Understanding and defining the potential for smart equipment in the industry
The term “smart” in reference to tech is now a common buzzword. Yet, nailing down an exact definition of the term can be difficult.
NetLingo defines “smart tech” as “a catch all phrase for a wide variety of technology that is made possible by the convergence of two trends.” It goes on to explain the first trend is the proliferation of cheap, powerful sensors, and the second is human interaction with objects that can now be made “social” online so that others can view our activities with those objects. It explains further that “the term ‘smart’ originally comes from the acronym ‘Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology’ but became widely known as ‘smart’ because of the notion of allowing previously inanimate objects—from cars to basketballs to clothes—to talk back to us and even guide our behavior.”
Yogesh Malik, a Senior Solutions Architect at Equinix, explains in “Smart, Connected and IoT Based Devices. What’s The Difference?” that there are three basic kinds of smart tech:
1. Smart Devices: These devices provide some level of automation and are able to be programmed for a specific use. Though the flexibility of their configuration is limited, they are fast and efficient at doing what they are supposed to do. An example of such a smart device is a smart thermostat that maintains the temperature of a room.
2. Connected Devices: Connected devices are those that are remotely controlled and monitored with Bluetooth, LTE, WIFI or other wired connectivity via a mobile app. Examples of connected devices are smart bulbs, smart security cameras, or smart refrigerators.
3. IoT Devices: IoT devices are currently creating smart cities, smart factories and smart homes around the world. IoT devices are luggage trackers that keep track of a laptop bag at the airport, or an irrigation sprinkler that can be monitored and controlled from a central office. Such devices have the potential to create more value than smart or connected devices because they are more scalable and upgradable.
For the purposes of discussing smart tech, we will be pulling from these three basic types in order to explore the use of smart equipment in janitorial services.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Implementation
There are real benefits to using smart equipment for janitorial services, but there are also some potential drawbacks. Being aware of both before purchasing equipment for building maintenance purposes can help you make the right decision for your business.
Some potential benefits of using smart equipment for janitorial services include:
- You can save time and collect data by using smart equipment like a personal digital assistant (PDA) to identify RFID tags. This will enable you to monitor the frequency of restroom cleaning and receive live data for many locations simultaneously. For example, you can monitor cleaning frequency with a smart paper dispenser due to its ability to inform you when a roll needs to be replaced and then notify you once the roll has been changed.
- Having the correct contract management software facilitates sharing company information between employees. This can include training records, health and safety documents, HR documents, and templates for professional estimates of services.
However, you should also be aware of several potential drawbacks of using smart equipment, such as:
- An unreliable internet connection can cause everything to malfunction. For this reason, a strong internet connection becomes a must for full function, whether through WIFI, dongles, or even a cell phone hotspot.
- RFID Tags can be easily damaged if placed in the wrong location, such as on top of metal surfaces, near a wall that can get humid or even where people can easily remove it.
- When using smart paper dispensers, it will require using batteries. Investing in rechargeable batteries or plugin dispensers can make a big financial difference.
- Smart equipment generally needs frequent maintenance. This issue is worsened if the area where the equipment is located is exposed to external contaminants, such as dirt, trash, or the outside environment.
- Employees, the general public, pests, or the outside environment can damage smart equipment or even cause it to fail, making it necessary to have spare parts handy. Having such parts readily available can save considerable time whenever a replacement is needed, especially if certain parts need to be shipped from abroad.
Management and Training Techniques
The best option to successfully guide others in the proper use of smart equipment is to conduct regular performance reviews and job chats. This will enable you to keep records and track how each employee is performing in terms of their knowledge of proper use of equipment, along with other aspects that can greatly benefit a company that is looking to expand their maintenance services. Having different techniques available to explain how things work can help as well. For example:
- Provide written manuals, equipment installation guides or maintenance procedures that can be adjusted to a specific site with the help, experience and opinion of the operatives that perform this task or use the equipment.
- Assign employees to watch training videos and make these videos easily available as references when trainees have doubts about beginning to work in the field.
- Conduct regular trainings or “catch up” meetings that include hands-on training for all employees.
- Have a spare tablet handy for the sole purpose of training employees in removing and installing hardware and software from the smart equipment.
In general, being proactive helps pave the way for innovation and implementation. Moreover, you should be ready to comply with the maintenance standards required by law consistently, and not just ready a few times per year. Success can be achieved by using the data that is available to you with the greatest level of efficiency.
