Computer-aided Facility Management can save businesses time and money

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facilities management
CAFM has over the years, become more a necessity than a tech luxury

Computer-aided Facility Management or CAFM is a growing technology in the facility management and operations sector to digitise the assets and streamline essential tasks through the use of real-time data and automated processes. For any business serious about efficiency and productivity, CAFM is absolutely necessary. Today, the load on facility managers is ever-increasing and has moved beyond just the traditional requirements of buildings and assets management. Some other services which may be required of them are property management, asset tracking, maintenance planning, users' interface, space management and more. Facility Managers can no longer rely purely on static information and Excel spreadsheets to deliver advanced facilities management solutions, and this has naturally resulted in the evolution of CAFM systems.

Thanks to the several benefits it can offer, CAFM has over the years, become more a necessity than a tech luxury. In fact, studies show that in 2019, the global CAFM market was valued at $830m and it is expected to reach over $1.4bn by the end of 2026, with a CAGR of 8.24% during 2020-2026.

Dr Anas Bataw, director of the Centre of Excellence in Smart Construction (CESC) at Heriot-Watt University Dubai, discusses the several benefits that businesses can reap through the deployment of CAFM.

Driving down costs

All businesses look to bring costs down in order to maximise productivity and that is exactly what CAFM does. The comprehensive reporting capability in various CAFM systems available today allow Facility Managers to use data for efficient and informed decision making, which can result in resources being used more productively. For example – CAFM could potentially track spaces in offices that require a great deal of lighting and recommend use of energy-saving light bulbs and double-glazing on windows for these areas. While such a solution may require some initial investment, it is an investment that pays back over time on a company's energy bill. Studies by EPA state that approximately 35% of a building's energy costs are spent on lighting alone, and CAFM could help you reduce these costs. Predictive maintenance is another area where CAFM can help businesses cut costs. It is a well-known fact that reactive maintenance always cost far more than taking a preventive or predictive maintenance approach. This could be because replacing a broken part could be more expensive than undertaking maintenance or a damaged piece of equipment could compromise efficiency or worse – employee safety. In fact, according to management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, predictive maintenance can generate substantial savings by reducing overall maintenance costs by 18 to 25%. A sophisticated CAFM system will be capable of pulling together a central database, which can then be used to schedule maintenance tasks going forward.

Optimised Space Management

Many functions of CAFM systems are designed to help with various aspects of space management. For example – analysis of how various assets are placed in a facility, workforce management or allocating a space for a particular use. Post-pandemic, space management has become even more critical. Businesses may have fewer employees than before, working from home has become the norm, social distancing requirements could mean the same space will now be used differently where health and safety requirements have taken centre stage. Unutilised space often does nothing beyond costing money to maintain. CAFM can determine better ways to allocate space and make the workplace a safer and more manageable place for everyone and most importantly, ensure no money is wasted on vacant locations.

Integration with BIM

Apart from the traditional benefits of CAFM, in recent times we are seeing a trend of integrating Building Information Modelling/ Management (BIM) with CAFM. Linking the two greatly increases operational efficiency, reduces costs and generates even more useful, and standardised data. In other words, BIM and CAFM together are even more powerful than just CAFM by itself. The first advantage of this integration is a smooth handover between different teams, where traditionally building design and construction is followed by the handover from contractors to subcontractors to owners and finally the occupants and facility managers. This process can be made much smoother by integrating BIM and CAFM to ensure maximum utilisation of space and assets at each stage. It also allows Facility Managers to access extensive information with BIM – this usually contain comprehensive database with objects, graphics, and linked processes to govern the management from the initial to the final stage without any discrepancy. Which will also result in minimising the use of papers and manual handling of information during handover stages and throughout the maintenance and operations of assets, ultimately improve sustainability in Facility Management and operations.