Highlights and Trends from Facilities Show 2019 (and IoT Insights!)

Rhys Pattimore
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This year's Facilities Show has once again proven to be a fantastic showcase for exceedingly good ideas, excellent software, and exceptional technology. No wonder London’s ExCeL Centre is its chosen venue!

Commusoft’s attendance for all three days not only gave us the opportunity to discover, converse, and meet new people, but also the chance to see what amazing trends are influencing our industry, our partners, and so very much more. However, if you were unable to make the event, we’ve got you covered!

The Commusoft Team members standing together at the facilities show booth

With the Internet of Things dominating a great deal of the show floor, and our CEO, Jason Morjaria, having spoken on the very subject of IoT, we’re well-placed to discuss some of the highlights that we noticed from the event.

Whether you’re intrigued about managing your field service business with excellent software, or encouraging customers to integrate with useful tech; Facilities Show offers a truly eye-opening experience

Read on to find out more about some of the exciting things we saw, but stay 'til the end to to discover more of what Commusoft has in store for this Summer!

Artificial Intelligence & Automation

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation are two major features being explored across a range of sectors. While walking the show floor, we saw a lot of emphasis being put on the two and, in particular, their ability to save time, money, and enhance user experiences. Automated solutions--no matter your business--are becoming increasingly popular.

Automation goes hand in hand with Machine Learning (effectively training a computer), which plays a part in streamlining processes for businesses. Examples include automatically tracking vehicles alongside live traffic data (and so helping you organise diaries and prioritise jobs without too much human interaction). There was also a lot of advanced face, motion, and even thermal detection tech, offering improvements to security or help in crisis, like evacuation from a fire.

a sign that reads "artificial intelligence" and underneath a variety of cameras and screens that show what the camera are capturing

One great area to see AI & Tech crossing over was in enhancing training and learning. All across the ExCeL, we saw companies making inspired use of Virtual Reality (VR) to teach and train.

Luminous Group had an excellent sample which they were using for health & safety training demonstrations. It enabled them to show how they “put learners through situations that simply wouldn’t be feasible due to safety or inherent cost in the real world” and showed off their desire to “deliver unprecedented new workflows and efficiencies in complex industrial environments”.

two men, one trying on a virtual reality headset whilst the other helps

After all, humans are visual beings and learning comes best by participating in activities, but not all activities are safe! With the leaps and bounds made in VR tech in recent years, it's becoming superior in ways that typical computer training just can't match (and it's only going to improve). It may be digital, but because of the physically immersive tool that VR has become, its advanced connectivity can enhance (rather than hinder) the way that people interact, engage, and learn when using digital technology. It’s no longer just a gimmick or for gaming alone, with some other practical applications of VR including:

  • virtual tours of digital building designs,
  • driving simulations,
  • manual task simulations.

Not only is this tech useful for the users to test and try things safely, but it also helps provide developers with data they can use to continually improve and update their systems. This, then, allows them to make well-informed decisions and offer useful solutions that can have an impact for businesses in the real world.

After exploring the show, it’s easy to see how AI and digital activities like this are helping companies advance. Indeed, by 2020, it’s predicted 10% of emergency field services will be classified and scheduled by artificial intelligence, with automation speeding things up and freeing up time.

You can find out more about how automation and AI are affecting the field service industry, by clicking here!

Internet of Things (IoT): Between Hype and Reality

In an increasingly connected world, we still have to question if we’re connecting in the best ways, as well as the right ways, particularly where technology is concerned. Just because a concept sounds good, doesn’t mean it will be. This is when it becomes useful to understand what can be considered as Hype versus the Reality of integrated technology solutions.

