Due to changes in health and hygiene, restroom management has become a top priority for facilities across the U.S.
People are spending more time than ever in the restroom due to increased hand hygiene requirements and health guidelines. As a result, the rate at which supplies are used is different and can be challenging to predict.
Increased usage, paired with the demand for enhanced cleaning and disinfecting and higher occupant expectations and standards, has driven the accelerated adoption of the internet of things (IoT) and connected devices in commercial restrooms.
For those who are just starting to investigate smart restrooms, the concept of IoT and connected devices may be unfamiliar.
Below, we’ll dive into what IoT really means, how your facility can benefit from smart restroom devices, and what some of the best systems on the market are today.
We’ll begin with defining IoT.
What Does IoT Stand for?
IoT stands for the Internet of Things.
What Does IoT Mean?
In reference to the restroom, IoT is a cloud-based connection between the physical devices in your restroom to online data collection systems that allow you to monitor, track, and see data in real-time to identify and resolve issues before they occur.
For example, smart restroom systems, like IoT-connected dispensers for paper towels, tissue, or soap and sanitizer, take the guesswork out of restocking and help to avoid run-outs.
In short, this works as a result of sensors that are built into the dispenser. The sensor transmits usage and other data through the cloud, wi-fi, or a third-party cellular network. The system then notifies building managers and janitorial staff when product levels are low, the device is jammed, the battery is insufficient, and more. Once resolved, many systems even send confirmation messages to verify the correction of an issue.
Today, this allows your staff to get more done in the same amount of time, which is critical. You can reallocate labor resources to more important tasks like cleaning and disinfecting rather than unneeded towel changeouts.
In addition to improved productivity of your cleaning staff, smart restroom systems offer several benefits including:
- Enhanced Maintenance Schedules
- Reduced Product Consumption and Waste
- Fewer Complaints
- Improved Facility Appearance
Enhanced Maintenance Schedules
With detailed product usage and other relevant tracking information, you’ll have the ability to better manage your staff.
Understanding the rate of traffic or how and when most people use your restrooms, when stock is about to run out, or if the system battery is low, you can strategically decide when your cleaning staff will need to service your commercial washrooms.
By eliminating unnecessary stops to check supply levels in your restrooms, you can redirect your cleaning team to other cleaning and maintenance tasks.
Reduced Product Consumption and Waste
While allowing you to reallocate labor, IoT restroom systems also help you reduce waste.
Without a smart restroom management system, staff typically must check restrooms at scheduled times.
At set intervals, the product in your dispensers may not always be low or out. However, staff may still replace the soap or paper goods, like tissues, towels, and toilet paper, before they are fully consumed just because they are there.
Premature refills create unnecessary waste.
IoT-based systems alert your maintenance team right before an outage so the devices can be serviced at precisely the right time.
Depending on the system, there are either pre-set alerts, or you can determine the level of supply or time when you want staff to be alerted to tend to an area.
Not only do alerts from smart restroom devices help eliminate waste by reducing the likelihood of premature refills, they also reduce complaints from occupants and guests due to out-of-stock or broken devices.
Improved Facility Appearance
Clean restrooms have a big impact on occupant and guest satisfaction. With smart restroom systems, you can eliminate out-of-service dispensers that could otherwise leave guests with a negative impression of building maintenance.
Additionally, many IoT systems offer dispensing solutions for multiple areas of your restroom to ensure a consistent modern design across the entire bathroom.
Smart Restroom Technology
There are several different smart restroom management systems on the market today.
Below, we’ll review some of the most popular (in no specific order):
- KOLO™ Smart Monitoring System
- Tork EasyCube®
- Onvation® Smart Restroom Management System
KOLO™ Smart Monitoring System
The KOLO™ Smart Monitoring System by GP PRO connects your whole restroom.
This system is designed for office buildings, high traffic locations, colleges and universities, and even hospitals and large industrial facilities.
Today, the KOLO™ System is installed in a range of locations, from 300,000 sq ft office buildings to the busiest airport in the world. Common characteristics of KOLO customers are sites with over 250 dispensers who are focused on using the latest technologies to enhance facility hygiene and offer a premium customer experience.
The KOLO System monitors paper towel, tissue, soap and sanitizer usage, as well as a host of other data points, including estimated restroom traffic, waste, outage time, and more.
With the KOLO System, facilities are able to reduce product waste, lower occupant complaints, and increase operational efficiencies.
In some cases, facilities can see a 90% reduction in people impacted by towel outages and as much as an 85% reduction in tissue waste. Additionally, 88% of custodians surveyed say it makes them more efficient.
