There are many different things one can see behind the ‘modern facility management’ term. Some see it as a not really ‘sexy’ field that deals with buildings, premises, and security.
However, modern facility management has become quite ‘sexy’ in recent years due to new technologies. The flourishing of IoT and robotics and all the technological innovations that have already been here but started to make even more sense with the energy crisis vindicate it.
IoT helps savings and efficiency
Technologies can not only save costs, but they also serve as a great tool in the decision-making process of business management. Thanks to them, management is always well aware of what is happening anywhere within their buildings or premises and can thus decide how to set up further processes based on relevant data. Keeping a good track and having the possibility to actively influence the efficiency of individual workplaces is often priceless.
Systems and sensors interconnected within the IoT system contribute to savings and efficiency significantly. There is no need to send workers to take readings and have the necessary data only once a month or a year. IoT and remote readings give you real-time data and you can also see the trend at times when reading would otherwise not be possible. This is how OKIN Facility revealed for some clients, for instance, the operation of equipment in production even when there was no production in process. Modifications and in some cases automation of processes allow one to do a lot, which saves money and time. In some cases, the system can, for instance, alert you to increased values and the worker can decide himself what to do next. At other times, the system can be set automatically. If any value is exceeded, a message (alarm) is generated or pre-set automated procedures occur.
The OKIN Facility has the advantage of having their own system, which can also be connected to the client’s system, so there is no need for the client to purchase an additional system. The biggest advantage, however, is the possibility of connecting different types of sensors and detectors into one system. Sensors and detectors usually have their own applications, which usually cannot be interconnected. This is not the case here.
A case study from retail with a specific solution
The following business case from a retail area can document the use of IoT in practice. The customer manages an extensive network of branches and was looking for an efficient and comprehensive solution for the supervision and control of their operations. The main challenges were to monitor the quality of goods storage and energy consumption in individual branches, measure the temperature within the area in order to optimize heating (and thus reduce costs), centralize the control of light advertising in order to eliminate unnecessary waste, and at the same time increase user comfort. The aim was to ensure that all branches are managed centrally and in real-time, which would lead to better control over the operations, cost savings and overall efficiency gains.
OKIN Facility and their partners delivered a complete solution to their client. From the initial analysis and mapping of the state of the branches through suitable hardware for fitting existing energy meters, temperature sensors for refrigerators and stores and devices for turning on and off light advertising to its physical installation on site. These devices are operated using batteries with a multi-year lifespan and thanks to advanced LP WAN networks, such as LoRaWAN from ČRA.
The brain of the entire solution is SARAhub’s own cloud platform, which collects data from all devices and sensors, displays detailed information, history, trends and, above all, enables timely and automated response to emerging situations using user-defined scenarios. The advantage is the combination of different agendas within one environment and further expansion possibilities.
The next logical step is to use the collected data for ESG reporting, expand the functionality by counting people in the store, footfall analysis, or monitoring the filling of waste containers in selected locations in order to optimize waste collection.
Robots (and cobots) save costs and manpower
It is not only energy efficiency, but also, for instance, cleaning whose process is also performed using robots. Sometimes, they are also called cobots, because they still need some kind of cooperation with people. But even they can take care of much more efficient cleaning, because they can clean for hours with the same quality and without getting tired. Similarly, they can handle cleaning in warehouses and halls where they need neither heat nor light. That is where further efficiency is achieved due to energy savings, because the lights would otherwise stay on all night during cleaning time. The most effective combination of working and charging time and an appropriately selected robot for a specific environment and surface is not only about choosing the brand of the robot, but about real knowledge of technologies and their possibilities (each manufacturer and model is different) as well as the cleaning process in specific clients’ operations.
Today’s robots know how to learn, their software and their flexibility are constantly being improved for even more perfect cleaning and better assistance. They can’t do everything yet, but they can already do a lot. In the same way, human labour force (on which facility management is based) can spend more time on jobs that are more complicated and robots cannot handle yet. At OKIN Facility, these technologies and innovations are dealt with by a special department with people who understand both technology and facility management and provide clients with further efficiency and added value.
Technology represents an important help in this field – and not only there. It is just a matter of how best to use them and adapt the whole process for it to be really efficient and make it possible to work in more places at the same time and with a more significant use of human labour force and skill, because the rest can be helped with by technology.
Ing. Tomáš Polák
Photo: OKIN Facility archive