FM Growth
  • 17 Aug.2021
  • 5 min read
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#CREate FM 25 Talks with CRE Changemakers | Episode 5

by Sumit Nawathe

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#CREate FM 25 Talks is an interview series with CRE change-makers and Doers. With this, we intend to bring out first-hand experiences and best practices on digital transformation, energy management, and sustainability initiatives from industry leaders.

In conversation with Gopalakrishnan G,

Having the correct set of solutions with a proven track record of providing a client’s facility is crucial, whether the objective is to preserve the Fundamentals of FM services in a retrofit or to adapt the pace of technology for improved service delivery. In this edition of the FM Times #CREate FM 25 interview, Emrill’s Gopalkrishnan describes how to make the most of cost-efficient solutions and technology implementations. 

Q.1 Can you just brief us about your background, a little bit of what you are doing currently? 

Gopal: I am a Civil engineer and MBA holder. When I started my career, I became a certified member of IWFM and joined Emrill around 18 years ago in 2003. Now I lead as an operational director and report directly to the CEO.

At Emrill we have staff from more than 16 nationalities working with us, that’s why their health and safety is always on priority for us. For the same reason, we have established a Safety Action Group (SAG group) under which we make sure that all the safety requirements are put in place. We consistently and constantly focus on team management and other activities such as statutory and legal requirements are maintained and achieved without any deviation.

We have also introduced a behavior-based safety program through which we detect any unsafe behavioral traits of our staff and try to eliminate them by providing additional safety training to them. According to Heinrich’s principle, every unsafe behavior can lead to a major incident. Hence we want to eliminate the build-up of any such behavior.  

To reduce the communication gap between the supervisor and manager we introduced the Step-up program in 2016. With this capacity-building program, we tried to help the supervisor grow intellectually and knowledge-wise with the company. This has helped us to improve the retention rate and foster a better working environment.  After all, at facilities, we are not talking to machines but the people hence our staff are our biggest assets and we invest in their training and growth. It was the same reason behind the starting of the Graduate engineer training program. 

Q.2 You are one of those few who believe pandemic hasn’t really changed the fundamentals of FM services, rather it has just accelerated them. What makes you think so in terms of technology and service delivery?

Gopal: FM has not fundamentally changed but only the applications have evolved. The pace of technology adoption has increased. I can definitely say that. For Emrill as an organization, we have been driving this adoption of the relevant technology to improve service delivery. We have always been using cutting-edge technology, but more than that, we believe and value the opinions and suggestions of engineers and technicians, and other staff members.

We have implemented remote monitoring sensors for lighting and plumbing applications which we can track from our Command and control centers. So the pandemic has only increased the pace of implementation. 

Q.3 What makes Emrill stand out from its competitors when it comes to O&M services? Use of specific applications or technology to manage or monitor assets, or unique strategies and practices?

Gopal: We never believe that one set of solutions fits everyone. We prefer going to the client to understand their needs, what is already there, what are the shortfalls, and then do the gap analysis to come up with solutions. So we will get everything approved by the client that we can customize the solution based on the client’s requirement.

We also believe in the speed of execution, in UAE there are three main sectors for FM contracts – the Commercial, retail, and aviation sector and most of the contracts last for 1-3 years. They want cost-efficient solutions and technology implementation as soon as possible. It is also not necessary that a piece of technology that is suitable for one sector should and must be implemented in another sector hence we never force the technology implementation rather we only support the client’s facility by providing relevant tech. 

Q.4 In your opinion, what motivates you to launch or trial new technology applications or platforms? What percentage of that decision is determined by the client’s demand and your technology roadmap? What does Emrill’s tech roadmap look like?

Gopal: We have our own tech team which is the biggest advantage for us. But we also have different service providers working for us. For now, we are using FSI Go apart from the apps for improving technician’s efficiency. so we are using all these applications for different purposes. With the efficiency app, we get the dashboard to manage everything about housekeeping, etc while the Technician app gives us insight into technician’s productivity. Our IT team also provides integration capabilities so that we can work with any new client’s application or system without any problems.

Data is very important to bring visibility to operations and mobile applications are leading that way. Mobile applications are giving all the necessary data and insight on your hand and this is true for both the technician and facility manager.

Q5. In the UAE and MENA region, FM players have been very successful in capturing a large part of the market. There is fierce competition to win the next bid and even to retain the existing contract. What is it about Emrill that makes it more successful at winning contracts according to you?

Gopal: If I have to answer in four words then I would go with people, Training, Technology, and Integrated approach. To start with people, as I mentioned earlier we consider them as a real asset and hence we invest in their skills and make them ready to meet their next challenge.

We have a trainee engineer program that runs for 3 years to nurture world-class talent. We also have our own technology center where we constantly experiment with new applications that can be helpful to our clients. In some cases, when we don’t have the required tech available that the client is expecting, we honestly ask for some time and get back with the expert solution to them. This is what our client likes the most. 

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