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Why blockchain looks set to define the FM industry of tomorrow


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Blockchain is best known for being the technology behind Bitcoin, but the technology’s use and potential usages stretch far beyond cryptocurrency – blockchain’s full possibilities have yet to be fully explored. Blockchain works by keeping a ledger across various networks. It is secure as data is encrypted, stored and distributed across different networks, with the individual ‘blocks’ being linked connected to one another by pieces of code called hashes.

Like other technological advances of the past, blockchain could fast stream the facilities management industry by reducing overheads and increasing efficiency. Here are some of the ways this technology could revolutionise the FM industry:

Blockchain can change the way that maintenance is carried out and contracts are paid. A blockchain system could be configured whereby the information on what requires maintenance, and the contracts which have been made to arrange for these things to be repaired, could be stored. The ledger could be created to automatically update itself, gaining information from sensors which track their current state of repair of appliances and how long is needed until their next routine check-up.

It could be worked so that payments were automatically scheduled for when the work was completed and verified. The contract could be entered onto the ledger so that it was to be paid as soon as the work was carried out. This could be made even simpler by the fact that, with the sensors on many appliances, it would not need to be manually updated as the information from the sensors would register when it had been completed. Large facilities have many elements that need constant maintenance. Using blockchain to keep track of this would reduce the administration time needed as payments and routine checks could be automatically made and would not need to be done manually, reducing the number of hours this would normally take.

Another way in which blockchain could change the FM industry is in its ability to provide improved security measures for facilities without requiring an increased time input. In a facility where people use different rooms, a blockchain ledger could keep a record of all entries and exits. This process would only require people to register a single time and then, with the use of a smart card, could access that room again without needing to register at reception a second time.

This would improve security as it would allow for cards to be linked to users and then all stored as a blockchain, creating an accessible database of all who have come in and out without the need to laboriously log this manually or on a centralised system.

While blockchain has the potential to do both these things, its real value may lie in the way that it can be made to interact with the Internet of Things (IoT). Having smart devices feeding into a ledger would result in a large volume of digital information that would need to be stored somewhere. Traditionally, this information would have been stored on hard disks or printed out and then stored.  With blockchain, the information is stored remotely so there is no worry of how you are going to store it yourself. In addition to this, if the information is remotely stored using blockchain technology, it can be remotely accessed by contractors too, allowing them to easily see what work needs doing without the need to send them information.

Blockchain could significantly impact the FM industry for the better. Whether by streamlining the way repair work is organised, improving security or providing somewhere to store data, the impacts look set to be huge.

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