Digital Twin Energy Management: Preparing for Greener Infrastructure

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

We’re in the run-up to what could be a new age for the energy industry. With the climate change crisis top-of-mind, there’s a real focus on renewables and cleaner energy; specifically, establishing the infrastructure for these new technologies. As energy companies and municipalities look to a future of renewable infrastructure, they’re also paying mind to the importance of digital twin energy management.

Embracing green energy isn’t as simple as setting up solar arrays and wind farms. To get the energy from these generation points to the grid takes a modernized infrastructure. And, there’s a difference between cobbling together new energy systems and preparing the country for a future dependent on them. Here’s a look at why digital twinning in the energy industry is so vital for the future.

Green energy systems require modern architecture

There are layers of complexity in establishing a modern energy grid. For starters, the mode of clean energy generation is much more vast. Take solar power, for example. You can set up an array anywhere there’s plentiful sunlight. This means more opportunities for power substations around the country. More arrays mean a broader infrastructure network to build out—as opposed to centralized power plants outside of major cities.

There are also the generators themselves to consider. Solar arrays, wind turbines, and natural gas pumps represent modern hardware. Many of these systems are digitally enabled, which means the grid they tie into needs to be equally as intelligent. What good are a cloud-enabled accelerometer and voltmeter for a wind turbine if there’s no system to receive that data?

Digital twins provide the digital framework engineers and energy companies need to build out a more robust, more intelligent energy system. From point of creation to point of delivery, a digital twin provides end-to-end energy management capabilities.

Energy management goes both ways

Digital twins in energy are also important from a commoditization standpoint. A growing number of residential and commercial properties have their own energy generation equipment, independent from the grid. The ability to sell clean energy back to the grid means energy managers need a way to measure units of energy as commodities within the system.

How much energy did commercial property XYZ consume over the past 30 days? How much energy did commercial property ABC generate and sell back to the grid in that time? What is the net cost per kilowatt hour for the difference in energy delivered vs. returned? These are real questions that accompany a smarter energy grid. Digital twins help provide the context to answer them—and to optimize energy management.

Asset management is critically important

The asset management capabilities offered by digital twins makes them instrumental in establishing the new green energy infrastructure. Solar arrays, wind turbines, and other equipment are off-site and function independently, save for routine maintenance. Energy management companies need a way to monitor and manage these assets without babysitting them.

A digital twin can provide deep insight into the status and performance of point-of-generation equipment. Turbine revolution trends can tell a story of a potential problem if one generates fewer rotations than its peers on a wind farm. Likewise, a drop in pressure at a natural gas extraction site can alert maintenance teams to a fault before it results in outages. Digital twins are key in asset management, which paves the way for efficiency, reliability and consistency—must-have traits for energy producers, brokers, and consumers.

Local vs. regional vs. national systems

Let’s not forget that the United States isn’t on a single energy grid. Cities are independent of state and regional grids, which make up a patchwork national grid. While many systems are set up to freely exchange power, there are still obstacles. These obstacles will become more pronounced as local grids modernize faster than others.

Through digital twins, grid operators can instantly communicate with nearby municipalities to coordinate shortages or excesses. Moreover, they’ll have the ability to track and trace energy generation and utilization over broader ranges and service areas. If the grid in Tacoma, WA goes down and Seattle needs to supply power, they’ll have the systems oversight needed to sync up and jumpstart supply—all while keeping the receipts in order.

The energy sector is getting more complex

The digital twin energy sector use-case is only a small part of the modernization taking part in this sector. Energy management stands to benefit from a wealth of emerging technologies, including the likes of blockchain and machine learning.

From the production of green energy to energy sharing across grids and efficient cost control systems, there’s a lot riding on a modernization of the North American power grid. Digital twins help to ensure we’re approaching modernizations and advancements the right way—and that they make sense as part of a larger, more complex approach to energy management.

There’s a bright future for energy ahead, and it’s riding on the opportunities offered by digital twins.

Keep reading: Digital Twins in Oil and Gas


Five Digital Twin Examples Every Company Can Capitalize On

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist

The concept of a digital twin isn’t all that difficult to understand. Where most businesses get tangled up is in the practical application of one. The sea of possibilities for creating an intelligent building is overwhelming, and many aren’t sure where to begin. It helps to have a few digital twin examples to go off of.

What is digital twin? For those who need a refresher, a digital twin is the digital copy of a physical building. Digital twins create a dynamic, digital picture of the many systems operating within facilities. They tie together processes, information, and systems to create dynamic insight into the function of the building.

What are the types of digital twin examples companies should expect to roll out in their own facilities? Here’s five practical applications that fit every company, regardless of size, industry, or location.

1. Asset monitoring

Asset monitoring and maintenance are a critical function of digital twins. From capital systems to simple assets like desks and chairs, the digital twin serves as a central repository for information about these assets.

