensors, machine learning, AI and cloud architecture to promote air quality, identify water spillages, and monitor washroom usage and consumable levels, to ensure the highest customer satisfaction standards. The system collects statistical data digitally, analyses and reveals customer trends and patterns, to offer the best possible customer experience, making it a win-win for shopping mall tenants and landlords.

This washroom can not only be retrofitted into an existing washroom and implemented for all industries; it also features several sensors and processes unmatched by any other product on the market. Maximising the use of IoT, sensors are located strategically to detect and identify peak times, monitor safety and determine when a cleaner is required.

A dedicated people counter monitors all in and out movement; an air quality monitor identifi es gasses such as ammonia, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds; a moisture detector identifi es spillages on the floor; while a consumables monitor measures the level of dispensers such as paper towels, toilet rolls and soap solutions. This fosters accurate predictions on stock replenishment and eliminates downtime by 100%. The system also supports real-time customer feedback allowing facility managers to re-evaluate service delivery-further enhancing the customer experience.


Smart trash bins is a unique innovation in the waste management industry. It offers open Wi-Fi access to the public, compact the trash, and notify the operator when they are full. Double-streamed for increased solar capacity, the smart bins also come equipped with sensors to detect when the bin is full. This allows them to communicate with the control room, alerting when it needs to be collected. The bins’ solar panels also provide energy to an internal compactor, which allows the bins to collect fi ve times more refuse, before needing to be emptied.


Another Robot that has been in the market for a while and has made due progress is the Airfi ltering Robot. This 100% French robot makes it possible to purify the air in an entire building. Programmed with artifi cial intelligence, it offers enormous potential in terms of building services, energy efficiency and occupant wellbeing. This robot, which purifies air as it moves around inside the building, also delivers other functions, such as reducing energy consumption and managing maintenance requests from occupants. Programmed with artificial intelligence, the robot adapts seamlessly and dynamically to different environments, allowing it to move autonomously around all the rooms of a building to gather a large volume of data that can then be used by the experts at the company to manage energy efficiency services. The robot gathers data on humidity, light levels and - more generally- indoor air quality. 


The solar panel-cleaning robots in Al Khazan Park certainly left an impact in the Solar energy world. The robots were deployed 2 years back to clean panels used to power the park’s lighting and has since made its way to other Solar parks as well. The idea of the robot is based on the principle of installation of the automatic cleaning device operating on the edges of the panel with a brush, with flexible automatic tuning. The system does not require the use of electrical energy, and works on the solar energy generated from the panel. In addition to that, it does not need water at all in the process of cleaning because its work depends on the pressure of the air. 


This launch that took place recently was a region’s first, where a robot was added to the company’s staff. The Security Robot responds to a number of vital security functions in record time and is making signifi cant progress in AI technology. The robots will be used and linked with existing security systems and will enhance and improve the security service provided to our customers. Some of the other key features of the robot is that it provides real time information about the area it is manning be it a beach or an office parking area. The robot also has facial recognition and greets people. The fact that the IFM Company calls it an employee says that the robot is merely a compliment to the service and not a replacement of a staff  member.









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