Facility Cleaning Decisions’ Advisory Board discusses industry advancements, IoT, management challenges and staffing

The term “Internet of Things” is relatively new, but it’s already being incorporated into many products and equipment. How do you see IoT changing the cleaning industry?

I am very excited about the possibilities surrounding IoT. Currently, we use outdoor landfill, recycle and compost bins that send a text message when they need to be emptied. They also keep track of weight and volume of materials. And I am really excited about the new technology in floor scrubber equipment. I hope that smart technology with restroom dispensers — which can notify you when they need service — becomes affordable before I retire.
Gene Woodard, R.E.H.
Director of Building Services
University of Washington

IoT is going to be big, allowing end-users to be more efficient and, in the process, change how staffing is deployed and utilized. I recently saw a deodorizer that had solar collectors to power the device, rather than batteries. Imagine if all of the battery-operated soap dispensers, touchless paper towel dispensers and other devices could be powered by light. There would be savings in batteries and reduction in customer complaints. Robotics is getting better and better and it goes without saying, the more effective robots perform the lower the labor costs will be.
Steven Spencer
Facilities Specialist
State Farm Insurance

I believe IoT will help with our bottom line. Being able to determine product usage in high-volume areas will help us with budgeting for supplies, monitoring equipment use or misuse, and staffing needs.
Babette Beene
Environmental Services Manager
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

IoT will become a great time saver for staff. For example, preventative maintenance can be tracked on equipment, and empty/refill times on dispensers or trash receptacles. Staff will no longer need to check these items as often as they previously had, thus freeing up some of their time to tend to other tasks. I see being able to perform more project work on a quicker rotation schedule, which, in turn, will increase the facility appearance.
Doreen Bessert, C.E.H.
Worksite Placement Coordinator, Custodial Supervisor & Central Purchasing Agent
Manitowoc County DPW

This will require both management and staff to become more comfortable and skilled at using technology. In the case of our team, we’d need to become more educated and include discussion and strategy of how to incorporate IoT. We might also need to create or revise job descriptions to address IoT, as well as review and revise work assignments. Before moving forward with IoT, I believe there is a need for strategic planning, review start-up costs, return on investment, potential customer concerns, develop a pilot program for implementation, transparency and detailed communication among staff, supervisors and leaders.
Ada Baldwin, M.R.E.H.
Director of University Housekeeping
North Carolina State University

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Changes Facing In-House Cleaning Departments