This system sends real-time alerts from the exact problem location, helping to increase staff efficiency. Staff spend less time searching for the out-of-stock or malfunctioning machines across your facility as the exact restroom location and dispenser or item are noted in the alert.
The KOLO™ System sets itself apart in several ways, including that it can connect to a variety of smart or cloud-connected devices such as TOTO™ toilets, sinks, and urinals to monitor, track, and notify of any issues on these items all from one system.
Other KOLO partners include Avius customer satisfaction tablets and Tooshlights stall occupancy lights. KOLO data can also be integrated with other facility management and work order solutions.
The connection between various devices allows for a more robust facility monitoring system.
Further, KOLO has a new Cleaning Task Management System that is not limited to the restroom and can be used across your entire facility.
System Tracking & Available Analytics
The KOLO™ system is unique in the fact that it can transmit data in two different ways.
Data is sent from dispensers to collectors via Bluetooth, and then from collectors, it can either be transmitted to the cloud via your existing wi-fi network or through a secure LoRaWAN network that Georgia-Pacific installs.
If you have a robust wi-fi system currently and choose to use your existing wi-fi networks, there is no external hardware or integrations needed. If you do not have a wi-fi network that a business partner can connect to, however, Georgia Pacific’s LoRaWAN solution provides a completely ‘off-prem’ solution – so you’re covered in either case.
The KOLO™ Smart Monitoring System has both a mobile and desktop application. The mobile application provides timely information for custodians and supervisors on the go, while the desktop application is designed for managers and supervisors who need a comprehensive view of what’s happening across their facility now and over time.
Key alerts available on both applications include:
- Low or Out of Stock Product
- Low or Depleted Batteries
- Dispenser Jams or Clogs
You can choose from preset alerts or determine your own. For access to the data, there is a monthly subscription payment. There is no payment per user seat.
In addition to these alerts, the system uses predictive analytics based on past trends to help prevent future premature changeouts, reduce waste, and helps develop data driven cleaning routines.
The KOLO™ team manages the entire installation process, and offers onboarding, training, and ongoing consulting and support on your site’s performance.
Dispensers used with the KOLO™ System are leased by the facility. While dispensers do not require an upfront purchase, paper and hand hygiene product costs, as well as data management, must be paid by the facility.
To help determine if this technology is a fit for a facility, the KOLO team will estimate the value the system will create, including reduced product waste and the time saved by reducing complaints and work orders, easing inventory management, and limiting unnecessary dispenser checks.
Designed to help support better hygiene and lower occupant complaints, Tork EasyCube® utilizes a combination of technology to monitor restroom traffic, track product consumption, and digitize cleaning tasks.
Alerting staff in real-time, the Tork EasyCube® system enables your janitorial team to maximize efficiency, stay ahead of issues and respond to needs more quickly.
The EasyCube® intelligent system does this by using data-driven cleaning to identify urgent needs in the restroom. This helps your staff get actionable insights to understand where and when cleaning and refilling is needed.
The system can track consumption levels for soap, sanitizer, hand towels, and bath tissue, with a wide connected dispenser assortment to fit customers’ specific needs. Monitoring consumption levels means you can rest assured your guests will always have access to essential products that support proper hygiene.
While this system is beneficial for the restroom, it can also be used in many other parts of the building. Tork EasyCube® offers building managers flexibility to connect either visitor traffic or dispenser data sensors in all types of spaces to optimize the way of working for everywhere that cleaning is done.
This is especially important in today’s environment where people are limiting how many people are allowed in a space and increasing the frequency of when an area should be cleaned based on the number of visitors.
Tork EasyCube® allows you to see traffic patterns and set customized visitor thresholds per area to identify and service high-touch areas. Tools like the visitor heatmap quickly identifies hot spots to optimize cleaning frequency and more strategically staff cleaners. This helps you display to your guests that you are actively cleaning and disinfecting, providing peace of mind.
Given the versatility of the EasyCube® system, it is a great gateway IoT option for any facility. This system allows an operation no matter the size to ease into the world of smart restrooms and smart buildings.
System Tracking & Available Analytics
Using its own cellular connection, Tork EasyCube® sensors do not require access to a WiFi network. This helps the sensors identify the strongest connectivity an avoid putting any strain on a customer’s bandwidth.
Tork EasyCube can be used to send alerts for:
- Low or Out of Stock Product
- Occupancy Limits
- Cleaning tasks for cleaners
- Messages to cleaners
After an alert is resolved, the dashboard stores analytics for future planning to optimize resources and lower product waste. Tork EasyCube® also helps support stronger reporting and proof of service, with built-in reports on cleaning, quality, product consumption, availability, visitor traffic, and more.