Fortunately, Commusoft’s CEO, Jason Morjaria, was on hand at the  showcase to provide insight on this very topic and led an engaging conversation with the crowd:

commusoft ceo, jason, giving a talk behind a podium with a title screen in the background

IoT refers to all the devices you could think of that are connected to the internet. The list of items in IoT only continues to grow, but includes things like iPads, printers, smartphones, personal assistant devices, and even smart cookers. Because these can all connect to the internet, it means they are capable of creating, sending, and storing data that can be read, understood, and acted upon. It means convenience for the user (i.e. controlling products remotely) and useful data for manufacturers (who can then build better products).

Field services are being exposed to IoT and witnessing more appliances entering into the digital realm. From digital heating controls, smart lighting systems, to remote cleaning equipment--a lot of these were featured as part of the Smart Buildings Expo as well--you may have encountered or even use these yourself. As great as all these can be though, just because they sound amazing (i.e. the hype) doesn’t mean they will work amazingly (i.e. the reality).

Jason talked about his own experience in tech and discussed the gap between technology and usability. For instance, a product may be great, but if it’s supported by an underdeveloped interface then the product can become unusable. A lot of everyday IoT items are still in the early stages, but they are being adopted and adapted to become more robust and useful, it’s all about making use of the data being collected and then improving the product and usability, just like with AI, VR and Automation, as we said before.

commusoft ceo, jason, talking with 3 men at the facilities show

For facilities managers, as well as field services, tools will continue to change as we strive to find a balance between the cost and return value of these items.

After all, think about the electronic devices your engineers use at the moment to test various products; like boilers, heaters, pipes, wiring, and more. These all help to improve operational efficiency, but better solutions (such as smart boilers and larger, connected appliances) are on the horizon to take your tools to another level. We can certainly get excited about them, but you still need to be realistic and give time for products to become effective, accessible, and integrated too.

Quick-Stop Highlights

There were a number of great things on display across the ExCeL, but some quick standouts also included:

Drones:

Similar to last year, drones were everywhere. They’ve become increasingly popular (and caused problems), but it’s hard not to be impressed by their practical uses (we saw drones used for security,  surveying, and even fire-fighting)! Just think about the potential that’s yet to come, particularly for field services.

two drones on two tables on display on the facilities showfloor

Security & Safety:

Security & Safety (both online and offline) is getting increasingly important. We saw a wide variety of companies showing off all sorts of security technology aimed at keeping people and places safe. Many blended the traditional with the futuristic. From electronic padlocks, to advanced facial recognition, and even heat-mapping infrared technology, like this FireTIR system from Patol, it's certainly intriguing to see what tech is keeping an eye on the every day:

IMG_20190619_094813-1

Packing/sorting and manual tasks:

Many of you reading this may well be directly involved with, or have staff, who do a lot of manual labour and lifting. Some very cool tech on display was a pneumatic lifting device from Piab Vacuum Solutions and their advanced gripping technology:

man lifting boxes using a pneumatic lifting device; a display on the showfloor

The Takeaway (and a tease at what's ahead)

Facilities Show is as exciting as it is massive, and it’s great to see how the event culminates to showcase innovation and success from all sorts of industries linked to Facilities and Field Services.

We’re proud of the achievements we've made too and Facilities Show was a great opportunity for us not only to talk about all the fantastic things we've got coming up, but also listen to discover how to we can help our clients in the future too!

At Commusoft, we work hard to innovate and grow and we’re super excited to be launching a whole host of excellent features this coming Summer that we're sure you'll love, including:

You can read more about these features by clicking on the team below to check out major announcement on our Product Blog! 

animated image of the commusoft team waving to the camera, zooming in and out repeatedly

If you wanted to speak to our team (and with those friendly faces, who wouldn't?!) but didn't have a chance, check out the article to see how you can get in touch, or click below to view a demo of Commusoft in action!

watch a 20 minute demo of commusoft in action, computer screen with demo video sample

As always, we'd also love for you to reach out on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn!

If you enjoyed this post too, then be sure to subscribe to our weekly Business Blog; we'll continue to provide insight and advice on all sorts of topics that you're sure to find useful.

Cheers!

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If you want to learn more about Commusoft's field service software, please see our product blog.