PFM 21 5 Jul 2018 - Page 10

Drowned in Data or the Path to Productivity?
igitisation isn’t always the path
to greater productivity, but
Winter Gritting and Grounds
Maintenance specialists GRITIT
argue that keeping things humancentric is the key to successful
Evolution teaches us that all businesses
need to adapt to survive. This is
considered a self-evident truth, but it’s
easy to forget that evolution is also the
story of many, many failed attempts.
Another article of faith is that
investments in technology will help drive
greater productivity. Like past industrial
revolutions, surely digitisation will
revolutionise how we live and work?
Yet despite undeniable advances in
efficiency and the convenience delivered
by digital technology, a troubling fact has
started to emerge. Productivity has
actually started to stagnate across the
developed world, and increasingly
questions are being asked as to whether
technology is actually the cause.
According to Harvard Business Review,
today’s executives receive over 30,000
communications a year – a staggering
rise since the 1970s when the number
stood at around 1,000. At the same time
it has been noted that the downside of
disruptive technology in the workplace
is disruption of the worst kind – a slowing
effect as your workers adapt to new
systems and new technology. Rather
than AI and robots making human labour
obsolete, we are now realising that
digitalisation can create additional work
rather than eliminating it. Ultimately, the
key to successful evolution isn’t
technology, but technology that is
appropriately applied.
In the FM world, we’re actually well
placed to consider these lessons from
the corporate sphere given that our
industry is really only at the start of what
is touted as a major digital
sophisticated yet affordable data and
analytics tools and the wide ecosystem
of connected sensors and devices
known as the Internet of Things (IoT),
new practices such as Building
Information Modelling (BIM) are starting
to gain traction. BIM promises to provide
data for more efficient management and
also help FM provide its stakeholders
with a better experience. Combined with
the rapid evolution of sensor
technologies and robotics, it is
anticipated that more services will be
automated, and delivered efficiently on
a just in time basis. The challenge lies
in ensuring that these services truly add
value and reduce cost rather than just
providing alternatives that fail to deliver
increasing complexity.
And despite the hype, vast amounts of
the FM industry remain as yet relatively
untouched by technology – especially
when you step outside. There are
diverse challenges in FM and hence it is
understandable that the main focus has
to be those areas where there is greatest
strategic need. And while outdoor FM is
important, it often falls lower down the
list of priorities, and hence can be
managed less carefully. The exception
management or health and safety come
into play.
Managing Risk in Winter Gritting and
Grounds Maintenance
At GRITIT, we offer services in two
areas – Winter Gritting and Grounds
Maintenance – and these are both, to
dominated by traditional processes and
manual labour. As a result, there is still
a significant scope to be gained from
exploiting technology. The key is to
understand how and where investments
can truly add value.
While outdoor FM is often lagging
behind in its adoption of technology,
safety critical areas are an important
exception. In winter maintenance, the
potential liabilities arising from trips and
falls on ice have proved a significant
driver for the adoption of digital
technologies. Today, the entire process
of when and how to grit has become far
more efficient thanks to the ability to
offer proactive real-time service delivery
on the basis of highly accurate real-time
weather data.
For example, the sector has adopted
technology and location intelligence to
automate service activation and
scheduling whenever zero road surface
temperatures are forecast. This ensures
a consistent and accurate response to
unexpected bad weather, as well as
better scheduling and vehicle route
planning (i.e. to avoid gritting sites just
before heavy precipitation). This also
reduces wasteful gritting on days when


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