When’s the last time a repair tech serviced the HVAC system? What is the trend for capital maintenance expenditures every month? How many of your standing desks are more than five years old? Digital twins provide accessible information about all these variables and more. This allows maintenance teams, facility managers, and stakeholders to understand the best course of action when it comes to asset management.

2. IoT visualization

As buildings become more complex and intelligent, digital twins serve to wrangle the many data-generating IoT devices within them. The digital twin makes it easy to see devices not only for what they are, but for the role they play in your facility. The occupancy sensor in a conference room isn’t just another sensor—it’s hooked into the room booking system and the CMMS ticketing system, for example. This context enables broader understanding of the IoT and its impact on facilities.

Digital twins in IoT are especially important for companies with a growing IoT. The opportunity to coordinate a buildout by visualizing need is something that leads to better ROI. You’re not just investing in devices and systems—you’re investing in solutions.

3. Information modeling

Digital twin software represents a digitization of physical workplaces. This means it’s ideal for information modeling. Facility managers and other stakeholders can quickly identify trends and pose questions that lead to workplace improvements. For example:

  • What percentage of total workspaces are individual workspaces?
  • What’s the current occupancy of individual workspaces vs. group spaces?
  • What is the cost per head for these spaces based on utilization?

This series of questioning—made possible through a digital twin—allows facility managers to model problems and solutions. If you increase the number of individual workspaces, does cost per head go down? Up? What does this mean from a workforce standpoint? Information modeling through digital twins enables constant opportunities for innovation.

4. Access control

While access control is a system all its own, it’s made even more effective and efficient via a digital twin. Instead of merely allowing (or blocking) access, digital twins turn access control systems into data generating features that paint a picture of workplace utilization. For example, it might show that employees on the fifth floor travel to different floors too often to use a conference room. These types of insights can alert facility managers to inefficiencies they might never have realized.

Digital twins also paint a more inclusive picture of access control at a user level. What areas do people in Group B have access to that Group A doesn’t? How many users are in Group F and what level of access do they have? These top-down access control insights make an already familiar system more efficient and useful within facilities.

5. Sustainability initiatives

Digital twins recognize the building as a collection of capital systems. This layered approach to looking at HVAC, plumbing, electricity, waste management, and other vital systems opens the door for both cost-saving initiatives and greener ones.

Through information modeling capabilities, facility managers can make improvements that center on sustainability. For example, instituting a recycling program may actually lower your waste management costs by $X. A digital twin helps model the benefits by showing historical data about waste management and incorporating cost data from the proposed plan. Stakeholders can oversee the recycling program through the digital twin in the form of assets and cost data fed into it through invoicing and maintenance logs.

Digital twins pave the way for innovation

Digital twins provide important insights when it comes to the design, planning, and execution of these core operational tasks. Maintenance managers can use digital twin data to inform a more proactive asset maintenance strategy. Facility managers can model new, more efficient workspaces. Companies can become leaner, greener, and more cost-efficient by looking at the data present within a digital twin. As a mirror of the physical space, a twin will inform the best course of action for optimizing it.

Keep reading: How to Use Digital Twin Software


How to Measure IWMS ROI

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist

The shift to flexible work and the new desking concepts that support it has led to an even larger reliance on workplace software. Nothing provides support for workplace governance quite like an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS). This comprehensive solution for digital workplace management gives facility managers the tools they need to manage a workplace in real-time. Not only that, it’s a window into workplace optimization on a broad array of levels. These benefits and more are evident in IWMS ROI.

IWMS ROI occurs at both top and bottom lines of a company’s balance sheet. The cost savings of an efficient desking concept vs. new opportunities for revenue by enabling employee productivity. Here’s a look at how to measure IWMS ROI through various lenses, depending on how your company utilizes this software.

What is IWMS?

First, a quick recap of the many ways IWMS software touches the different facets of a business’ operations. While IWMS applications vary greatly from organization to organization, the capabilities of these systems are broad. Some of the broad pillars its features encompass include:

  • Space planning and management
  • Workplace and employee experience
  • Real estate optimization and utilization
  • Facilities, maintenance and asset management

IWMS is the digital system through which facility managers can document, observe, oversee, and improve workplaces and facilities at large. It provides powerful reporting capabilities for whatever application it’s deployed to serve—which gives facility managers plenty of opportunity to track its ROI.

Space planning and management

The simplest way to measure the ROI of IWMS software in regard to space planning is to observe classic space-related metrics. Use available data to set the benchmark for these metrics, then peg improvements after IWMS implementation. Some of the core metrics to track include:

  • Capacity, occupancy and density
  • Overall and space-specific utilization rates
  • Cost per head and cost per seat
  • Mobility ratios

Historical data will tell the story of how IWMS insights help facility managers improve these metrics and do more with space. Especially as we enter the era of flex work and a mobile workforce, it becomes more and more important to make sure space meets the needs of companies and users in a cost-efficient way.

