The Future of Facility Maintenance: Smart Technologies and Sustainable Practices

The World Bank’s “Digital Economy Initiative for Africa” is on a mission to digitally enable every individual, business, and government in Africa by 2030. As the continent’s tech ecosystem continues to flourish, this goal is certainly on track to be reached. Smart building technology, in particular, is playing a key role in Africa’s digital transformation, offering promising prospects for more sustainable facility maintenance. Smart sensors can provide facility managers with a birds-eye view of the building’s operations and facilitate predictive maintenance, as well as automatically improve energy efficiency and prevent water leaks. Additionally, these sensors optimize cleaning procedures, conserving energy, time, and resources.

Smart Cleaning Systems

Smart cleaning systems can help keep facilities across Africa clean and hygienic, essential for leaving positive impressions on employees, customers, and clients alike. In particular, smart cleaning systems use IoT sensors to track foot traffic throughout the day and automatically edit cleaning schedules for the janitorial crew as needed to keep key areas like hallways and restrooms as clean as possible. Similarly, touch-free, automatic soap and paper towel dispensers can be installed to drastically improve hand hygiene in restrooms, with sensors signaling when replenishment is needed.

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Robotic Cleaners

Automation has also come a long way with cleaning robots poised to transform the future of sustainable facility maintenance in Africa. Robotic vacuum cleaners, for example, can autonomously clean carpets and vinyl floors, while specialised robots like robotic window cleaners excel in specific tasks. Robotic window cleaners use smart sensors to climb building exteriors, seamlessly avoid obstacles, and successfully clean windows with a streak-free finish. As high-rise buildings become increasingly commonplace across Africa, these robots mitigate risk associated with window cleaning as they eliminate the need for human workers. They can even sense just how fragile the glass is, and adjust the amount of pressure used to clean the glass effectively. They’re also quick, efficient, and can operate 24/7, which means they can clean windows even outside of standard working hours.

Energy-saving Smart Sensors

Smart building technology optimizes energy consumption through real-time monitoring and control, minimizing the need for human intervention. For example, Deloitte’s new African headquarters in Johannesburg’s Waterfall City in 2020 is a fully-digital, smart, and sustainable green building designed to optimise energy use. Smart sensors are installed throughout the building to monitor temperature and lighting in real-time. Air ventilation, heating, cooling, and lighting levels are automatically adjusted as needed based on current occupancy levels for peak comfort. In turn, that means energy consumption is kept to a minimum.

In particular, smart lighting sensors typically cut energy usage by as much as 30%, and have been found to slash power consumption from 765,228.16 to 499,067.01 kWh. These sensors can also monitor the building’s current levels of natural daylight and alter artificial lighting in response to ultimately minimise energy usage during the day. Additionally, IoT sensors also collect and store data on energy consumption, so facility managers can get a clear and concise overview of the facility’s metrics. As such, they can better spot any inefficient practices and replace them with improved, energy-saving measures as needed.

Water Leak Detection

Smart sensors can also detect water leaks and prevent costly water damage and waste. For example, an office building in Nairobi recently installed IoT sensors that successfully do just this. Whenever a water leak is detected, these smart sensors send an automatic alert to facility managers via an app who in turn can take immediate action to fix the problem. Shockingly, nearly 40% of South Africa’s water supply is lost through leaks. So smart sensors can play a key role in conserving water across the country, as well as the wider continent.

In conclusion, smart technology has the power to transform facility maintenance across Africa and make it greener than ever before. Smart cleaning systems, robotic cleaners, and smart sensors are just some of the latest tech innovations driving the continent’s digital transformation toward improved sustainability and facility maintenance all-in-one.

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jennydee

Freelance writer

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