Thanks to the advanced technologies, the idea of smart offices is now becoming more trendier than ever. It’s just a matter of time until the majority of businesses will have intelligent offices. As the workplaces are getting smarter, the one thing that remains obsolete is the way facility management companies operate. Here is increasing business ROI with IoT in facilities management.

Keeping various supplies in check is a tedious job for busy offices. That’s why often such non-core tasks are outsourced to facilities management companies. Today’s tech-heavy environment, offices still have to make calls or send emails to their facilities manager to get the issues resolved.

Considering the fierce competition, FM business owners can’t simply afford to keep offices waiting. Enter the IoT (Internet of things). IoT is a network of physical devices that collect and share data over the Internet.

Using IoT, facilities management companies can drastically improve their efficiency, customer relationship, and business ROI. But, how exactly IoT benefits facilities managers to improve their business bottom line? In this guide, we’re going to discuss this in detail, but let’s first understand the concept of IoT.

What is IoT (Internet of Things)?

Emergencies, IoT is a network of devices or “things” connected to the internet. The objects in IoT are loaded with sensors that collect and share data with different other devices in the network. IoT essentially enables different machines and objects to communicate with each other.

A simple example of IoT in action is the smartwatch. Your smartwatch tracks your physical activity, such as the distance you run and then sends this data to the app or email. Modern applications of IoT are much more advanced than this, especially in the case of smart or intelligent offices.

According to the Intel report, the number of IoT devices will reach 200 billion by 2020. A report published on Gartner predicts that more than 65% of all the business organizations will have IoT products by the end of 2020.

With IoT technology, FM companies can implement low-cost sensor devices to get contextualized data in real-time and make informed decisions on time.

How IoT Benefits Facilities Management Companies?

Facilities management businesses need to ensure operational continuity, maintain aging infrastructure, merging legacy buildings and workplaces, and improve overall reliability and efficiency. Here’s how IoT can be a game-changer for FM companies:

1. Cost Reduction and Improved Efficiency

IoT enables FM managers to streamline operations through continuous planning and monitoring of maintenance. While it’s nearly impossible to avoid maintenance and repairs, you can do a much better job with the help of a predictive maintenance feature.

Predictive maintenance, also called the holy grail of maintenance, is much easier to accomplish with the help of IoT. It uses the power of data to identify the potential breakdown before it even occurs. This allows you to act before failure takes place and increase asset performance.

When Boeing put the predictive maintenance feature at work, they achieved almost 13% savings on the annual operational budget.

Secondly, IoT-enabled sensors can also help you optimize the way office space is being utilized. Based on the real-time data, you can provide better space management services and better schedule maintenance activities (check out the examples in the Use Cases section).

2. Enhanced Safety and Security

IoT can significantly enhance security and emergency procedures. It can improve the physical security of a building or workplace by allowing communication between sensors, security cameras, alarms, implanted tags, and so on.

If any dangerous situation takes place, the pre-programmed sensors will send an automatic alert to first responders, and the occupants of the building. Sensors will prevent shutting down elevators during emergency situations and light up the exit passages.

Such type of functionalities reduce the risk of injury and improve the overall safety of the workplace.

On top of being beneficial, these smart security sensors are cost-effective too. According to the report, IoT security applications can reduce labor costs by almost 20%-50%. That’s a considerable saving every year.

3. Reduction in Expenses on Utility Costs

The cost of water, electricity, and natural gas usage is usually high compared to other utilities. Being a facilities manager, you can leverage IoT and cloud-based analytics to find out the pattern of usage and find ways to improve the efficacy.

According to McKinsey research, IoT-enabled energy monitoring can help save up to 20% of energy consumption and cost. The electric supply to the office can be integrated with IoT-enabled sensors. During the low supply and high-consumption periods, the grid will automatically switch to renewable energy, such as solar panels. The smart electric grid can even gather data from different components and optimize the delivery on its own.

4. Improved Well-being

Today, business organizations are much more concerned about the well-being of their employees. IoT-enabled smart sensors can reduce the risk of work-related illnesses and injury. The sensors can monitor and automatically adjust the indoor environment to meet the needs of employees.