Workplace and employee experience

It can be difficult to put a price on employee experience and workplace culture. The best way to peg these benefits is through quantifiable metrics that have costs attributed to them. Say, for example, a company does a Net Promoter Survey and finds that happy employees are 26% more productive than the mean, and unhappy employees are 45% less productive than the mean. Apply these percentages to the revenue generation benchmark per employee to recognize the impact of workplace experience.

Quantifying emotion, opinion, sentiment, and other intangibles can provide insight for IWMS ROI. For example, if workplace sentiment averages 64 out of 100, the mean hourly revenue generated by a sales team might be $50.40. With IWMS improvements to create a more comfortable, supportive work environment, that average rises to 81 out of 100 and revenue of $64.50 per hour. Here, you can say that IWMS ROI in terms of workplace experience equates to $14.10 per hour in new revenue. Real change and real numbers make for meaningful ROI.

Real estate optimization and utilization

Calculating IWMS ROI at the real estate level is easy—chiefly because real estate management is inherently numbers-driven. Attributing ROI is a matter of understanding what changes an IWMS enables and how those changes trickle up to the macro level.

For example, if a new floor plan created through IWMS results in better cost per head, that’s reflected in the high-level ROI of the building within a portfolio. When the time comes to extrapolate positive changes across different locations, that location’s cost per head will come up as a model for broader company efficiency.

IWMS has a direct connection to lease costs and operations. Facility managers can gauge positive trends, cost savings, and new revenue tied to operations after implementing IWMS to see the value of software as a driver of improvements.

Facilities, maintenance and asset management

Asset management is one of the simplest avenues for IWMS ROI calculation. In many cases, it’s as simple as taking maintenance budgets or costs from prior years and comparing them to new strategies enabled by digital asset management tools. If the cost of facilities maintenance drops by 18% year-over-year thanks to proactive action through IWMS, the ROI is the dollar value associated with those saved costs.

There’s also ROI in each instance of smarter decision making. If IWMS data projects $1,000 in annual maintenance costs for a piece of equipment, the decision to use it for three more years makes more sense than to spend $6,000 on a new model. Or, at the very least, there’s an ROI in being able to budget for it.

IWMS ROI transcends dollar values

Calculating IWMS ROI requires companies to look at all the different ways IWMS enables better operations. In some cases, that means operational costs saved. In other situations, it’s the top-line growth made possible by IWMS innovations. Beyond even these facets of ROI, there’s one more to consider: the intangible benefits.

It’s difficult to put a dollar value on happy employees or comfortable workplaces—yet, these are major drivers of ROI. It’s essential to factor in not only the dollar figures that show up on the balance sheet, but also the intangibles that IWMS brings to a smooth-running, well-managed workplace environment.

Keep reading: 8 Benefits of IWMS for Smart Building Management


The Many Benefits of Facility Preventive Maintenance

If you could prevent a headache from happening, wouldn’t you? Practically speaking, you can if you engage in preventive maintenance. Rather than waiting for something to break, companies are better off adopting a proactive mindset when it comes to facilities upkeep, improvements, and repairs. The benefits of facility preventive maintenance speak for themselves in not only headaches avoided but costs saved, liability prevented, and the continued status quo of the workplace.

It’s easy to see preventive maintenance as “jumping the gun” or fixing something before it needs repairs. The fact is, a well-calculated approach to preventive maintenance can undercut problems before they begin. Done right, it’s the perfect approach to asset management: planned intervention just before failure to create sustainable continuity.

What is facility preventive maintenance?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to maintenance of any kind: preventive vs. reactive. Preventive is a focus on solving problems before they require a solution; reactive waits for the problem to manifest before solving it.

In the context of facility maintenance, preventive simply means getting ahead of facility upkeep before it deteriorates to the point of affecting employees and productivity. As a very basic example, it might mean emptying all garbage cans every day to prevent accumulation, as opposed to waiting for the bin to get full, then emptying it. This simple concept applies to every part of facilities, from garbage cans to capital systems like plumbing and HVAC.

Buildings and their many subsystems need maintenance. Choosing a protective approach means getting ahead of maintenance before it erupts into problems.

The benefits of facility preventive maintenance

A preventive maintenance plan is complex to orchestrate but hugely beneficial when up and running. It can be the difference between waiting for a problem to erupt and preventing that problem from ever arising. That means reaping all the benefits that come from not needing to remediate an issue. Time spent not fixing something is time better spent being productive. Here’s a look at what this means in the context of facility preventive maintenance:

