The importance of logistics: Facility management during COVID-19

t-mac explores the value of effective facility management (FM) during crises like COVID-19 and how it can be achieved using building management systems.

The soft touch

Nightingale and Dragon’s Heart field hospitals, in London and Cardiff respectively, were established in response to rising cases of COVID-19 earlier this month. Since then they have received a wave of support from volunteer carers and furloughed workers wanting to give back to the NHS, however there has also been some corporate support in the form of soft services management.

ISS, a facility management services provider, will be providing Nightingale a variety of staff-based services ranging from cleaning and catering to security and waste management with Dragon’s Heart receiving the same treatment from Mitie.

During lockdown, hospitals and power plants will remain open and, for the most part, operational albeit with reduced staff numbers. However non-essential organisations, including many commercial enterprises, will be mandated by financial pressure and COVID-19 guidelines to close the majority of their facilities.

A recent industry report has stated that facility management (FM) will play an ‘integral’ role in maintaining the commercial viability of many enterprises, the reason is simple: During lockdown, consumer demand is hugely diminished therefore costs must be reduced to match cash flow and effective facility management reveals previously unseen opportunities to save.

Ghosts in the machine

Unlike an earthquake, which is localised and an exterior to threat to people, COVID-19 can exist anywhere that people are, and we are the threat to each other.

The question then becomes; how can sites be managed effectively without people present?

While hospitals require staff to function, using a building management system means that many aspects of facility management are independent of the need to have individuals on site.

The use of building management systems is nothing new of course, even in times of crisis, however the specific conditions of lockdown mean that their value has never been more obvious.

BMS’ afford, to varying degrees based on the type of system in use, unprecedented remote control over elements like utility usage, security, occupancy levels, and safety.

Additionally, their capacity to be overseen remotely as well as their functionality not being subject to human frailty, ill-health in this case, means that data capture and diagnostic abilities will not be interrupted by site closure.

As such, with a BMS installed, the lockdown can actually be treated as an opportunity to study site utility costs when minimal staff are present as t-mac’s client, Iceland, discovered:

“We selected t-mac BMS due to its ability to connect to our network… We can now react to faults/failures prior to the store realising they have an issue. The capability to change settings without requiring a member of staff to do so is a great element of the system.”

Testimonial of Graham Ireland,

 Head of Energy and Mechanical Services, Iceland

COVID-19 has generated severe uncertainty and concern among the public, including both staff and customers, and a commitment to remote site management is a bid to dispel some of that uncertainty among shareholders and clients.

t-mac combines technology with consultancy to help organisations use resource more intelligently.

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