Phenomenal evolution with the changing world

Nisthula Nagarajan
Filed on April 7, 2021

The UAE facilities management industry has adopted several methods to cope with growing and changing needs

The facilities management (FM) industry has always played a key role in ensuring business continuity and compliance in the workplace, but as the pandemic took hold, this role had to quickly adapt to meet the growing need to become compliant with new and constantly changing guidelines. Thus, this sector has been an integral part of navigating the new normal.

For essential services or any businesses that were open during the pandemic such as offices, schools, and retail, facilities needed redesigning in line with the UAE government's guidelines for social distancing. In addition, to comply with these same guidelines, facility managers have had to implement regular cleaning schedules, especially for objects and surfaces that are touched regularly.

Government guidelines encouraged facilities to carry out ventilation checks before reopening to ensure efficiency levels hadn't dropped for ventilation systems. Regular maintenance schedules were needed to comply with this, and many premises required reactive checks before opening their doors again.

The Middle East Facilities Management Association (MEFMA) and Frost & Sullivan, a growth strategy consulting and research firm, conducted an e-survey to understand the impact of the pandemic in the region. The findings indicated tremendous opportunity.

It reported that cleaning, sanitisation, and disinfection services were required the most. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) maintenance services witnessed the next highest demand with air ducts requiring frequent cleaning and disinfection. The need for security services like thermal scanning and health checks at entry points of many frequented establishments also increased.

Technological advancement
With the rise in revenue, there is bound to be investments in improving services and that means advancement with technology. Implementation of artificial intelligence, touch-less interfaces, robots, and big data analytics are major technologies FM companies will be focussing on going forward.

According to the MEFMA's report, the UAE is one of the most advanced markets in the Middle East and sensor technology is expected to see high traction. Using sensors, user patterns and footfall data will be collected and analysed to develop customised FM schedules to improve operations.

Along with this, robots for maintenance, cleaning, and security applications are expected to see a surge in the UAE, and as it gains success, other GCC countries will jump on the bandwagon. Thermal drones have also been used to check temperatures in crowded locations and will see an increase in use.

FM has been at the heart of the pandemic changes, and through the next shifts, there will be new and urgent demand for different services. It will continue to hold an integral role in businesses, adapting and keeping premises safe.

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