  • Better asset management. When assets like the copy machine, your server stack, or an elevator break down, they’re not usable. Preventive maintenance keeps vital assets up and running, so they can continue to serve productive uses—including facilities themselves.
  • Reduced liability. If something breaks down and becomes a hazard, it puts employee safety at risk. Fixing the leaky sink before it develops a pool of water and someone slips is a simple example of how preventive maintenance leads to reduced liability.
  • Improved cost control. It doesn’t take an expert to realize that the cost of preventive repairs is often much less than the cost of reactive service. Repairing before a cascade of problems is a smart way to save money on future preventable issues.
  • More accurate cost planning. Preventive repairs are accounted for. That means knowing ahead of time what the rough cost of service will be. Instead of waiting for a cost-inducing event, preventing maintenance enables better budgeting to preempt costs.
  • Better maintenance allocation. Planning for maintenance is also a great way to keep in-house craftspeople staffed accordingly. It prevents a deluge of work orders and instead, strings out routine maintenance and repairs over a more manageable timeline.
  • Streamlined facility services. As items come up for preventive maintenance, it becomes easier to assess peripheral systems and check upcoming logs. This promotes holistic facilities services that prevent even more troubles from arising unabated.
  • Improved company morale. It a small, yet meaningful benefit. When the workplace functions without problem, employees feel more welcome and at home in it. Reactive maintenance leaves employees waiting to use amenities they expect to be available.
  • Accurate facility oversight. Preventive maintenance means always knowing the status of facilities. What’s due for service? What’s recently been serviced? Are there pending issues to resolve? A preventive maintenance stance is part of proactive facilities management.

Preventing a problem always trumps remediating it after its already occurred. Facility managers who take a proactive stance against maintenance issues will reap the many benefits of facilities that work as expected and in a way that supports the activities within them. Whether it’s changing a lightbulb or scheduling HVAC cleaning, every small proactive step adds up to cumulative benefits.

Get ahead of problems, before they become problems

The benefits of implementing facility preventive maintenance show up in so many different ways. Fewer unexpected costs and better budgeting of facility upkeep. Better utilization and ROI from facilities. Enhanced employee safety and reduced liability. All this and more from the decision to prevent problems, instead of being content to fix them.

Companies that choose preventive maintenance will find that their facilities and everything in them run smoother on a day-to-day basis. Fewer headaches mean fewer problems, which promotes productivity and efficiency. It’s an investment in maintaining the status quo and choosing to contend with fewer disruptions to the workplace.


How to Measure CAFM ROI

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

As companies begin to see the value of a Computer-Aided Facility Management (CAFM) platform, demand for the features it offers is on the rise. But before executive stakeholders green light buy-in for new software and the potential expenses that come with it, they need to understand the opportunity for CAFM ROI.

Communicating the benefits of a CAFM platform in dollars and cents isn’t always easy. For one, it means quantifying many aspects of facilities in terms of cost—aspects you might not track yet. It also means introducing new opportunities for top- and bottom-line savings that, at this point, are theoretical.

Facility managers need to take the time to contextualize features and benefits into real dollars, to sell the C-suite and other stakeholders on CAFM ROI. Here’s how to get started.

Introduce CAFM and new metrics

First, introduce this new technology to stakeholders. What is CAFM? What does it do? Why would the company benefit? Conquer the learning curve with simple, succinct, value-driven explanations of what CAFM is and how it applies to the workplace experience. Then, use these benefits as a jumping off point for qualifying new metrics.

Introducing new metrics accomplishes two things. First, it shows stakeholders that you have the means of tracking ROI already established. Second, it gives insight into how you’re measuring ROI and where those returns will come from. For example, if you point to CAFM as a tool for asset tracking, you can also point to metrics that gauge (and lower) total cost of ownership.

This introduction of the software and its metrics is a crucial first step in selling stakeholders on the investment. It shows a forward-thinking mindset that’s rooted in ROI.

Identify bottom-line cost savings

In showcasing the benefits of CAFM software, start with bottom-line savings. How can this platform help your organization do what it’s already doing, but more efficiently? This argument for ROI is particularly powerful, because it shows focus on improvement. The ask isn’t related to untapped opportunities—it’s related to optimization of known variables. Some of the ROI areas to focus on include:

  • Centralized, validated data insights
  • Reporting of defensible data
  • CAD capabilities for floor planning

These tools in particular integrate into aspects of operation many companies are already engaged in—and already-observed metrics. For example, it’s easy to explain the ROI of CAFM data when it informs energy conservation, driving lower utility costs.

Gather one or two specific examples for stakeholders. Demonstrate how specific CAFM features create bottom line savings, within the context of real dollars and costs.

Identify top-line revenue opportunities

CAFM software needs to do more than create cost-savings to offer justified investment. It also needs to create new revenue opportunities. Here, the formula for proving ROI is the same. Pick features from the software and connect them to theoretical opportunities to show diverse application for this investment. Some key areas to consider include:

  • Space planning and management
  • Capital project management
  • Building operations
  • Asset management
  • Environmental and risk management

Presenting opportunities for new revenue requires more imagination, but the approach is similar to showing bottom-line savings. Show that you’ve done the legwork to create revenue before the investment. For example, provide figures about how CAFM capital project management can facilitate a new data center buildout that saves the company hosted cloud costs year-over-year.

Something to remember when presenting top-line ROI opportunities is that it’s all theoretical. Use meaningful data to inform your hypothesis and presentation, and make it clear that you’re working from projections. Nevertheless, strive to illustrate value.

