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The boundaries of FM in India are expanding

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First came manpower, then came cleaning. Today, the number of services that FM service providers in India offer is just staggering. Emergency preparedness, employee engagement, packaging assistance, front-office management….are just some of the many options available. While the scope for organised FM is increasing day by day, the breadth of services has also been broadening. Organisations see the wisdom of outsourcing all non-core operations – even those they had previously never imagined entrusting to anyone else.
Two leading service providers help us understand this phenomenon.

Expansion

“Historically, our company has primarily focused on housekeeping or janitorial services”, stated Tarun Ramrakhiani, CEO, SMS Integrated Facilities Services. “However, over the past two years, we have been expanding our offerings. Our current FM offerings are linked to facility outcomes that our customers seek: cleaner and healthier, innovative and operationally productive, energy-efficient and sustainable facilities”.

FM in India is pivoting from doing what needs to be done, to doing what needs to be done to achieve what needs to be achieved. By working backwards from predefined FM goals – like ESG commitments for example – service providers have upgraded themselves to service partners.

Incorporating waste management

Leading FM vendors, especially those that service manufacturing facilities, are now being asked to manage the waste generated at such facilities – not just the municipal solid waste, but the industrial waste as well. Since the FM team is already involved in the collection of waste, it is only logical for it to oversee the waste management process to whatever end is mandated by law.

This is a sizable addition to FM’s bouquet of offerings; the day is not far when at least for bulk waste/manufacturing waste producers, waste management will be subsumed into the larger FM picture.

We are currently working with a team of developers to bring world-class technological solutions to cater to our clients’ rapidly changing demands such as automated checklists and reports, real-time and on-demand availability of daily, weekly and monthly reports, preventive asset management, and next- generation invoicing and HRMS solutions.

Ankit Jain

 

ESG consultancy

From carbon and water neutrality to safety of people, products and assets, FM is capitalising on its decades of work in close proximity with clients’ core operations to suggest ways that organisations as a whole can do better in terms of ESG. Involvement in MEP design is just one of many ways in which FM is going beyond.

These building blocks reduce significant risks that reside in facilities and protect customers from penalties, loss of reputation and brand damage. “We focus on issues such as electrical safety, fire safety, workplace safety, occupational health, ethics, transparency, governance, community development and workforce re-imagination”, said Ramrakhiani. “These risks can add to nearly 5-10% of the entire facility and real estate budgets of organisations.”

Energy efficiency

The onus of optimising energy consumption – for the entire facility, not just FM operations – is shifting from Engineering to FM. Service providers are now focussing on mechanical systems and equipment, including heating, ventilating, and air conditioning, service hot water heating, interior and exterior lighting, electrical power and motors, and renewable energy systems. Consulting services and implementation of the chosen model – both are available.

“Our company offers advisory and implementation services that have unlocked energy savings of nearly ₹25 crores over the life cycle of our customers’ facilities. These interventions can save customers 15-25% of their spends on energy, relative to pre-existing baselines”, calculated Ramrakhiani.

We use real-time measurement and verification to monitor a range of topics, from work package conformance to labour compliance, energy performance index, and water neutrality. Our data management systems coupled with advances in AI/ML can unlock real-time operating savings to the tune of 6-8% even without the need for investments, modifications, or changes.

Tarun Ramrakhiani

 

Cost optimisation

In an interesting turn of events, facility managers are helping organisations reduce their facility management costs. Mechanisation, automation and digitisation of cleaning processes offer the benefit of reducing FM headcount; only FM has the expertise to advise the client on the right solutions, convince clients to adopt them, and then implement them on the ground.

Ramrakhiani shared an example: “The question was around balancing manpower and its associated costs with the need to keep facility costs flat at a total level. So, we did an Investment Grade Audit at the healthcare facility and captured ways by which they could reduce their energy intensity on the demand side by retrofitting their HVAC & Hot Water Systems.

We did the entire design, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of the new system and the incremental cost of having quality people was offset by more than seven times on account of energy saving, thereby exceeding the goal of keeping cost flat.

We were also able to deploy an IoT-based system, not only for cleaning but also for patient management, which helped improve patient experience and care productivity.”

Safe work environment

The pandemic has indelibly upgraded the role of a facility manager, from business support to business continuity enabler. Important issues like indoor air quality, which were important even before the pandemic but were kept out of sight and out of mind, need to be addressed at the outset, before a facility can begin functioning. From cleaning to hygiene, visual inspection to cleaning validation – the demands of FM have shot up.

“Facility users have become increasingly aware of issues like cross contamination, and the role of the facility manager has transformed from just being a service provider to a provider of a safe working environment”, concluded Ankit Jain, Director, Jan-Pro India.

Co-creating software

The chasm between facility managers and property management software developers is being bridged by FM service providers, who translate the requirements of the former into use-cases for which the latter can develop solutions. Moving beyond off-the-shelf solutions, FM is now involved in the creation of solutions from the get-go.

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