By Steven Beesley

3 leading technologies that are changing Facilities Management in Hong Kong

16 May, 2018

Managing a built asset, whether it’s a residential, office or commercial space, is an increasingly difficult task. There is growing pressure to deliver greater operational performance while cutting overall costs. To celebrate World FM Day 2018, I will look at 3 emerging technologies that are making the biggest impact in facility operations.

As our built environment continues to evolve, so does the role of Facilities Management (FM). The needs of the asset owner or operator, whether they are public or private, are increasing with a higher expectation to drive operational efficiency, cost savings and reduce the assets overall carbon footprint to meet green targets.

To address these industry challenges, facility managers need to innovate, adapt and refresh the way they work. This specifically refers to the impact technology has had in creating a new platform for businesses to thrive and even make professionals re-evaluate their delivery model, creating a new best-practise approach.

There is undoubted momentum in FM around the rise of digital technology. Simple benefits range from a reduction in paper due to digitization of drawings and documents, to more sophisticated cloud-based storage systems that provides access to real-time operation insight and collation of big data from the whole lifecycle of an asset – enhancing the decision-making process.

3 main technologies that are making an impact in Hong Kong:

1. Building Information Modelling

The most common misconception with Building Information Modelling (BIM) is that it’s a new technology. It’s in fact, well-established by contractors and architects in mature markets like North America, UK and Europe, with Asian cities starting to starting to adopt it more widely. The Hong Kong market is beginning to adopt and understand the importance of BIM, and for FM, it’s becoming more commonplace.
BIM is well-known for reducing the need for corrective work, minimizing errors and improving cost-efficiency. The opportunity for FM sits in the data collated throughout the multiple phases of the lifecycle, from planning to operations. The ability to have insight into how the asset was designed and constructed provides an enhanced platform from which facility managers can operate and make more efficient and cost-effective decisions.

The challenge for Hong Kong, and still globally, is that the information exchange process is still fragmented and remains relatively disconnected. There is a need to ensure that smart data collected throughout a building is fully integrated with ongoing facilities management and maintenance, and that it is centrally stored and utilized.

2. Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of all physical devices, vehicles, appliances and other smart technology. They are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and with connectivity, allowing these objects to communicate and exchange data in your facility. They are all uniquely identifiable through a common hub, but they can inter-operate within the existing internet infrastructure. Each of these elements collates data, and most importantly they all communicate with each other to create a greater picture of the asset, therefore driving operational efficiency.

It is estimated that there will be over 25 billion connected things in use by 2020, but currently, there are limited numbers of businesses that have invested in making their assets truly smart. For any benefit to come of IoT, it requires decision-makers to take the step and invest in sensors, thermostats and actuators to evaluate data and reduce the amount of energy and effort by humans for tasks.

For assets and facility managers, the benefits of IoT are essential to meeting new and improved operational targets. The challenge is the first-time connectivity costs. If there isn’t a common hub to integrate devices into, it will be impossible to process facility data into on-the-ground decisions to deliver the potential savings. This is an evolving technology, and is going to take time to integrate itself into a building’s wider challenge of becoming smart. Utilizing IoT systems correctly is the first step in challenging an asset’s carbon footprint. If this can be reduced to fall in-line with industry standards, cost savings won’t be too far behind.

3. Virtual Reality

The intricate detail that a facility manager needs to know, recall and manage in an asset is essential. With components that are not easy to access like ceilings, pipes, wires and air ducts, any advancement in being able to review or recall their location, condition or installation date, is helpful. Current Virtual Reality (VR) technology uses headsets to generate near realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a user's physical presence in a virtual or imaginary environment – or an asset. This benefit enables facility manager to view areas of operation in the artificial environment, for operations or maintenance purposes.

The greatest benefit with VR is its ability to optimize facility maintenance. Integrated with increasing volumes of asset data, it allows a FM team to troubleshoot problems remotely, instead of reviewing flat 2-D drawings or taking multiple trips to site. It has the potential to provide the single biggest impact on the way owners and facility management professionals engage with the building during the operational phases, improving the decision-making process by giving greater ability to efficiently manage the asset.

Justifying large one-off set-up costs, or regular payments for integrating technology isn’t always easy. As FM professionals, we need to assist decision makers to see the big picture, the potential benefits of digital innovations. If adopted wisely and widely, digital solutions could create significant savings for asset owners and operators in the long run. New technologies like BIM, IoT and VR may be slightly more expensive than conventional methods in the initial years of adoption, but the benefits are clear; companies that embrace digitalization can enjoy more streamlined, profitable and safer ways of working.

To get the most out of these technologies, you need a reliable partner. With Arcadis you get access to global leading solutions, delivered locally. Download our operations consultancy capability statement to find out more about how we can help you deliver on your asset’s objectives.

Arcadis is the leading global Design & Consultancy firm for natural and built assets. Applying our deep market sector insights and collective design, consultancy, engineering, project and management services we work in partnership with our clients to deliver exceptional and sustainable outcomes throughout the lifecycle of their natural and built assets. We have more than 5000 professionals distributed in 50 offices in Asia and enjoy a successful history dating back more than 80 years. We support UN-Habitat with knowledge and expertise to improve the quality of life in rapidly growing cities around the world.

Contact Author

Steven Beesley

Facilities Management Senior Consultant +852 2911 9708 Ask me a question