Facility & Maintenance Management

12 Ways How IoT Can Revolutionize Your Building

February 4, 2021

Have you ever asked yourself what the Internet of Things actually is, and if you need it in your building? Can you even imagine a facilities operation where information and data are not transmitted and updated automatically in real time?

Some predict that there will be an average of 6.5 IoT systems per each person in the world. It goes without saying that we live in an environment of huge amounts of data, and the most efficient use of this data is for the connected systems.

The industry can use the IoT to automate tasks and processes, monitor production lines or manage inventory. The use of IoT in urban infrastructure increases the efficiency of operations, helps to control traffic and monitor air pollution levels. All these applications reduce the need for human intervention and improve operations. And what solutions can you utilize within your building? What will help you take your facility service to the next level? In this article you will find several examples of feasible IoT applicability that would revolutionize any property.

What Is IoT (Internet of Things)?

Although the real beginning of the use of the Internet of Things is set for the years 2008-2009, when the number of devices connected to the Internet exceeded the world's population, this term was first formulated by Kevin Ashton in 1999. According to him, it is a system in which objects equipped with special sensors can communicate and exchange data with computers and other devices. This is done through various network solutions, especially wireless.

What does IoT mean in practice? The Internet of Things enables networked devices to observe the physical world and exchange the collected data in order to perform the tasks set for these objects more effectively. With the development of IoT technology, the process of responding to specific events is automated, according to the rules set by man.

How IoT Works and Why Is It Worth Investing Things

First of all, because it incredibly improves the work of all people involved in the maintenance of the building. How?

By automating and digitizing data collection and analysis.

First of all, sensors automatically transmit information about the status of a given device, and secondly, the data available immediately in digital form in a blink of an eye is delivered to everyone concerned. This not only shortens the time of data collection, thus increasing work efficiency, but also reduces costs in the long run, because what a building services would normally have to spend a few hours working, happens automatically.

By increasing the first-time fix rate and service effectiveness

Thanks to the sensors and ongoing verification of the equipment condition, we have a much better insight into its operation, so that technicians are better prepared to solve problems even before they arise. By setting appropriate parameters for the equipment connected to the network, alarm signals for employees can be generated in case of exceeding them. Using the right software, technicians can also access maintenance history data, customer information, warranty details and other information they need to do their job.

By reducing hardware’s upkeep costs through the preventative maintenance implementation

Knowing the details of how the hardware works in real time thanks to multiple IoT sensors installed in real estate, allows service technicians to increase availability and extend failure-free operations because continuous monitoring allows service work to be transformed into more proactive than reactive - ensuring that service technicians respond to alarms and resolve problems with the hardware before it fails.

By improving the well-being of tenants and other building users

Thanks to various sensors and automatic data transfer, we can monitor and adjust parameters such as room temperature, availability of conference rooms, the need to supplement toilet hygiene measures or minimize equipment failure. This ensures the building's usability at the highest possible level, allowing its users to focus on the matters most important to them, instead of reporting defects or the wrong humidity conditions in their office space.

By collecting big data

Big Data and AI – implementation of a large number of sensors allows to collect a huge amount of data. Thanks to the data, we will be able to introduce AI to our systems, which will allow for much better, if not flawless analysis, which is something that every company strives to. You will not be able to improve your business without investing in the technology, and there is no AI without data. Why does AI work so well with big data? Because big data and AI complement each other. AI becomes better, the more data it is given. It helps organizations understand their customers a lot better, even in ways that were impossible in the past. On the other hand, big data is simply useless without software to analyze it. In the past, when we talked about any kind of data, the outcome was: "This is what happened." Today, thanks to AI and Machine Learning, we can use the data and be able to say: "This is what will happen." That kind of analysis and their outcome lead you to make better and more accurate decisions, decreasing the risk for your business.

12 Examples of IoT applications in practice

facility management software integrated with IoT sensors -
IoT sensors integrated with CAFM system

1. Equipment management in the CAFM system

If your building maintenance software is integrated with IoT, you are able to connect your devices to the system so that after scanning the NFC tag in the mobile application, the technician can have instant access to the necessary information about the device, its repair or maintenance history, current and historical IoT readouts, and to the attached documentation. He can quickly check the condition of the device, download an instruction or even report a defect.

2. Reporting of work

One example is the use of NFC tags or Beacons as checkpoints. This way, technicians don't have to report their attendance at the inspection manually, just scan a checkpoint assigned to the inspection as an NFC tag in a mobile application. If we choose Beacon instead, just a running mobile application is sufficient enough - Beacon automatically records the user's presence and reports it in the CAFM software integrated with IoT sensors via bluetooth. Exactly the same process can be used for security rounds or cleaning services. Thanks to that we constantly monitor the workload and effectiveness of ordered services.

3. Media consumption management

Through the use of sensors, we can completely eliminate manual recording of media consumption from meters. The relevant sensors can automatically collect and process this data, providing us with ready input for further analysis and billing.

