Predictive facilities management: CRE’s future?

By Switch Automation • January 23, 2019

The global market for smart buildings is expected to grow from $5.8 billion in 2016 to $61.9 billion in 2024. What’s driving this explosive expansion? ForbesWomen asked Switch CEO, Deb Noller, to share her insight on why predictive facilities management is the way of the future. 

According to Noller, buildings are broken. And, unfortunately, so are the processes we use to fix them. Traditionally, facilities managers had to rely on occupant feedback and scheduled maintenance checks to uncover building issues. But what if these problems could be fixed before a tenant complains, or better yet, notices? That’s where the evolution from reactive to proactive to predictive facilities management comes into play.

Good: Reactive facilities management

If you receive a complaint, dispatch a solution, and inform your occupants that the issue is resolved, then you’re practicing reactive facilities management. While it’s good that you’re resolving the issue, there’s much room for improvement. This model is slow and often triggered by a poor occupant experience. To make matters worse, when building problems go undetected they could continue unnoticed for years, eventually requiring lengthy and expensive fixes down the road. The good news is that technology has enabled fresh approaches and smarter building management.

Better: Proactive facilities management

Smart buildings come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but a common characteristic is the presence of IoT sensors capable of capturing a wide range of data. This data gives FMs unprecedented insight into the functionality and efficiency of their buildings. Filtering and analyzing this information leads to early identification of poor equipment performance, safety hazards and compromised occupant comfort.

What makes proactive maintenance so advantageous? Quite simply, the occupant experience. Increased visibility via building data means that FMs must no longer wait for an irritated tenant to report a performance problem. They receive building intelligence about the issue from their data, instead of an inconvenienced employee, visitor or customer. By keeping a close eye on the data, FMs can target and repair problems before occupants complain and in many cases, before they’re even aware there’s an issue. 

Best: Predictive facilities management

Predictive facilities management elevates building performance to a whole new level. By collecting data and examining how a building and its equipment is operating in real-time, then comparing it to previous performance benchmarks and automating alerts to critical facilities team members so they can make adjustments, building issues aren’t just fixed faster, they’re often prevented altogether.

Imagine you manage a large Class A office building and your HVAC system experiences a control failure. If you practice predictive maintenance, you’d receive an alert that space temperatures are below normal ranges. You could then reference your building data to find that the controller isn’t operating as expected and engage your BMS vendor to complete the repair. This type of timely intervention prevents not only increased energy costs caused by unnecessary use, but a potential capital expense resulting from equipment failure. 

Is 2019 a turning point for facilities management?

Commercial real estate is already recognizing industry innovators like WeWork for adopting smart building technologies to implement proactive and predictive facilities management practices. Industry leaders who invest in smarter processes, not just smarter technologies, are already beginning to realize savings that will continue to compound well info the future. What kind of facilities management will you practice?

Need help evolving your facilities management program? Check out the Evaluation Roadmap to see how two different smart building strategies perform. 

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