Facilities management sector gearing up for change
International Built Environment Week
SINGAPORE’S facilities management (FM) services sector is gearing up for change to keep pace with the rapid advancements taking place in the local built environment industry, says its business leader, Mr Tony Khoo, President, International Facilities Management Association (IFMA) Singapore Chapter.
“This period provides the IFMA-SC with a golden opportunity to transform itself and the industry. In the past, we only accepted individual members but with our recent reconstitution, we are now taking in corporate members. With companies joining us, we are in a better position to unite the fragmented FM industry,” says Mr Khoo.
“We are coming together to set industry standards, working with the government agencies to embrace new technologies and going for life-long learning. We want to raise the capabilities of our industry and professionalism of our people.”
FM providers have started implementing a centralised operations command centre under which all FM functions are integrated and centrally coordinated. In the past, security operations dealt only with security matters, the lift people dealt with only lift matters and the air-conditioning people only looked after aircon matters and so on.
“But today, these functions can be integrated through technologies so the FM people have an overview of what is happening in the building. The FM people will then act holistically to address the issue.
This removes silos between various functions, improves communications and more importantly saves costs and likely manpower and reduces response time too.
“Among other innovations in our business is using drones to carry out building inspections. This eliminates safety problems and improves productivity.”
He says there are four key areas that have been identified for the FM sector’s transformation. They are design for maintainability, procurement, smart FM and manpower development.
“In a nutshell, design for maintainability is about designing a building with the life cycle costs concept in mind. Procurement is about looking at outcomes or performance instead of just counting heads or people. Smart FM is about integrating technologies, people and processes to achieve optimum performance outcome. And manpower development is about skill upgrading of the people so as we are ready to deal with the transformation.”
Just like the industry transformation map or ITM for the built environment industry, there is an ITM for facility management too. A high level committee, called the FM Implementation Committee or FMIC, consisting of government agencies, industry players, unions and relevant associations had been put together in 2018 to oversee the transformation. Much effort has been put in and good progress has been made, says Mr Khoo.
He is of the view that the entire value chain in the built environment industry needs to transform together to achieve the desired outcomes. As upstream works affect downstream operations, the entire value chain must work in tandem.
Digitalisation will help in the industry’s transformation as it will have significant impact on the industry in many ways as many parts of the built environment value chain are still very manual.
“By simply digitising the data, much productivity can be gained. Digitalisation will also help to ease the manpower shortages in the industry. It will also help to attract young talents into the industry.”
He believes Singapore has a clear advantage in breaking new ground and moving ahead when it comes to urbanisation and digitalisation. Singapore is adopting a whole-nation approach to address the urbanisation and digitalisation challenges.
A good example is the BIM or building information modelling. “About 10 years ago when we embarked on the BIM journey, we had to go overseas to learn from others. Today, many of the advanced economies are coming to Singapore to learn from us. I am very confident that our built environment industry will do well and be a model for many countries to emulate and learn from.”
Looking ahead, he says that productivity gains need to be built into the whole process of the built environment industry’s transformation. “The current state of our industry is still very manual and paper-based. Productivity can be easily and quickly gained by digitisation and automation.
“In our FM technology roadmap, we will be immediately embarking on ‘Going Digital’ where we will recommend to our members and industry players several technologies that can be readily adopted and are affordable.”
For the BE value chain, the use of BIM from design to operations, reaps significant productivity gains as physical wastage during construction are greatly eliminated. Information flow ensures data accuracy and integrity as well as dissemination to the right party at the right time, he adds.
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