It’s all about females and why you should care

Never mind Blockchain (though unique identification is a good thing) or spurious articles about how Millennials won’t work and can’t work (not in my experience), the next big thing is not them. Nor it is landing rockets back on earth and reusing them (love you Mr Musk) or the biggest factory on earth (Mr Musk again) or sexy electric cars with gull wing doors (Mr Musk again). I confess I have a bit of a thing for Mr Musk.

The big news (as always) is where is the money going, and in a similar vein, where is it coming from?

The really, really big news is that right beneath our feet two mahoosive things have started to happen but nobody is really talking about them.

The first big thing is the way the money is moving away from fossil fuels. So our favourite heating and cooking (and later moving) fuels are going to be no longer much sooner than anyone thought.

Take Waltham Forest, a borough in north-east London best known for hosting part of the 2012 Olympics, made history in 2016 when its pension fund for local council workers decided to pull out of fossil fuels. So no more of the £735m fund they manage will be invested in stuff stolen from the earth. The London Borough of Southwark has just announced its intention to do the same. They join a global movement of pension funds away from carbon intensive industries.

Now the interesting question is why? It’s not because they want to save the planet, it’s because of hard headed economic risk management. Investment in firms that make products that are bad for us and the world we live on don’t make economic sense.

“Any fund that is not (having) internal discussions (about fossil fuel exposure) is not doing its fiduciary duty”

Tom Sanzillo, Institute for Energy Economic and Financial Analysis

In fact the Norwegian Oil Fund (time to change the name guys), the world’s largest sovereign fund, made better gains from not investing in oil and coal related firms in 2016. So we can finally say it. Fossil fuels are in decline, whether we like it or not. I like it.

The other massive thing happening is who is starting to guide where the wealth created and sitting in these massive funds goes, now that the pale and stale males of old have started to fall from their (often) inherited positions of power and influence. All of this change is part of the trajectory of the biggest transfer of wealth in human history we have ever seen.  It has already started. Over the next 35 years an unprecedented $58.7 trillion dollars of wealth transfers to women and millennials.  Women will inherit 70% of this wealth and the young the rest.

For example, by 2030, two thirds of the wealth in the United States will be in women’s hands.  Lastly, women and millennials factor a company’s social and environmental impact into their investing decisions at a dramatically higher rate than men, it’s a fact.  This confluence of factors will drive change and growth in all sectors, but most obviously and quickly the energy sector.  Come be part of this exciting journey.

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Who do you think you are?

I recently took a DNA test. A present from my nearest and dearest, who knew I wanted to find out more about where I was from.

However, let’s pretend I am not me, but for today I am a large company.

So this is my story…

I knew, because the guy before me had said, that we had this and that, and everything was fine and no need for concern.

However, I was new to the job (new to being the one researching the history of our enterprise, so where we had been and where we might go). All the better to march forward knowing as much as you can know about who you are, I thought.

Like most bodies, I came to the task with some assumptions. I assumed that we knew things to be true and that someone before me would have written everything down and linked this to that, in a way that meant sense. I assumed that all available data had been checked and there was a scheduled time for rechecking, to see if anything new had come to light. I assumed that when we were looking for information, we were looking in the right place. I assumed we all wanted to know, and move forward with new knowledge.

Almost everything I assumed, turned out not to be true.

It turned out that we had started in a particular place, a long way from where we are today. It turned out that the legacy of those beginnings was still with us. It turned out that the new software and connectivity available to me meant that I could discover those beginnings and go back in time (almost) to meet them face to face. There was much excitement to be found in going back and working out where it had all come from and guessing at the why. It was even more interesting to piece together the why, especially as scandal and opportunity came to light as the drivers.

Most importantly however, it hadn’t been written down, and so it was difficult to make the right connections. There was no single source of truth. What was available as recorded information provided by Government you would assume had been checked and was correct, and in some cases yes but in others no. Turns out Government has humans working there too.  Changes did not make logical sense; motivations could only be guessed at.

Still our job was to move forward, to frame history in a way that made it useful for the present and a form of guidance for the future. The future is still to be forged and the mistakes of history are only to be understood as warnings for the present right?

