Survey: Facilities managers look to IoT for building performance boost
Survey facilities managers IoT building performance

Survey: Facilities managers look to IoT for building performance boost

A growing number of facilities managers are investing in IoT technology to improve the performance of the buildings they manage, according to a recent survey.

The study, commissioned by energy management and automation company Schneider Electric, claims that building managers are actively exploring technologies such as intelligent analytics to transform maintenance decisions and operations.

Almost nine out of ten (89 percent) of respondents expect to see a return on their connected technology investments over the next three years, and 70 percent said this technology will shape new policies within the year. In total, some 300 US-based facilities managers were polled. 

Confident managers

The vast majority (90 percent) of facility managers questioned said they expect to see connected systems improving smart, productive and profitable operations while delivering better value and sustainability.

However, they are still split between taking a proactive versus a reactive approach to building maintenance. Only 15 percent of respondents reported that they fully utilize predictive maintenance tools and only 35 percent indicated they are proactive in their approach to maintaining building systems by conducting regular preventative maintenance on equipment. The other half of facility managers categorized themselves as reactive.

That said, 42 percent said they are interested in implementing analytics to gain a better insight into their buildings and make better decisions.

Read more: Honeywell launches analytics hub to ‘listen’ to smart buildings

Building maintenance goals

Unfortunately, though, it appears that many managers still aren’t aiming to get the full potential out of connected technologies. Only 32 percent of respondents currently use analytics, and just 17 percent of reactive users have this tech in place.

While more facilities managers are implementing these technologies, there are still many barriers on the way to achieving building maintenance goals. Nearly half (43 percent) said tight budgets can affect adoption, and 23 percent cited a lack of resources available to interpret data and translate it into actionable goals as being a problem. Eighteen percent said the buildings that they manage aren’t suitable for connected technology, while 14 percent aren’t confident of getting a return on investment from smart building technologies. 

Read more: Honeywell launches analytics hub to ‘listen’ to smart buildings

The future of building management

Brian Ratcliff, US EcoBuildings services director at Schneider Electric, said: “To make the most of building systems, forward-thinking facility managers are making a shift toward predictive thinking and taking proactive approaches to maintenance that enhance both operations and energy efficiency.

“As the adoption of analytics and IoT becomes more regular, the use of digital technologies for predictive building maintenance will continue to expand, with steadily increasing ROI [return on investment] through the coming years.”

Ian Hughes, an IoT analyst at 451 Research, told Internet of Business that connected sensors are bringing a range of benefits to modern buildings.

“Building systems such as HVAC tend to respond to local information such as a thermostat, with IoT installations they can be directed to respond in a more planned way such as when integrated with a weather forecast,” he said.

“This means a building can slowly come get to a suitable temperature rather than having to blast the heating or aircon, this saves energy and increases occupant comfort.

“Additional benefits of a sensor enabled building is ensure lighting is appropriate and comfortable, potentially tuned to the preferences of the occupants as they use different parts of the building.”

Read more: Finnish elevator company Kone lifts profits with IoT