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Exploring IoT in the FM Industry

Traditional building control systems create a huge amount of data that is complemented by additional statistics from various data points from day to day technologies used within the building and these generally create a huge amount of data. Findings of data from all sources and sensors are then combined and connected to create the Internet of Things (IoT).

The application of IoT within the FM industry is currently being explored as the availability of low cost sensors is beginning to foster an environment of technological development and
experimentation. We are seeing a significant increase in the usage of remote sensors which are providing richer and more in depth information when analysed through cloud based software platforms. Traditionally, building management systems (BMS) monitor individual systems such as HVAC and lighting, however the combination of these data sources enable the optimisation of systems to reduce energy consumption or make the user experience more seamless. Currently, remote sensors are being used to measure equipment vibration and running temperature amongst other applications to enable not only the monitoring of equipment outputs but also condition based monitoring. Condition based monitoring allows us to implement a more effective preventative maintenance regime to keep assets in optimum condition and increase their life.


Deployment of the IoT leads to increased accessibility of critical information and data that assists facilities management companies in managing the built environment.  If applied accurately this can effectively reduce running costs such as energy and maintenance as well as improve the availability of key building systems for the end users.

Facilities management companies must ensure they do not offset the efficiencies generated with the cost to maintain these systems, data capture sources and analytics. Additionally, Facilities Management Professionals and Engineers are extremely important to the swift resolution and  rectification of the issues that sensors identify at any given time.
The Global FM industry and the UAE are on par with each other. This is due to the significant pace of innovation being driven forward by the UAE and in spite of shorter term FM contracts. Shorter term FM contracts generally create limitations by not allowing sufficient time for investment in specific monitoring and data capture systems. Additionally closed protocol systems in buildings, followed globally, make integration difficult and expensive to achieve. A greater focus on building operations during the design and construction phase would assist in getting IoT truly operational in buildings without retrofit and eventually lead to reduced costs.


At Emrill we have begun analysing the data we have available to us by using ‘Bots’ within our CAFM system to identify trends. This includes the escalation of repetitive reactive calls for full diagnostic visits and combining data with reliability centred maintenance teams to maximise the effectiveness of maintenance activities.


This has enabled Emrill to successfully retrofit low cost remote monitoring sensors into facilities in order to monitor the key parameters of critical building equipment. When interfaced with various aspects of the building along with the CAFM system there is a level of coordination that allows the accumulation of valuable data.


Emrill also utilises the increased functionality and control within Building Management Systems (BMS) to successfully implement Energy Performance Contracts combining energy data capturing, building control systems and real time optimisation techniques to deliver demonstrable savings to the end user with Emrill funding 100% of the upfront capital investment.


Alongside all the technological developments Emrill always invests in its people, with rigorous training and standards in place to ensure the continued improvement of technical competency at every level of the organisation.


For the FM Company, it gives a key measure on effectiveness, allowing more efficiency and therefore productivity within FM teams.  This benefit is shared with the client along with the savings generated from reduced replacement costs and energy use. The end user ultimately benefits from the reduced operating and maintenance costs but in the long term will also create greater availability of critical systems such as cooling and a building that is more user friendly.


For better application, FM companies must collectively ensure that the integration of systems within facilities continue through suppliers communicating to ensure bigger data gains, analysis and further insights.