Use real numbers and projections

Calculating CAFM ROI can be difficult without real numbers to source for benchmarks. Before you make the investment, spend time getting familiar with workplace costs at both macro and granular levels. While the purpose of CAFM software is to make these numbers more accessible, it helps to have a fundamental understanding of what, specifically, you’re looking at and why it’s important.

As facility managers present use-cases and arguments for ROI, use real numbers and projections to inform these arguments. How much money will a shift to preventive maintenance save you compared to unanticipated repair costs for a specific asset? What’s your cost per head in current floor plan vs. a target cost with a more efficient space layout? Use examples like these and their real costs, as well as targets and projections that make the case for CAFM ROI.

Build a case for long-term ROI

Presenting the case for a large investment in CAFM and other smart facility software is an uphill battle. It’s not that these innovations aren’t useful—it’s that they have short-term costs and long-tail benefits. It takes a forward-thinking mindset to make long-term investments in spite of short-term costs. And while many executive leaders are willing to make that investment, they need to understand the long-term ROI. Facility managers need to provide that context.

If you’re in a position to pitch leaders on a CAFM investment, take a quantifiable stance and prove the investment is worth the outcome. If the money adds up with good reasoning behind it, it’s difficult for leaders to say no—especially when the ROI is attainable, quantifiable, and valuable.

Keep reading: How Can Smart CAFM Improve Employee Experience?


Eight Benefits of CMMS for In-House Maintenance Support

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

A Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) is something every in-house corporate maintenance team needs. Whether you staff one or two craftspeople or have an entire department of skilled trades waiting in the wings, the benefits of CMMS make it easier for these professionals to do their job. That job is to keep facilities safe, functional, comfortable, and accessible to the people who need them.

What is CMMS?

CMMS is the backbone of any facility maintenance program. It’s a system designed for asset maintenance, with the workplace as the largest asset a company will oversee. Typically, a CMMS has several core functions:

  • Provide a dashboard for managing maintenance tasks
  • Automate scheduling of routine maintenance tasks
  • Provide documentation and archival of maintenance
  • Improve work allocation across the maintenance team
  • Quantify and characterize types of asset maintenance

Think of CMMS as the backbone for total facility upkeep. From maintenance on capital systems to simple solutions to employee submitted support tickets, a CMMS system controls the framework for facility maintenance.

Eight benefits of CMMS software

Companies have various modes and methods for executing facility maintenance. The primary benefits of implementing a CMMS system include bringing these processes and practices together in a single, uniform platform. Here’s a look at some of the biggest benefits of CMMS software:

  1. Reduced time to repair. A cohesive support ticket and maintenance response system expedites solutions across facilities. A CMMS standardizes the intake and response of in-house maintenance tasks, to reduce confusion and improve response actions. The ticket comes in, it gets assigned, and the job gets done. There’s no word-of-mouth to remember or paper printouts to lose—it’s all digital, centralized, and available on-the-go.
  2. Better cost control. It’s not difficult to see that preventive, proactive, and rapid reactive maintenance leads to cost savings over lingering problems. Consider the cost of access control repair vs. the cost of asset theft or the cost to fix a damaged chair vs. the worker’s compensation claim when someone injures themselves sitting in it. Even simple preventive and routine maintenance comes at less of a cost than extensive, robust repairs.
  3. Increased facility efficiency. When your facilities run smoothly, everyone is more productive. More than that, a well-maintained workplace feels more comfortable and conducive to work. CMMS software expedites the quickness of service and leads to more targeted results. This due to the ability of employees to submit support tickets and the organized nature of a CMMS solution for in-house craftspeople.
  4. Insightful maintenance data. How many support tickets came in last week? Last month? What was the cost of repairs during that time? How many man hours went into the maintenance? What aspects of facilities were involved? The more data captured from a digital support ticket and CMMS software, the more context maintenance operations have. This feeds into more proactive approaches to facility upkeep, cost control, and decision-making.
  5. Maintenance automations. CMMS can give companies the ability to automate maintenance workflows. Delegate support tickets to the right personnel by the nature of the problem. Or, designate cost centers based on the type of maintenance and sync it up with the maintenance budget. As the need for automations becomes apparent, CMMS makes it possible (and simple), which affords facility maintenance teams more control over maintenance ops.
  6. Improved facility ROI. Remember that facilities themselves are an asset. Maintenance is part of asset upkeep, which contributes to ROI. CMMS can help contextualize the everyday maintenance operations within a facility as part of asset maintenance. The ability to see tasks and solutions in terms of dollars spent and reinvestment potential can help stakeholders realize the benefits of keeping maintenance in-house vs. outsourcing.
  7. Longer asset lifespan. Whether you lease or own, the quality of facilities matters. Pride of workspace translates into pride of work, and employees want facilities to live up to certain expectations. CMMS offers a complete solution to facility upkeep, which leads to better maintenance and longer asset lifespan—as well as better ROI from the employees using it.
  8. Facility compliance. Simple compliance issues can become big headaches for companies. Skipping a fire suppression inspection can get you in trouble with the local building inspector. Burnt-out emergency lighting can skyrocket company liability. Unfixed electrical issues could be negligent. With a CMMS system, these simple yet critical issues get the priority they need and can’t accidentally fall to the bottom of the support ticket list.

