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In the dynamic landscape of modern facility and building management, the year 2023 marks a pivotal moment characterized by the rapid integration of digital technologies into facility management practices 

As facility managers strive for enhanced efficiency, sustainability, and user experiences within their built environments, the realm of building management has undergone a significant paradigm shift. Embracing innovative digital solutions – including predictive maintenance, smart energy optimization, occupant-centric amenities, and real-time monitoring – has become indispensable for achieving these objectives. 

Read on below to explore insights from Regional Lead (Australia and New Zealand) Bart Crowther, and Regional Head for MENA + APAC Vitaly Berezka, uncovering their perspectives on digital-driven facility management, facility management, illuminating transformative trends, cutting-edge technologies, and strategic insights that are shaping the way facilities are built, operated, and maintained in the digitalization era. 

As the facility management industry continues to evolve, what are some key emerging trends or challenges that your company is witnessing and addressing in the current landscape? 

Bart Crowther: 

The facility management industry is currently undergoing an exhilarating period of transformation. The advent of smart technology has completely revolutionized the way buildings are managed. Utilizing Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and devices, real-time data on building performance is now accessible, enabling predictive maintenance and optimizing resource allocation. This shift towards data-driven decision-making is not only enhancing operational efficiency but also improving tenant comfort. 

Vitaly Berezka:  

The growth of remote work has highlighted the importance of having remote facility management capabilities. We are witnessing that the adoption of digital building operations software empowers facility managers to monitor and control building systems from a distance, ensuring optimal performance even when they are not physically present. 

These trends and challenges are driving innovation and reshaping the landscape of facility management. As a result, professionals in this field are exploring new strategies and technologies to ensure efficient, sustainable, and safe building operations. 

Facility management has increasingly become a critical component of sustainable business practices. How does taking a digital approach contribute to enhancing sustainability efforts for building operators, support green building initiatives or reduce energy consumption? 

Bart Crowther: 

The convergence of digital technology and facility management represents a significant paradigm shift in advancing sustainability and energy efficiency within buildings. 

We’re also seeing an increasing shift towards predictive maintenance for energy conservation. Leveraging digital tools enables predictive maintenance, facilitating continuous monitoring of equipment performance. By identifying issues before they escalate, building operators can ensure optimal efficiency of HVAC systems, lighting, and other critical components. This proactive approach minimizes energy waste caused by equipment malfunctions and reduces the need for emergency repairs. 

Vitaly Berezka: 

In the past five years, there’s been a sizeable uptick in demand for smart facility energy management and optimization. Digital solutions provide advanced capabilities for managing energy. Building operators can remotely control heating, cooling, and lighting systems based on real-time data and occupancy patterns. Smart algorithms automatically adjust settings to maintain optimal conditions while minimizing energy consumption, thereby supporting green building initiatives. Embracing a digital approach in facility management equips building operators with a powerful toolset to proactively manage energy resources, optimize systems, and engage occupants in sustainable practices. 

Workplace safety has been at the forefront of discussions, especially within the last 12 months. How does can software support facility managers in ensuring the safety and well-being of building occupants and visitors? 

Bart Crowther: 

Workplace health and safety have rightfully taken centre stage, and the role of software in ensuring the well-being of building occupants and visitors has become increasingly vital.   

There’s a noticeable trend towards streamlined compliance, in response to an evolving regulatory environment. Software platforms offer a centralized hub for tracking and managing compliance with health and safety regulations. Facility managers can monitor adherence to standards, schedule inspections, and ensure that safety protocols are consistently followed across various aspects of building operations.  

With real-time monitoring capabilities, software enables facility managers to promptly detect and respond to safety incidents. Alerts can be triggered for unusual activities or conditions, enabling swift intervention. Additionally, incident management features facilitate efficient coordination of response efforts during emergencies. 

Vitaly Berezka: 

More advanced software solutions have the ability to provide facility managers with tools to conduct thorough risk assessments – a noticeable improvement in standardisation and digitisation procedures for comprehensive risk assessment and mitigation. These assessments cover a wide range of scenarios, from natural disasters to health emergencies. By identifying potential hazards and vulnerabilities, managers can develop robust mitigation strategies and response plans.  

