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Exploring all aspects of the smart FM journey

05 July 2019

As choosing the most effective technology continues to be a major focus for FMs and service providers alike, PFM discussed the latest developments and reactions in its latest Breakfast Briefing, in partnership with Lutron.

There has been considerable discussion about the impact of technology on all areas of the FM sector in recent years and this can be seen to have made its presence felt in all areas of the industry.

Within the overall subject of technology, there are a number of notable strands that have become recognisable, one of which has been the emergence of ‘smart’ as an all-encompassing label that applies to an increasing number of applications.

Continuing this theme, PFM and Lutron Electronics gathered a number of delegates from FM clients, service providers and real estate representatives to discuss the topic of Improved FM through smart technology for our latest Breakfast Briefing at Lutron’s central London offices.

In addition to energy savings and increased comfort levels, the morning’s session also discussed the increasingly-common trend for systems integration.

The enthusiasm with which the topic was greeted was reflected in the fact that a number of delegates arrived at the Lutron Experience Centre on Finsbury Pavement before the official 08.00 start, allowing them to engage in networking activities and to make new acquaintances.

Experience Centre manager Matt Jacks welcomed everyone to the site and provided an overview of Lutron’s extensive light management and automated blind solutions.

Mr Jacks set the scene for the group discussion that covered a number of highly relevant topics and included a variety of particularly insightful comments around the use of smart technology.

In addition to providing an in-depth demonstration of the many examples of lighting controls installed within Lutron’s extraordinary Experience Centre, he also explained how these systems operate and provide smart data through wireless sensors.

Lutron systems are designed to be quickly and easily installed in any setting – making these an instant hit with those delegates in charge of installation and maintenance – and they also offer simple configuration to work effectively with the company’s products and systems.

FMs and service providers understand the expense and time that it takes to hard-wire any systems into a building. Wireless systems can be installed and accessed with minimal cost and effort and are therefore increasing in demand. Lutron delegates explained the reliability of their wireless systems, now in use globally for over 20 years.

Automated window blinds provided the subject for another live demonstration during Mr Jack’s presentation and tour. He demonstrated how automated blinds can play an important role in increasing occupier comfort levels by reducing glare and solar gain and providing connection to outdoors.

Smart technology continued to be the main central theme throughout his interactive opening session. As the delegates took their places to begin the main discussion, one of the first topics to be considered was the use of wireless technology.

There was general appreciation that wireless systems can limit the time expense associated with installing hard-wired systems, particularly for existing or occupied facilities. The discussion then considered the increasing number of benefits emerging from the application of intelligent automation – another topic that had been featured within Mr Jacks’ presentation.

Applying technology to automate tasks is something that can be explored throughout any facility, the delegates agreed. Thoughts were shared on the most effective way to implement smart technology.

One of the most favourable options proved to be establishing initial test areas to see how a system would perform, either in isolation or in conjunction with others. When everything was shown to be working effectively, the system in question could then be rolled out on a wider basis or incorporated into an overarching solution. To this end, selecting a scalable system is an important success factor.

It was stated by Breakfast Briefing participants that system alerts help building managers to be more proactive, to increase operational efficiencies and to reduce costs. Additionally, customisable alerts can automatically notify the facilities team when something goes wrong.

It was agreed that systems should be simple to operate and understand, which was supported by Mr Jacks’ demonstration of intuitive user dashboards that can help the FM to visualise floor plans, to view status, to get alerts, to monitor lighting and blind performance, and to make quick adjustments from the web-based interface.

Breakfast Briefing delegates spoke about their challenges to provide users with tools and services that promote the highest levels of productivity and this also links closely with the ongoing merging of interests between FM and real estate management.

Participants highlighted how smart technology increasingly provides quick and easy access to data that can then be used to provide accurate illustrations to existing or potential tenants or gain accreditations that can subsequently play an important role in justifying existing lease agreements or future increases.

During the discussion, it was agreed that there is an on-going need for further exploration and debate. One important topic is the need for more effective sharing of data generated by smart technology. While discussing the importance of smart data, increasing system integration and data analytics, the morning’s discussion was viewed by the delegates as both informative and enlightening.

With more awareness for the potential applications of smart technology, FMs are evolving their understanding of how to deliver cost-effective facilities management.

This topic will no doubt be a continuing feature of discussion throughout future PFM debates.

Breakfast Briefing attendees

Ophelia Bellio, workplace operations manager EMEA, Optimizely UK

Blazej Zimnak, marketing technology lead, Salisbury Group

Danny Lemon, head of 22 Bishopsgate, JLL

Dévis Mulunda, commercial sales & market development, Lutron

Ian Cartledge, head of business information tools, Vinci Facilities

Richard Bolger, project and operations manager, Student Living by Sodexo

Nasir Cajee, director of school business, Ernest Bevin College

Andrew Saul, Future of Real Estate Initiative, Said Business School

Neil Wilson, sustainability director, Optimum

Miguel Aguado, marketing & technology manager, Lutron

Daniel Perry, technical services manager, BNP Paribas Real Estate UK

Duncan Atkins, managing director, Optimum

Trevor Wignall, digital and innovation director, Sodexo UK & Ireland

Matt Jacks, European Experience Centre manager, Lutron

Dennis Flower, editor, PFM Magazine

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