CMMS is extremely valuable for in-house maintenance teams. From task allocation to expense tracking, it collects all the vital components of a facility maintenance strategy into a single, unified dashboard.

Simplify in-house maintenance

As facilities grow more complex and the need for in-house upkeep grows, so does the need for a CMMS solution. The only way to approach broad facility maintenance efficiently is to centralize it. Modern CMMS offers all the integrations and capabilities maintenance teams need to understand building demands, coordinate a maintenance approach, and optimize the deployment of solutions. CMMS simplifies in-house maintenance, to help companies get more out of their asset.

Keep reading: How the Top CMMS Software Providers Stand Out

Blog Workplace Thought Leadership

Managing Assets in the Modern Workplace 

By Nick Stefanidakis
General Manager, Archibus

Look around your office, school, factory, or hospital. What do you see? Desks, chairs, computers, machinery, building systems, office equipment, supplies. All the things that make a business, educational institution, or healthcare facility run. Without them, there would be no products, services, classes, or emergency care.

Everything that occupies space is an asset. Though often taken for granted as part of a “normal” workday, each asset must be monitored, maintained, repaired, upgraded or replaced on a specific schedule. A robust asset management plan is an essential part of your broader workplace or space management strategy.

Asset Management Defined

Assets are defined as anything that brings value to an organization and are generally grouped into three categories:

  • Facility: Mechanical, HVAC, conveyance, elevators, lighting, plumbing,, landscaping,  etc.
  • Personnel: Badges, personal protective equipment, communication devices, vehicles, etc.
  • IT/Office: Desktop computers, laptops, printers, copiers, software licenses, etc.

The main goal of asset management is to get the greatest amount of value out of every asset while reducing the overall lifecycle cost of each item. Such focus can reap big rewards. First National of Nebraska Inc., the largest, privately owned U.S. banking company, showed a $120,000 annual gain in operating efficiencies via better asset and facility management.

A good asset management plan helps you plan for the future and make data-driven decisions. By accounting for factors such as replacement, repair costs, resale value, criticality, life expectancies, policies and procedures, efficiencies, and workload, it’s much easier to make informed decisions that can save time and money.

The Benefits of Asset Management

Effective asset management can impact an entire organization. Knowing what assets you have, where they are located and used, their condition and current value provides insights on required maintenance plans, repair costs, and budgets.

For example, understanding how much your organization’s computers cost, how old they are, how long they are expected to last, their repair and upgrade histories, and associated downtime costs when they aren’t working, it’s much easier to do a cost/benefit analysis to determine whether to repair or replace the equipment.

Asset management planning helps:

  • Improve ROI by providing a common operating picture that aligns assets to an organization’s objectives
  • Plan what-if scenarios to optimize enterprise asset investments
  • Empower asset management teams to accomplish their goals with coordinated end-to-end resourcing
  • Optimize capital and other asset investments through integrated life cycle management for planning, acquisition, utilization, repurposing, and decommissioning/disposal
  • Enable staff to quickly inventory assets with mobile apps

Asset Management Plan Elements 

Creating an effective management plan is all in the details. Computer updates are different than furniture replacement or HVAC maintenance. Your asset management plan should cover five essential steps:

  1. Take inventory: The asset inventory should include equipment inside and outside your building. At the same time, gather as much information about the assets as possible: primary user(s), location, manufacturer information, serial numbers, warranties, condition, service histories, etc.
  2. Determine costs: Each asset has costs for its entire life cycle, not just what you spent on them. Budget for overall lifespan for each asset, maintenance, upgrades, and disposal.
  3. Set service levels: Do laptops need annual security upgrades? How often should the printer be cleaned? Clearly state the unique needs of each asset, then ensure the defined service level meets the needs of the primary users: your employees.
  4. Think proactively: Staying ahead of problems will save money in the long run. Base service levels on keeping assets in prime condition until it is time to replace them.
  5. Plan for the future: Look down the road for times where asset improvements will be needed. Then, set aside budget to meet those needs.

Asset Management During a Crisis 

Proactive planning shines the most during a crisis. COVID-19 shut entire economies down for weeks on end. Though office doors, showrooms, manufacturing floors, and schools may have been shuttered, maintenance and upkeep of the assets within them did not pause. Once employees and students migrate back to work and school, they expect computers, air conditioning, lighting, and other elements to still be operational. That is where an asset management plan is key. Knowing what needs to be done allows for faster decision-making regardless of a crisis.

Some assets require regular maintenance regardless of social or economic disruptions. But a crisis like COVID-19 may alter how and when service is done.

