Sensor networks - cleaner washrooms at less cost

Case Haltian: a nationwide IoT Smart Washroom retrofit bears remarkable great fruit.

The challenge

A flawed washroom experience

With heavy traffic all day long, facility washrooms are rarely sparkling clean. There are spills, messes and cloth hand towel dispensers that run out of towel. Part of the problem is awareness: how do maintenance staff know when a washroom is getting messy or towels run out? Until recently, the best they could do is constantly make the rounds from one group of washrooms to the next, hoping to clean up in time. But with lots of other areas to maintain, washrooms often get ignored – resulting in a less-than-stellar washroom experience.

Haltian

Haltian helps companies digitalize their services, add business value and optimize operations. Their IoT device platform solutions often involve retrofitting devices in order to gather business data and realize efficiencies.

Haltian

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The solution

IoT alert system to the rescue

With the Internet of Things (IoT), all sorts of previously ‘dumb’ devices can be retrofitted to show status and send alerts. ‘Smart cleaning’ is just one example of this. A major global textile services provider teamed up with IoT solution provider Haltian and Wirepas to develop smart washrooms that notify staff via a smartphone app when maintenance will soon be needed.

Facility maintenance staff placed more than 20,000 sensors (with plans for 100,000 in total), at a very low cost per device, into various models of existing towel dispensers. No RF planning or expensive technicians were needed, thanks to Wirepas Mesh self-managing network architecture. The result?Connected facility-wide networks that, together with occupancy sensors, give staff accurate predictions of towel refill needs as well as washroom traffic – the biggest indicator of maintenance needs.

There are many reasons why Wirepas Massive is our go-to enabler for IoT device connectivity. One of the strongest is that Wirepas Massive builds its own network. Nodes find each other, connect automatically in the most efficient way and form a network that becomes more robust the bigger it is – often with a ratio of one gateway to some hundreds of nodes.

Tom Lindgren, VP Digital Solutions, Haltian

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How does it work?

Uniting best-of-breed components for low-cost installation

The Smart Washroom system consists of the Haltian Thingsee IoT Devices Platform, which connects Thingsee sensor devices and gateways – usually one per building – to the Thingsee Operations Cloud via Wirepas Massive. Data is then fed to a customer-specific system back-end for analytics and application enablement. All sensors are powered with long-life (3- to 5-year) batteries. They communicate with gateways using commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) ultra-low-power 2.4 GHz hardware via the Wirepas Massive protocol.

Wirepas Massive keeps power consumption to a minimum and requires no elaborate radio-frequency planning or installation: it uses each sensor as a relay to communicate with the next, even between floors, over frequencies chosen for their availability. With Wirepas Massive, every device added makes the signal stronger. Gateway devices then communicate over cellular networks for the collection and management of the data from the sensors to the Thingsee Operations Cloud. The Cloud feeds data to the end-client back-end system, which pushes notifications to maintenance staff handsets.

Find more value

Data analysis for better business decisions

Collected over months and years, sensor data shows clear trends that can be used to further refine business processes. The biggest prize in any IoT network is this analytical data. In the case of the Smart Washrooms implementation, data analysis can be performed on office buildings, hospitals, schools or any facility nationwide. Or even on a single towel dispenser. Identification of trends based on time of day, day of week, official holidays and other factors can lead to ideal predictive maintenance, staffing and useful revenue projections. The advantage of the Wirepas Massive/Haltian system is that it is entirely affordable, inexpensive to install in existing dispensers, and provides a clear path to return on investment – typically within two years.

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