All is not gloom, however, as unfavourable trading conditions are also providing FMs with unparalleled opportunities to embrace new technologies and develop innovative ways of managing buildings.
The IoT and Water Systems Management
According to research by SAS and the Centre for Economics and Business Research, Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) will contribute £322 billion to the economy by 2020, when they are expected to connect and share data between up to 30 billion devices - and make the proverbial ‘whole’ better than the sum of its parts, in so doing.
Coined by Kevin Ashton at Proctor & Gamble in 1999, the IoT is already encouraging new applications that harness the data storage capacity of the Cloud to revolutionise water monitoring and delivery.
In any building with complex water systems and multiple washrooms; universities, office blocks, hotels, airports and hospitals to name just a few, the IoT's potential is huge. Devices can be installed to monitor site-wide water usage, flag up issues, and report this information back to a central database that logs every reading. FMs can instantly access real-time information about the status of maintenance, electrical and plumbing (MEP) equipment and schedule maintenance operations or repairs only when they are needed.
Proving compliance the easy way
Water temperature monitoring solutions are displacing time-consuming manual checks which have previously been performed to achieve building owner compliance under Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Legionellosis Technical Guidelines for the prevention and containment of Legionellosis published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Systems typically monitor water temperature with sensors and reports information back through readouts that can be accessed in near real-time. FMs are able to monitor the water in their buildings for safety and respond immediately to alarms flagged by the system.
The cost of compliance is also reduced as temperature monitoring systems generate a data trail that can be used to demonstrate conformity with applicable regulations.
Particularly relevant for hospitals, systems will typically come programmed with the HSE guidelines, allowing easy fine-tuning of key monitoring parameters to meet specific organisational requirements.
Combining and extending the reach of new technologies
At Cistermiser and Keraflo, we have been working with FM professionals to develop solutions that integrate both of the above emerging technologies whilst interfacing with their existing building management systems.
Our LinkThru Temperature Monitoring Unit (TMU) harnesses the IoT by fitting onto any pipe with an access point - regardless of whether it is behind a panel, under a sink or washbasin, in a sluice, or by a boiler. The TMU incorporates an aerial and two ports to which cables connect and are then attached at the other end to the outlet pipework. Each port can take two readings, for instance from hot and cold water pipes. Once fixed its live and taking a reading every 10 seconds. It sends this data to ‘the cloud’ hourly with useful information such as maximum and minimum temperatures and all flow events, such as taps being turned on. The system uses the Sigfox network - a long range, low-power, low bandwidth, wireless technology that is already well established throughout Europe and is being rolled out across the UK.
Despite the challenging task of educating established markets about the new opportunities our technologies afford them, we're already seeing changes being introduced at client organisations, and look forward to spreading the spirit of innovation further.
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