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BUILDING & ENGINEERING | Staff Reporter, Singapore
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Surbana Jurong's OMNI software digitising facilities management

The global urban, infrastructure, and managed services consulting firm has developed a tool to enhance the work process and operational efficiency of building management.

Surbana Jurong has created an advanced Facility and Asset Management service offering by integrating multiple data sources into a single digital platform to help ensure the efficient delivery of facility operations. By developing and adopting digital as part of its day-to-day management, Surbana Jurong also aims to raise the competencies and standards of the facilities management industry.

In an exclusive interview with Real Estate Asia, the company shared why it has decided to embark on developing OMNI.

OMNI is a digital facility and asset management platform solution that collects data and builds information. The data is analysed and used to help with the management and performance of a client’s asset. It aims to make use of big data analytics and utilises technologies, such as Building Information Management (BIM) and SMART Facilities Management (FM), to optimise the running of a facility.

One of the main goals is to ensure work is delivered efficiently. The ideal situation is that information is accessed and analysed remotely, so that problems and situations can be addressed even before the technician or engineer sets foot on a construction site or building.

Going beyond maintenance, OMNI is slated to be an all-around solutions provider. Not only will it be able to ramp up speed and efficiency in building projects, it is also being modelled to understand big data through the utilisation of Internet-of-Things (IoT) sensors

OMNI collects both the building information and dynamic data generated from the IoT sensors for big data analytics. This allows the building operators to optimise and develop a more efficient work strategy for corrective and preventive maintenance. Building operators can also access accurate, real-time information anytime.

The platform has a set of modules to support the key functions of facilities management, including space management, asset management, maintenance management, reporting and analysis, and mobile application for users on the go.

It provides performance metrics and planning tools for users to efficiently manage the assets and facility operations. The platform is also seamlessly integrated with intuitive dashboards, instant messaging, faulty system tracking and real-time data analysis.

Use of OMNI at ALICE@Mediapolis

To further drive smart building management, Boustead Projects Limited, a leading specialist in smart eco-sustainable real estate solutions, started the initial deployment of OMNI at the Boustead Development Partnership’s ALICE@Mediapolis business park development in July 2020. As a pilot project, the innovative solution was used for space management, asset management, maintenance management, reporting, and analysis.

Based on ongoing beta testing and data collected to-date, OMNI may be able to achieve an improvement of more than 30% in overall work productivity, with at least a 50% increase in building information access and a reduction in manpower requirements through accomplishing more efficient processes for the work required. The official commissioning of the platform will commence in December 2020.

“We just have so much more data today, so many more insights than we ever have before [which] enables us to make better decisions,” said Jason Whitcombe, Surbana Jurong Private Limited (SJPL) Group director for managed services.

SJPL shared that whilst OMNI does not stand as an acronym, it is reflective rather of the words "omnipotent" and "omnitranscient".

“What we’re trying to do is put the right tools in the hands of the right people. So when someone arrive on site, they’ve already done their analysis of that piece of equipment. They can do it remotely. They can click on that piece of equipment, understand its history, when was it maintained, and what have been its issues,” Whitcombe explained.

In today’s digital era, the company said that OMNI was crafted not just to keep up with the times, but also because its customers have been looking for digitalised solutions.

“End users are demanding it now. We’re living in the digital era or at least beginning to - if you can’t pick up your phone and do something with an app, then there’s probably a gap there. A lot of our more sophisticated customers are pushing us in this way,” Whitcombe shared.

A structural view of a tenant unit at ALICE@Mediapolis allowing real-time overview of the facilities management needs using OMNI (Source: Surbana Jurong).

Revolutionising traditional practices in the industry

Eugene Seah, managing director of Surbana Technologies, illustrated how OMNI works in lift maintenance. He said that with this tool, it is possible to advise clients when a lift could break down.

“We can also advise what lift might be a better choice depending on each situation. By using the data we’ve collected, I can tell you as a client, which are the more reliable lift brands and what are the typical faults to think about, for example passenger traps or shimmering, or when you have a drop in a level, what might happen, these are all very valuable insights — and I can tell you in advance so the issue can be avoided” he said.

Seah shared that a client who is located in Singapore may monitor the lifts in his building in Jakarta. From a control centre in Singapore, he can instruct his team to have the lifts repaired, saving both time and money from this end.

“Because our system can be cloud based, we can look across the airwaves and we can monitor remotely in Singapore. We can put business rules into our system and technicians in Jakarta will be sent a printed report to say ‘Hey, please go and repair the fault on this lift’,” Seah said.

He added that the goal is to improve the quality of life for everyone involved, and not just to offer something new.

“It's a very exciting time now. We are going back to our customers to present the use of digital and analytics and the value and benefits it can offer. We have a team of data scientists to help with this data correlation” Seah said.

For James Chan CK, managing director of SMM Pte Ltd., "going digital" is a concept that the facilities management industry has recently embarked on.

Apart from facing the challenge of promoting this new way of doing business, having data that can help create OMNI as a powerful tool was also another aspect to consider.

“We have to overcome the challenges. This is an industry that has just taken on this idea of going digital. We can use A.I. to collect and start analysing data to drive more predictive analytics over time but you need data of course to be able to do that,” Chan said.

Creating OMNI was possible because the company already had years of useful work data to review and analyse from their many years working in the industry.

“I think the biggest advantage we have with this, with the system, and this technology that we're driving is that we are domain experts in this field. So when we receive data, we understand what it’s telling us and hence we've got a pretty good sense of what to do with it,” Whitcombe shared.

“At SJ we have planners, designers, consultants — all throughout the lifecycle of a building.

It’s not just in operations where we also have domain experts in the FM, we've got design experts at the front, and we've got construction specialists in the middle. If we were just a standalone FM practice, it just would be much harder,” he added.

When asked about the company’s future plans for OMNI, Seah shared that there is a push to make it available for use in healthcare and aviation.

“Since last year, there's a push now to move this platform to other sectors. So, what are we doing? We are looking at healthcare, we are working with aviation, we are working with asset monitoring,” he said. Whitcombe adds that compared to other technologies which offer similar tools, OMNI can be used with multiple systems.

“It can be applied to any asset. Basically, any IoT sensor - we can ingest the feed and have access to the data,” he said.

“We can plug into and work with any or multiple systems. I think some of the major challenges facing the industry is the lack of integration between systems, especially where a company has invested in the design and development of its own platform. They don't always play well with others, whereas ours has been designed deliberately to work with any system – we’re agnostic,” he added.

OMNI is continuously being improved by updating it with new modules. Some of these include managing inventory, integrating smart sensors, and tenant management.

The company shared that whilst OMNI has been officially launched, it will be constantly developed to keep up with changing practices and technology not just in the facilities management industry but also in other industries where OMNI may be adapted.

Photo courtesy of Surbana Jurong.
(Left to Right: Eugene Seah, Managing Director of Surbana Technologies; Jason Whitcombe, Surbana Jurong Private Limited (SJPL) Group Director for Managed Services; James Chan CK, Managing Director of SMM Pte Ltd.)
 

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