Building Controls, Energy Management and Lighting, Maintenance and Operations, Safety, Security, Sustainability/Business Continuity

How the Internet of Things Is Helping Facilities Management

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a groundbreaking, innovative technology that profoundly transforms facilities management. Running a facility encompasses a wide range of day-to-day tasks, ranging from asset management to security and access control, and IoT is pivotal in making those tasks and duties more manageable and autonomous.

IoT in Facilities Management

IoT technology is often embraced by facilities managers as a seamless way to delegate tasks, improve customer experience, and improve the efficiency of their workforces. IoT also enables facilities managers to gain greater real-time visibility and control over their environments, which is invaluable in certain industries such as healthcare, hospitality, and logistics.

IoT helps to build an all-inclusive environment for facilities managers to track and oversee all day-to-day tasks and understand important data, and make quick, actionable decisions. This short guide looks at the specific components and elements of a facility that can be exponentially improved with the help of IoT and associated integrated technology.

How Can IoT Technology Make Facilities Better?

Enhancing Operational Efficiency

One of the biggest benefits of IoT for facilities management is enabling data-driven and actionable decision-making. With a network of connected sensors and devices, facilities managers can collect real-time data on important functions such as:

  • Energy and water usage
  • Air quality and humidity
  • Occupancy and space utilization
  • Asset whereabouts and location history
  • Temperature regulation
  • Lighting and ambiance
  • Noise levels
  • Health and preventative maintenance needs

Armed with granular, real-time data, facilities teams can spot inefficiencies and issues as they arise. Resources can be optimized, problems averted, and services enhanced. Studies show IoT building management systems can reduce energy costs by 10-20%. This shows that there is clearly a sustainability incentive behind the technology’s widespread adoption in facilities that need to improve their carbon footprints.

IoT also allows for condition-based, predictive maintenance. Rather than scheduled maintenance, which can be both labor-intensive and wasteful, sensors can monitor assets in real-time. Machine learning algorithms can then detect anomalies and predict potential failures before they occur. This prevents costly downtime and delays to operations which can create frustrating and resource-heavy bottlenecks.

Bolstering Cyber Defenses

As facilities adopt more IoT devices, it also becomes crucial to protect against cyber intrusions. IoT security vulnerabilities can provide cybercriminals with backdoors into facility networks if these systems are not patched, backed up, or tested extensively.

To guard against this, facilities managers should maintain full visibility over all connected devices and take advantage of tools like penetration testing services to identify any overt weaknesses that could potentially compromise their attack surfaces. It is also important to segment IoT devices into their own networks and restrict access control to unauthorized users. This approach prevents breaches from spreading laterally across facility systems. 

Regulating device access and enabling monitoring of devices connected through your IoT asset management interface will give facilities managers more control over device stability and security. Implementing advanced endpoint monitoring, network traffic analysis, and AI-powered behavioral analytics can further harden IoT environments against cyberthreats.

Automating and Improving Maintenance

IoT enables facilities managers to streamline and automate maintenance workflows. Technicians can be dispatched on-demand based on real-time asset monitoring and predictive analytics. Not only that, but IoT-connected tools, equipment, and machines allow for quick, remote diagnostics checks to be conducted, and preventative maintenance to be scheduled. 

This reduces the need to frequently bring in outside contractors to conduct manual checks before rescheduling for future repairs. It similarly limits the time machines lay dormant or undergo extended periods of downtime.

Real-Time Asset Management

A single-platform, IoT-enabled asset management solution can track all required assets in a facility, from luggage racks in airports to personal alarms for on-call medical professionals in hospitals.

Many assets have different underlying hardware technology, such as RFID, GPS, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth, among others. In any given facility, it’s common to find inventory that relies on a mixture of all of these technologies. With smart IoT asset management integration, facilities managers can gain real-time inventory visibility across their estates, pulling data regardless of the underlying tech.

IoT simplifies the real-time asset tracking of all known assets, identifies anomalies, and holds facilities accountable for any misplaced stock that needs to be retrieved. In turn, facilities can gain greater insights into their asset lifespan and identify opportunities to bolster stock.

Enhancing Situational Awareness

IoT gives facilities managers enhanced situational awareness with a bird’s-eye view of structural, environmental, and occupancy conditions. Networked cameras and motion sensors can monitor crowding, foot traffic patterns, parking congestion, and more. The idea of situational awareness is to understand potential hazards and assess their severity and likelihood before they manifest into problems or health issues. 

With the help of IoT, facilities can make more informed, data-driven decisions on space utilization, such as reallocating underused areas, reconfiguring layouts, or triggering alarms.

Improving Health, Safety, and Sustainability

In addition to promoting healthier, more comfortable, and sustainable facility environments, IoT-powered thermostats and air conditioning controls adjust units when spaces are unoccupied to conserve energy. 

Smart lighting controls can be used and autonomously tweaked based on ‌light levels and foot traffic in a given room. This allows facilities managers to take data-driven actions to improve health and safety.

The Future Is IoT

IoT adoption is accelerating across industries, and facilities management is no exception. IoT provides invaluable visibility, automation, and analytics capabilities for managing smarter, more efficient, and more eco-friendly facilities.

The key is taking an incremental approach. Start with a targeted pilot project, identify the benefits and potential considerations, and build from there. With an ever-expanding ecosystem of IoT solutions, the opportunities to drive facility innovation are endless.

Those who effectively harness IoT’s potential will gain a major competitive advantage in the facilities management industry of the future. Such integration will likely become the expectation rather than the exception. Therefore, it’s only fitting to take advantage of the numerous opportunities available to your facility now.

Chester Avey has over a decade of experience in business growth management and cybersecurity. He enjoys sharing his knowledge with other like-minded professionals through his writing. You can connect with Chester by following him on Twitter @ChesterAvey

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