The connected facilities ecosystem at the heart of the smart building
“There is no such thing as a separate piece of equipment or an individual who works alone in our facility today. The entire organization must run cohesively as one in order to meet the demands of our business.”
At the ISSA 2018 trade show last year, we hosted an industry panel at which four of our customers shared their experiences deploying the Neo commercial floor scrubbing robot. Pioneers in facility automation, these customers work in different markets — Education, Food Service, Commercial Property and Retail — but their collective experiences point to a series of emerging trends in facilities management.
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As our introductory quote — shared at the panel — highlights, technology has a vital role to play in the smart facility. With advances in connectivity, buildings now have a plethora of equipment and devices with various capabilities for sharing operational information. In most facilities, these devices may operate independently today, but in the future, it’s clear that a connected facility ecosystem — one in which devices from many manufacturers can intelligently share data and operate cohesively — will drive greater value and convenience.
For example, thermostats, solar panels and window blinds can all work together to save energy and keep an environment comfortable. Or automated lighting and security systems that help to detect presence — and potential threats — while also saving energy. A floor scrubbing robot that can open and close security shutters to provide free movement through a retail mall at night? And turn off the lights when it’s finished cleaning? Maybe one day. The connected facility ecosystem orchestrates an array of sensors, devices and intelligent software to support a business that is more efficient and more productive.
Managing today’s facility while preparing for tomorrow
Modern facility managers are tasked with ensuring that today’s ecosystem is working correctly and anticipating how new technologies will change the way the facility is run in the future. While seamless connectivity and interoperation between devices in the facility is some way off, these are important features that facility managers should consider now when evaluating a capital investment in equipment.
When planning a facility management ecosystem, the platform — and the devices within it — must be sufficiently adaptable and agile so they can be added to overtime and improved. Making this a priority protects your investment and reduces the risk of obsolescence.
The Neo floor-scrubbing robot, for example, is equipped with 3G, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections. Day-to-day, those connections support the delivery of timely cleaning performance reports, status notifications and real-time, remote monitoring capabilities. They also allow us to deliver brand new features and performance improvements on a regular basis. In the future, they could easily support that seamless communication and interoperation between devices that excite progressive facility managers.
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