Facilities Management Forum | Forum Events Ltd Facilities Management Forum | Forum Events Ltd Facilities Management Forum | Forum Events Ltd Facilities Management Forum | Forum Events Ltd Facilities Management Forum | Forum Events Ltd

Posts Tagged :

Technology

The advantages of using smart technologies in commercial buildings

As the UK Government pledges to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the urge for sustainable buildings is stronger than ever.

According to the UK Green Building Council, an estimated 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint is attributed to the built environment, half of which comes from energy used in building. Heating alone created 10% of the country’s carbon footprint. 

Yet sustainability is still out of reach for many property owners and managers. Old buildings, small budgets, tenants’ varying needs – there are many factors that make it hard for a property manager to truly measure the sustainability of a building and to act upon any findings.

Considering this, Frankie Bryon, Sustainability Surveyor at LSH discusses why smart technology can help buildings improve on sustainability as well introduce other benefits that include promoting health and wellbeing and enable agile working…

Smart is sustainable
Firms’ sustainability strategies have been a major driver of the rollout of smart technology. By providing more efficient controls over energy usage, it can deliver significant reductions in energy consumption.

It is no coincidence that some of the smartest office buildings in the world are also rated by BREEAM as among the greenest. Smart systems allow lighting, heating, air conditioning and ventilation to be monitored and adjusted according to a building’s usage and occupation. Energy wastage can be minimised by turning off heating and lighting when an office is unoccupied. Intelligent building facades may also be used to control the heat and light entering the building in response to changing weather conditions.

The next generation of energy efficient smart buildings have their own sources of power generation and some are even able to generate more energy than they consume, with surplus energy going back to the grid.

Workplace wellbeing
Smart technology is increasingly recognised as having an important role to play in promoting health and wellbeing. It can help to create environments that support alert, energised workforce. 

Sensors can monitor air and water quality, light, temperature and noise levels. Issues known to affect workers’ concentration levels such as poor air quality or a lack of natural light can thus be detected and fixed.

More advanced smart office technology can also make use of data from wearable biometric devices monitoring the health and comfort of workers. In fact, research by Instant Offices shows 45% of the UK workforce would feel comfortable with sharing information via wearable devices for the purpose of protecting their health and wellbeing. 

Ambient conditions can be adjusted when workers show signs of discomfort, or an individual’s immediate working environment can be changed according to their personal preferences.

Work smarter

Sensors, smartphones or wearable devices may collect data monitoring environmental factors such as temperature, light, air quality and noise, as well as data on employees’ usage of the building.

The data collected can deliver building managers with actionable insights on how to improve a building’s performance, or it may feed through to automated systems controlling the office environment. With smart technology continually evolving, it is being used to support an increasingly wide range of applications, providing multiple benefits to building owners, investors, occupiers and employees.

Enabling agile working
Smart technology is providing occupiers with a better understanding of who uses the office at any given time, how they work and with whom they collaborate. These insights can enable increasingly agile, flexible working.

Some of the newest generation of smart buildings have fewer desks than workers. Instead, employees may reserve a workspace using an app, with a choice of spaces depending on whether they would prefer a collaborative workspace, private meeting area or a quiet space.

Smart systems may thus facilitate a move away from the convention of employees ‘owning’ a desk, which then goes unused for periods when they are out of the office. Flexible workspaces can be used more efficiently and may be continually adapted to changing employee demand and new work styles.

Improving workplace experiences
As well as enabling desk and room bookings, workplace apps can also be used to order food and drink, book gym sessions or reserve parking spaces. They may allow employees to control ambient settings, as well as providing new ways of connecting and collaborating with colleagues.

Workplace apps are thus developing as important interfaces between employees and office buildings, giving individuals greater control over their office experience. This will help to align the modern office with the expectations of a younger workforce for whom smart technology already plays an integral part of their lifestyles outside of work.

The benefits of being smart
Overall the advantages that smart offices offer are in terms of the following:

  • Sustainability
  • Employee wellbeing
  • Agile working 
  • Workplace experience

Smart offices also aid talent attraction and retention, by creating spaces in which people want to work, while appealing to workers’ environmental values. Modern, sustainable offices can help to reinforce a company’s brand values and define a progressive, forward-thinking corporate culture.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

IOSH study: Apps can ensure safer buildings

Digital apps can help construction project designers create safer buildings by improving their knowledge of hazards during the design phase.

That’s according to new research funded by IOSH and conducted by researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University.

It found that the use of a multimedia digital tool can help to educate designers on typical design-related hazards and assist them in designing safety into construction projects more effectively. 

The study asserts that many professional design institutions have been gradually withdrawing the requirement for architects and civil engineers to spend prolonged periods of time on construction sites.

In turn, this has meant many designers do not have the construction knowledge needed to understand how their designs could impact occupational safety and health and often results in contractors taking on the responsibility for building designs.

However, the IOSH research shows up to half of construction accidents in the UK have a connection to the design of the building, highlighting the importance of improving designers’ knowledge of hazards and designing safety into developments from the outset of projects.

Professor Billy Hare, Deputy Director of the BEAM Research Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: “A key factor for this research was the visual nature of the digital tool’s content, which seemed to work best with new graduates.

“But its real potential lies in being able to capture tacit knowledge from more experienced designers for the next generation to counter the age-old problem of organisational memory loss and prevent the same old mistakes that cause accidents and ill health from being repeated.

“We are now looking for partners to develop the prototype digital tool for full-scale industry use.”

As part of the study, a sample of 40 (20 novices and 20 experienced) designers from two typical industry groups of architects and civil engineers were recruited.

