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  • Trends in Facilities Management: Embracing Automation

    Facility Management and Emerging Trends

    Sodexo has published their 2013 report on Workplace Trends. In the report, an entire section is dedicated to FacilitiesManagement (FM) and we’ve consolidated their 6 bits of insight into the evolution of FM. Quoting from the report:

    “The survey revealed that:

    1. Facilities are increasingly being recognized as a strategic resource.
       
    2. However, FM has had mixed success achieving strategic alignment with other elements of the business.
       
    3. Large, global organizations face dramatically different challenges than smaller, more local businesses—and they manage their facilities very differently.
       
    4. Financial metrics and cost control continue to dominate FM.
       
    5. Heads of facilities are still buried in day-to-day operation concerns.
       
    6. FM career paths are undergoing significant change, and the FM profession faces a potentially serious future talent shortage.

     

    Going further into #5 on the report, it’s noted that “In spite of the widespread belief that facilities is already strategic, the fact is that the average head of facilities spends over 50% of his/her workday dealing with day-to-day operations issues.”
     

    This is a particularly frustrating statistic. The move to automation technologies and other forms of monitoring is partly fueled by the desire to move Facility Managers out of the smaller, daily tasks, and into the bigger picture as a strategic advisor.  Still, Sodexo notes that, “Despite the challenges, we believe the future for FM is bright, as the profession becomes more critical to organization strategy and effectiveness”.
     

    So what is the solution? We can’t assume that checking equipment, reading data logs, small-scale maintenance, and other tasks are unimportant or irrelevant, but we must divert priorities appropriately. Building and Facility managers should avoid being involved in too many day-to-day activities, such that it may interfere with their role as a strategic advisor. Similar to any business, a CEO “should not” dedicate more than 50% of their time to extraneous issues; they need to stay focused on the strategic development and larger picture (though depending on business size, this may or may not be the case).


    The Bottom Line

    For a Facility manager, this is where the move to automation becomes a relevant time saver, and automation indeed helps to redistribute lower level priorities. To that conclusion, the report notes, “We believe strongly that the pathway to making FM more strategic is to outsource as much of the operational routine work to third-party service providers as possible. Doing so will free up in-house resources that can then spend less time “fire-fighting” and more time planning and thinking long term”.
     

    Going along with the conclusion that a facility manager must take a more significant role in long-term planning and strategy, Temperature@lert is in firm agreement with the benefits of automation, and to that end, we emphasize simplicity in all of our products. Our goal is to remove these simple tasks, and allow managers to dedicate more time to straegy.

    At the core, our products are designed to take the weight off of employees (and Facility managers alike) with regard to temperature and environmental monitoring.  We believe that we’re contributing to the future of facility management, in which tasks like temperature monitoring and control are automated and do not require constant supervision. By ‘outsourcing’ these issues, facility managers can indeed dedicate more time to strategic planning, rather than checking paper logs or relying on other employees to record data. The drawbacks of paper logging are well documented, and is really an example of “working harder, not smarter”. Why maintain old school methods, when the "new school" is more effective, more reliable, and also low-cost?
     

     For instance, our Sensor Cloud web portal is an all-in-one monitoring suite that eliminates the need for excessive paperwork and/or temperature data on-site. Facility managers can easily access reports and graphs when necessary, whereas the advanced alerts are a nice substitute for day-to-day supervision. With simple installation, Temperature@lert devices take the analytics and data out of the priority loop, and into a simple and robust interface that is automatically compiled. Overall, the move to automated systems and operations outsourcing is a growing exponentially, and Temperature@lert is proud to help divert temperature monitoring priorities away from facilities managers and operators.  
     

    To help close the loop, “Among the organizations we interviewed during our research, those that were clearly operating more strategically had outsourced for more of their operational activities than the organizations in which FM was struggling to get resources and recognition”.

    Looking into the crystal ball, what other strategies are you deploying in the near future for effective Facility Management?

     

    For the full Sodexo report, click here


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  • Top 5 Tips: Bed and Breakfast Owners

    Bed and Breakfasts, in a nutshell, are a personal, 'grandma's house' type of vacationing experience. The all-inclusive feel of a house, home cooked meals, and a gracious host is a nice recess from a buttoned-up hotel. 

    For many Bed and Breakfast owners, the duties and responsibilites that are involved in management can be tricky. Guests will often overlook the attention to detail, and will forget that running a Bed and Breakfast is hardly a simple operation.  Imagine a Bed and Breakfast to be a 'simple, lemonade stand' operation? Think again, and be reassured that it's a full time job. Owners are responsible for management of the property, upkeep of grounds and buildings, presentation of experience, amenities, meals, and not to mention, the overall 'experience' of the guests! Owners, take these food and hygiene tips for your Bed and Breakfast to ensure a premier experience for your guests, and pay special attention to legislation (differs by state) that may apply! 

     

    1. Keep Bacteria Away!

    From the South Carolina Bed and Breakfast Act:

    "A refrigerator or an oven used in a residential kitchen shall have a nonstationary, interior thermometer to monitor foodtemperatures. The storage temperature for perishable foods shall not exceed 45 Fahrenheit. The preparation temperaturefor baked foods shall be 140 Fahrenheit or more." One of the worst mishaps for a Bed and Breakfast can be food contamination. Guests may already be a bit skeptical about food preparation from a stranger, and stories of sickness and/or unsanitary food can push a Bed and Breakfast out of business (if not from guest reviews, from health violations).

