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22 January 2018
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BATTERY POWER CHARGES AHEAD

p23_Annabel-Morris

6 November 2017 | Annabel Morris


Annabel Morris, marketing executive at Service Works Group, discusses how FMs can create a network of sensors to remotely track assets


There has been much discussion of the benefits IoT brings to building management. 


FMs can now create a network of sensors to enable them to remotely track the status of assets, from soap dispensers to boilers. When the sensors are integrated with FM software, the process of dispatching an operative can be automated. The operative can access the alert from a smartphone, and view the job in real time. This relies on battery power to supply each wireless device, and at last more development is being channelled into battery capacity and efficiency.


Now, a standard lithium-ion battery, commonly used to power a wireless sensor, could last up for two to three years while a smartphone operates for less than a day on a full charge. These short timeframes require frequent attention to ensure functionality, and organisations with a large network of devices must account in their budgets for battery replacement.


Dutch innovators have created an energy cell that can provide 24 hours of power to a sensor but can be recharged with just four hours of low light. What’s more, it could last for 50 years, transforming the potential of the IoT and sensors in remote environments. Batteries have also been developed that can recharge using energy from solar power; Washington University has announced the creation of a battery-free mobile phone that uses energy harvested from radio frequency signals.


Recognition of the importance of batteries has led to a surge in development to improve their efficiency. But any limitations caused by short life spans are offset by the results they achieve. The savings gained using sensors in terms of preventive maintenance and energy and operational efficiency greatly outweigh the inconvenience of changing batteries.  


Sensors and smartphones are key components in FM. While the demands placed on sensor and mobile tech are outpacing current functionality, such devices are propelling FM to new heights. 


Annabel Morris is a senior marketing executive at Service Works Group