While the system comes with a unique software application for managers and cleaners, Tork EasyCube® also has open architecture with API options. Meaning, if you feel more comfortable tracking and analyzing data on your own software platform, you can pull the Tork visitor and dispenser data directly into that existing system.
A site survey, in combination with your goals, can help decide how EasyCube can help enhance your operations. Pricing will vary based on each facility’s needs and goals.
With this system, customers will see the value they can achieve by identifying how they can generate savings on areas like labor and product cost, as well as how maximizing efficiencies can contribute to their bottom line.
Onvation® Smart Restroom Management System
Kimberly Clark Professional, in collaboration with GOJO Industries, has transformed the way you can manage your commercial washroom with the Onvation® Smart Restroom Solution.
This strategic partnership enables you to proactively monitor smart restroom solutions from both industry-leading SCOTT® and PURELL® brands – all through a single interface.
The Onvation® Smart Restroom Solution leverages smart-sensing technology, allowing your custodial crew to remotely monitor the use of Scott® Towel and Bath Tissue and PURELL® hand hygiene products as well as dispenser conditions.
You can easily track and analyze restroom conditions right from your fingertips to reduce customer complaints and increase tenant satisfaction.
Sending updates in real-time, maintenance personnel bypass having to check multiple areas or dispensers for issues, cutting down on the amount of time it takes staff to complete the task. The system also aids in reducing restroom complaints due to out-of-stock products or out-of-service dispensers.
Designed for large, high-traffic facilities, the system seamlessly monitors buildings with 30+ restrooms, like office buildings, healthcare facilities, airports, and universities, optimizing restroom servicing and increasing staff efficiency so they can focus on other high-touch cleaning and disinfecting tasks.
System Tracking & Available Analytics
To transmit data in real-time, the Onvation® solution utilizes a third-party gateway that continuously uploads restroom data to Microsoft Azure, where the information is securely stored. The gateway has flexibility to connect to the cloud via cellular or Wi-Fi.
Alerts are dispatched to cleaning staff via the Onvation Compass™ app. The app is free and can be downloaded by as many users on your team as necessary.
When staff is alerted to an issue or upcoming outage, they can quickly resolve it, lessening the chance of customer complaints and unhappy guests.
Onvation® also saves employees time and energy by pointing to the exact restroom and dispenser they need to maintain.
This system also helps cut down on product waste. In many large facilities today, staff must estimate levels of product and guess if they should restock while they are there. This premature restock when paper products and soap dispensers are not fully empty, leads to unnecessary waste. In fact, a Senior Property Manager from St. Paul, MN shares how Onvation® helped reduce tenant complaints by 90% and cut product consumption in half.
Because the alert threshold within the Onvation® dashboard is adjustable, facilities managers can select the specific percentage at which they want staff to receive a notification. This means restroom dispensers can be refilled just before or exactly when needed, dramatically reducing waste and greatly improving inventory planning.
Possible alerts available from the Onvation® system include:
- Low or out of stock product
- Low battery
- Dispenser jams
Additionally, the system can be configured to track restroom traffic and product usage information.
While alerts are best managed through the Onvation Compass™ application, supervisors and staff can access notifications through any cellular or internet-connected device.
When accessed via computer, management has control of a dashboard complete with analytics and predictive metrics based on past usage and occupant traffic.
Current and historical data and metrics help facility managers better evaluate product needs and usage. The dashboard offers the ability to compare monthly and year-to-date consumption averages, traffic patterns, premature refills, and average response times to alerts.
After a site survey, Kimberly Clark Professional and GOJO, in coordination with you and your Distributor will prepare, order and install the system as well as applicable products.
In most situations, Kimberly Clark Professional will cover the cost of the installation but the building must lease the dispensers and pay for the products needed as a result of the site survey.
Post-installation, Kimberly-Clark Professional and GOJO deliver on-boarding training session(s) to review product set-up, performance, and answer any questions your team may have.
In the past, commercial restrooms have been a source of frustration for property management, cleaning staff, and building occupants and guests.
Smart restroom management systems allow frustrations from all parties to be avoided.
IoT systems report in real-time to ensure devices are properly functioning and fully stocked.
Not only do smart restroom technologies enhance the guest experience, they help you boost cleaning staff efficiency, lower product waste, and reduce complaints.
Imperial Dade locations offer a variety of innovative restroom technologies to enhance your restroom appearance and provide your cleaning staff with benefits like an improved maintenance schedule and reduced product waste.
For information about any of these three smart restroom management systems, reach out to a specialist. We can perform an in-person or virtual evaluation of your facility to help you optimize your restroom cleaning and maintenance program, whether you’re located in the United States, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, or Canada.