5 Easy Ways Facility Managers Can Use AI To Save Time

The role of a facility manager is a whirlwind of constant activity and unyielding demands. Charged with overseeing the broad array responsibilities that fall under the “facility operations” umbrella, facility managers wear a lot of hats. From managing maintenance and repairs to ensuring safety compliance, coordinating renovations, and optimizing efficiency, their days are an intricate dance of juggling multiple tasks and making critical decisions.  

With a demanding schedule that leaves little room for rest, facility managers navigate a challenging landscape. Any new ways to improve productivity is critical and can provide a competitive edge.  

Since the public release of AI-powered language models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, facility managers can already begin using AI to make their jobs easier in a variety of ways.  

Here are the 5 top ways that facility managers (like you) can start using generative AI and Large Language Models (LLMs) in your job as early as today. 

1. Digitizing standard operating procedures

ChatGPT prompt for a facility manager for bolted joint management
ChatGPT Bolted Joint Management Procedure

LLMs like ChatGPT or Bard can be an invaluable tool for facility managers seeking to digitize their standard operating procedures (SOPs). By simply uploading a few bullet points outlining the desired procedures, AI can swiftly transform them into comprehensive and detailed documentation.  

You’ll be surprised at how well AI can learn to understand the context and intricacies of facility management. This allows it to provide step-by-step instructions, highlight critical safety protocols, and even suggest best practices.

2. Answering frequently asked questions

ChatGPT Email from Facility Manager to vendor on late delivery

Many facility managers spend a lot of time typing out answers to the same questions from employees, contractors, customers, and vendors over and over again. This can quickly become tedious, especially when you no doubt have better ways to spend your time. 

By using AI to supplement this process, facility managers can quickly and accurately respond to inquiries. It can be trained to answer a wide range of questions, such as where to find a specific piece of equipment or delivery protocol for materials suppliers. 

Even better, it can adjust based on the tone you would like. For example, you could instruct ChatGPT to answer a question from your safety manager in a “helpful” tone, or ask a delayed supplier the status of your delivery in a “polite but curt” tone. 

3. Create maintenance schedules and checklists

Upload data into your preferred AI model for a speedy data analysis that optimizes maintenance schedules and equipment usage. It can create maintenance checklists to use as reminders based on best practices, as well as serve as a fresh set of “eyes” that uncovers hidden trends in your data that you might otherwise not have noticed. 

It can utilize predictive maintenance algorithms to identify potential equipment failures or maintenance requirements before they occur. As an example, after analyzing historical sensor data, Google Bard may identify a specific heat exchanger that historically experiences reduced efficiency after a certain period due to fouling. It can then recommend scheduling regular cleaning or maintenance for that heat exchanger every six months to prevent performance degradation, thereby minimizing energy losses and enhancing overall operational efficiency.  

4. Providing training and guidance

AI can also be used as a powerful training tool for both new and existing employees. Upload a list of new hire responsibilities and ask it to create a new hire training checklist, or even ask for it to create curriculum for refresher courses on safety procedures and equipment operation.  

For example, consider the training of new maintenance technicians at an offshore wind farm. Google Bard or ChatGPT could be used as a virtual knowledge resource that offers interactive learning experiences via live Q&A, step-by-step instructions, troubleshooting guidance, and answering technical questions. 

Google Bard AI generated training checklist for a maintenance technician

5. Editing and formatting your writing and data

Have a messy list of data that needs to be put into a table format? Or what about an email that you drafted up quickly and you want checked over for typos and grammar errors? Look no further than AI. 

Whether it’s reports, memos, presentations, or other written content, facility managers can leverage ChatGPT’s language proficiency and editing capabilities to ensure clarity, coherence, and professionalism in their communication. 

Pitfalls to watch out for

When you are just starting to use generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Bard, you should be mindful of certain pitfalls to ensure a smooth experience.  

First, it’s important to remember that these are AI language models–they are not a human expert. While it can provide helpful suggestions and insights, it may not always fully understand the specific context, nuances, or industry-specific requirements that facility managers deal with. Therefore, managers should exercise critical judgment and not solely rely on AI-generated responses without verification or validation from other reliable sources. 

Secondly, facility managers should be cautious of potential biases and inaccuracies in the responses from generative AI. The model’s training data consists of vast amounts of text from the internet, which may include biased or inaccurate information. Consequently, it may inadvertently produce biased or misleading outputs. Always fact-check to ensure accuracy. 

In summary, avoid pitfalls by viewing generative AI as a helpful tool rather than a definitive source of information.

Final Thoughts 

Despite its infancy, AI has already become an invaluable tool for facility managers at industrial facilities. Further development will only increase the number of use cases for facility managers. The more you integrate AI into your day-to-day work now, the more you will stay ahead of the curve in the future. In fact, the majority of this blog post was written using AI (shhh, don’t tell my boss). 

The future possibilities are truly endless. Facility managers can look forward to optimizing robust maintenance schedules in seconds, improve asset reliability with on-demand data analysis, and improved resource allocation for better overall productivity. Are you ready? 

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