The final part of this three-part article details what BSCs should know before suggesting for IoT technology in the restroom.

Other IoT restroom technologies can help BSCs create more cost-effective routes for their janitors by eliminating trips into restrooms that do not need attending or restrooms with dispensers that do not need refilling.

“Using the data gained from this type of technology, BSCs will be able to proactively plan servicing schedules and forecast demand to effectively manage building staff as well as product inventory,” says John Lerner, business development vice president for GOJO SMARTLINK Solutions, Akron, Ohio.

This ability to oversee restroom usage without stepping foot in that restroom is a welcome change. The restroom used to be the only place in a facility that was not in some way regulated, monitored or otherwise tracked, says Sanchez.

“Building service contractors spend a lot of time going to one restroom, the next restroom and then the next restroom, cleaning, tidying up and changing out products,” says Sanchez. “If building service contractors were able to see how many times someone enters or exits the restroom, they could, over a period of time, determine which restrooms and which floors have the most activity on them and then schedule accordingly.”

Instead of having janitors stick to their routine route, each cleaning restrooms on three or four floors in a building, a BSC can prioritize and schedule more precisely for certain restrooms on certain floors to be cleaned, based on the data the BSC has at its fingertips. The hours that are saved can be used to clean flooring, elevators, windows and stairways, says Sanchez.

The time savings may even allow a BSC to spend more time cleaning restroom floors or deodorizing a problem restroom — jobs that might have otherwise been pushed off in favor of routine dispenser refilling.

“Return on investment depends on the business model of the BSC … but the savings can be significant,” says Jimy Baynum, market development director of AfH Professional Hygiene for SCA, based in Philadelphia. 

Savings for BSCs even extend beyond labor efficiencies and costs. Restroom IoT technology also allows BSCs to better manage inventory of hand soap, toilet paper, hand towels and even cleaning supplies, which ultimately leads to more efficient purchasing of products, according to manufacturers.
   
Although there is potential for cost savings across the BSC landscape, Baynum says that one of major challenges facility managers and BSCs face is that IoT solutions add to the already numerous amount of different platforms that control a building’s water, heating and security systems, all of which must be managed and secured.

“No one has come up with an interface to deal with all of it, yet,” says Baynum, who expects the industry will have to wait another 10 years or so before a major technology company creates such a solution.

Another consideration for BSCs and building managers related to IoT is data security. Manufacturers and experts say a complete evaluation of network security should be undertaken and safeguards should be put in place as part of any IoT initiative in order to secure data and make sure that it does not get in the wrong hands.  
 
“Make sure you are having the conversations with your vendor, because every solution is different,” says Lerner.

BSCs that undertake an IoT initiative need to understand that it is not just a technology change, but also cultural change within the business enterprise. Implementing IoT technology in a facility will impact how employees interact and view their roles, says Campbell. 

“You do have to go through that change,” says Campbell. “The key to it is keeping it simple. This is not about it being a system where you have to be a rocket scientist to use. It is about making it simple for the users. That’s a key piece to success.”

Brendan O’Brien is a freelance writer based in Greenfield, Wisconsin.