Insights into IoT and Tomorrows Restrooms

Facility Managers (FMs) should brace themselves.  In the next few years IoT, the Internet of Things, is going to play a much bigger role in facility operations. Further, these changes should help FMs operate their properties more effectively, efficiently, and reduce costs.

However, before we gaze into the future, here’s a few things FMs should know about IoT. First, IoT is not new. In one form or another, it dates to the late 1960s. That’s when “things” were first connected to other “things,” conveying information between themselves and people using wires and cords.

Instead of wires and cords, the IoT of the future will use different types of sensors to collect data.  That data will be transferred wirelessly to information centers accessible to FMs such as computers and smartphones. Further, this communication will likely not be a one-way street.  Managers will be able to communicate with these IoT devices when and as necessary.

Here’s a simple but straightforward example of how an IoT system might work:

A multitenant office building is having problems with trash collection on certain days and on certain floors in the building. Trash begins to overflow in these areas, becoming unsightly, causing odors, and resulting in ongoing calls to the management office asking for help.

To tackle the situation, FMs turn to an IoT system designed to not only detect, but project when trash cans become full and on which days.  This will give managers and day cleaning workers in the building a “heads-up” long before the tenants call the management office for assistance. 

Monitoring trash collection will certainly not be the only IoT door opening in the future.  We can expect IoT to play a significant role in all building operations and most specifically, in helping FMs keep their restrooms clean and healthy.

For instance, under development are IoT systems that should be able to do the following:

•    Monitor restroom supplies such as paper, soap, and other products so they can be refilled long before restrooms run short; this should also help FMs improve efficiencies by better organizing and managing their day staff

•    Provide FMs with restroom usage and traffic trends so that they know which restrooms are used most often, on what days and at what times

•    By monitoring supplies and traffic trends, FMs will be better able to schedule when consumables need to be re-ordered; in fact, it may be able to relay this information directly to distributors and building suppliers

•    Indicate if fixtures are broken, if a dispenser battery has lost power, or a dispenser is not working properly

•    Occupancy sensors for use in large facilities such as airports. These also help FMs monitor restroom activity, but provide red, yellow, and green lights at restroom entries, telling building users if restroom stalls are available, eliminating waiting lines.

•    Measure energy and water consumption in restrooms; this will help FMs reduce operating costs and promote sustainability 

•    Monitor air quality and indicate if a restroom needs to be cleaned

What is likely to be the most exciting thing about IoT is the new insights it can reveal, not only in restrooms, but entire building operations.  As IoT becomes more available, and we become more adept at interpreting the information it provides, FMs will be taking one step closer in creating “smart buildings.” These will likely operate more economically and at the same time, increase tenant satisfaction.

For more information on IoT and its impact on the professional cleaning industry, contact Ron at