Occupants can set their preferences, and sensors will keep monitoring and improving the humidity and temperature of the space. Sensors will also monitor noise pollution or drop in air quality and make changes to ensure a fresh and healthy environment in the office.

These smart sensors can track the employee’s posture and physical activity as well. If the employee is sitting on the desk for longer, it will adjust the seat to improve posture.

5. Improved Stock Management

Managing and maintaining the consumables stock is a recurring task for facilities managers. IoT can be a real savior here. Different devices or machines like printers, refrigerators, etc., can be loaded with IoT-enabled sensors. These sensors will keep an eye on current stock and refill themselves when the stock is low.

Use Cases of IoT in Facilities Management

IoT systems can handle the majority of operations in the FM, especially the ones that are manually intensive and have low margins. Let’s check out some of the best use cases of IoT in facilities management:

1. Meeting Room Monitoring

Occupants do not efficiently utilize meeting rooms – it is a common concern amongst all the facilities managers out there. Collecting the data about the current usage levels can help FMs make necessary changes to improve the efficiency of the meeting rooms. Sensors can collect data such as room temperature, humidity, and the number of participants in each meeting room.

Based on the data, the system will automatically adjust the room temperature, humidity, noise, and overall power usage required for the number of people. An optimization of this level can help FMs save a considerable amount of energy.

Another smart application of IoT in the meeting rooms is the automatic alerts. Once the meeting room is vacated, the sensors will alert the cleaning department to make it ready for the next meeting.

2. Hot Desk Management

You can install the ‘presence sensors’ on each desk so people can remotely check whether there are any empty seats available for booking in real-time.

You can also use sensors to automatically cut down the power supply to the unoccupied desk area to save energy.

3. Office Stationery, Consumables Stock Management

Smart sensors can be installed on printers or refrigerators that will notify you in advance when the supplies are running low.

Printers integrated with Amazon DRS will automatically order new ink cartridge, and the fridge in office will automatically restock itself when the snacks are depleted.

4. Washroom Usage and Cleaning Management

Cleaning is one of the high volume activities and generally has low margins in the FM contract. Therefore, it’s crucial to increase efficiency and reduce the cost of cleaning activities.

You can install motion sensors on washroom doors to approximate the washroom usage. The data would allow you to provide responsive cleaning services, improve the quality of service, and make efficient use of the cleaning staff’s time.

You can configure the system to send alerts to the cleaning department after a particular number of uses. For example, the sensors will send alerts to the cleaning staff for washroom cleaning after every 100 users. There are many more examples of how IoT can be used in FM to improve the end-user experience and RoI.

How to Evaluate Business RoI with IoT in Facilities Management?

When it comes to implementing IoT in facilities management, choosing the right IoT solution provider can have a significant impact on the ROI.

You need to partner with a company that has enough experience in scalability.

With the experienced IoT solution partner like Imaginovation, you can expand the initial IoT setup to different floors and add more smart services to your portfolio as your business grows (I am the co-founder and CMO at Imaginovation).

Make sure you have set the goals in your mind and what you want to accomplish with an investment in IoT. Ask yourself the following questions.

  1. What am I trying to solve?
  2. Is IoT the answer to my problem?
  3. How much would this save me compared to traditional solutions?

Understand what specific problems you want to solve with the implementation of IoT.

For example, let’s say you want to improve the efficiency of the air conditioning system in your facility. In that case, ask yourself whether you want the AC units to adjust the room temperature automatically, or you also want ACs to switch to renewable sources during low power supply or peak times.

Will the additional features like fault detection system beneficial for you? Make sure you know where precisely the finish line is before starting the race.

IoT has a multitude of applications in the facilities management business. If implemented correctly, it can provide a competitive edge to your business and help you stay ahead of the competition.

Michael Georgiou

Co-founder & CMO at Imaginovation

Michael Georgiou is a Co-founder and CMO at Imaginovation, a full-scale technology company. He drives rapid business growth in marketing and sales and gives creative direction to Imaginovation.