This is where new technology can pave a way. Imagine being able to easily install the latest in IoT technology to find out definitively what is happening within your buildings, to your people and your asset base. Have a digital asset register built that tracks all your assets, and shows you your assets functioning (or not) and using easy set thresholds the system will tell you when those assets stop performing or move or fail and die. Know in advance where your assets are heading, and plan your routines for maintaining and replacing on this real data, delivered many times a second. Cut out unnecessary labour cost, remove those people who are not reporting in your interest but influenced by their own foibles and patterns of learnt behaviour. Trust the machines to tell you the truth, potentially all the time. Do all of this for a fraction of what you think it costs. Take a look at

Anyway that’s enough about business. You want to know what I found out about me. I found out I was Italian/French and from the mountains. I discovered that was strong within my DNA and strong in the way we looked and acted, even hundreds of years later. I found out we had gone to Ireland and that’s how my near relatives had ended up in Liverpool. I found new relatives in the old lands (had time with them on a beach near Nice) and many more even newer relatives in the melting pot of the USA; all still in the same place they emigrated to when Ireland proved too hard place to live. I discovered all kinds of things, marvellous and eye opening, part of a very human story of migration across Europe and onto America. And I discovered a part of me was probably even older and distinctive enough to be narrowed down to South India. So hello to all my new friends, brothers and sisters from Mumbai to Puducherry. I look forward to meeting you in the future.

Overall, having access to the accurate, undisputed data made things more interesting and action more sensible. It forged new relationships and spread the net wider in a more meaningful way. This should be the same for companies.

Jason Plent – April 2017

You can’t handle the truth….

Truth, when we are surrounded by fake news, is a hot topic, and simply identifying the truth can be challenging. Fake News is badged the truth, so we need to read and then validate from a number of sources simply to understand whether the article is the truth and based on fact. We no longer believe everything we read. In fact, we are nowadays suspicious of everything we read. It’s not just the news, often our suspicion is raised as we probe and question and are repeatedly let down. Frequently the wording or report has an element of truth to make it compliant, but still needs interpretation. So, to what part of the truth does this blog refer?

We live in, what can feel like at times, a false world, with our Political leaders never really answering a direct question and dodging the claim that they have retracted their promises. The wriggle room is often applied with largesse, with words such as ‘technically’ being used so the label of not telling the truth cannot be used in retort.

I find this tiresome, as we waste our time questioning reports, acting like trackers to get to the truth. As in the film ‘A Few Good Men and the clip “You can’t Handle the Truth” but unlike the film I can offer ninety shades of grey or excuses. I don’t know about you but I could save a bag full of time if the truth I was seeking was verified from a number of angles between the asset or space and was displayed on a dashboard within pre-determined tolerances. Its so helpful to have good limits set and for them to be a shared understanding, a way to the truth if you will.

For example, I was recently advised that 16 lamps were out because the output spec only drives the supplier to change the lamps when the lux level falls below X. Ok nothing new. But what does that mean? Where is the reading taken – is it with the blinds up or down, what is the base luminance, is it a dull day or bright day, have the reflected surfaces changes, is the space occupied and so on. Lighting is often used as a decorative feature or for signposting, and therefore if not working it doesn’t really have an impact on the luminance level and so on. It doesn’t look good, it may be putting the control gear under stress etc. “Technically” I guess the lux level was within limits, although where there are no guidelines on how and where this is measured we use ‘technically’ as an excuse for poor performance.

Health and safety were considered expensive some years back and more recently likewise with energy management and waste. It is now acknowledged that good performance in these areas is good practice and a good profitable business will have these items high on the agenda. Not only to keep the business safe and efficient but to attract the right talent and sell into the right markets.

Whilst writing this between business trips I have just taken a call from a global manufacturing client who asked the question “is IoT technology and the business of measurement and verification going to impact businesses seriously”. My answer was it is happening right now. The second question they asked was “most international manufacturing/service organisations who drive a quality approach will know everything about their manufacturing business but won’t, for example, know how many lamps they have”. He is right, they don’t have this basic information, and that means they don’t know how much energy they use and where they use it, or even if their use is correctly billed. In simple terms, we don’t know what we have or what we consume.

