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Technology assists in facilities management

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In any business, data holds the power to drive the bottom line, ensure uptime and feed an informed strategy for the future. With financial constraints impacting facility operations, managers face decisions about how to maximise their workforce and make the most of all resources.
FacilitiesNet reports that facilities technology is generating new types of data, and in larger quantities, that enable managers to more easily find waste, weaknesses and opportunities in their facilities and operations. “Today, managers are able to go far beyond just casually dipping into maintenance reports and repair histories in the hopes of spotting a problem or an opportunity.” In reap the benefits, however, the power of data must be harnessed – and this requires that it is organised, concise and easy to access.
“An effective enterprise asset management (EAM) strategy is built on visibility into the whole enterprise,” confirms Jane Thomson, MD of Infor partner of Softworx. “Knowing the big picture, and whether you’ll be repairing or replacing, makes budget planning easier and helps steadily reduce the repair backlog and the liabilities associated with it.”
Technology can help, especially EAM software that is offered as a cloud-based subscription, making it an operational expense instead of a capital outlay.
Barry Diedericks, enterprise asset management specialist at Softworx, advises that there are five specific areas where technology can help increase efficiency. Automated call center support, for example, operates as a point of triage. “Doing everything you can to help your customer service team efficiently answer questions and solve problems keeps customers satisfied.”
A digital contractors’ portal allows electronic communication and speeds up the resolution of open issues. “Establishing a secure access point for contractors allows them to send and receive updates, providing estimates, notes, and other details as required. This improves efficiency and reduces overall time to work completion.”
The automatic issue of preventive maintenance work orders ensures that the facility is running at peak efficiency. “Technology can help by automatically issuing work orders triggered by the criteria selected, eliminating spreadsheets, extending asset life, and preserving equipment warranties.”
Great efficiencies can be achieved through effective space planning and move management. “Technology can help make better use of space and time through visualisation of space assignments, allowing managers to define, assign, and track employee workspaces and furnishings. Workspace management can also be integrated with call center operations, key management, and locks for even greater efficiency and control.”
Case management covers elements not included in work orders, such as accidents, spills, emissions, operator or shift notes. “Case management allows managers to record events that require ongoing observation and review. A built-in case management workflow automatically assigns tasks, establishing an audit log of the case or incident, allowing the user to create workflow tasks or follow-up work orders related to the existing case.”
Facing common data challenges modern businesses are turning to technology to reach optimum efficiency. From facility management to engineering services, and everything in between various EAM software solutions are often implemented separately across multiple databases. In these instances, the volume of data captured can become crippling.
Deployments often entail various operational functions, with systems in in different regions being set up individually, according to specific contracts and clients’ contractual requirements. The implication is that data cannot be accessed across the different databases, and data is also not uniformly captured.
“To function effectively, businesses require high-availability technology infrastructure to ensure 99% system uptime to their clients,” states Diedericks. “To achieve this, a Primary and Secondary Environment can be deployed, implementing automatic failover for all major environments. This enables load balancing and a high availability environment, which is essential.”
Being more strategic with maintenance is critical. As a result, Softworx has recently deployed an Infor solution set comprising the latest version of EAM with EAM Mobile, EAM Advanced Reports and EAM Analytics on Infor ION and Ming.le technology.
“This solution offers an interface that enables approvals, streams, dashboards, business process improvement and contextual analytics across applications,” says Thomson. “With this fully integrated EAM implementation, the systems uncover powerful cost and time savings in multiple areas, which add up to major efficiency gains.”