How can smart restrooms save the day?

Whether it’s reducing waste, retaining staff, or maximizing return on investment, facility managers have many opportunities to realize ESG goals through smart restroom management solutions.


Traditionally, restrooms haven’t been the priority when facility managers evaluate their smart building management strategy. However, the pandemic has transformed the way people think about restrooms, making hygiene a top priority for facilities. Now more facility managers are realizing that with the advancement of IoT-based smart restroom technology they can achieve cleanliness and hygiene goals that have a measurable impact on tenant satisfaction and sustainability.


Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance is equally important for company leaders and facility managers – according to a recent Boston Consulting Group survey. The research found that 76% of participants think that environmental issues are as or even more concerning than health issues. Additionally, 87% want companies to address environmental concerns with their products, services, and operations to a greater extent than they have in the past – writes CMMonline. 

In the simplest of terms, IoT (Internet of Things) means connecting different tools and objects to the internet to gather and/or send real-time information.


The link between IoT and restroom

Smart restrooms use IoT to connect the physical devices in a restroom – such as paper towel, toilet tissue and soap dispensers, traffic counters, smart faucets, and flush valves – to online data collection systems through sensors. These systems monitor, track, analyze, and aggregate data on a dashboard or mobile app so that facility managers have visibility and control over restroom operations. By adjusting restroom cleaning procedures based on real-time conditions, facilities can stay on top of restroom cleanliness while contributing to corporate sustainability goals.  This data-driven knowledge enables cleaning staff to spend their time more efficiently by optimizing cleaning schedules and eliminating unnecessary stops.


Smart restrooms can reduce waste by up to 80%

Without access to data and analytics, custodians may make restroom servicing decisions based on assumptions, outdated and inefficient set schedules. Often, rather than risking to run out of soap and paper products between their pre-scheduled restroom service visits, custodians may refill dispensers too soon, discarding unused consumables.


Smart-sensing technology not only enhances the efficiency of restroom management with data-driven insights but also eliminates unnecessary dispenser monitoring and premature dispenser refills. According to a Kimberly-Clark Professional case study, smart restroom technology can reduce consumable waste by up to 80%. 


How do smart restrooms lower turnover rates?

With labour shortages in the sector facility managers must do more with less. When cleaners understand job expectations and have the tools and technology to help them succeed, turnover rates are lower. Smart restroom technology provides maintenance teams with the information they need to ensure a better work environment and a better restroom user experience.


Why FMs are getting smart about restroom technology?

Kimberly-Clark Professional listed the main arguments why not only tech-savvy FMs should smarten up restrooms.

1. Restrooms are one of the most highly trafficked, but least understood areas of any building.

People visit the restroom three to four times a day, touching many commonly used surfaces making restrooms a hotbed for virus transmission. While commercial buildings have various high-traffic areas, such as lobbies and cafeterias, restrooms lack the consistent presence of front desk or security personnel to monitor and address issues. This lack of visibility into restroom conditions can quickly lead to unhygienic environments.


2. Restrooms are a source of wasteful spending.

Custodians worry about soap cartridges, paper towel rolls and toilet paper rolls running out between their pre-scheduled servicing visits. Rather than risk run-outs, unused consumables are often discarded, which can result in a significant waste of total purchased consumables.


Whether it’s reducing waste or maximizing ROI, any opportunity to realize improvements through smart restroom management should be explored.


3. Commercial building cleaning procedures are typically static and outdated.

Inside public restrooms, we have all seen the clipboard tucked behind the door that’s used to track schedule-based cleaning routines. This time-based cleaning routine doesn’t account for servicing opportunities that occur in-between visits. With people returning to work, facility managers are moving from traditional schedules to activity- and need-based execution.


4. You can’t have a healthy building without clean, hygienic restrooms.

If restrooms are cleaned based on schedule rather than real-time data and use, hygiene may pose a risk because germs and bacteria can build up between cleaning visits. For example, restroom conditions can change after sudden traffic increases following meetings or lunch. And with evolving hybrid work trends, variable facility occupancy will most likely add another layer of complexity to delivering clean buildings and hygienic restrooms.


5. Smart restroom technology is ready now.

Transforming traditional restrooms into smart restrooms is no longer a mysterious undertaking. Smart, connected software like Onvation has been tested, implemented and successfully used in numerous commercial environments, including office buildings, airports and manufacturing facilities. Smart sensors and mobile device integration make smart restroom technology enablement seamless and easy. 


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