By harnessing the capabilities of software solutions, facility managers can proactively enhance workplace health, safety, and risk preparedness. These technological advancements empower organizations to prioritize the well-being of their occupants and visitors. This helps in fostering a culture of safety and resilience in the face of evolving challenges. 

Building automation, BIM and IoT technology have revolutionized facility management. How can teams leverage these advancements to improve efficiency and optimize resource utilization? 

Bart Crowther: 

The convergence of building automation, Building Information Modeling (BIM), and Internet of Things (IoT) technology has ushered in a new era of possibilities for facility management. Building automation systems, BIM, and IoT devices generate a wealth of data. By integrating these data sources from multiple locations and tools into a single, centralized reporting platform, facility teams can gain a comprehensive view of building performance. This unified data stream enables informed decision-making, identifying areas for improvement and optimizing resource allocation. 

Vitaly Berezka: 

Smart workflows and automation have seen significant strides in the last 18 months. Building automation systems can be integrated with BIM and IoT data to trigger automated workflows. For instance, occupancy sensors can adjust lighting and temperature settings based on real-time usage. This not only enhances occupant comfort but also ensures that resources are utilized only when needed.  

IoT devices capture real-time energy usage data, which can be analyzed alongside BIM models. By identifying energy inefficiencies and trends, facility teams can fine-tune HVAC systems, lighting, and other utilities. This targeted approach reduces energy waste and operational costs while improving occupant comfort.  

By leveraging the synergies of building automation, BIM, and IoT technology, facility teams can revolutionize efficiency and resource utilization. These advancements empower teams to make proactive, data-driven decisions that not only optimize building operations but also contribute to sustainability and cost savings. 

Maintenance costs can significantly impact a company’s bottom line. In your opinion, how can facility managers utilize predictive and preventative maintenance to help building operations teams reduce downtime and lower operational expenses? 

Bart Crowther: 

Reducing maintenance costs while ensuring optimal building operations is a critical objective for facility managers. Predictive and preventative maintenance strategies offer compelling avenues to achieve this goal. 

Condition-based maintenance plays a pivotal role in optimizing digital facility management. By leveraging real-time data from IoT sensors, facility managers can transition from a calendar-based maintenance approach to condition-based strategies. This means that maintenance actions are triggered when equipment performance deviates from optimal levels, resulting in optimized resource utilization and minimized unnecessary servicing. 

Implementing condition-based (or predictive) maintenance planning enables facility managers to effectively plan and allocate resources, leading to cost savings. By understanding when and where maintenance is required, teams can schedule work during off-peak times, optimize labor utilization, and source materials at competitive prices, resulting in significant cost savings. 

Vitaly Berezka: 

Considering asset lifecycles is an often-overlooked aspect for building operations teams. Implementing preventative maintenance practices, such as routine upkeep and minor repairs, can help prevent major breakdowns. By consistently addressing small issues, facility teams can extend the lifespan of critical assets. This not only delays costly replacements but also maximizes the return on investment for equipment. 

By incorporating predictive and preventative maintenance strategies, facility managers can make informed decisions based on data, proactively address issues, and allocate resources strategically. Leveraging technology and insights, building operations teams can significantly reduce downtime, enhance operational efficiency, and achieve tangible cost savings while maintaining a high standard of facility performance. 

With the rise of smart buildings, interoperability and data integration are crucial. Collaboration and integration with other software solutions are essential for streamlined operations in building management. What features should facility managers look for when implementing new software, and what are some ways the new platform should integrate with other business applications to enhance overall efficiency? 

Bart Crowther: 

The rise of smart buildings has underscored the vital importance of interoperability and data integration in effective facility management. When choosing new software, facility managers should carefully consider features that align with this interconnected landscape. 

One crucial feature for any modern software platform in 2023, particularly in building operations, is the support for open APIs and standards. It is imperative that new software incorporates open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and adheres to industry standards. This ensures seamless compatibility and effortless integration with a wide array of third-party systems and devices, facilitating smooth data flow and communication across multiple platforms. 

Vitaly Berezka: 

For optimal performance, any new software should facilitate real-time data exchange with other applications. Integration with IoT devices, sensors, and Building Management Systems (BMS) ensures seamless collection, aggregation, and analysis of data from multiple sources, enabling informed decision-making. 

