2017 is going to be a big year for IoT in the professional cleaning industry. The Internet of Things, most often referred to as IoT, is going to be found in many of the facilities we clean.
IoT is a very simple and practical technology. It actually dates back to the 1960s when “things” talked to each other using cords, fibers, and networks. Now the Internet, for both humans and things, has gone wireless, which has opened up a number of new opportunities for this technology.
And expect it to change cleaning whether you are a building manager, distributor or contract cleaner. Just to give you a taste of what’s likely to come, Kaivac lists the following six ways the internet of things will change cleaning:
Making sure there is plenty of paper
Expect to see paper dispensers to indicate if paper is running low. But there’s more. IoT will also tell us which dispensers seem to run low the most frequently and the time of day it usually happens. This will provide more focused attention to paper supplies and eliminate having a day porter check all the restrooms in a facility just to determine which ones need supplies . . . now he or she will know.
Ensuring there is always plenty of hand soap
The same technology just described will apply to hand soap and likely in time, toilet paper.
Tell us why a dispenser does not work
Many dispensers, especially electronic ones, can have occasional problems. IoT will tell us why the unit may not be working. Is the battery low? Is there a jam? Was, for instance, the wrong paper product installed or installed incorrectly? Most likely, IoT will have the answer.
Tell us where cleaning workers are needed the most
If we now know which paper and soap dispensers in a facility run out of supplies the quickest, IoT is telling us something more. Now it’s telling us which restrooms need the most cleaning attention. This kind of information tells custodial workers where cleaning and maintenance is most needed in the facility - and just the opposite - areas of the facility that need less attention.
Telling us where all the traffic is going
IoT systems will be able to tell us where most of the foot traffic is in a facility. This will serve multiple purposes. For cleaning workers, it will tell us which carpet areas or which floors need the most – and the least – cleaning attention. For managers and business owners, it may indicate where two or more departments that frequently work together can be moved closer together. This will cut down on “walk time” and help increase “work time.”
Floor moisture sensors
Expect to see more floor moisture sensors introduced this year. When installed, for instance in a grocery store aisle, the sensor can detect if moisture from a spill or breakage is now on the floor. An alert function lets staff know about the moisture so they can take action quickly, typically by using an automated floor cleaning system to clean the area.
Sensors Everywhere Including “Hot Desks”
Taking this a step further, IoT sensors will be able to identify where unnecessary lights, copiers, and electrical equipment have been left on, so cleaning staff can turn them off to save energy; when specific cleaning supplies are running short; what areas are being used in the facility most frequently and when; and what office areas have not been used. This will help speed up cleaning.
Further, many of today’s offices are designed for what is referred to as “hot desking.” Some people only come to the office two or three times per week. There is no need for these people to have their own office or work station. Instead, what they do is take a hot desk, wherever it can be found, and go to work. Now cleaning workers will know which hot desks have been used.
For cleaning workers IoT offers a lot of opportunity. They know which areas need cleaning attention and which do not. In a large facility, this can be a big time saver and because time is money in the professional cleaning industry, a cost saver as well.
Robert Kravitz is a former building service contractor, having owned, operated, and then sold three contract cleaning companies in Northern California.
He is the author of two books about the industry and continues to be a frequent writer for the industry.
Robert is now president of AlturaSolutions Communications, which provides communications and marketing services for organizations in the professional cleaning and building industries.