Facilities Management Robot

What is a facilities management robot?

A facilities management robot is a robotic device involved in the management of indoor or outdoor properties, including tasks such as lawn care, security, and cleaning. A subset of commercial robotsfacilities management robots are a robotic technology application for a specific vertical–in this case, facilities or building management. Facilities management can involve the management of a single building or encompass multiple buildings in the case of corporate campuses, educational campuses, resorts, hotels, apartment complexes, and assisted living grounds, just to name a few. 

The facilities management world is divided into “hard” and “soft” management tasks. In short, soft facilities management encompasses activities more typically performed by humans, such as cleaning, security, mail and parcel delivery, and landscaping and maintenance. 

Hard facilities management, in contrast, involves the management of physical structures that serve an electrical, technological, or industrial function, such as mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems management, heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) management, and fire and environmental safety management.

Drivers of the facilities management robot market

Facilities management services are a global multi-billion dollar market influenced by a number of significant dynamics that make automation and robots more attractive.

  • Evolution from reactive to scheduled to predictive. Over time, facilities management has grown from a few handymen to a sophisticated, holistic solution for managing myriad interconnected systems, all while making that work appear as invisible as possible for tenants. Facilities managers evolved from reacting to things breaking to scheduling regular maintenance to reduce breakdowns to using AI and algorithms to predict a system failure before it occurs
  • A trend toward centralization of operations. While facilities managers were becoming more efficient and proactive, they began to recognize the efficiencies of centralized management. Where there might have been a small building team in each building, now a facilities management team can manage many buildings from a centralized location. Centralization brought additional efficiencies as facilities management can think more holistically about work, for example, scheduling service calls to reduce the number of trips back to the central hub.
  • Persistence of remote and hybrid work. Owners and managers of office buildings and parks are facing post-pandemic offices that in many cases are still sparsely populated. To safeguard their investment in those assets and ensure that the lack of foot traffic doesn’t lead to a stale or abandoned atmosphere for the remaining tenants, managers are limited on how much they can cut back on the basics while still delivering a quality customer experience.  
  • Focus on efficiency and cost-cutting. Due to financial uncertainties, rising heating and cooling costs, and fluctuating numbers of office workers, facilities management professionals are laser-focused on making every penny count and demonstrating the ROI of every investment. 
  • A tight labor market, especially for relatively unskilled roles. Adding on to this difficult mix is the challenge of hiring and retaining unskilled and low-skilled workers who perform many of the soft facilities management tasks.

All of these trends are converging to make it an attractive time to address some of these facilities management situations with robots. However, those same cash constraints and narrow margins may also cause some facilities management professionals to be unwilling or unable to take on the capital expense of investing in robots. A new breed of service provider is stepping in to fill the gaps by offering Robots-as-a-Service (RaaS) solutions, which enables facilities management to pay on a monthly or quarterly basis, transforming these deployments from a capital expense into an operating one. 

Tasks performed by facilities management robots

Due to the various services that properties require, the facilities management robot market includes various function-specific robots: