With the rise in the availability of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) in facility services, more and more tasks can be automated. This article will provide insight into what tasks can be automated to reduce staffing, how to streamline tasks that cannot, and what the future could hold for facilities services.
Integrating digital solutions into the facility and operations department model can save money by reducing both the number of in-house staff required and emergency repair costs. By combining robotics, AI, and the Internet of Things (IoT), the data collection alone will vastly improve facility services by simplifying and predicting maintenance needs. In addition, with a unified system, facility managers will have an increased ability to monitor and maintain their infrastructure.
Along with the rise of automation in facility services comes decreased reliance on human staff for tasks that can be automated. With an increased reliance on technology, building operators will see a future of streamlined operations and higher productivity.
The Future of Facility Services
Facility management can be run from a central location while AI, robotics, and outsourced facility services work at the facility. This new technology has the potential to save building owners millions of dollars, depending on the infrastructure.
According to Global FM report, in the future, facility management will "integrate various mobile infrastructure and technologies, devices, and smart work concepts that allow employees to function with a higher degree of flexibility and collaboration." Essentially, facility engineers will be able to work from anywhere and at any time with better productivity.
This means more facility software and integrations will be available. Imagine using augmented reality to visualize a room setup before you move one item, or scheduling your vacuum to begin cleaning at the same time you're checking rooms for occupants. In the future, facility services will have those options integrated into your facility software.
Robotics and AI in Facility Services
Facility management will look different when robotics and AI are embraced. Facility managers will use cloud-based software to manage their robotics equipment and use predictive analytics to make intelligent choices. In addition, the role will evolve, and applicants will need a more advanced technology background. The role will likely be centralized, rather than needing in-house staff at multiple locations.
How much does it cost to bring out a vendor for emergency service? A lot! Emergency services will be a thing of the past when FM software can predict and prevent breakdowns. After gathering the historical data on asset failures, services, labor requirements, and maintenance, the FM software of the future will analyze this data and automatically create work tickets for preventive care or schedule an appointment with the correct vendor.
With this level of automation, small teams can manage hundreds of buildings and assets from a company’s headquarters.
Automation offers building operators the opportunity to
1) free up your on-site facility service providers from mundane tasks allowing them to focus on more specialized work, or
2) outsource the facility services that can't be automated, so you only pay for the services you need.
What Tasks Can You Automate in Facility Services?
Automation is the answer for tasks that can't (or don't need to) be done by humans and don't require excessive physical labor or interaction with people. These are often simple maintenance jobs, such as changing light bulbs, mopping floors, vacuuming carpets, or emptying trash bins. By utilizing robotics for these types of jobs, operations can cut daily facilities tasks in half.
Other tasks that can be automated include the following:
1) Predictive Maintenance Planning
Predictive maintenance can be automated and scheduled by date or runtime with FM software. The automation can be set up to alert affected staff a week before the maintenance is due so they are prepared for the task. No maintenance will be forgotten or put on the back burner when automation schedules it for you.
2) RPA Bots
Deloitte has begun using robotic process automation (RPA) bots in real estate and facilities management. RPA bots automate routine clerical processes. They are best used for transactional tasks like scheduling work, scheduling payments, monitoring your utility consumption, doing inventory, or managing security access.
3) Cleaning the Facilities
Cleaning tasks can be automated to save time. Robotic devices like vacuums and mop bots can be scheduled to automatically deploy at the same times each day, freeing up your facilities staff to do more complex or people-facing tasks.
4) Building Automation Systems (BAS)
Building functions can be automated from a desktop. Using a building automation system (BAS), you can automate heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); lighting; and security from a central location. This can save time, labor, and energy costs.
How to Streamline Facility Tasks That Can't be Automated
Automation is not for everything, but what can't be automated can be streamlined. The easiest way to simplify is to outsource facility services such as vendor management and janitorial services. By contracting with a facility services provider, you won't need to pay for benefits, insurance, and full-time salaries for facilities staff. You will only pay for the services you need when you need them.
With a combination of robotics, AI, IoT, and refined systems, facility services can be optimized to their highest efficiency. As a result, the future of facility management will be tech-centric, leading to a more productive workplace.
Established in 2004, Encompass can deliver award-winning facility services to building operators with any facility makeup. Our unique combination of top facility professionals and industry-leading technology provides a higher standard of facility management for our customers.