The Facility Management (FM) industry has been collecting data for many years. Not everyone in the industry realizes that they have been sitting on a pot of gold if they learned to evolve by using data to adjust their operation on the ground. It pays off in the long run to work with programmers to build smart equipment from scratch and then adjust it as needed as your business grows; this process can create highly advantageous efficiencies. Finally, keep in mind that there are various options on the market and that the demands of customers can force industry innovation and standards to evolve even further. Such demands for innovation have the ability to improve the experience of maintenance service consumers as well.
By Dickson Rodriguez Carrion, Lead Custodian, Ontario International Airport
HOW DO BATTERIES SUPPORT SMART CLEANING EQUIPMENT?
Smart cleaning users share common goals: faster, easier, and more effective cleaning. But the best equipment is only as effective as the batteries that power it. Here’s how smarter-engineered batteries can help:
- Ensure consistent, reliable performance
- Minimize downtime and hassles
- Improve ROI and simplify maintenance
- Last longer, based on multi-year field testing—not just laboratory “estimates”
- Keep employees and property safe (no thermal runaway, etc.)
- Monitor and track usage—to optimize battery uptime, performance, longevity, and ROI
Battery Monitoring Systems (BMS) gather data to help optimize usage, ensure proper maintenance, and avoid operating conditions that shorten battery life and capacity.
Reputable battery manufacturers are constantly testing, optimizing, and reinventing their technologies. But most battery innovations hide out of sight—inside a box or app. For instance, convenient watering systems and proven no-maintenance AGM batteries save time and boost productivity. Battery Monitoring Systems (BMS) gather data to help optimize usage, ensure proper maintenance, and avoid operating conditions that shorten battery life and capacity. Finally, chargers with enhanced charging profiles and capabilities remove common failure modes.
Cleaning and hygiene are changing rapidly—from automation to new charging and usage practices. There’s increasing pressure to clean more effectively, safely, and quickly with fewer resources (time, money, labor-hours). That’s why we’re investing heavily in breakthrough battery technologies, long-term field tests and R&D, and automated manufacturing to build smarter.
By John Connell, VP of SLI products at Crown Battery Manufacturing Co.
GETTING CONNECTED WITH THE INTERNET OF CLEAN™
Demand for smart cleaning is on the rise as organizations look for ways to manage resources and remain competitive, productive and profitable. Connectivity and digital solution integration give organizations a complete view of their business and actionable data that correlates activities with outcomes to drive improvements.
With smart solutions for laundry, dishwashing machines, food safety compliance and even fleet tracking, we are continuously looking for ways to improve cleaning processes across entire organizations and industries.
Today’s customers want to understand the total cost of cleaning. Innovations drive more efficient, productive and higher quality cleaning processes. By measuring performance and compliance, smart solutions also offer proof of cleaning and peace of mind.
Diversey has developed algorithms that analyze the wealth of data being reported by our Internet of Clean™ solutions and translates this into meaningful information that customers can act upon. With smart solutions for laundry, dishwashing machines, food safety compliance and even fleet tracking, we are continuously looking for ways to improve cleaning processes across entire organizations and industries.
By Jan-Willem Tinge, Vice President of Global Marketing – Facilities & Machines, Diversey
DEVELOPING ROBOTICS IN THE FLOOR CLEANING INDUSTRY
The cleaning industry is undergoing a transition as a result of disruptive technologies that are driving greater automation. Robotics and artificial intelligence technologies have made significant inroads across both commercial and industrial sectors. The floor cleaning industry as a whole is interested in this growing space.
Through customer research and the use of virtual and augmented reality tools, we were able to design a robotic cleaning machine that is safe, non-intimidating and easy to use.
As robotics grow, the cleaning industry will better learn the impact of autonomous machines in areas like employment, productivity, safety and business opportunities. Tennant will continue to perform customer research and partner with our customers, R&D team and sales to determine future smart cleaning products.
Tennant Company is continuing to focus our efforts on the T7AMR in 2019. Our strategy has always been that we want to be the first to perform, which means that we not only have a viable robotic solution but also work with our customers to have a successful robotic program. When the original T7 scrubber was developed in 2003, it wasn’t known that it would someday be used as the base for a robotic machine. When it came time to design the T7AMR, which has more complex components, such as more advanced sensors, Tennant’s Industrial Design team had to redesign the shroud and solution tank to ensure that the machine design matched the cleaning functionality. Through customer research and the use of virtual and augmented reality tools, we were able to design a robotic cleaning machine that is safe, non-intimidating and easy to use. The T7AMR is not replacing the T7 ride-on scrubber, but instead is its autonomous “sibling.” The machines are in fact very similar, except one is a robot.
By Dennis Collins, Global Product Manager – Robotics, Tennant Company