10 November 2016
It's a sign of the times that lead judge Lucy Jeynes reported having to separate four "outstanding entries" in the Innovation in Systems & Technology category. Eventually the top spot was secured by a biometric time-clocking system developed by Humanforce and designed for its customer Delaware North.
The software records and manages the number of hours worked by both in-house and agency contractors in the client's catering and events facilities. This has provided a step up for Delaware North, which previously relied on a manual system that made it hard to ensure venues were staffed appropriately. Wage costs were difficult to predict and agency staff had to be tracked using timesheets, resulting in high payroll processing costs.
Humanforce's software reduced the time taken to process and approve timesheets from two to three hours a week to just one, cutting payroll processing time from one or two days a month to just one or two hours. The business has also seen a 20 per cent fall in employee turnover since implementing the system.
The system not only empowers contract managers, but also devolves power to users. It works through a biometric finger vein scanning system that clocks exactly where and when employees have worked and includes an online self-service tool for staff which allows them to view their timesheets, check future rosters and "bid" for shifts from their mobile devices. This has helped to improve the information the business has about staff availability, resulting in a 20 per cent reduction of cases where staff have been 'over-booked' in anticipation of people not turning up.
Highly commended was BAM FM's work on enabling building information modelling in FM through a CAFM system developed with Autodesk Building Ops. For its Schools Bundle 4 project in Ireland, the software was used to ensure that BAM met requirements for the use of BIM level 2, in line with the tender process. The challenge here was to develop a system to transfer information directly from as-built federated models to the CAFM system for the four facilities in question. The finished system also allowed BAM to change over existing projects to the new system, including 9,000 assets from its Schools Bundle 3 programme.
The project has also delivered benefits including savings on setup fees of 15,000 on the Schools Bundle 4 programme compared with Bundle 3, and reducing the time taken to import assets from one to two months in a manual process to 30 minutes. This has also filtered through into greater efficiency in the operations team, with quicker logging of any issues.
"This is the first demonstration we have seen of a smooth, seamless transition of BIM data (design and construction) to mobile-first CAFM (operation)," said the judges. "The capability demonstrated in this entry is an exemplar of best practice for the FM industry."
The two other shortlisted entries include work between Skanska Facilities Services and its client Modus Services Limited (a body created in 2000 to manage the 30-year pathfinder PFI contract with the Ministry of Defence) who joined with University College London to develop and apply condition-based maintenance systems to FM in a project expected to deliver combined CAPEX and OPEC savings of £790,000 over the remaining 16 years of the PFI contract.
Finally, Engie's work with North Tyneside Council was to deliver more effective ways of working through the use of robotic process automation. The systems deployed for certain transactional processes have led to a 50 per cent fall in data input times, speedier claims resolution, and a 45 per cent cut in the time taken to process new claims. It is an application of robotic automation by traditional FM players that demonstrates the increasing opportunity that exists for providers to improve efficiencies for client businesses, rather than just replacing existing staff with its own.
Innovation in new product or service
It was notable that the product or service category was also won by an application of technology, in this case Heathrow Airport's project to develop a mobile app to integrate with its Maximo asset management system. Spot & Report is a mobile fault-reporting application that enables users to raise a fault while on the move and convey significantly more data about location and defect through the use of pictures and text than they could by reporting it on a phone.
The app sits on airport workers' phones and connects to a cloud back end that stores data such as user details, cached asset information and processes any photography that users generate from the app. The app scans an asset's barcode, identifies it to the user, and allows the user to select from two options - in service or out of service - so that a technician can be despatched.
Its use has been pioneered in Terminal 5, Heathrow's busiest terminal, where its focus is on maintaining the 372 lifts, escalators and passenger conveyors that are on "the critical path of a successful journey through the airport" - half of all lifts and escalators at Heathrow.
Outgoing Facilities Manager of the Year Alan Russell, head of engineering & facilities for Heathrow Terminal 5, says Spot & Report is revolutionising the way the sector raises reactive works. "For far too long we've relied on the traditional call centre to provide this service. This product is bringing a new experience and greater levels of feedback than ever before."
Feedback from the team has bred a culture of dealing with issues before they affect customers' journeys. Crucially, users are reporting faults that may lead to an asset going out of service rather than waiting until it fails.
SYSTEMS & TECHNOLOGY JUDGES' VERDICTS:
The winner - Humanforce
"This system was able to deliver a return on investment in less than six months."
"This entry harnesses high-tech biometric scanning in a simple way to address a challenge common across all FM companies, and has applications throughout the sector."
"This kind of technology will become the norm in our sector in the future."
Overall, the judges were hugely impressed with the standard of entries in this category, and the four shortlisted projects in particular. "The key themes are, as we would expect, technologies to improve productivity, space use and sustainability; effective implementation of BIM as construction projects move into the FM phase; and the internet of things," said lead judge Lucy Jeynes. All four shortlisted entries would be well deserving of an award; perhaps we are at last becoming a properly hi-tech profession."