Integrated facility management to add value to your company

Head of Facility Management Sales Carlos de Jesus, Infraserv Höchst

Interview with Head of Facility Management Sales Carlos de Jesus

We asked Carlos de Jesus, Head of FM Sales at Infraserv Höchst, how facility management contributes to customer value creation, what trends can be observed and how Infraserv Höchst is positioned in the market.

Mr. de Jesus, how do you see the current situation in facility management? What are the current trends?

Carlos de Jesus: The term facility management has undergone a change in meaning in recent years. While facility management - or FM - was simply a new German term for “janitor services” around ten years ago, the range of services offered in FM today is much broader. In this context, terms such as “integrated” or “value-adding” FM are becoming increasingly established. The latter term in particular already indicates that facility management is no longer limited to additional work to keep the client's “house and yard” in order. Instead, we see complex infrastructure services that are often closely linked to the client's core business or even extend into it.

Does this mean that integrated facility management is following the increasing trend towards outsourcing?

Carlos de Jesus: We are observing two opposing trends here, both locally and throughout Germany and even internationally. On the one hand, we are seeing more willingness among companies to hand over a defined bundle of services completely to a specialized provider. Ideally, these clients want a service provider that can provide its services across all locations. In the case of large international corporations, this sometimes even happens worldwide.

In other cases, however - and this is also partly dependent on the industry - the trend is moving back towards insourcing. This is particularly the case wherever an FM service provider is not able to cover all of the customer's technical requirements. Here, the customer installs their own FM manager or a responsible department that coordinates a group of regional partners.

What role do new technologies play in integrated FM? I'm thinking primarily of AI and the Internet of Things (IoT)?

Carlos de Jesus: The importance of technological development cannot be overestimated! The omnipresent shortage of skilled workers dictates this, which of course does not stop at FM. Let's take the keyword smart building. Automated building air conditioning and energy management are nothing new. The basic prerequisite for this is good network coverage to ensure data exchange, e.g. a 5G network. This is now increasingly available in companies.

Or let's take the buzzword robotics. This is not just about devices such as cleaning robots, which are already widely used in the private sector, e.g. as self-propelled vacuum cleaners. In the future, robots will also be able to read out data, carry out simple maintenance work and inspect systems. This is particularly practical in places that are difficult for humans to access - the robot can be specially designed and programmed for this purpose.

AI and the Internet of Things will rapidly gain in importance in facility management - simply anywhere that can be operated remotely or even fully automated or controlled.

The possible applications are almost unlimited, and we will certainly be reading and learning a lot about them in the coming years.

Head of Facility Management Sales Carlos de Jesus, Infraserv Höchst

What advantages – apart from the obvious cost savings – does this have for the customer?

Carlos de Jesus: I wouldn't focus on the costs at all. For many customers, costs have long since ceased to be a priority. The magic word today is delivery. A collaboration usually starts with an agreed trial period with contractually defined parameters. As a result, contracts are increasingly not even put out to tender once they have expired. If the customer is satisfied, the contract is extended in the best-case scenario. Because in the end, what matters is that the tasks are completed at all. Which brings us back to the much-vaunted shortage of skilled workers.

What is the industry doing - apart from automation - to combat the shortage of skilled workers?

Carlos de Jesus: There are very different strategies. Recruitment competition is of course very intense, and the battles are correspondingly tough. Some companies are taking special measures by buying up smaller companies - not to take over their business, but to gain access to the staff that will then be deployed for their own regular customers.

At Infraserv, we take a different approach: With our training provider Provadis, we focus heavily on training. And we don't just “produce” skilled workers for our own needs: Market demand is so strong that our graduates are welcomed with open arms everywhere. Conversely, we don't need to complain about a shortage of candidates.

Head of Facility Management Sales Carlos de Jesus, Infraserv Höchst

How do you see Infraserv's position in the FM market?

Carlos de Jesus: We are relatively well positioned. We are not one of the largest FM service providers - in fact, we are relatively small compared to the market leaders. We are also not internationally positioned - our customers are located throughout Germany. But we are highly specialized. The locations we serve all belong to the chemical, pharmaceutical and process industries. We have special expertise in this area because, as the owner and operator of Industriepark Höchst, we originally come from this sector ourselves. This heritage is a clear competitive advantage over competitors who have their roots in conventional FM.

Please give us a few examples of chemical and pharmaceutical-specific FM.

Carlos de Jesus: I already mentioned at the beginning that the trend is increasingly moving towards integrated services that extend into the client's core business. In our case, for example, this means that we calibrate and maintain the often very specialized analytical equipment. When we do this, we naturally also have the specialists who can operate them. In this way, we can also carry out routine series analyses that occur in many processes.

Another area covers the entire topic of regulation. It is obvious that occupational health and safety and plant safety, for example, require a completely different level of specific expertise here than in the automotive industry or the construction sector, for example.

Where do you still see advantages over the competition?

Carlos de Jesus: The entire field of industry-specific digitalization. We have been gathering relevant experience here at our main site for decades. IoT was already a reality at Industriepark Höchst before the term was widely used. As a result, we have significantly simplified the required documentation. Mobile and predictive maintenance, i.e. remote and predictive maintenance, are also possibilities that the IoT has made possible.

But I'm not saying that we embrace every new buzzword and jump on every technological trend. Innovation at Infraserv always takes place with a sense of proportion. Our customers know and appreciate that.

Head of Facility Management Sales Carlos de Jesus, Infraserv Höchst

If you put yourself in your customers' shoes, what do they see in the FM service provider Infraserv?

Carlos de Jesus: Our customers are all companies with 500 or more employees per site. They clearly see the added value that our service represents for them. Because we offer a complete package of FM services, our customers hardly need to worry about any peripheral processes. And by that I also mean related services that come into play depending on customer requirements and are covered by our overall portfolio, such as occupational health and safety, site services, supply and disposal solutions, energy management, etc. This is another key advantage over the competition: we can cover the entire life cycle of a site - from planning and construction through to operation, subsequent conversion and finally the dismantling of buildings and facilities.

To summarize - is there an overarching motto or credo in your collaboration with your customers?

Carlos de Jesus: The credo of our collaboration is reliability: we simply fulfill the services that we have promised and contractually agreed with the customer. To put it simply: Infraserv delivers! What is absolutely paramount for us and our customers is the human factor. Every customer has a single point of contact in the form of a dedicated site manager. This person is always available. Because problems can only be solved by talking about them in detail.

And that's what Infraserv has in common with chemical and pharmaceutical companies throughout Germany: We have the same home - both regionally and professionally. And that's why we speak the same language.

Mr. de Jesus, thank you for this really informative interview!