Here are a few things to consider if you are forced to modify your asset management plan:

  • Use: Are your assets used more or less during a crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic? Does this affect typical wear and asset life cycles?
  • Locations: If the number of employees working remotely has changed, do you have a plan to keep track of equipment locations?
  • Equipment purchase/sale: Have your real estate plans changed along with the number of employees using the building? Do you have a plan to manage your assets if you relocate or sell quickly?
  • Maintenance: During an emergency, which equipment is most important to maintain on a regular basis? Are there some which are less essential?

Think Ahead, But Be Flexible 

You can’t anticipate every contingency or emergency, but it’s important to remain flexible with your asset management plan. As COVID-19 or other crises change the way workplaces operate, businesses and schools must adapt their space management plans to meet each challenge.

An Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) is a powerful solution that helps you make adjustments when changes must be made quickly and on a large scale. Archibus Asset Management provides an integrated view of all assets, including properties, buildings, land, structures, equipment, and furniture.

Keep Reading: How to use an IWMS for asset management

Blog Workplace Thought Leadership

Stay Ahead of Problems with Preventive Maintenance 

By Nick Stefanidakis
General Manager, Archibus

As COVID-19 has shown us, predicting the future is a coin flip. Early on, people thought the virus would last a few weeks. No one believed we’d still be wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, and awaiting vaccines more than a year later.

Businesses also could not foresee the impact shutdowns and health mandates would have on productivity, operations, and facility maintenance. That included the upkeep of assets such as networks, computers, lighting, HVAC, furniture, and other items that make up a modern workplace.

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s the importance of a solid preventive maintenance plan for both everyday operations and crises. Staying ahead of issues not only saves valuable budget, but also helps ensure your workplace is ready to welcome employees back if a shutdown occurs.

Defining Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is essential to keep buildings and assets in optimal condition. Whether large or small, single location or global offices, all workplaces contain components that need to be regularly maintained and updated.

Assets are among an organization’s highest expenditure. According to a report by Aberdeen, a global B2B behavioral marketing firm, the cost for one hour of business downtime grew from $260,000 in 2014 to $492,000 in 2016. That number is likely much higher today.

Unlike corrective maintenance – an on-demand service to correct a specific issue at an unforeseen time – preventive maintenance is predictable. Tasks performed at regular intervals, such as periodic maintenance, scheduled inspections, cleaning, and updates, can extend asset life, improve conditions, and make corrective maintenance less frequent and/or costly.

That can mean significant time and money savings for organizations with limited budgets and resources. Mount Royal University (MRU), one of Canada’s top destinations for undergraduate studies, automated its preventive maintenance with Archibus after corrective support tickets grew from 3,000 in 2012 to more than 14,000 in 2020. Before, facilities staff spent hours manually creating maintenance reports.

“We didn’t have single source of truth when it came to generating reports,” said Jason Philipchuk, MRU Archibus Technology Support Analyst. “With Archibus, we improved our equipment inventory to ensure assets needing preventive maintenance were scheduled and given a means to track asset life cycle. That way, we keep our craftspeople out in the field and not in office working on reports.”

Three Steps to Preventive Maintenance

To develop an effective workplace preventive maintenance routine, three steps are essential. They include taking inventory, developing maintenance procedures, and establishing critical priorities.

  • Take Stock of Your Assets

Without an inventory of assets, it’s impossible to set an effective preventive maintenance schedule. A comprehensive inventory accounts for all assets in need of regular maintenance. These include facility-related assets, personal equipment, and information management infrastructure. While determining what you have, gather information and relevant documents about each asset – age, maintenance procedure by manufacturer, history, upgrade dates, and technical diagrams.

A great place to start is taking a holistic look at your facilities supporting systems like HVAC, plumbing, lighting, electrical, and emergency equipment and what’s inside or attached to them. Refer to architectural drawings or space plans to locate everything on the list.

If necessary, your information management inventory should include all personal items like desktops, laptops, printers, copiers, and other IT equipment, including equipment used by remote employees.

  • Establish Maintenance Procedures and Timetable

With your asset inventory in hand, it’s time to design a specific preventive procedure for each asset by standard or individually. The procedure should be based on manufacturers’ recommendations; however, some will be augmented to support more robust activities due to COVID-19 or other considerations.

Once completed, use manufacturer or company standards to set a regular preventive maintenance schedule. Ask yourself all the necessary questions that will assist your scheduling process:

  • Is the procedure concurrent?
  • At what frequency?
  • Do assets require different procedures at different times?
  • Do I have the right personnel to do the work as required? Should I consider outsourcing?

Next, you’ll need to determine the internal workflow that governs maintenance work orders. Evaluate maintenance budgets, resource allocation, work order issuance and approval, workload, and invoice payments.

  • Prioritize

When resources are scarce, you may lack the capacity to stay on an asset maintenance schedule. Determining your critical priorities for preventive maintenance is not an exact science. Although these decisions can be subjective, it’s important to prioritize what matters most, particularly when your business is affected by crises like COVID-19 that alter typical routines.