Recently I have had clients in new builds who are finding ‘fire doors and fire dampers’ missing. It’s nothing new, we maintain and manage what we simply bump into. Imagine a global manufacturer who had no insight into the supply chain or inventory, and built with the parts they had available. It would be a licence for chaos.

Insight and truth are two important aspects of any business keen to understand the impact your employees, customers and infrastructure have on the environment and the safety of all those that work for you. Having great insight, a deep understanding of our building performance and how they operate, will offer truth and therefore assurance.

Insight is the key to truth. In our business of maintaining buildings and outsourcing self-reporting contracts, we have no option other than to believe what we are told, until of course, we bump into a fire door that is not on the asset register, a fire damper that we exposed when remedial work was undertaken or guttering that has a tree growing out of it.

Do we believe what we are told or read? Interesting question. Let’s take an asset list and put the definition of an asset to one side. How was it collected, from a bill of quantities, design drawings, as fitted or physically counted? Many assets will have a legal and statutory requirement and if you’re not maintaining it you will be simply breaking the law.

Fire doors and dampers will be a fundamental part of the fire strategy of the building and I think it is safe to assume that at the design stage the discussion didn’t go something like this

“let’s bung a couple more units in this duct, another fire break here and a few extra doors just in case some don’t make it onto the asset register and don’t get serviced”.

Going back to the earlier point, the doors and dampers will have been manufactured and quality assured to the highest standards and installed and then commissioned. How is it they do not appear on an asset list? There could be numerous reasons.

If you don’t know you have it you will probably never find it.

Worrying. Imagine reporting such fundamental absences to a board or investor, a very uncomfortable meeting especially when you’re on the hook for lifecycle replacement.

Failure to understand what you have and its performance will have a detrimental impact on service, energy, lifecycle and the environment. In other words, it’s costing you.

Maintenance of buildings and the strategy you adopt should include the fundamental truth you need to know what you have. In my view, there is no excuse for such errors in newly built or refurbished properties, but I’m a realist. We need to minimise the error. Time will reduce the error rate if we adopt a proactive approach to maintain and update an asset register. It should not be done once and relied on, we need to question, check and validate, just as with map reading 3 known points will give you a better position than two (for those in the 21st century 3 satellite reference points).

If you have a building you own the risk, the risk cannot be outsourced. Knowing what you have is critical, and having a single source of information is not the truth.

Assurance is critical in delivering world beating service and gaining insight. By knowing what you have you can optimise, assure and ultimately save money.

So, whilst all the tracker reports are Green and the service columns are 100% compliant think again. Can you handle the truth?

Richard Jowsey – April 2017

Is there a mole in here? – IoT and FM

SaaS, IoT, Work Management and Mobile are words that we hear everyday, billions of devices connected to our smart phones, computers and tablets connected via the cloud, watching, monitoring and data mining everything.

 A recent post (IoT, Mobile, Service) – FM maintenance in the Cloud had a great response and discussion which has triggered this post. Thanks to all for your time.

Forget the number of anticipated devices by 2020 it is a lot. It makes me feel inadequate, I don’t have any, ok, I have a smart phone, tablet and a computer and I did have a few IoT devices in my holiday home in France. Yep France, a very remote part where upload speeds reach 0.5Mb and download of 2Mb on a good day assuming we have power, we regularly loose power around here, thus why I’m writing this by candlelight.

 I want to talk here about Facilities Management and the ‘Benefits’ of IoT (the ability to connect without human intervention) technology in this industry.

Facilities Management whether its self delivered with a DLO or by an outsourced supplier[s] is seen as an overhead, something that has to be done but often gets very little attention as it is not core business. However, it will always grab the CFO’s eagle eye, or it should, a huge number in the budget and carries a massive risk.

 Now in my domestic life I’m taught to look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves, very true but when reviewing spend lines in this industry we look for the biggest and wonder, how to…

 Remove, Reduce, Replace or Retain (the 4 Rs).

 Can I Remove or Reduce the cost, Replace it with something else or having considered all the options we need to Retain. These are the questions asked everyday in FM. Clients want the best at the lowest cost so by the very nature it will drive innovation.

