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Future Focused: Why Predictive Maintenance Is More Important Than Ever

The benefits of property technology are undeniable, and leaders now have unprecedented opportunities to improve how their spaces operate.

Todd R. Robertson, PE, CRE, CMRP, LEED AP, PMP

Head of Technical Services, North America

As technology improves, the facility management industry continually incorporates new innovations to make FM teams more efficient and effective. With the rise of smart buildings, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, and workplace experience platforms, organizations have more options than ever for understanding the details of how their workplace operates, as well as how to maintain and improve the systems that keep it functional. 

Predictive maintenance, or the ability to anticipate potential infrastructure problems in a facility before they happen, relies on information collected by sensors and other smart-monitoring technology to mitigate issues. This stands in contrast to reactive maintenance—fixing something once it fails—which can result in unwanted spending and downtime. Although time-based preventative equipment inspections may reduce the number of problems, predictive maintenance allows leaders to solve them before they become apparent, reducing both costs and disruptions. 

The ability to collect and actionize data has been transformative for facility management. Given the consistent growth in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) over the past decade, the benefits of predictive maintenance have become clear as organizations seek to reduce or eliminate inefficiencies while also creating a better environment for workers.

Staying Ahead of Problems

Across industries, predictive maintenance practices are important for ensuring that facilities perform well, featuring improved safety coupled with minimal disruptions. The economy also reflects this development—in 2021, the market for predictive maintenance held an estimated worth of $4.2 billion. By 2026, it is expected to reach $15.9 billion

With many people now returning to offices at least some of the time, leaders are sharpening their focus on improving the workplace. One meaningful way of using this technology to do so is through condition-based maintenance. 

For example, a building’s air filtration system can be trained to measure and track differential pressure to help facility teams understand the health and status of air filters. Through detailed measurements of air pressure over time, sensors alert technicians when a filter is not performing well, which can also impact other building systems working to push air through that filter. This allows technicians to react to a system problem when performance data reflects building system discrepancies, or before a minor inefficiency becomes a significant challenge that cascades to other building systems.  

On a larger scale, predictive maintenance allows for a more effective utilization of resources, giving facility managers and technicians a greater ability to improve the space and respond to fewer crises. Building technology can also assist in creating safer, more sustainable environments. A University of Tennessee study found that companies with a higher focus on predictive technologies and monitoring saw 27% better safety performance. As emergency repairs are more hazardous for technical staff, predictive technology also helps reduce the number of workers placed in dangerous situations. 

Thanks to ongoing advancements in property and IoT technology, companies can also track and reduce how much waste a building generates, limit air pollution, and extend the life of buildings and the equipment that keeps it operational, providing additional tools to achieve sustainability goals.

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Effective Implementation

Although predictive maintenance can be profoundly impactful, it’s important to first ensure a plan has been developed with an expert partner who specializes in implementing facility management strategies. For a predictive philosophy to be established, the account must first reach a baseline of performance. With a technical team in place and operations established, leaders must then invest in the right resources to collect and interpret vast amounts of data to inform how predictive maintenance is performed. 

With steady operations under way, organizations can then install sensors on systems (like electrical or HVAC) to collect data on equipment conditions through fault detection and diagnostics, observing factors like pressure, temperature, or vibration to find patterns indicating an increased risk of near-term equipment failure. Through cloud-based data analysis, information can be pulled from building systems to create models that not only identify problems and safety hazards, but also extend the life of an asset and improve its reliability. 

With inflation and the current high cost of capital a major consideration, predictive maintenance helps to minimize unnecessary investments and long-term costs. By assessing and reacting to the health of a space in real time, establishing a baseline of strong service coupled with robust predictive technology gives leaders the means to optimize their workplace and create better surroundings for their people.

What the Future Holds

In the coming years, the increase in effectiveness of AI and ML has the potential to revolutionize how building maintenance is performed. At present, human intervention is still a vital part of keeping these systems functional, but more automation and self-corrective actions are probable in the future. Although people will likely always be a part of the process, the development of new technologies can help technicians and facility managers perform their duties and stay safe while doing so, providing excellent outcomes for both facility companies and their clients.


Todd R. Robertson, PE, CRE, CMRP, LEED AP, PMP

Head of Technical Services

Contact Toddmailto: todd.robertson@us.issworld.com?subject=Inquiry