Study Shows Digital Technology Use Increases for Building Maintenance

ANDOVER, Mass. — More and more facility managers are taking advantage of the fact that buildings are getting smarter, but the question remains on whether to take a proactive or reactive approach to building maintenance.

A new study commissioned by Andover-headquartered Schneider Electric shows that facility managers are looking to leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) by implementing new digital technologies to improve building performance. Eighty-nine percent of respondents said they expect to achieve a return on IoT investments such as intelligent analytics to improve maintenance decisions and operations within three years. Seventy percent of respondents think that IoT will shape their building and maintenance policies in a year’s time — a direct result of the facility manager’s ability to measure success using digital technologies.

“To make the most of building systems, forward thinking facility managers are making a shift toward predictive thinking and taking proactive approaches to maintenance that enhance both operations and energy efficiency,” said Brian Ratcliff, U.S. EcoBuildings services director for Schneider Electric, in a statement. “As the adoption of analytics and IoT becomes more regular, the use of digital technologies for predictive building maintenance will continue to expand, with steadily increasing ROI through the coming years.”

While the study found more than 90 percent of respondents believe connecting systems to the internet ensures smart, productive and profitable operations that provide better value and maximize energy and sustainability, only 15 percent of respondents said they fully use predictive maintenance tools. Similarly, only 35 percent said they have a proactive approach to building system maintenance by conducting regular preventative maintenance on equipment. The other half of facility managers described themselves as reactive.

Regardless, the interest in new technologies and connected services continues to rise with 42 percent of respondents saying they are very interested in using an analytics-managed service to plan effective building maintenance. It seems most are just scratching the service though, with only 32 percent of respondents saying they have analytics solutions in place. And only one third of those who say they fully use predictive maintenance tools have adopted analytics.

The main barrier blocking facility managers from achieving building maintenance goals is the investment (according to 43 percent), while 23 percent of respondents indicated a lack of internal resources available to interpret the data was a key barrier. The study, conducted by Morar Consulting, surveyed 300 U.S. facility directors and managers as well as operations, maintenance and energy personnel in January 2017.