Additionally, it is crucial for the software to offer mobile compatibility and integration with mobile apps. This empowers facility managers to access critical information and perform tasks on-the-go, ensuring continuous monitoring and management, regardless of their location. 

By prioritizing these features and ensuring seamless integration with other business applications, facility managers can unlock enhanced efficiency in building management. A well-integrated software ecosystem promotes streamlined operations, minimizes manual processes, and empowers data-driven strategies. Ultimately, this approach contributes to a more agile and responsive approach to facility management. 

As remote monitoring and hybrid offices have become the new norm in a post-COVID landscape, what are some of the ways cloud-based software can enhance remote facility management capabilities? What value can it bring to businesses with distributed locations? 

Bart Crowther: 

The transition to remote work and hybrid office models has transformed facility management. In this evolving landscape, cloud-based software has emerged as a vital tool, offering flexible solutions to enhance remote facility management capabilities. 

Real-time visibility is crucial for successful facility operations. With cloud-based software, facility managers have instant access to critical data from multiple locations. This empowers them to remotely monitor building systems, occupancy patterns, and equipment performance. By staying informed, managers can make quick decisions and efficiently resolve issues, regardless of their physical presence. 

Vitaly Berezka: 

Effective facility operations rely on the potential for enhanced team collaboration and reporting. The integration of cloud-based systems enables flexible and seamless collaboration among distributed teams. Regardless of physical location, facility managers can collaborate on maintenance tasks, share valuable insights, and generate comprehensive reports. This promotes consistency in processes and facilitates performance benchmarking across different sites. 

In the realm of remote facility management, cloud-based software serves as a powerful tool, providing a comprehensive toolkit for monitoring, control, and collaboration across distributed locations. This adaptable solution caters to the evolving demands of a hybrid work landscape, ensuring efficient operations and optimal productivity. 

In your opinion, what are some of the coming trends we can expect to see in facility management and building operations software in the coming 12 months? 

Bart Crowther: 

The field of facility management and building operations software is on the verge of exciting advancements in the upcoming year. One notable development is the increasing prominence of digital twins, virtual replicas of physical assets, in the facility management landscape. These dynamic models empower facility managers to simulate different scenarios, test strategies, and optimize space utilization, ultimately leading to more efficient and agile building operations. 

Furthermore, as the Internet of Things (IoT) continues its expansion, we can expect a deeper integration of IoT devices within facility management software. This integration will enable real-time monitoring of building systems, occupancy patterns, and equipment performance, providing a comprehensive view of facility operations and enhancing proactive decision-making. 

Vitaly Berezka: 

Looking ahead, sustainability and the integration of ESG principles will undoubtedly remain at the forefront of stakeholders’ minds, encompassing construction, development, and operational perspectives. As the emphasis on sustainability and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors continues to grow, facility management software will incorporate features to monitor and report on energy consumption, carbon emissions, and other key sustainability metrics. Aligning with ESG goals will rightly take precedence. 

In my view, facility management and building operations software are poised for significant evolution, driven by the seamless integration of advanced technologies and an intensified focus on sustainability and security. 

Bart Crowther is the Regional Lead of Australia and New Zealand for the global SaaS construction tech platform PlanRadar.  

With more than 10 years’ experience in the construction industry, Crowther has worked in a number of high-profile and senior leadership roles for companies such as Aconex, Avoka Technologies, Fujitsu, Kronos and Data#3. 

Over the last 15 years, Crowther has directly specialised in construction Software as a Service (SaaS) and also business process automation; providing guidance and advice on construction management and business processes optimisation to a wide range of clients, teams and audiences around the world. 

Vitaly Berezka is leading business development across Central Asia, MENA and APAC regions for the prominent construction and real estate software company PlanRadar.  

With an engineering degree in construction, Vitaly as well holds an executive degree in business administration. His experience in the real estate development and construction industry spans more than 15 years. Since 2013, he has held management positions in international companies that provide innovative solutions to the construction and real estate industries.  

Besides lecturing on digitalization topics at universities, he is the author of scientific publications and the co-author of three books. Vitaly is a member of International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI). 

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