 Unlike buying a flash car or a piece of jewellery, these are statement pieces and carry a cost, we expect to pay good money in fact we want to.

 FM is different, it is a necessary unnecessary!

 Very rarely is FM seen as important, unlike workplace design, funky desking, great break out space with free tea and coffee on demand, and, if Uber wine and of course the obligatory storage for your bike. Cool. To keep all this stuff working and compliant is a tough job. Somebody has to replace the coffee capsules, ensure there are 10 types of milk (what ever happened to silver and gold top) and so on. It looks terrific and is a great place to work, creativity is everywhere. A cautionary note, do not drink and drive, even when on your bike.

We will pay £000’s for a desk lamp, coffee machine and even a ping-pong table but when it comes to cleaning and maintenance we talk about the minimum wage and tender, evaluate and challenge and suggest it could be done with much less.

Yep this is called FM. In order to keep profitable we need to be innovative and creative, so we can do more with less.

Clients talk about being innovative but this is code for cheaper

There are two key noun’s used in FM, Value and Benefit

 Value – Noun

the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something

Benefit – Noun

an advantage or profit gained from something

 These are the driving forces behind innovation, tenders will be crammed with phrases such as ‘the added value of our submission is…..’ trying to differentiate from the rest, and after spending weeks of ‘solutionising’ and writing creative bids, the client will skip the bid and disregard the worth or usefulness and look at the bottom line and scream, ‘how much,’ unless of course your organisation has a clear, steadfast and the leadership to ensure your values are actually meaningful and not just when it suits. In this industry cost accounts for just about everything.

A great phrase is ‘driven to spend a budget rather than earn a budget’! Where a budget is given the challenge is to spend it where as suppliers will have to earn the budget, in fees from the client.

Values are different to each and every one of us. As an example, I see a huge value in creating and supporting inter company sports activities as this was both hugely valuable, important and useful as it enabled the team to have fun together and relax, share our purpose and enable all to talk openly in a relaxed environment, a huge benefit as I learnt so much. Others may see no value in this despite it being in their list of company values, this I suspect was because they see no advantage or financial benefit. It depends on priorities and in the FM industry it is usually the cost.

The buyer and seller, agree what is the benefit derived from the value driven initiative? If there is no financial benefit why bother? Everything we invest will have some kind of benefit, a new TV, a better picture quality, lower power consumption new features, the car with longer service periods and the sporting event allowing others to have a voice that may otherwise not have been heard. IoT will bring benefits, so its claimed with predictive maintenance.

So where does the mole enter? This is a phrase I used in management consulting and delivering change and tracking the benefits. All change management projects will require the benefit evidenced, demonstrating that the change had actually occurred and delivered the desired benefits and the value of the consultant. When managing such large change initiatives, identifying change is easy, delivering change a process, but evidencing change is a whole new challenge. 

Garden Moles, as we know, pop up unexpectedly, it instills images of hitting the mound with a spade, pushing one down only for another to appear. Saving in one area can merely push the cost to another. The cost remains the same; this is merely Business Process Re-engineering (BPR).

What has all this to do with IoT in FM. Well quite a lot really; claims that IoT will deliver benefits by saving you money by moving from Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) routine to Predictive. Makes sense to me. Loads of benefits, lots of value to be gained, what is stopping us, let’s get on with it, install IoT devices and take the benefit. Yep if it was that easy it would have been done by now. We need to look at both sides of the coin. To go back to our mole, we had a huge amount of soil on the surface, the benefit and I’ve just stood on it and its popped up somewhere else, the benefit taken is now a cost, just in a different place. All we have managed to achieve is to move it. There is no benefit. To deliver a benefit we need to consider all the consequences of change and how it is packaged.

Predictive Noun

say or estimate that (a specified thing) will happen in the future or will be a consequence of something.

Planned Noun

decide on and make arrangements for in advance

In moving from a PPM to a predictive routine will deliver a benefit, maintenance is then predicted rather than planned, this may stretch the maintenance period, the benefit. I call this the sushi belt effect, I can take my dish (my job) a little earlier, or later but all within an arms reach. Think about it!

