Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are now more than just buzzwords. AI and ML are increasingly becoming integrated with our everyday services, which we may not realize. With connected intelligence made possible by the Internet-of-Things (IoT), data-based decision making and control becomes a cakewalk. While individuals get the windfall benefits of AI and ML by means of better playlist suggestions, local offers, location and context-relevant content access. On the other hand, CREs benefit from a centralized view and control of their building operations and sustainability that helps them make informed decisions to provide exceptional experiences.
This ‘actionable intelligence’ made possible by the convergence of data, AI, and ML have also started to revolutionize our living spaces, with buildings and facilities management space accelerating on the highway of automation. Automation in buildings is not a recent phenomenon. For years, every wave of technological advancement has been integrated into our buildings space to achieve better energy savings, increase the efficiency of personnel, and have a centralized control room for large facilities.
The aim has always been in finding ways to systematically control buildings and make them as efficient and sustainable as possible. An inefficient building incurs as much as 30% more energy costs and 15% more on maintenance expenses, which would lead to a staggering reduction on any company’s bottom line.
The consumer awareness and demand for ‘smart offices’ and living spaces have also been driving the adoption of AI and ML in facilities management. While a vast majority of today’s millennial workforce wants to be in smart offices in the next 5 years, buildings are reeling in inefficiencies, building a strong case for technology-led facilities management. A modern and holistic facilities optimization solution not only takes care of end-to-end building operations and sustainability but also ensure the inhabitant’s comfort. This enables quicker returns on investment for commercial real-estate owners as well as reduces the impact on the environment at the same time.
What is measured, is controlled
Proactive real-time maintenance of buildings requires continuous tracking and maintenance of workforce. Existing semi-smart facilities in most buildings are limited in analytical capabilities, and are simply silos of constant data streams that do not translate to actionable intelligence. By unifying data across multi-vendor building systems onto one centralised platform, and effectively implementing AI and ML algorithms, facility managers can move from being reactive managers to proactive contributors to both the CRE’s bottom line by enabling a smarter workforce, as well as improving the sustainability performance of the environment we live in.
It is not a zero sum game
In case of old buildings, years of inefficient handling would have not only resulted in a cumulatively huge inefficiency, but would also have created a stubborn inertia in decision-making. Owners of old buildings are often reluctant to invest in new age tech, quoting the old argument that throwing good money after bad money is unwise. This may be counter-intuitive, but the truth is that old buildings are not on an irreversible one-way street towards total decline.
Surprisingly, retrofitting of old buildings with proprietary hardware and software integration unlock multiple benefits for commercial real estate owners and facilities managers including huge energy savings and sustainability improvements.
Retro fitment can now be done with minimal investment without full-fledged physical retrofits, thanks to new-age digital retro fitment capabilities unleashed by the power of software. While rising operating costs and asset depreciation are usually the reasons building owners and managers seek retro fitments, many proactively move to modernize their facilities. Only in the last decade, retrofitments have moved on from being localized automation-centric to evolve into integrated building management systems and facilities management solutions.
The best is yet to come
By adopting technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things), AI, ML, and Cloud, digital retrofitments instantly does away with the need for costly hardware inclusions. Instead of replacing all current machinery, one can apply specialist technologies along with existing in-site equipment to collect data for aiding decision making. Simply put, digital retro fitments are to the building industry, what Industry 4.0 (connected manufacturing) is for the manufacturing sector.
The momentum is going strong. Across the globe, in 2017 alone, $6.3 billion was invested in intelligent building systems, which is expected to touch $22 billion in 2026. The overall global investment in facilities services has already exceeded $1 trillion, which would give an insight into the enormity of our collective energy expenditure from buildings. Any incremental improvement by implementing AI and ML in facilities management for increasing efficiency and sustainability initiatives would bring huge benefits. The best is yet to come.
By Prabhu Ramachandran, Founder and CEO, Facilio Inc