As a facility manager, you’re responsible for everything from maintenance to space planning. That can be a lot to handle—especially in the midst of an event like the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic has generated many unprecedented events, it has also demonstrated how dependent our society is on technology. IoT has aided several industries during this unpredictable year, from healthcare and logistics to consumer and commercial. Once you learn IoT basics and adopt the most up-to-date IoT technology, you’ll find facility management easier than ever before.
What Is IoT?
Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the vast network of physical items that connect to the Internet. These items, often called “smart” devices, can collect data, share data, and allow you to control devices from a distance.
During the pandemic, IoT has helped businesses and industries tremendously during the pandemic; so much so it’s a technological advancement that is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Read on to learn the IoT basics you need to streamline your operations— and navigate COVID-19—in 2021.
IoT Use Cases for Facility Management
IoT can streamline facility management in any industry. Once your equipment and employees are outfitted with IoT tools, you can use IoT in many ways — even with your scent delivery.
Tracking facility equipment, identifying wearing equipment, and replacing it before it wears out is a critical part of your job. Otherwise, your team may face low customer satisfaction and decreased productivity. With help from IoT devices, your team can closely monitor your equipment and catch warning signs quickly.
Keeping social distancing and the avoidance of multiple touchpoints in mind, IoT solutions allow you to control devices, like thermostats and lighting, from mobile apps or voice controls to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Because of IoT’s internet connectivity, these systems can help eliminate the need for human contact and touching surfaces like switches, dispensers, etc.
Real-Time Team Collaboration
Your team probably uses multiple databases and communication tools to stay in touch. But you can’t ensure you’re accessing the most up-to-date information when you use so many platforms. An IoT software system lets every team member access real-time equipment data and communicate in a single hub.
IoT systems that use wireless networks to power and run their systems often only provide limited connectivity and present safety and security problems. Take this example of when Target’s corporate systems were hacked because a subcontractor opened a backdoor when connecting a “smart device” to the Target corporate network.
COVID-19 showed the need for an IoT system that provided secure and operational connectivity and essentially caused adaptation to a new cellular framework as wireless networks could not be used during unprecedented circumstances. As the need for safe and reliable connections continues to grow, there will be an increasing amount of previously unconnected devices becoming part of IoT networks.
You most likely have to manage lots of data— everything from resource consumption to labor management. Usually, this requires a lot of time spent manually updating databases, retrieving the data you need, and ensuring that data is secure for industry compliance. IoT software systems automatically update with equipment data and offer built-in enterprise-grade security.
Critical IoT Facility Management Tools
How do IoT facility management systems collect their data and connect to the internet? Here are the 4 tools most top IoT systems will offer.
Sensors are the most common IoT facility management tools. They can help you get access to data about variables like temperature, humidity, motion, vibration, chemicals, pressure, or location. They collect data, then immediately load it to your facility management platform.
Beacons are small wireless tools that share data through Bluetooth. Their messages can be recognized by a local device, which can then trigger actions. They are most often embedded in machinery to monitor equipment and begin workflows, like setting off sprinkler systems. In some cases, they’re used for ID verification.
RFID tags use radio waves to transmit information and identify the person or object who they are connected to. Their ranges can stretch anywhere from 65 – 165 feet. They can help your team track the number of people in your facility, manage access control, and monitor assets.
Data Analytics Tools
Every cutting-edge software system offers powerful visualization tools. Once an IoT platform collects its data, visualization tools create reports from it. These reports often feature graphs and charts that make it easy for you to identify patterns in resource usage and employee performance.
Benefits of IoT for Facility Management
IoT can help you improve facility management operations and performance—all from a distance. For example, IoT benefits include:
Automatically collecting facility data and using it to identify problems can help you catch potential problems before they happen. Preventing problems saves your team from maintenance fees and unnecessary costs. Your team can also more easily monitor items like CO2, temperature, and even scent, reducing the labor needed to check it manually.
IoT products send data to a single online hub. Plus, your team can communicate through the hub. This single source of truth makes it easy to know exactly what the status of your facilities are, and how you can take action to make them better.
Improved Employee Performance
When your team uses a synchronized system to communicate and access data, it’s easier than ever for them to know exactly what they need to do and when. This is critical when your team members can’t be in the same place at the same time—especially during an event like the COVID-19 pandemic. A more organized team is a more productive team.
Conclusion: IoT Basics for Facility Managers
IoT can streamline your operations no matter what industry you’re in. When integrating IoT, you can expect to reduce costs, gain transparency, and boost employee performance—without increasing your or your team’s workload.