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Interview

5 Minutes With… Jim Phelan, Irisys

In the latest instalment of our FM industry executive interview series, we spoke to Jim Phelan, Director of Smart Buildings Business Development at Irisys, about his company, industry opportunities, the challenges posed by COVID-19, thermal temperature scanning and autonomous buildings…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

Irisys are people counting experts. We have been making people counting solutions for 24years and have deployed over 500,000 sensors. Our sensors are trusted by big companies around the world such as Morrisons, Kroger and Samsung.

Our latest product is called SafeCount. It is an occupancy monitoring solution that was developed in response to COVID-19 to help businesses measure and control occupancy within their buildings to enable social distancing to take place and to protect the safety of all occupants.

SafeCount can be deployed at a building or room entrance, such as a washroom or a canteen area; and multiple entry and exits points are handled with ease. When occupancy limits for an area are reached, visual alerts are sent to display screens to advise building occupants that it is not safe to enter.

What have been the biggest challenges the FM industry has faced over the past 12 months?

The obvious, COVID-19 was the unforeseen global challenge that has impacted the personal and professional lives of every human.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

Innovation prevails during time of crisis, and necessity is the mother of all invention, and so on…  This pandemic has forced building operators to take a calculated approach to re-populating their buildings by optimizing existing building systems and introducing new technology to manage building usage.

What is the biggest priority for the FM industry in 2020?

Determining how to safely re-populate buildings and responding to the highly likely remote working strategies many companies will introduce.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2020?

Building health and wellness and its impact on its occupants.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

Thermal temperature scanning of building occupants and occupancy controls are already making a significant impact to the re-population of buildings, I see this continuing for a long while.

In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?

Boy, COVID-19 was a real gamechanger huh…

Which person in, or associated with, the FM industry would you most like to meet?

Whoever first successfully develops an autonomous building.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the FM sector?

Technology adoption moves at a much slower pace than the residential market.

You go to the bar at the Facilities Management Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

Willett Rye Whiskey “double neat”.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

No two days are the same.

And what’s the most challenging?

No two days are the same.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Vent up.

Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?

Ozark.

www.irisys.net

5 Minutes With… Genetec’s Paul Dodds

In the latest instalment of our FM executive interview series, we spoke to Paul Dodds, Country Manager UK & Ireland at Genetec, about the company, industry opportunities, the challenges posed by COVID-19, de-centralised working practices and Newcastle United…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

Genetec is a forward-thinking technology company that improves security and operations by ensuring facility managers can manage all of their IP security systems from one, intuitive interface. By unifying the likes of access control, video surveillance, intrusion detection and analytics, we help users to gain a better understanding of what is happening inside their facility, thereby ensuring operators can respond faster, more effectively and with greater confidence.

We are open-platform which means our customers aren’t restricted in their hardware choices. They can select the cameras, door readers and a myriad of other sensors based solely on what best meets their budget and requirements.

What have been the biggest challenges the FM industry has faced over the past 12 months?

Undoubtedly it is Covid-19 which nobody could have comprehensively planned for back in 2019. All of a sudden, the FM industry has been tasked with introducing and enforcing the new hygiene protocols, physical distancing requirements and strict occupancy limits that allow for workplaces to be safely re-opened.

Digital technologies were already shifting the needs and expectations of an organisation’s physical premises. but the changes now required are on a scale not seen before. It will require a lot of time, effort and access to the right technology to make these adaptations.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

We now have a window of opportunity in which the wider business fully understands the need to completely overhaul premises and the way they are managed. So now is the time when additional budget may just be available to push through projects that ensure facilities can operate safely and securely.

The FM industry shouldn’t pass up this opportunity to look at options that both address the immediate post-lockdown challenges and that provide a clear upgrade path to anticipate and respond to future requirements. For example, can we centralise security operations to monitor all of our sites from one location? Can we reduce training costs by enabling operators to manage all systems through one intuitive interface? And can we use our system beyond security to give us a better understanding of how the space is being used?

What is the biggest priority for the FM industry in 2020?

