The concept of a connected network of devices has been around since 1982 but its introduction as an industry changer, in the form of the Internet of Things (IoT), is relatively recent.
Through the convergence of a number of recent technological advancements such as sensors, machine learning, embedded systems, real-time analytics or even artificial intelligence and advanced reality, it is possible for a system to connect all its individual elements, from your service elevator to the break room microwave. While we already have some of this on our everyday lives with Alexa or Google setting the temperature of the room or playing music for us, the real, large-scale benefits can be felt in industries like manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture or automation.
Out of all potential industry benefits, one particular aspect has seen drastic improvement through IoT and it’s every facility manager or technician’s bane: maintaining an efficient and organised maintenance plan.
How can IoT drastically improve your maintenance plans?
By definition, IoT can be translated into connectivity. Connectivity between different equipment, rooms or even facilities and, perhaps more importantly, connectivity to the cloud. But IoT doesn’t stop at the connection between the elevator and the microwave. With the right software and infrastructure, anyone can centralise all information from the connected devices or sites into one single place – a database that allows those same technicians or managers of large facilities to quickly access information about the device.
In practical terms, this means money, time and energy saving since you are effectively able to inspect a room or a piece of equipment that was just under maintenance wherever you are, whenever you need it. However, the benefits IoT brings aren’t time sensitive…
If it ain’t broken… fix it anyway!
Okay, wait a minute. We’re not suggesting you should go around fixing things that aren’t broken. That wouldn’t be very smart. What we’re saying is that with the right amount of data and other components inherently present in an IoT system like data analysis tools or even machine learning and augmented reality, one can gather and process all the data required to detect predictive patterns. This can also be performed in the cloud, through an intuitive facility management software allowing you to view, export and, more importantly, see when your equipment is likely to malfunction.
Sure, some industries can get away with waiting for the malfunction to happen before fixing it and others even have an efficient enough maintenance routine to minimise downtime. However, if you work under very high quality control standards, you’ll be much better off avoiding unfavourable audits (both internally and externally) if you have a firmer grasp of your entire asset map. And not to mention avoiding unfavourable reviews if you’re working on some particular industries (I’m looking at you, hotels).
How smart can a facility get, really?
Smart cities and their respective smart buildings have also been increasingly gaining traction in recent years so… quite a lot actually! From carbon-neutral and brand new self-sustainable cities in the middle of the desert to optimised smart transportation networks, if there’s one thing all of these projects have in common is that they all need extensive and continuous maintenance and, being that the case, it’s only logical that your maintenance systems should be just as smart.
Having a good facility management or CMMS software can be the difference between things working or your whole project failing. At the same time, having access to detailed information can provide you with the insights you need to see where you can improve your operations. At the end of the day, it’s about optimising everything you can with efficiency in mind. Maintenance is just the glue that keeps it all together, running everyday.