Part two of this four-part article details the rise of data analysis.

The Internet of Things is not exactly new technology — at least by technology standards — but it is new to the cleaning industry.

The tipping point, says Boscher, came when cleaning industry end users began to take notice of the advancement of IoT in the consumer marketplace. Using a smartphone, a person can now control the thermostat, the refrigerator, even the garage door. IoT’s level of pervasiveness in the consumer space has bred familiarity with the concept.

“When the cleaners walk through Home Depot and there are entire sections devoted to the connected home — these start to create a tipping point, and they say, ‘Hey, this might not be such a farfetched idea to see this in my workplace,’” says Boscher.

These days, technology can often create a fear of job loss or hours reduction, especially in an industry like professional cleaning, where workers worry they’ll be replaced by machines. But as workers have become more comfortable with IoT technology, they’ve begun to see where it can actually improve their work. As an example, some IoT-enabled restroom dispensers can track fill levels, allowing janitors to know whether a restroom needs more soap without actually having to walk across the facility to manually check the dispenser.

In that regard, this idea to improve processes through data collection and connectivity was born from minds of manufacturers, not end users.

“It was more recognizing a need and a change in the market,” says Jimy Baynum, director of market development for SCA Tissue North America, based in Philadelphia. “Customers weren’t asking for it because they never thought it was possible. ... You go all the way back to the launch of the iPhone. People didn’t even know what they would want from a phone until the iPhone was actually launched, and then they realized all the benefits to it.”

Another tipping point — if there can be more than one — was that the IoT technology advanced to a point where it finally made financial sense to bring it to this market.

“Technology has gotten cheap enough and small enough to put sensors in almost everything,” says Baynum. “And because of the availability and the affordability of sensors, now people are deciding, ‘Well, where should I put sensors so that I could get information?’”

Some manufacturers began posing that question years ago. The engineers at Minneapolis-based Tennant Company, for example, have been working on IoT-enabled technology in some capacity for more than 10 years, says Michelle Nissen, senior product category manager for Internet of Things solutions.

Initially, the work was very conceptual, says Nissen, focused primarily on the wider field of wireless communication. But as wireless communication technology matured, Tennant engineers began incorporating that technology into the company’s commercial cleaning equipment around 2012.

“Maybe we didn’t know exactly how it would take shape,” says Tennant Global Communications Director Kathryn Lovik of the company’s IoT technology, “but we’ve always known that data is important to our customers.”

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New Technology Delivers Cleaning Industry Statistics To BSCs
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Pulling Data From Restroom Dispensers, Floor Machines And More