Around the world, the integrated facilities management sector is being modernized to avert climate Armageddon, and India is doing her part

As climate change, inflation and real-estate challenges put pressure on property developers and owners to improve building management and maintenance, the Integrated Facilities Management (IFM) sector is tasked with minimizing operational expenditure on assets while increasing asset values and lifecycles.

With more countries striving to develop smart cities and buildings, technological advances are helping to  keep the IFM sector efficient and relevant. The COVID-19 pandemic has also raised awareness of the critical role of IFM in such as raising standards for sustainability, cost-optimization, employee-retention and pandemic resilience.

The team finds out more from Karandeep Singh Nanda, Head of Operations (West Region), Embassy Services Pvt Ltd (India). 

DigiconAsia: How has the IFM sector benefited from the adoption of technologies such as RPA, 5G and IoT?

Karandeep Singh Nanda, Head of Operations (West Region), Embassy Services Pvt Ltd (India)

Karandeep Singh Nanda (KSN): IFM is the management of operations, be they corporate offices; residential communities; industries; manufacturing plants; or public infrastructure spaces such as airports/stations. An efficient facilities management team ensures that the front-end and back-end functioning of these spaces are maintained with utmost efficiency.  

With advanced technology being adopted, many IFM duties requiring manual intervention have been fully or partially automated. The use of robotic process automation and IoT also provides real-time, data-centric and paperless monitoring and management of facilities.

Besides reducing manual work, advanced technologies guide facilities managers to perform preventive maintenance and improve building safety and usability due to the 24/7 availability of fault diagnostics, usage patterns, power consumption and many other metrics.

IFM teams at the ground level, the middle management level and the executive level also benefit from advantaged technology in their work. For example, with abundant data, managerial teams can now generate automated reports and escalations for audits and task tracking quickly, and the executive management can make more-informed decisions on real estate assets based on the accurate and up-to-date data and analytics. 

DigiconAsia: What are the current trends that are reshaping the IFM sector?

KSN:The most important trend is the inclusion of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) in business frameworks.

A number of real estate businesses have already fostered ESG leadership in India’s built environment by connecting projects and developing key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate progress. This is expected to greatly decrease energy usage through measures such as the use of energy-efficient lighting and equipment, heating/ventilation and air-conditioning system control, and so on.

Setting clear and attainable ESG targets is expected to further reduce operating costs and carbon emissions while also enhancing productivity and overall facility performance.

Facilities, real estate, and property managers who want to stay ahead of the game should now prioritize ESG initiatives using appropriate technological solutions. This would enable companies to establish clear KPIs, report on performance to stakeholders, and ensure that their buildings are appealing to both investors and occupiers.

With the pandemic reiterating the need for more stringency in safety and hygiene practices, the demand for IFM qualifications will increase. Also, demand for IFM specialists is expected to increase for commercial buildings; data centers; warehouses and logistics parks; e-commerce and healthcare sectors.

DigiconAsia: What role does facilities management play in the building and management of smart cities and other smart architectural projects?

KSN:Smart buildings are the latest property industry revolution that use IoT devices to monitor various building features.

These IoT devices output a range of valuable data that can be used to optimize the operational aspects of a space or building and improve its indoor environment.

The smart cities, smart airports and other smart infrastructure of the future will leverage maximized use of technology-focused operations especially in areas of metering utilities such as air, water, and electricity supply.

In order to truly envisage ‘smart’ operations, real-time ecosystems with scientifically backed data are mandatory, with an urgent need to upgrade public infrastructure to meet environmental sustainability targets in a cost- and time-efficient manner.

DigiconAsia thanks Karandeep Singh Nanda for sharing IFM insights with our readers.