The single greatest priority has to be ensuring facilities can safely re-open and function, so that employees are confident in returning to the workplace. We need to use all the technologies at our disposal to get facilities back up and running and to ensure that any incidents have minimal on-going impact on day-to-day operations. For example, should an employee test positive for Covid-19, the ability to quickly identify where in facility they have been and who they are likely to have come into contact with could be critical in preventing one isolated case from becoming a disruptive localised outbreak.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2020?

I expect many companies will rethink their real estate requirements. For example, Barclays’ CEO has already said putting 7,000 employees into a large central headquarters may be a thing of the past. It’s likely that larger companies will move towards a more decentralised approach that sees employees combining working from home with visiting many different smaller sites. This will change the way security and operations must be managed.

The unification of video, access control and intrusion detection is another trend I expect to continue in 2020 and beyond. People are growing increasingly frustrated with isolated systems that are inefficient to manage and which provide an incomplete understanding of what his happening inside the facility.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

In the circumstances I expect access control and video analytics will have a strong year as they can simplify many of the new measures currently being put into place. For example, people counting software is a great way of warning when occupancy limits are close to being breached so that guards can take action before it is too late. Equally, access control can alert cleaning staff when a room needs to be sanitised and automate record-keeping of exactly who was on-site at any one time.

In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?

Within FM circles I’d like to think we’ll be celebrating the long-term benefits of the new technologies we’ve introduced to meet the demands of the modern workforce. I hope cybersecurity and privacy will also be much more front of mind. Right now many organisations are rushing to deploy solutions such as thermal scanning and video analytics to address their immediate operational challenges. Both technologies have their place and can be introduced in a manner that doesn’t put the organisation at greater risk or unduly impinge on the privacy rights of visitors and employees. In time I think we’ll see users grow less accepting of technology deployments that didn’t consider cybersecurity or privacy at the outset of their deployment.

Outside of work, I hope we’ll all be talking about the resurgence of Newcastle United in the style of Leicester City back in 2016!

You go to the bar at the Facilities Management Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

Probably a crisp lager but right now I’ll take anything wet if it’s an opportunity to meet with my peers face-to-face.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Without hesitation it is speaking to partners and end users about the specific challenges they face so I can come back to them with a solution that will best meet their needs. In this regard I’m very lucky to work for Genetec for two reasons. Firstly, as we’re open platform I can be technology and vendor-agnostic, choosing hardware solely on whether it is fit-for-purpose and answers their requirements. Secondly, I’m backed up by a talented team of developers who quickly predict and respond to customer needs. For example, recently – at the request of our customers – quickly developing a contagion reporting capability and an access control application for the distribution of personal protective equipment.

And what’s the most challenging?

In the current climate it is frustrating to see some organisations rushing towards specific technologies without a thorough understanding of their effectiveness, suitability for the task and where they’ll fit into wider operations.

A good example is thermal cameras which are often being purchased with proper scrutiny, leaving people susceptible to dishonest marketing claims. In many cases it is technology in search of a problem. Whereas we prefer the approach of starting with the challenge the business needs to solve and only then selecting the technologies that can help.

5 Minutes With… Neal Grant, Derwent FM

In the latest instalment of our FM executive interview series, we sat down with Neal Grant, Derwent FM‘s Head of Business Development, to talk about his company, industry opportunities, the challenges of Covid-19, new technology and Game of Thrones…

Tell us about your company, products and services

We deliver a range of hard and soft FM services which combined mean we can offer a total facilities management service for our customers. We cover a national spread of sites from Glasgow in the north down to Bournemouth on the south coast, we have also started delivering services in Ireland. The majority of services we deliver in house through our skilled workforce, with specialist services such as lift maintenance delivered through our select group of supplier partners.

Our services are delivered with sustainability and customer experience as the key focus areas, all underpinned by total compliance across every aspect.  We are one of the first FM companies in the country to achieve the energy management ISO 5001 accreditation, illustrating our drive to lead on sustainability, and also have a wide portfolio of long term partnerships centred on customer excellence. Social impact is a huge part of our business also, this is reinforced by each and every penny of our profits being fed back into social housing delivered via our parent company. We therefore deliver an FM package with an ethical approach and a clear beneficial social impact all centred on sustainability.