The designers were randomly assigned to multimedia user (experimental) and non-user (control) groups, who were permitted to use the internet for help. Participants were asked to review a set of computer-aided design (CAD) drawings in these sessions, identify hazards and make decisions about designing for OSH.

The experiment tested the multimedia digital tool against general internet searches and examined the designers’ ability to foresee OSH hazards in designs by measuring both the quantity of specific hazards identified and the quality of design outcomes.

Using the tool, the designers identified hazards a total of 599 times, with architects identifying over three times the number of hazards as those not using the tool. For civil engineers the figure was five times as large.

In both cases the scope of hazards identified was double that of the group not using the multimedia tool, suggesting it was an effective way of improving designers’ knowledge of hazards. This knowledge could help to create safer buildings by factoring a greater number of hazards into the planning and design of construction sites.

Mary Ogungbeje, Research Manager at IOSH, said: “Everyone would agree that it’s always best to prevent an accident from taking place in the first place, rather than reduce the injury.

“In today’s age of technology, being able to utilise digital training resources to help designers do just that is great. Such tools can make a real difference in upskilling professionals, irrespective of their level of experience. Architects and civil engineers can identify hazards and come up with better controls when developing and reviewing designs. Ultimately, this will reduce injuries and save lives.

“I hope that this research and the findings are welcomed by the design community in particular, including establishments with an educational or training interest, so that the learnings can contribute to improved industry practice.”

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay 

GUEST BLOG: The future builders will be programmers

As software continues to pave the way to more advanced and complex buildings, the question arises over the shift in skills our future builders will need. Potentially, we will require builders with more technological skills than practical skills, especially as artificial intelligence continues to develop enough to be able to take over basic labour tasks. In this article, building design software experts Oasys explores the matter further… 

Worrying about technology and jobs 

It’s a common concern, that one day all our jobs will be done quicker and cheaper by machines. Technology will not steal our jobs, but just replace us as we shift roles. But how will this impact the construction industry? 

It’s important to understand the numbers behind predictions like this. Boston Consulting Group has said that by 2025, up to a quarter of jobs will be replaced by smart software or robots. This includes a range of professions, from factory workers to doctors, and even journalists. However, a study carried out by Oxford University has said that 35% of existing jobs in Britain are at risk of automation in the next 20 years.

Whether or not we will see a reduction in physical workers is yet to be seen. However, this can be challenged if we start preparing early and encourage current and future workers to adapt to the changes. This could include advancing their own skillset with a focus on how they can do their job better with the use of technology.

Less replacing, more changing 

Of course, even if the workforce is replaced with mechanical workers, someone will need to manage this technology. It’s also left unmentioned that workers will need to use technology, and that leads us to the decision that in the construction industry, builders of the future will become programmers. Over the years, we have seen constant changes in the way we work, and the construction sector has been very accepting to new and innovative methods to make jobs easier. From hammers to nail guns, shovels to diggers — and now practical labour to programming.

This won’t be a quick change. Programming is a topic that schools around the UK should be looking to implement into their curriculums as a core subject to keep up with the demand of jobs and to keep up with the constant changes in technology. If we’re teaching young people old ways, they will be useless when it comes to doing the work and there might not even be jobs available that match their skillsets. With the constant growth in technology surrounding construction, young people need to be prepared with the skills and this shouldn’t be up for debate. Like the studies discussed earlier, more jobs are at risk of being lost due to smart software and robots. Workers need to be as good as the technology.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a common technology used in the industry that is hugely beneficial. This technology allows the appropriate people to access all of the information about a project in one place. It can look at key stages of a project across the lifecycle of a job and provide the information that is needed. This can save both time and money for any construction company and allows builders to have a clear oversight. BIM can help illustrate the entire building, from starting processes to its demolition, and can even show how materials can be reused. 

As with any industry, the trick is to stay ahead of the game and learn these new techniques required of technology in order to adapt. 

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-33327659

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/19/robot-based-economy-san-francisco

Technology ‘crucial’ in the battle for greater service sector productivity

Technology is a ‘crucial’ factor towards greater productivity and employee satisfaction, helping the services sector run more effectively as a result.

That’s the conclusion of a new report by Kronos, Empowering the Employee: How Technology Will Play its Part in Creating a More Efficient Workforce in the Services Sector, which outlines the challenges currently being faced by the FM sector, such as Brexit, the skills shortage and underperformance, with the direct result creating squeezed profits and an air of uncertainty for providers.

The report addresses these issues and suggests the service providers should embrace technology and help stimulate working practices and operations.

However, it claims that the services sector has yet to understand the full potential of technology advancements, such as robotics and workforce management tools.

“The services industry is up against it when it comes to delivering in the face of current market pressures,” commented Gavin England, EMEA industry marketing manager Kronos.

 “Skills shortages mean that businesses are struggling to efficiently move goods and fulfil orders, and the potential impact of Brexit means that there needs to be a major focus on improving operational efficiencies and streamlining core processes, while keeping staff morale high.

“The pressure to increase bottom-line profitability in the face of such challenges is very real, and one of the most effective ways that this can be done is by empowering managers and employees to do their jobs more effectively with the resources they currently have.”

FM must digitalise to increase productivity, says JLL…

A recent report from the professional services and investment management company, JLL predicts that companies will continue to implement and embrace a digital facilities management approach; with new technologies changing how businesses handle workforce and facility operations becoming more available.

As workplaces progress to deliver additional flexibility, the ‘Reinventing Facilities Management for the Digital World report warns the FM sector must become a ‘digital business’ to meet rising expectations and demands – focusing on employees as ‘end-users of space’ and distributing an experience that is consistent to increase productivity and attract and retain the best talent.
To find out more and access the full report, click here