Robotics are completely transforming the landscape of business. And nowhere has their impact been felt more than the facilities management space.
Facilities management has long relied on technology to boost performance. But robotic process automation (RPA) – the deployment of bots to automate repetitive manual tasks traditionally performed by humans – presents a new and exciting opportunity to improve operations, service delivery, and workplace experience.
Today’s FM providers are expected to manage more business processes, data, systems, and regulatory requirements than ever before, despite lacking both the budget and personnel to do so. By deploying bots to absorb some of this work, FMs can reduce their operating costs and focus their attention on higher-value tasks.
Not only do bots operate 24/7, but they typically perform work in a fraction of the time taken by humans (with a higher degree of accuracy).
Often, this work is administrative and entails things like data compilation, scheduling, and documentation. However, bots have proven to be particularly valuable when it comes to cleaning and maintenance.
For example, autonomous floor cleaners are commonly used at airports, warehouses, and other large facilities. These applications learn from user demonstration and process sensor data to avoid obstacles, adapt to changing environments, and seamlessly interact with end-users.
And at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, smart dispensers and sensors are used to monitor high-impact areas such as restrooms and collect real-time feedback on cleanliness and supply levels.
What’s more, FM providers are turning to RPA to assist with security, sustainability, and other important initiatives. Bots are now responsible for:
- Identifying suspicious objects or activities and remotely reporting their findings to human supervisors.
- Cutting power to equipment when not in use and controlling overall energy consumption.
- Inspecting building systems, including HVAC, electrical, and fire protection equipment.
But perhaps the most impressive thing about RPA is its propensity for improvement.
According to Deloitte, “RPA can become the foundation for more sophisticated digital management applications, such as cognitive automation and machine learning, which can augment human decision-making and take on more complex tasks.”
By following in the footsteps of other functions, which already leverage RPA to generate cost savings and operational efficiencies, FM organizations can become “fast followers” of the RPA movement.