In the Middle of the Revolution-Digitalisation In Facility Management
In the beginning, there was the search for existential protection. Humans looked for shelter in caves, huts, castles and houses to escape serious dangers such as weather and animals. Today, facilities serve a wider variety of purposes. They are used for housing, trade, commerce, manufacturing, education and medical facilities etc. This importance of the use paired with the knowledge that the total costs of a real estate are divided into 20- 30 percent investment and 70-80 percent use costs, requires a special management.
Facility Management therefore, aims to consider the entire life cycle of real estate and to ensure its optimal use. It starts directly after the decision for a real estate investment and entails the planning, construction, commissioning and use phase to the demolition. Consequently, Facility Management is not only affected by the digital level of the real estate itself, but also by the digital working methods/systems within the construction planning/processing and later use phase.
Smart Buildings and Services
There's a lot going on currently in the industry. Smart Buildings and Services are no longer just vocabulary but reality. What used to be regarded as science fiction is already being used and implemented extensively in the Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian countries. So buildings can now be easily controlled by users themselves and in real time. Ventilation, lighting or heating can be adjusted via app or voice control, and FM services such as housekeeping, cleaning, catering, room booking and visitor registration etc. can be ordered the same way. Many services, such as cleaning, are already provided by robots. Maintenance is simplified by the installation of additional sensors for real time condition assessment of the building technology, maintenance and repair orders are automatically triggered depending on the data obtained, thus avoiding unnecessary defects as well as unnecessary service activities.
Digital Processes and Digital Twin
It is not only the digital level of building technology that plays an important role. Only in conjunction with the adaptation and digitalisation of the related processes can these develop their full positive benefits. At the beginning of every construction project, the client defines the objectives. The project team (architects, civil engineers, specialist planners etc.) has to understand relatively quickly what the client needs, when, at what cost and in what quality. It is therefore essential that Facility Management already plays an important strategic role in the construction planning phase in order to define the correct data concept for later use phase and also to reduce later usage costs through active input.
This is made possible by the widely used Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) principles developed by Stanford University. These describe the methods and processes of integrative unified planning. With the support of appropriate software (Building Information Modelling), a digital twin (3D) of the developing building is modelled together and combined with all relevant building data. Adjustments in the model and associated consequences (also for later use) are so easy to recognise. This digital twin accompanies the structure into the use phase and serves as a fundamental basis for various other systems in the long term.
CAIFM and Big Data
Facility management, which assumes the task of strategic and operational management within the use phase of the building, requires static and realtime data for this purpose. For strategic management, static data such as building space, higher-level KPIs on performance, costs and quality are required, while operational management also works with real-time data on equipment availability, equipment states, service requests, etc.
“With the support of appropriate software (Building Information Modelling), a digital twin (3D) of the developing building is modelled together and combined with all relevant building data”
In order to meet these needs, Facility Management primarily uses CAIFM systems (Computer-Aided Integrated Facility Management), which are often provided web-based by the Facility Service provider. These serve to provide the facility information and support the relevant work processes, such as budget and project planning, performance metrics, assessment information, maintenance management, move management, service management, ticketing etc. For the operative processing of the related work orders, mobile devices (such as tablets, mobile phones etc.) connected to the main system are already state of the art.
In addition to the use of static building data, real-time data from the BMS/BAS (Building Management System/Building Automation System), which ensures the monitoring, control and regulation of the facilities, is usually also integrated into the CAIFM system. Currently, various system providers are also working on the integration of the digital twin. The main challenge lies in the limitation of the required data, since the model also contains a lot of data that is unnecessary for the use phase and would go beyond the scope of information. For this reason, several systems (CAIFM, BMS/ BAS, BIM) are still being used in parallel.
The possibilities of digitalisation in Facility Management are enormous and far from exhausted. They already offer the possibility of controlling buildings like cars via a cockpit, with high costbenefit transparency, more flexible use of buildings and improved services. Today's living and working environment is undergoing a fundamental change. Some of them are merging. Locations are losing importance. Buildings and thus also Facility Management will have to take on new roles in the future.