By Harrell Kerkhoff,
Maintenance Sales News Magazine Editor
Cleaning is big business today — whether it’s taking care of an office complex, school system, convention center, airport, sports arena or a myriad of other facilities. The complexities of cleaning have also increased, as have the expense of labor, equipment and supplies. There is help, however.
The use of data is giving jan/san distributors, building maintenance supervisors and hands-on cleaning professionals better tools to make facility cleaning more efficient and effective.
Speaking on this topic during an educational session at the 2017 ISSA/INTERCLEAN® North America trade show, in Las Vegas, NV, was Jimy Baynum, acting vice president e-commerce, Essity Professional Hygiene. His address was titled, “Revolutionizing Facility Management with Data-Driven Cleaning.”
According to Baynum, data-driven cleaning is reshaping facility maintenance and practices, as real-time information continues to revolutionize cleaning quality and staff efficiency.
“Data has become a hot topic today within the cleaning industry, as well as other types of businesses,” he said.
The Evolution Of Cleaning
Cleaning has always been a chore, albeit a necessary one. Thankfully, innovations within the past 150-plus years have greatly improved the cleaning process, both in time, effort and effectiveness.
Few people today would want to go back to the days of washing clothes by hand or beating a rug with a stick to make these items “cleaner.” Baynum highlighted some key innovations in cleaning that were introduced over the past two centuries. This includes the first electric vacuum cleaner in 1860 (although the commercialization of this product did not occur for another 41 years), the first electric washing machine in 1908 (with the electric clothes dryer following 30 years later), and the first electric dishwasher in 1929.
“These are common items today, used for both commercial and residential cleaning,” Baynum said. “They have become a critical part of our lives, changing our behavior and helping us with efficiency and time management.”
The electric vacuum, washer and dryer and dishwasher have been around — at least in their early stages — for as long as most living people can remember. However, major advancements in cleaning have also taken place within the past 40-plus years, according to Baynum. By decade, this includes:
■ 1970s — The emergence of “green” cleaning products, providing safer alternatives to harsher chemicals;
■ 1980s — Computers are introduced to the cleaning industry as an administrative tool to improve stock management and more;
■ 1990s — The introduction of more efficient cleaning products, such as microfiber cloths;
■ 2000s — The ergonomics revolution takes place, as the cleaning industry pays greater attention to how products are designed, through better innovation, for the benefit of end-users; and,
■ 2010s — Greater technology impacts the industry through the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics.
“The question to now ask is, ‘What is coming for the next decade? What is the next big thing that is going to shape the cleaning industry?’” Baynum asked.
The answer may very well be “data-driven cleaning.”
“This is data derived from sensors that are imbedded in products. This data allows us to change cleaning processes and procedures more efficiently. The value is not as much in the connectivity process itself, but in the actions that can be taken based on the new information being collected,” Baynum said. “For example, when a cleaning staff receives real-time data, it becomes possible to be more proactive, rather than reactive — to do exactly what’s needed when and where.”
Baynum said receiving data from machines is not new. For years, machines have been able to indicate when something is not working properly, perhaps even a specific part that needs to be replaced.
“This type of data is reactive — something for the end-user to worry about. However, for the next generation of IoT, especially when it comes to cleaning, better data will help people become more proactive,” Baynum said. “This data shows how a person can do something before a complaint comes in — such as changing paper towels from a restroom dispenser before that dispenser is completely empty. The person doesn’t even have to visit the restroom. The data tells him/her beforehand that there is going to be a need for more paper towels that day. Again, it’s all about being more proactive in the cleaning process.”
The Three Major Benefits To Data-Driven Cleaning
There are three main ways data-driven technology can benefit cleaning, according to Baynum. The first is helping a maintenance staff achieve maximum efficiency. Data from sensors can now better direct professional cleaners to where and when something needs to be done — all in an effort to improve efficiencies.
Baynum explained that many cleaning professionals today use a “fixed or frequency route-based system” for cleaning. This involves a set schedule five or seven days a week.
“What if I were to tell you there are systems today that will let the head of a cleaning staff know, first thing in the morning, which of the 5,000 dispensers in a facility needs to be filled, as opposed to having staff members check each of these dispensers one-at-a-time,” Baynum said. “How would this make the cleaning process more efficient? How would this process cut down on complaints about empty dispensers?”
Secondly, data-driven cleaning can boost staff engagement. The days of using pencil and paper to keep track of cleaning schedules are fast disappearing.
“What happens when you say to a cleaner, ‘Here is a computer tablet. By using it, you are going to receive information from all over the building, telling you where you need to go, and what maintenance should be done,’” Baynum said. “The data-driven process can be empowering for cleaners. Using this technology each day can improve employee morale.
