How technology improves facility management

Sensors and software combined to bring the necessary data to make smarter management of services, from reception to cleaning.

May 24, 2021

Who is aware of the novelties of the real estate sector must have already encountered the word proptech, which has a similar structure as the already known fintech, health tech, and greentech, which refer to new technologies in finance, health, and sustainability, respectively.

Proptech is the fusion of the terms "property" and "technology" and brings a new perspective to the real estate industry: using technology to optimize processes of buying, selling, renting, and managing real estate and collecting data that adds intelligence to those operations. A famous example in this market is Airbnb, but under the umbrella of proptech, there are also solutions for CRE (Commercial Real Estate). They are called CRETech, focused on improving the management of commercial real estate-including in the Facilities sector. "The technology allows managers to do better analysis on space occupancy, service efficiency, and asset control to have more consistency in decisions," says Marcelo Mendes, Product and Innovation Leader at JLL Technologies.

What's new in proptech for facility management?

In Latin America, some proptech solutions are already available to automate the demands of facilities with the help of sensors and software that collect information in real-time and generate immediate notifications of occurrences, for example.

This information is used to generate analytical reports covering all KPIs important to the business. "The data accurately show, for example, the efficiency of service providers or the need to occupy more or less space in the building," exemplifies Lívia Lourenço, Facilities Manager and IFM Brazil Community Ambassador at JLL.

Below we show you some examples of functionalities that optimize the facilities management.

Online booking of meeting rooms

It is a basic function of the system, which allows the employee to book meeting rooms by computer or cell phone. Sensors installed on-site also show whether the room is being underused and whether there is crowding. The software can be programmed to cancel the reservation of someone who comes late. "The system is already enabled for the end-user. The Facilities team does not need to stay to take care of whether someone made the reservation or not," says Marcelo.

Smart cleaning of restrooms

Presence sensors "count" the number of people entering the restroom. When they detect a lot of traffic, the software alerts or is responsible for cleaning to check if there is a need to replenish products or disinfect the area. "That eases the work of Supervisors. If the restrooms are being little used, cleaning employees can be assigned to do another service," notes Livia. "Also, there are options to encourage the user to comment on the state of the restroom or make an on-site call. The information goes directly to the cleaning manager."

Checklist by QR code

Instead of using clipboards, supervisors can make the restroom checklist by QR code, using the smartphone to select what to do in each and open, on-site, a service order for the leader or floor cleaner when needed. "This greatly speeds up the cleaning process. This gives users the feeling that they have someone who is taking care of this process," says Livia.

Calls via app

The facilities software can be integrated into the system that the company already uses for employees to manage calls by computer or by a cell phone. "Instead of calling the maintenance area, the employee reports on the cell phone that a chair has broken or that the air conditioning needs to be fixed," says Marcelo. That service order goes on time for the maintenance leader, who sends a team to execute the requested service more quickly.

Turnstiles with built-in scanners

To avoid queues at the reception, visitors can access the building using their cell phone. After informing the time of entry and exit and the name of an employee to visit (and on which floor he/she is), the visitor approved by the company receives an email with a QR code that releases his/her entrance. When you get to the building, you just need to use the cell phone to pass the turnstile. "Many buildings have already taken this task away from receptionists, who focus on the most personalized attention or on receiving deliveries," says Livia.

Maintenance optimization

With a cell phone in hand, the maintenance leader keeps track of the default checklist and opens on-site service orders when he encounters problems. The generated data points to the facility manager if the area goals are satisfactory and show the maintenance blind spots. "The manager can assess whether the service provider is working efficiently and in the stipulated time of service and how necessary it is to review the preventive because there are more calls and service orders," says Marcelo.

Timely carpet cleaning

Unexpected impurity on the carpet can be cleaned on time (and correctly) by the cleaners. With a cell phone at hand, they take a picture of the problem, and the app records the exact location and type of impurity to tell them which sponges and products are ideal for cleaning the carpet and which is the best time for the operation. "The information gets recorded for the Facilities Manager, who keeps the carpet always sanitized and has a Registered Report to assess where there is more or less need for that specific cleaning," says Livia.