4. Air condition verification

IoT streamlines the verification of the air condition, through sensors recording properties such as temperature, humidity or dust concentration. We are able to continuously monitor various parameters concerning indoor air quality and thanks to the integration with BMS systems automatically adjust them or use as a contribution to the analysis and implementation of corrective measures in order to significantly improve the comfort of building users.

5. Monitoring equipment parameters

Sensors can monitor various equipment parameters such as temperature, pressure, vibration, fluid level, working hours, etc. This allows for continuous monitoring of equipment and machines, so that we can plan maintenance much better, predict faults much more accurately, which in turn increases the time of failure-free operation of equipment. Moreover, we can receive automatic alerts in case of breakdowns, which significantly reduces service technicians' response time.

6. Detecting people presence

Another example of IoT sensors are sensors which detect the presence of people in the premises. Efficient use of space is a key element of managing any building. If we are able to realistically analyze which areas (offices, conference rooms, common facilities) and at what time are most frequently used, we can easily plan the space that generates profits: immaterial - in terms of users' efficiency, creativity, their psychophysical well-being; and material - effective and economical use of space, increasing work efficiency, maximizing resource utilization and performance in view of changing conditions. In addition, this is especially important nowadays, when, for reasons beyond our control, we have to adapt meet the requirements of keeping an adequate distance between workstations in order to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection.  

7. Monitoring of current consumption

IoT helps to monitor the current consumption for better handling of everyday equipment such as vending machines, coffee machines, cleaning products, printers, etc. Building users, especially office workers, face numerous challenges on a daily basis with their basic duties. To abstract from them, they benefit from a variety of facilities provided by their workplace, such as for example free coffee. Imagine the level of frustration that increases dramatically when it turns out to be finished again. This can be completely avoided by using appropriate sensors that measure current consumption and send automatic alerts to those responsible for refilling or servicing.

8. Cleaning based on current use

Cyclical cleaning of spaces that are not used too often makes little sense and only generates unnecessary costs. And what if it was possible to alert the appropriate services about the frequency of use of e.g. toilets? Sensors detecting attendance, based on the number of entrances, can send appropriate messages to the system and on this basis generate alerts to persons responsible for maintaining cleanliness or replenishing necessary cleaning supplies.

9. Parking availability

Thanks to RFID readers, it is possible to provide unattended access to the parking lot not only for regular employees, but thanks to the application of an appropriate system it can also work for invited guests - when the vehicle appears near the entrance, the gate will be opened automatically based on information from antennas or cameras. Moreover, having information about the total number of parking spaces and monitoring the number of entries and exits, the information about the number of currently available spaces can be very easily accessible for users. Thanks to RFID technology for vehicle automation, before entering, they will know whether they have a chance to find a place for themselves or whether the parking lot is fully occupied. What is more, if we integrate the sensors (like underground induction loops or photocells) detecting the vehicles, it is possible to install the light signals informing drivers which spots are empty.

10. Issuing of resources

How often does it happen that employees rent equipment, then hand it over to each other until the information where it is located and who is responsible for it is finally lost? Thanks to tagging the equipment with NFC stickers and implementing an appropriate resources management system, we can easily supervise the spending of resources, such as projectors, keys, access cards or various electronic equipment. It is enough that during resource dispensing the NFC tag located on the device will be scanned on the reader, on which also the employee of the receiving person will reflect his or her card, and the system will display a record of when, for whom and for how long the equipment was dispensed.

11. Equipment inventory

Periodic equipment inventory is a standard process in every building. Sometimes it is an unimaginably large number of devices to check, so the manual process of unhooking from the list on a piece of paper can be quite inefficient. Fortunately, there are systems which, thanks to the use of NFC tags and mobile application, allow to speed up and improve the process as much as possible. All you need to do is to tag every item with NFC and assign it to a given location in the building. Then, all you need to do is run an application on your smartphone and scan the tags. The system will tell you if a given element belongs to a given room and what elements are missing.

12. Accessibility

Lost access cards can stop being a problem if we use NFC tags instead - they can be in the form of stickers or key chains - thanks to that, the building's employees can always have them at hand, e.g. placed on the back of their smartphones. Properly programmed tags can provide access to the main entrance, individual office spaces or conference rooms.

Final Thoughts

Basically in every market segment, intelligent device technology aims to increase human productivity and comfort, reduce costs and effort through automation, fault identification, situation monitoring and performance evaluation. The above mentioned applications are just a few examples, from which you can choose the most suitable for your type of property. Investment in technology is an investment in development and continuous improvement. Tenants are more and more eager to focus on ultra-modern office spaces, which will satisfy not only basic needs of their employees, but will also meet the challenges of the modern world, offering their clients comfort and convenience at the highest level. Today, it is the rate of technological preparation of companies and building managers that determines the success of their business. Get a free demo to see Singu FM in action.

Written by:
Patrycja Miklińska
PropTech Expert

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