Maintenance very rarely has an exact date, it’s a frequency often determined by SFG20, daily, weekly, monthly’s etc, clearly if you miss a daily you can’t do two visits the next (although some do try) but with a weekly you may allow a days slippage and a weeks slippage with a monthly etc ensuring contract creep does not occur.

The challenge for a predictive approach, is not the concept, but for suppliers to change their delivery model. Just imagine planning and scheduling. You have a contract to deliver PPM and Reactive services, you can plan your resources and skills quite specifically to ensure the SLA’s and KPI’s are achieved. The cost base is known and your income guaranteed. With a predictive approach the visit dates are unknown precisely so labour profiling becomes a nightmare and the cost of services complex depending on whether you have an input, output or BOQ.

In reality if we react to an event in an unplanned way the cost increases as we pay for the ‘jerk’ factor

The cost of a service call is not necessarily the time on site but the walk time between activities. If this can be minimised then the actual service cost reduces. This encourages the grouping of activities and skills and undertake as many activities at a single location. So as an example undertake all the daily checks in a plant room, some quarterly, half yearly and an annual. Great the day has been fully loaded and travel has been kept to a minimum.

As an example a predictive approach ‘attend the plant room ‘A’ and do a weekly and then attend plant room ‘B’ and do a monthly then return the following day to Plant room ‘A’ to make another visit. Chaotic and costly. As its predictive it is by the very nature unplanned.

Many years ago I was known as ‘Mr Pat’ one of the original innovators of ‘Portable Appliance Testing’ and other compliance assurance testing. The price of the service was per unit with discounts for quantity, a simple business model. It dawned on me one morning when surveying the mole hills on my lawn that charging for the walk time was smart, the shorter the more tests could be achieved, and thus lower the cost, clients loved it. The benefit shared with the client, the worth and usefulness (value) was immense. The same applies to FM, the most efficient FM services are those with a well-trained, multi skilled and efficient workforce with excellent planning and resource profiling, that can be adjusted to reflect events whilst maintaining SLA’s and KPI’s. It is generally a manual process, understanding how the service teams have performed, the delays due to an unforeseen activity, traffic, security, keys and sickness. Maintaining, updating routing and scheduling is a nightmare; it is generally set once and then forced thus why during detailed audits it emerges that a 1 hour service takes 10 minutes. No wonder your assets are failing. It is just too complex to be constantly adjusted and optimised.

Predictive Maintenance will deliver a benefit, but its not IoT, that merely gets a status of something into the cloud, we need the other side of the coin, analytics, machine learning and automatic resource scheduling then the benefits of predictive maintenance using IoT are real and huge

Mole Hill Maintenance (MhM) is real; do not pretend that savings are achieved by moving from a PPM to a predictive routine, this merely moves the benefit as a cost to somewhere different, even if the cost is pushed somewhere different, ultimately you’re paying for it

IoT in FM maintenance without automated ‘middleware’ of machine learning and sophisticated algorithms is a mole without a hill!

The transformation of maintenance to predictive is not IoT, but smart machine learning software on an open architecture of IoT

The FM business must recognise that the use of IoT is not a magic bullet to move from a PPM to Predictive regime. Simply the contracts and software is not able to automate resource profiling to ensure that a benefit is not eaten away by other costs of labour inefficiency.

Next time you are sold the casual throwaway comment of the benefits of IoT enabling PPM to move to predictive, it is real, but ask:

What is the true benefit £’s after costs of hardware and discussions with your suppliers to manage a predictive maintenance solution

Impact on SLA’s, KPI’s and asset life

Predictive maintenance, PF curves and MTTF etc are great for high value, high risk critical assets but applying predictive maintenance in everyday buildings with basic assets is in my view and at this point in time a total waste of time and money. As previous posts, undertake a review, complete a risk assessment understand the impact and structure your maintenance regime around that, simply your regime needs to be risk and data driven.

Richard Jowsey – February 2017

Hello world!

This is the website for IoT Systems Group – welcome

IoT Systems Group was set up in mid-2016 to work as a company dedicated to bringing the best of IoT connectivity to a wide market.