Raise your hand if you are responsible for maintenance and facility cleaning. Are there hallways, restrooms, common areas, offices, and classrooms included in the area that is cleaned? You may be responsible for the cleanliness of flooring, walls, furniture, glass, and mirrors, as well as many other surfaces. I bet you have endless checklists full of work to be completed in each area and team members assigned to do that work on a set schedule to complete these tasks. What if your work was more dynamic? Imagine if you had the technology to assist your team with every aspect of facility cleaning from how to clean, to what to clean and when to clean!
This isn't a futuristic idea from a science-fiction movie anymore. It is the 21st Century and these technological advances are at our fingertips. Literally - the device your fingertips are touching right now to read this blog is the same tool that could make your job stress free. Easy to use technology from "smart" equipment is connected via the internet to phone apps. This is now available to connect you and your team to the experience of each user in the building. Can you believe how simple that could make facility cleaning? Not to mention more efficient and more effective. Welcome to the world of IoT.
Let's talk about 5 technological innovations that are changing facility cleaning as we know it:
1. Interactive Restroom User Experience
What if you were a facility staff team member in high traffic airport such as ATL in Atlanta, GA? They serve over 100 million passengers each year! A huge portion of these passengers and the staff will use the restrooms each day. Everyday maintenance of these facilities need to be kept up with such as replacing toilet paper and soap, picking up trash, cleaning the floor, and often, cleaning up overflowing toilets. What if in your restrooms there was a way for these passengers and other airport and airline staff to use their “smart devices” to quickly alert you, the facility team, that there is a problem? Even better, imagine that you can take corrective action, log the fix, and thank the patron for their time and consideration in notifying your team of the problem. Where you once had a staff member standing and waiting outside a restroom to clean up after a problem, you can now reallocate staff and have the team respond only as required.
2. Soap Dispensing Connected to "The Cloud"
Have you ever driven down a major highway like the New Jersey Turnpike and stopped in a rest area to use the restroom? Were there 10, 20, maybe even 30 other people also in the restroom at the same time with the line going out the door? Statistics show that 2/3 of Americans wash their hands after using the restroom. I believe, the number should be 100%, but even if only 20 of the 30 people in that restroom wash their hands, that's a lot of soap considering people are streaming in and out all day 365 days a year. With ordinary soap dispensers, facility staff are constantly plagued with the dispensers running out, breaking, or worse, destruction or theft from the facility. Not anymore! Picture a dispensing system interconnected so that soap flows to each dispenser and the dispenser records the usage data, transmits it to "the cloud" and alerts the facility team to any concerns so that staff can respond and immediately correct the issue.
3. Toilet Stalls with Advanced People Counters Track Usage Information and Disinfect Between Users
Some of the most common questions asked in facility cleaning are “When is it the right time to clean to the bathroom?”, “ How many people have occupied the bathroom?”, and “Is it too soon or too late?”. Adhering to a strict cleaning schedule and hoping that in the time between cleanings nobody dropped trash on the ground, left a pool of water on the floor, or left a mess in a stall to name but a few common concerns is an inefficient and outdated way of maintenance. Imagine if instead of relying on a time-based cleaning schedule, you could utilize data to determine when and what to clean. If the second stall on the left hasn't been used, then there is no need to disinfect it or check the toilet paper for a refill again. You can reduce wasted time by tracking restroom usage and take control of your cleaning schedule. Even better, the higher end systems will disinfect toilet bowls between users which could minimize the workload when your cleaning team does enter the restroom.
4. Cloud-based Cleaning Programs that Identify the What, Where, When, and Who of Facility Cleaning
"It's Thursday, tonight we are supposed to empty the trash bins, right?" This is a common question for contract cleaners. With high staff turnover, it's likely that a shift-supervisor has to take the time to review the workload with each crew and bring paper copies of the work to confirm completion. Not only is that so 1990’s, but it is also a waste of resources, time, and often can result in confusion and errors. Instead, consider investing in cloud-based cleaning management software to improve workload, assure quality, manage inventory, and document your operations.
5. Cleaning Equipment that Identifies Service Issues Before They Occur
If you are facility professional, then without a doubt at some point in your career you have experienced a mechanical breakdown on a piece of equipment in the middle of an important job. It happens, but were there warning signs? Proper maintenance is critical to maximizing up-time. Today you may rely on paper logs of service hours, or worse, just repair it when it breaks. Have you heard of equipment that records service hours and sends notifications to the appropriate person when it's time to service or repair the machine? Well now you have, so let’s learn a little more about it.
Teams throughout every business work to maximize their productivity every day. Whether it be a marketing team for a large corporation or an IT team at a local financial institution, the best teams will look for ways to be more connected, more productive, and more responsive. Facility cleaning plays a crucial role in the daily operations of any building or business, and your facility team can benefit greatly from utilizing these five technological innovations to ensure they increase connectivity, productivity, and responsiveness too.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in 2017 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.