Smart FM is about doing better with technology, using it as a means to an end.
In popular culture, imagined cities of the future share a common theme. They are built on a foundation of innovation and smart technology, where people interact with buildings and customise their environment to their needs. We see in sci-fi movie scenes where doors and equipment recognise and respond only to specific individuals’ voice commands; where pre-programmed sensors cater to a person’s preferences by making rooms more comfortable with personalised music, temperature, mood lighting and even furniture arrangement.
Bringing Singapore a step closer to that reality is the Guide to Smart Facilities Management (FM) and Consortium Operations and Technology Roadmap (COTR). Both are initiatives under the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map (ITM), a blueprint designed to propel the FM and property sectors into the future.
Addressing Singapore’s built environment needs
As a densely-built up city state, Singapore is home to an ever-growing stock of buildings. In fact, by 2025, it is projected that more than half of all buildings on this island will be 30 years or older. Coupled with an ageing workforce and labour-intensive methods of working, maintaining the city’s building infrastructure will become increasing onerous.
Given these challenges, building developers and owners, government agencies, trade associations and chambers as well as the unions came together in the tripartite Facilities Management Implementation Committee to deliver an action plan for the FM sector. A key strategy identified to transfor the sector is to leverage smart FM with the use of data analytics, predictive maintenance and smart technology solutions.
Driving the adoption of Smart FM
The Singapore International Facility Management Association (SIFMA) developed COTR in partnership with Agency for Science and Research (A*STAR) with the aim of developing a future ready FM sector. This effort was supported by BCA, Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Enterprise SG.
More than 100 people from 50 organisations across the industry, academia and government agencies participated in three facilitated workshops. Their agenda was to address current sectoral challenges, and assess the industry’s readiness to meet future challenges for FM. The COTR thus gives a macro overview of the FM landscape by spotting emerging trends and technologies that companies can take advantage of to position themselves for the future.
The Guide to Smart FM provides a practical five-step SMART process to help building owners and FM managers embark on their smart FM journey. It starts with the building owners’ business objectives and pertinent FM operational issues in mind. For example, how to reduce costs through proper maintenance of the chiller plant? How can the users’ need for security be balanced with easy accessibility?
Smart FM is about doing better with technology, using it as a means to an end. Solutions catering to these needs are diverse. For example, data analytics can be used to optimise building chiller systems. Booking of facilities, incident reporting, and payment transactions can be done through a single app, creating a seamless end-to-end user experience.
Smart FM in action
A good case example of Smart FM currently in use is the MyInfra FM App at Yale-NUS College. Home to three residential colleges where students live and study, its Infrastructure, Safety & Security Office receives 6,000 feedback items a year, ranging from requests to provide event support to reports on technical issues such as choked toilets or fused lightbulbs.
The MyInfra Mobile App was developed to streamline workflow processes and improve service delivery. Users can take photos of the reported issue and track the progress of their feedback, while contractors can update their status once the issue is resolved. Conversations are time stamped, so when an issue is not resolved within a stipulated period, the Office’s FM Manager is notified automatically.
Before the App was introduced, the average time taken to resolve cases was 14 days. The App reduced turnaround time to just one day.
Reaping the benefits of technology
As emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) devices, Immersive Media (Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality), and cloud-based technologies become increasingly available and affordable, the opportunities to integrate them into building and facilities management will also expand. The benefits are multi-fold.
As Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Minister of State, Ministry of National Development and Ministry of Manpower pointed out at the 6th International Facility Management Conference on 1 October 2019, “Embracing innovation and technology will allow our sector to grow and our workers to become more productive and undertake higher value-added work, and provide better wages and career progression… When we do this well, it will increase productivity and efficiency, and improve the well-being of occupants within the buildings.”
To find out more about FM industry trends and membership details, please visit the SIFMA website for more details.