The third part of this four-part article focuses on the practical applications of IoT in commercial cleaning.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” the saying goes. In other words: Knowledge is power. The reason data is important to BSCs is because it allows them to measurably improve processes and increase efficiencies.

In that way, the goals of many of the innovations that fall under the Internet of Things umbrella are no different than most other innovations in today’s commercial cleaning industry. Competition among contractors is fierce and BSCs are being asked to do more with less. At the same time, there’s renewed focus on areas like hand hygiene compliance. The Internet of Things can help with all of the above.

The previous way to measure efficiencies was traditionally direct observation. But IoT technology now provides BSCs with objective, irrefutable data.

“One of the things we can get out of it is a new baseline for measurement,” says Jason Slater, technology manager for GOJO SmartLink, based in Akron, Ohio. “Direct observation has been the gold standard for a long time. If you read articles about that, they talk about numbers being reported higher than they really are. … It’s very interesting hearing what people think goes on. Then you have a system in place that measures what exactly is happening. It’s pretty fascinating, even for those folks, to have the realization that maybe they are or aren’t entering an area as often as they think they are.”

In addition to dispensers that track fill levels, some IoT-enabled dispensing systems feature infrared sensors that can actually track occupant traffic and directionality in and out of a restroom. Combine that information with the usage data from the dispenser itself and a BSC can gauge hand hygiene compliance down to a specific restroom.

Connectivity has spread beyond restrooms, as well; manufacturers have added the technology to their floor care equipment. This allows BSCs to know, in real time, when a floor machine needs new parts, battery charge levels, how often the machine has crashed in a given time frame, usage patterns and more. Some machines even have geolocation technology, which can help contractors cut down on theft of machines or simply help them find a machine that has been misplaced.