The structure of our business means that we are ‘small enough to care but big enough to deliver’. As a business with circa 250 employees and £18million turnover per annum, our size means we can tailor and adapt our offering for our clients in a flexible and focused manner, whilst also offering the security of our £800mil+ parent company, Places for People, to meet all financial surety requirements.

What have been the biggest challenges the FM industry has faced over the past 12 months?

The industry is still recovering from the Carillion fall out, trust in the outsourced market has dipped as a result and even SME suppliers are looking to spread their risk from a supply perspective in case a similar scenario repeats. The skills gap in the country around reliable, experienced tradesman remains and recruitment of electricians, heating engineers etc also remains challenging particularly outside London.

Given the new threat of Covid-19, it remains to be seen what impact this will have on the FM sector in the long run but in the short term simply delivering services when social distancing is so important is incredibly challenging but not insurmountable at the moment. Additionally, the threat to the skilled workforce as the case numbers begin to increase could become a problem.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

The wider focus on climate change and managing our impact represent huge opportunities for the sector. These opportunities are not just reputational, in the form of minimising our impact on the environment and ensuring our future generations actually have a sustainable planet, but there are huge financial savings to be made from delivering more sustainable buildings. We know as a business, if there is a focused approach to reducing energy via ways of working or strategic capital replacement works, clients can save vast sums from their bottom line as well illustrating their green credentials which is incredibly important now for their staff and customers alike.

What is the biggest priority for the FM industry in 2020?

Covid-19 will clearly change the landscape for the duration of this year and beyond. Initially the focus will be purely on delivery services and ensuring compliance and service standards are maintained. I suspect however by the end of the year we will be asking how we can change our ways of working which will bring in questions about social impact and environmental focus to make the whole sector more durable and sustainable.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2020?

Clearly Covid-19 will be key focus for the sector this year. How businesses react to the virus, building in resilience and management of their workforce and suppliers will be key now. As the economy shrinks, which we can say for sure it will, there will be balancing act for the sector to deliver value for money whilst retaining their workforce and ensuring delivery whilst managing social distancing for a period of time.

In addition, sustainability and energy management will continue to be a key focus not only in 2020 but beyond. Only in the last 2-3 years, partly due to the rise of Extinction Rebellion and the clear change in weather conditions, finally the population has begun to understand how significant our contribution to climate change is. There is a link within this arguably to globalisation and the Covid-19 virus also, so going forward a local, sustainable approach to the FM sector will become increasingly important through 2020 and beyond.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

Digital apps for the clients and customers will transform how clients and customers interact with their FM suppliers, which we have already seen in our business in 2019. Everybody has smart phones these days with which they run their lives in effect, therefore having a means of communication and reports for clients on these devices is key going forward to drag the sector into the 21st century. Delivering smarter, instantaneous communication to our clients and customers in 2020 will be key.

Decarbonisation of the national grid will have a large role to play over the coming years also. Given the energy savings for the clients, removing gas fed equipment and installing electric dependant M&E systems such as air source heat pumps will become increasingly important.

In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?

Hopefully Climate Change in a positive manner as oppose to Covid-19.

Which person in, or associated with, the FM industry would you most like to meet?

Given how much of a focus sustainability is and will continue to be, David Attenborough would be a fascinating person to meet and discuss how industry has affected the natural world.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the FM sector?

I find it surprising how far behind the curve many building owners are when we talk about energy consumption and savings. There are huge benefits, both from a financial and reputational perspective, and I find it incredibly surprising how little attention is paid to this.

You go to the bar at the Facilities Management Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

Any local ale – Tom Long from Stroud Brewery is the ideal scenario.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Feeling like you are making a positive difference, both for your workforce but also your clients.

And what’s the most challenging?

Time away from a young family.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

‘There is no substitute for hard work in life’.

Baptiste or Game Of Thrones?

I’m sorry to say Game of Thrones.

www.derwentfm.com

5 Minutes With… Bruce McDonnell, Incentive FM

In the latest instalment of our FM executive interview series, we spoke to Bruce McDonnell, Managing Director at Incentive FM, about his company, industry issues, careers advice and Peaky Blinders…

Tell us about your company, products and services

At Incentive FM we self-deliver the full range of TFM services.  Our model is open book, fully transparent and our aim is to work in true partnership with our clients as trusted advisors.

