July 23, 2015
All About the IoT
By now, you have no doubt heard about the "Internet of Things," or the "IoT." For the less-than-tech-savvy, this trendy phrase may be a head-scratcher; for those in the know, the IoT is the wave of the future and is set to change the way facility managers approach their jobs. But what, exactly, is the Internet of things. and how does it affect facility management?
What Is the IoT?
The IoT refers to items that have an IP address that can be used for Internet and network connectivity for the purpose of communication between multiple devices. The IoT takes network communication and moves it beyond computers and mobile devices and gives everyday objects the ability to "communicate" with the outside world through the Internet.
But what does that mean? One simple example is a door to your home. When the door is Internet-enabled, you could unlock or lock your door with your computer or a mobile device. Common applications of IoT technology in current society include security systems, household thermostats, home lighting, vehicle control, and home appliances.
Benefits of IoT for Facility Managers
The main benefit of the Internet of things within a facility is automation, the ability to automate common tasks and sync equipment (and its operation) to your computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), giving facility managers a centralized dashboard to control everything from a property's HVAC unit to its security.
On a smaller scale, the IoT will help to reduce energy waste in manufacturing plants and facilities. One way it will achieve this is through climate control. Utilizing smart systems and embedded sensors, a building"s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system will be able to detect, on a room-by-room basis, any deviations in temperature and adjust air flow in that specific area on the fly. This allows heating and cooling systems to run more efficiently, reducing energy waste and resulting costs.
The ability to monitor a facility off-site is another great benefit of IoT for facility managers. With an Internet-connected device, a supervisor could effectively control many elements of their property from a remote location. For example, perhaps employees forget to turn off the lights before leaving for a long weekend. Instead of having to arrive on the scene, you could log into your main control system and shut off any non-essential lights and machinery.
The same goes for malfunctioning machinery. If there is a machine that is not performing at peak capacity, a facility manager could receive an alert about the equipment, log into it, and shut it down until a maintenance worker can assess the situation. Along the same lines, an IoT-enabled machine could send out an alert to a maintenance worker when an anomaly is detected and generate a work order to be sent straight to an employee"s mobile device. This has many benefits. For starters, it helps cut down on machinery downtime and lets your maintenance crew catch small issues before they turn into major problems. This, in turn, reduces the need for machinery replacement and lowers departmental costs.
At the end of the day, the Internet of things is about one thing: reducing costs and increasing profits. The fact that it can help a facility manager better manage their properties, no matter where they are located, is just icing on the cake!