“It also helps employees become more creative, both in their daily tasks, and efforts to improve their careers.”
And with greater staff engagement comes the third benefit of data-driven cleaning — setting a new standard for customer satisfaction.
“If your staff is able to reach areas in a building before complaints come in, as well as eliminate or greatly decrease other bad experiences, what does that mean for your customers and employees?” Baynum said. “How many people do not go back to a restaurant if they have had a bad restroom experience? What about a health care facility? People might think, ‘If they can’t keep their restrooms clean and properly supplied, what is it like to have surgery here?’”
He added that data-driven cleaning can push customer satisfaction to all-time highs. Other industries have benefited from this technology as well. This includes the shipping industry, where sensors placed on containers can now indicate a container’s content, weight and destination — all in an effort to maximize load potential and space while on a cargo ship.
Today’s “smart buildings” are another example of the benefits of data-driven technology. These are facilities where the temperature and lighting are controlled by sensors from received data.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, Baynum added, buildings currently use approximately 40 percent of the global energy being produced across the world.
“If data through sensors can be used to reduce this percentage, think of all the positive results for the environment and the overall global community. Again, this all comes from IoT, from sensors and from data,” he said. “Change is coming. IoT is not a fad. It’s going to be here for a while. And so, for those in the cleaning industry who want to be quicker and more efficient, (data-driven technology) will greatly help them in the future.”
Baynum gave an example of a well-known location that is now using data-driven cleaning with great success — Navy Pier, in Chicago. The site covers 50 acres on Lake Michigan that includes parks, restaurants, retail shops and access to sightseeing, dining and cruise ships.
“Navy Pier sees nine million guests annually, with an average of 12,000 daily restroom visitors,” Baynum said.
With this high rate of visitor traffic, there is constant pressure placed on the Navy Pier facility management team to have the site maintain a spotless image. Installation of data-driven technology, through the use of sensor-equipped dispensers, has helped. Maintenance officials now better understand visitor traffic patterns and whether these restroom dispensers are full or becoming empty.
This technology has helped Navy Pier improve its goal of being an excellent venue for anyone to visit, and at any time — regardless of weather and the level of occupancy.
“For the maintenance staff, data-driven cleaning (at Navy Pier) also helps them to see they are making a greater impact on customer satisfaction,” Baynum said.
Six Practical Tips When Implementing Data-Driven Cleaning
Baynum outlined six practical tips when implementing data-driven cleaning, as well as discussed how to better get an organization onboard with this emerging technology. They are:
■ No. 1 — Evaluate challenges: “It’s important to understand what is crucial to the success of your business or operation, and what areas need improvement,” he said. “It can be a daunting task to increase technology all at once, in multiple areas of a location. It may be better to pick one area that you feel is most critical as a good starting place.”
■ No. 2 — Choose the right partner: “Find a credible partner that has already implemented data-driven solutions. It’s good to work with a company that already has experience,” Baynum said.
■ No. 3 — Set specific goals: “Setting specific goals and prioritizing helps (users of data-driven cleaning) focus initial efforts on what’s most important,” Baynum said. “Understand what you are trying to achieve with the new system and measure its effectiveness. This will allow you to see what accomplishments are taking place.”
■ No. 4 — Involve key stakeholders: “This often includes upper management. Show them all of the data that has been collected over a week, month, quarter, etc., — and in a way that they can understand,” Baynum said.
■ No. 5 — Request a demonstration: “It also helps to make sure adequate time is dedicated to explaining the solutions that data-driven cleaning can provide, helping you, and your team, make full use of the system’s potential,” Baynum said.
■ No. 6 — Support everybody during implementation: “It’s important to address any unexpected challenges or resistance that may occur,” he said. “When it comes to using new technology daily, it’s also important that the proper training takes place. Understand that this training may take longer for some people than others. It’s essential that leadership is involved.”
Baynum also discussed Essity’s data-driven technology for cleaning — Tork EasyCube™ Intelligent Facility Cleaning System.
This technology uses sensors, in such products as dispensers, to record, in real-time, such measurements as restroom visits and refill levels. The information allows cleaners to better act on what needs to be accomplished, in a more timely manner.
“Tork EasyCube™ allows facility managers to be more in control, helping them to better plan and follow up with less time and effort,” Baynum said. “The system also provides managers with access to graphs, charts and overall analytics, helping them see daily, weekly and monthly trends, while improving cleaning processes and procedures.”
Visit www.torkusa.com for more information.