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October 27, 2016

How my own car shows IoT is fulfilling its promise

I made the switch to driving an electric car in January 2015. With its built-in sensors and its own web and app connection, it’s also always connected. With my first car I had to go to the garage for a minor service every 10,000 miles, with a major service due every 20,000. Was it necessary? Who knows, but that’s what it stipulated in the owner’s handbook. But now with its reported 2,000 sensors, my current car measures so much data that it indicates itself when it needs a service. So the fixed service interval has gone, which I think is a perfect example of the Internet of Things (IoT) in practice.

No more unnecessary services
I see a parallel with facility management in this; here, too, IoT is enormously promising. Sensors in buildings measure the building’s performance and detect small faults earlier than we can. This technology promises fantastic savings in maintenance, while performance is measured better than ever and the user can continue without interruption. What is partly still in the future for immovable property, is already reality today for movable items: no more fixed service intervals.

Deploying IoT using sensors ensures that the building is always in good condition. With fixed service intervals you are often far removed from the optimum. Scheduled maintenance can lead to components being replaced too early, or even unnecessarily. My car’s scheduled 10,000 mile threshold was often reached within just three months in those days and maintenance checks felt unnecessary. Reactive maintenance is also not a good idea. If the car’s oil-light comes on, the journey is far less relaxed. The same concept applies to maintaining a building. The human eye is not as precise at determining the ideal maintenance point when compared to sensors. In combination with an intelligent software system, sensors can establish that moment accurately. If service occurs at times when it’s really needed, you can be certain that the building is always in order.

Everyone benefits
That’s not only good for the building’s manager, but also for its users and the environment. Put simply, less maintenance means lower costs, fewer journeys by technicians, and also fewer interruptions in the workplace. Consider for example meeting rooms which are unavailable, ladders obstructing the corridors or noise disturbance in the workplace. The less often this occurs, the nicer it is for the building’s users, and satisfied employees are good for an organization’s productivity. For facility managers and service providers this is another opportunity to free-up budget innovatively for other expenditure, such as improving hospitality.

After a year and a half and almost 50,000 miles, I’ve still not been back to my car dealer. Just to be sure - I’ve called the garage, but the car still appears to be in excellent condition. My car will tell me itself when it’s time for a service again. After this experience, absolutely no-one needs to convince me further of the benefits of IoT.

David Stillebroer
Director Product Management