In the Pre COVID-19 days, things were gradually maturing towards better work environments, infrastructures and smart office premises etc. Well, suddenly everything got disrupted, but the overall vision didn’t change. However, the smart infrastructure management solutions are making an even stronger appeal to real estate and facilities management companies on the basis of their appeal for enabling better cost control and better monitoring of the infrastructures.
In an exclusive conversation with Gaurav Burman, Vice President of 75F, Faiz Askari of SMEStreet explored the market potential and trends in smart building management or smart infra management solutions space.
Here are edited excerpts:
Faiz Askari: Coming to the market segment of infrastructure management. Advanced technologies like IoT, AI, Cloud computing, these trends are gaining momentum. What level of demand you are observing from a consumer perspective, how are Indian customers coming forward to these technology adoptions?
Gaurav: Let me spilt it us into two parts which are Pre and post coronavirus time, regardless in both the cases. We focus on commercial buildings like hotels, hospitals and offices. There are a lot of awareness is going on in 2-3 areas in the last few years, those are around energy efficiency, comfort, automation for running the building and visibility & reporting of the few parameters of the building. Earlier, suppose a few years ago it was luxury but now it’s becoming a necessity to adopt, so a lot of customers are asking for these kinds of technology. More importantly, they are realizing that IoT, machine learning, cloud computing etc. are all the technology that we use they can actually provide a better solution on all of these things including a higher level of efficiency, better comfort, better air quality management, better automation. For these reasons’ customers are no longer just curious about the technology but now they are saying what this new technology can do to improve my life and how it’s better than the previous traditional solutions.
Lately, over the past few weeks, with the coronavirus pandemic which obviously reduced occupancy happening in commercial buildings probably for the foreseeable future there, many buildings will operate. Maybe with the lesser amount to occupancy couple of things has changed like clients are more concerns about air quality, much more concern about maintaining the right kind of norms and the occupancy how can a technology tell us about the occupancy of the buildings. There could be safety consideration compliance of govt. norms like 33% of occupancy. For those reasons’ facility managers are very keen about these things and well also about the energy savings. In the time like these people are keener about conserving gas/energy and everything that help in saving in terms of operating expenses
Faiz Askari: As we are all entering into the Post-Covid era, this kind of infra management solutions will definitely have stronger appeal, what level of cost savings can probably bring this to an organization after applying this technology?
Gaurav: Many deployments and many more buildings that we have studied ongoing projects which are there both in the Indian market, South Asia Pac and even in the US where we operate. The level of savings can be across multiple sectors. One is of course saving energy HVAC systems, lighting systems maybe the building and requirement are different but the saving can be delivered up to 30-70%. You can further offer to save in the form of automation where you have 4 people doing the work and managing the building running the system. We could probably have the system do this automatically where may you just need one person to oversee it or monitor it hence, we can save manpower cost as well. And then how we run the primary equipment’s like chillers, sensors controllers we could run them a lot more optimally.
Faiz: Apart from energy-savings, what are your thoughts on other critical areas such as identity management and surveillance, could please share an example, how smart infra management an bring value to the business?
Gaurav: Surveillance is something which is probably outside our domain, in general terms its subtlety becoming important from 2 prospective one physical surveillance like you have a plant or you have an office or you have the facility and like you have intellectual property or you have a physical property we have an employee to concern about. Technology can play a role in rating things like Cameras motion, sensors alarm system or automatically alarming the authorities in case of break down. People who need to know like admin’s head or you say security head, there are many solutions in the market that can actually integrate all of these together. That one level and we live in a digital age definitely surveillance level that also needs to be considered.
Faiz: Which industry segment in India is the early adopters of building automation system? Where exactly these solutions are getting accepted rapidly?
Gaurav: There is awareness in the Indian market, how newer technology and greener technology is more sophisticated reporting automated technology that actually helps both in the short term and as well as in the long term. One of the possibilities for slightly slower adoption in India than a couple of other geographies could that be the standard that is there for these building and this technology is either not there or not implemented by the govt very strongly. Perhaps with the little bit of standardizing or a little bit of push coming from the department, the adoptions will be much faster and also access to capital could be another reason. Although there is a lot of awareness in health sectors and even in IT sectors. To answer your question directly about which sector we see is the IT sector clearly been the early adopters and we see a lot of in terms of adopting is the companies’ space, companies both multinational, as well as Indian companies, look at these technologies. Even now we are seeing the retail segment are also picking really quick and they are extremely concerned about both begin efficient and comfortable. Essentially these are two triggers. Even health care and hospitality segment are quick adaptors of this technology.
Faiz: Like you mentioned cost-saving and standardize calculation. Is there any calculation or study around operational efficiency? Is there any percentage that level of operational efficiency customer may expect if they implement this?
Gaurav: Yes, there are numerous studies and numerous examples and also case studies around actual implantations saving after being done. There is no one number that I can say, as unfortunately each building is different and it varies industry to industry. As we must have seen some tend to operate 2 shift or 3 shifts. Energy consumptions go up industry to industry. But broadly lot of the operations in today’s buildings you have HVAC system you have lighting system IT system certain other services. In the IT system there has been a lot of developments and lot of work in 20 years or so a lot of optimizations in various system. In another area such as HVAC not of much again some of this latest technology are just about starting to come into that equipment their tends to be lot of wastage and in those areas, there can be a lot of saving that can be delivered that also tends to be the highest energy consumers level of potential saving they are quite high. We generally discover that depending on the edge of the building, conditions depending on the way is operated, the saving that we as a company have been able to provide and that vary anywhere from about 30-50% in this building.
Faiz Askari: You must have noticed a trend in the realty segment, In the real estate market even they are more bent towards leasing out facilities and they provide end to end facilities for office and company for plug and play business, In your opinion do you think they could be an early adopters?
Gaurav: Yes, under a very interest model we margined, and we have noticed that co-working spaces are emerging there are a lot of builder and facility managers are started seeing a new model is emerging. Like co-working companies, they have made easier for the companies to move in, expand move out in many ways. Some barriers are removed to some extent and the same approach have remained extended into capital equipping to some of the services we have asked for. So, one of the trends is that a lot of things are being available in the service. Earlier people used to buy investment and capital to the office and today many things are available on a rental basis or available as service. Sometimes on a border service and sometimes individual centre. The second trend is asking for expanding and contracting for Infrastructure expanded in a rapid period of time so that you know possibly we will see in the present scenario that there will be companies who will be impacting their workforce. Even they will expect a similar kind of situation for their vendors. The keyword really is efficiency and flexibility and that what customer is asking for.