What have been the biggest challenges the FM industry has faced over the past 12 months?

The effects of Carillion and other struggling businesses has placed nervousness with clients and supply chain alike.  Brexit has, and is bringing its own challenges regarding the uncertainty and shifting rules around EU nationals working and applying for settled status as well as the whole debate over supply from the EU, the impact that may bring and identifying clear resilient processes to keep the wheels turning.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

I think the biggest opportunities for us as a business is that we are in a unique space in the market, we are not a huge multinational bottom line focussed corporate like many of our competitors.  Instead we are fully independent, truly listen to our clients, we are empowered to make the right decisions and focussed on working with businesses to develop long term sustainable partnerships.  We are seeing more and more clients looking for that independent partnership way of working.

What is the biggest priority for the FM industry in 2019?

People! We need to make sure that our people are at the heart of everything we do.  The nervousness discussed already ripples through to employees and that coupled with Brexit and other factors mean that as always for us we need to keep our teams informed, be a good employer, reward and recognise great performance and live our vision of “to have staff who love working for us and clients who love working with us”.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2019?

There is a lot of excited buzz around Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things along with other smarter ways of working.  For us, harnessing this technology to deliver real value to our clients and the industry is essential.  There are a lot of white elephants out there so we all need to tread carefully and confidently in this emerging market.  There are a lot of financial pressures in the industry, particularly in retail and clients are keen to see strategies that harness technology output to deliver savings.  This will only become more prevalent.  Working smart is nothing new, everyone needs to focus on evolution and how we adapt our overall approach to match future demands.  Innovation isn’t just a clever widget or system, its doing things differently to enhance what or how we do things to deliver value.

In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?

As a fan of all things winter sport related I’m sure I will be talking about the Bejing winter Olympics.  I’m fairly certain there will also be some talk of the football World Cup too!

Which person in, or associated with, the FM industry would you most like to meet?

 The Home Secretary, National Security is part of facilities management for our nation isn’t it?

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the FM sector?

The fact that it is the third largest employment sector in the UK behind the NHS and construction.

You go to the bar at the Facilities Management Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

Japanese whisky served with a smile!

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Working with great teams. 

And what’s the most challenging?

Sustaining the culture and values as we grow.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Leave problems and challenges on the wave behind and focus on the gap in the waves in-front of you! (I heard this from Humphrey Walters and his learnings from sailing around the world in the toughest yacht race, the BT Global Challenge).

Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?

Peaky Blinders!

5 Minutes With… Julian Harrison, Director, myfm

In the latest instalment of our executive interview series, FM Briefing sat down with myfm Director Julian Harrison to talk about the company’s offerings, market opportunities, industry challenges and Line of Duty…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

We are an FM management company that provides our clients with an end-to-end project delivery and support services. We work closely with the industry’s largest service providers. Either placing our associates into management positions within a contract, or by directly delivering solutions and supporting our clients in the delivery of high quality services, Myfm strives to deliver an accountable, totally dependable management resource that provides real value to our clients. 

What have been the biggest challenges the FM industry has faced over the past 12 months?

Our impact on the end-user. The industry has been getting used to moving away from the concept of “facilities management” towards that of “workplace management”. Whereas before FM tended to limit its focus on the “bogs and basins” fundamentals of keeping a building going, it’s now more about how building users feel about their organisation and their environment.

Many people in FM are still talking solely about workplace. The challenge for both end-user clients and service providers is to re-orientate our business to focus more on how our services can impact the success of our host businesses through impact on people, brand and productivity.  

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2019?

I’ve noticed a shift amongst service providers from focusing solely on information transparency between ourselves and the client towards how we use information and technology to improve our services. Who’s in meeting rooms and when? What washroom and kitchen facilities are being used etc. 

We recently worked with a client using an occupancy monitoring and resource deployment solution which informed janitors in real time what facilities needed to cleaned, massively improving efficiency and service quality. Any technology that can accurately monitor usage of facilities and disposables will have a significant impact in disrupting the market in coming years.

In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?