     

    2. Leverage History!

    A thorough Bed and Breakfast will explores the history and prestige of the property with their guests. For Bed and Breakfast owners, be sure to educate yourself (and your guests!) on the significance of the property, the house, and other information that you can uncover about your dwelling. If guests expect a 'down-home' experience, fill their wonder with a little history lesson. This form of "storytelling" and property intelligence can be the 'hook' that seperates an "average" Bed and Breakfast experience from a memorable one.

     

    3. Keep grounds polished, and the website current!

    We often say that beauty is on the inside, but in the case of Bed and Breakfast's, this insight is sometimes overlooked. Owners can sometimes be caught up in guest interaction and in-house management tasks, that they may neglect the outside grounds. Instead, owners should rememeber that the property has an "image", and that image is affected by the first impressions of guests. If guests notice untrimmed hedges, dead grass, and a general lack of cleanliness on the outside, why should they expect different on the inside?

    Also remember that if your homepage display a fancied picture of your inn/property, make sure to rotate the image based on seasonal changes. Summer travelers aren't exactly encouraged to stay a Bed and Breakfast that looks stuck in the winter, and vice versa. Update, update, update!

     

    4. Read reviews, and Respond!

    Remember that your online presence is very important in customer influence. Since you are a 'personalized' hotel room, potential guests are more likely to seek reviews and real-time examples of the service. They want to ensure the quality of the service, since there isn't neccesarily a brand to attach themselves to.

    Be aware that even with a bad experience, guests will appreciate the personal response. Often, guests with bad experiences (who recieve responses from the owner) are slightly less "negative" in the eyes of potential guests, since the owner has publicly addressed the issues and is taking a proactive approach. As a property owner, this mentality is important for reassuring would-be guests.

     

    5. Above and Beyond

    Your guests are likely seeking an escape from the branded Motel 6's and uniformity in lodging. They want a special experience, and will depend on you to lead the show. Create your own theme, your own feeling of 'home', and hone in on the small details. Would-be occupants will notice the hand-embrodiered napkins and the special "twists" on classic meals. Turn your "Chicken Cacciatore" and "Grits and Gravy" into a "House Special" or "Grandma's Gruel", and keep perpetuating the "home away from home" feeling.


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  • Protecting properties from frozen water pipe damage with WiFi and cellular technology

    The sun is rising later, setting earlier, and soon the shortest day of the year will be here.  Happy winter season!

    Vacation home owners and property managers in both warmer and colder climates take heed of this time of the year as their buildings can be exposed to freezing temperatures and potential damage to water pipes.

    Temperature@lert's latest White Paper explores the cost of this problem and some possible solutions, from simple, time proven low-cost methods up to the latest wireless communication monitoring systems.  Exploring both WiFi and Cellular based temperature sensor technology, the paper outlines the operation of each, and describes how a browser interface cloud based system can add additional levels of fault tolerant behavior and peace of mind.

    Read this latest Temperature@lert White Paper addition at Link to White Paper

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  • Time to think about protecting that winter vacation home

    Cellular Edition helps vacation home owners and property managers protect homes in the winter.


    It’s that time of year again. The leaves have turned and are mostly gone in many parts of the country.  And early snow has already surprised some states.  For some, thoughts turn to winterizing vacation homes.


    One way we at Temperature@lert know winter is coming is we see an increase in Cellular Edition temperature monitor orders.  Hundreds of cost-conscious folks find us each year to join the leagues of customers who turn on their Temperature@lert Cloud Server cellular service this time each year.


    The Cellular Edition provides the final line of notification defense when heating systems fail and water pipes are in jeopardy of freezing.  Combining reliable cellular networks with battery back-up operation and fault tolerant Sensor Cloud alerting tools, the Cellular Edition lets vacation home and property managers know when temperatures are getting dangerously low.  Even if the power goes out, the Cellular Edition keeps sending out temperature readings and alerts and will even let you know the electrical power goes out before temperatures drop.  And if for some reason the signal cannot get through, the Sensor Cloud can send an alert letting you know the device has not checked in for a few reporting cycles.


    The newly released Water Leak Sensor can also be ordered to be used with the Cellular Edition; it lets you know when there’s a plumbing problem.  And Temperature@lert’s iPhone and Android Apps help bring the information to your smartphone wherever you are.


    To learn more about the Cellular Edition and other Temperature@lert products, check out the Cellular Edition page on our website at Link to Temperature@lert website .

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  • Cellular Edition users can now order Water Leak sensor

    Our customers have asked, and we've listened.  IT customers, those managing server rooms and data centers use Temperature@lert's Cellular Edition as their fault-tolerant lifeline to let them know when things are getting warm. They've mentioned the need for a water leak sensor, and we've responded.

    Our latest smart, plug and play sensor is our Flood Sensor, a device that lets IT Professionals, Property Managers, Warehouse and Laboratory Facilities Personnel know when there's a water leak due to a leaky roof, pipe, chilled water unit, or sprinkler very quickly, allowing to take action before things get worse. 

    Following our legacy of products designed for real world applications, the Flood Sensor is engineered to prevent alerts due to naturally occurring condensation, helping prevent needless alarms. 

    The Flood Sensor can be added when ordering a new Cellular Edition unit or added to an existing device.  Just click on the Accessories Tab on our Cellular Edition product page to order.

    A full announcement of the Flood Sensor can be found in our Press Release section: Link to full Press Release


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