Cost is an additional factor in determining service priorities. Facilities managers should consider the cost of both regular maintenance and repairs/replacements. If a piece of equipment is out of order, how long will it be out of commission? How many employees will be unable to perform their jobs and for how long? What does it cost in lost productivity?

Keep Preventive Maintenance Plans Flexible

The COVID-19 pandemic upended some typically predictable routines. Though some maintenance should be consistent, the pandemic affected each workplace differently, sometimes even from one week to the next. Some assets require scheduled maintenance, no matter who is or isn’t in the office. Other preventive maintenance plans substantially change based on how COVID-19 or other crises impacts staffing, production, and customer service.

Due to COVID-19, workspace maintenance may not seem to be as pressing of an issue right now. But neglecting preventive maintenance can have expensive, long-term consequences. The routines themselves may change, but consistency is still important. Your preventive maintenance plan should be flexible enough to allow for necessary adjustments without completely disrupting traditional routines.

Flexibility is even more important as employees who have been working remotely come back to work. Facilities managers must balance the needs of on-site workers with those still working from home.

Benjamin Franklin’s famously said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” to promote better fire safety in the 1770s. That idiom holds true today as businesses face “fires” daily. Taking the steps to mitigate damage is smart space and facility management. Preventive maintenance strategies can be one of your greatest protection now and into the future.

Keep reading: What is Facilities Maintenance Support Services?


What is Real Estate Asset Management?

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

Many enterprise companies employ a team of professionals to manage their real estate portfolios. It’s because real estate is an asset that companies can optimize and leverage into broader goals. But what is real estate asset management, really? What does it mean to treat real estate like an asset vs. a practical, functional space?

The role of a real estate asset manager is to maximize the value and return on property from an investment standpoint. In the same way companies monitor the performance of employees or departments and their contribution to success, real estate asset managers develop the criteria for real estate return on investment.

What is asset management?

To understand real estate as an asset, it’s best to define what an asset is. The simplest definition of an asset is “anything of value or a resource of value that can be converted into cash.” From a business standpoint, the definition becomes more specific. “Assets are reported on a company’s balance sheet and are bought or created to increase a firm’s value or benefit the firm’s operations.”

Using this definition, often businesses choose to evaluate real estate as an asset. How do facilities contribute to the company’s bottom line? What is the ROI on office space? What is the intrinsic value of facilities vs. their current market valuation? There’s no limit to the number of questions businesses can ask from an asset evaluation standpoint. Each answer matters in the scope of real estate asset management.

Core tenants of real estate asset management

Looking at real estate as an asset means shifting focus to managing it like an asset. The core tenants of asset management are all about optimizing returns, minimizing risk, and reducing expense. For real estate, it’s no different.

  • Optimizing revenue: What is the cost of facilities vs. the revenue they generate? Are there ways to increase revenue through reinvestment in facilities? What is the total ROI on facilities over time? These questions and countless others are the focus of revenue-minded asset managers.
  • Risk management: What risks are inherent to facilities and how can companies manage them? What is the debt risk of property on the balance sheet? What liability and insurance costs accompany facilities? Managers who identify and mitigate risk improve the ROI of real estate.
  • Reducing expenditures: Can the company consolidate facilities and maintain revenue output? Are in-house or contracted maintenance services more cost-efficient? What lease negotiations will reduce monthly/annual costs? Cutting the bottom line is an efficient way to boost the performance of real estate as an asset.

Being mindful of real estate as an asset allows managers to tell a factual story of how a property contributes to the company. Asset management breaks it down into costs and expenditures, revenue opportunities and risks, and other intrinsic values that benefit the company—and it does so in dollars and cents.

Data accumulation and presentation

Quantifying real estate as an asset is only the first part of the job. Real estate asset managers need to take that data and contextualize it for portfolio managers, executives, and other stakeholders, so that they can make high-level decisions about broad real estate strategy. To do this requires access to a real estate forecasting dashboard.

Today’s Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) software provide real-time insights to asset managers who need up-to-date information. Lease tools, cost projections, accrued YTD costs, and countless other variables come together in a property-specific picture of real estate and its contribution to the company’s financial standings (and outlook). Real estate asset managers use this data to generate reports and forecast models as a source of truth for those in the position to make decisions.

As real estate asset managers do this for multiple properties, it paints a clear picture of portfolio performance. From there, portfolio performance can be a deciding factor in top-down decisions—such as the decision to expand to a new facility or the shift to permanent remote work and downsize facilities. It all depends on the tale of the data and the direction of the company.

Real estate asset management comes into focus

Treating real estate as an asset yields tremendous insight into its quantitative values. This is paramount when it comes to forecasting and decision-making surrounding facilities, and it provides even better context for the qualitative benefits of maintaining a physical workspace.

As companies begin to look at their real estate portfolios post-COVID-19, asset-based observations will be among the most important they make. Executives and other high-level decision-makers want to see, in plain numbers, how real estate contributes to success. Real estate asset managers hold the keys to providing this data.

Keep reading: Real Estate Asset Management Certification