Energy management and sustainability will be even more high-profile areas. Buildings themselves will have to become more flexible to accommodate a “revolving door” of users. Buildings will also make far greater use of IOT “internet of things” to provide integrated facilities services that are far simpler and more effective to manage. 

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the FM sector?

I’ve been surprised by how slow FM has been to leverage our effects on the success of the core business. Workplace quality and environment have a huge effect on staff wellbeing & retention, which in turn has a huge effect on the success of a building user’s business. I’m surprised that FM hasn’t made the case that we are not just a “necessary evil” or overhead but can be a dynamic and influential factor on business success.

You go to the bar at the Facilities Management Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

This is easy. Mine would be a Young’s extra special bitter or any well-kept real ale. 

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

FM is a diverse and dynamic industry. No day is the same so the problems we help our clients deal with always present exciting new challenges to tackle.  

And what’s the most challenging?

Sometimes political relationships between service provider and end-user can blur our understanding of where accountability and responsibility lie in a contract. This can sometimes disrupt our ability to maximise our potential value to the client. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Listen carefully and thoroughly. Let others have their say first. Often task-orientated people can jump too quickly to reach a solution. It’s far more engaging and effective to let others clarify their objectives and concerns thoroughly first.

Baptiste or Game Of Thrones?

Baptiste. But Line of Duty is better. 

www.myfm.co.uk

Sharron Kapellar

5 Minutes With… Sharron Kapellar, Forbo Flooring

National Framework Manager at Forbo Flooring Systems, Sharron Kapellar discusses her company’s USPs, finances, wellbeing and blueberries with a G&T…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

Forbo Flooring Systems is a leading global player in high-quality, commercial floor coverings and total solution flooring projects that include Linoleum, Vinyl, Luxury Vinyl Tiles, Flocked Flooring, Carpet Tiles and Entrance Flooring Systems. We are truly a manufacturer that believes in quality and sustainability, offering only products that we manufacture to a high standard – after all you spend 80-90% of your lifetime indoors. We want to make the best of that environment.

What have been the biggest challenges the FM industry has faced over the past 12 months?

I would have to say finances and wellbeing, with many PFI’s coming up for maintenance renewals and clients wanting to improve wellbeing for personnel.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

I would say the above. Some other manufacturers only seem interested in the bigger construction projects and don’t seem to want to support FM managers.

What is the biggest priority for the FM industry in 2018?

Keeping finances above water with the minimum wage increase – it is quite a strain on the FM industry. Companies are also putting more pressure on the estate manager to give a higher environmental wellbeing for staff for longer periods of the day, but with no extra cash.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2018?

From A Forbo point of view, certainly more Dementia friendly products and colour hues, as the work force gets older, as well as more diverse. The work environment will have to change, not just for physical health but mental health wellbeing too.

From a total FM point of view hopefully more collaboration between construction and facilities companies so the FM company can truly manage the future of the building, taking lifecycle cost into consideration, and not just the construction company taking the lead on what goes into the building, to get a building out of the ground at least cost.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

We already have the latest technologies coming into business with computers predicting when things need changing. Also use of Drones; perhaps every office will soon have their own ‘Alexa’. With the increase of machines able to interact with human speech as well as FM managers now having an increase of collected data, then translating and communicating that into everyday practicalities. BIM buildings will have rules built into them and technology generally will learn from what it’s just done and possibly initiate improvement.

In 2020 we’ll all be talking about…?

Not enough charging points for our cars, and of course the weather. 

Which person in, or associated with, the FM industry would you most like to meet?

I would love to have time with Deborah Rowlands, now with Sodexo, having moved up from the ranks as an assistant facilities manager, working with private and government sector companies.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the FM sector?

That most FM managers don’t understand how much the correct flooring, specifically entrance areas although small, can give a big saving.

You go to the bar at the FM Forum – what’s your tipple of choice?

Definitely Brockmans Gin & Slimline with blueberries

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

People and different challenges everyday

And what’s the most challenging?

At times, the people – it’s all about how I can help them manage the multitude of ever changing challenges they face.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Never look back saying “if only I had”! Always try to learn from a mistake.

Peaky Blinders or The Crown?

Peaky Blinders