Pest detectors can reduce pressure on cleaning teams

16th of June 2020 Article by Robert Fryers
Pest detectors can reduce pressure on cleaning teams

Robert Fryers, ceo and co-founder at Spotta, explains how smart technology can help with pest control within large buildings - taking the pressure off cleaning teams.

Facilities managers around the world are addressing their procedures, processes and key performance indicators to prepare for reopening following COVID-19 lockdown. An array of new policies will limit FM and cleaning teams' capabilities in the short-to-medium-term and will likely bring permanent change in the delivery of services.

Overnight, facilities manager have not only had increased expectations placed on them for hygiene and cleanliness, but have to put the welfare of occupants and staff at the forefront of service delivery. With even tighter profit margins, teams will have to be redistributed to address business critical issues, and will likely suffer from reduced headcount as part of cost-cutting measures - putting ever more pressure on facility teams.

This does not present a rosy picture for managers in the delivery of quality service with reduced resources. The UKCES Employer Skills Survey found a third (33 per cent) of vacancies were considered hard-to-fill, with 26 per cent considered to be skill-shortage roles. Cleaners and housekeepers suffer from some of the worst retention rates at 74 per cent, according to the Office of National Statistics. But attrition can be significantly higher for some businesses.

Companies that embrace new technologies give themselves every possible competitive edge over the old way of doing things - for advanced cost-cutting and efficiency measures to reduce operational costs and to address any manpower, skills and training shortages.

Making buildings smart

Internet of Things (IoT) solutions have advanced to such a stage that they're capable of helping businesses adhere to regulations and reduce the pressure on facilities and cleaning teams. We've seen the arrival of robot vacuum cleaners to assist cleaners, hotel mini bars that identify when and what has been taken, voice and movement controlled lighting and sound systems - but IoT is going to go much further.

Smart buildings bring benefits from staff productivity to sustainability through sensors and automated applications. They also play a role in improving the experience of staff and visitors. This is particularly poignant at a time when hygiene and well-being comes under scrutiny in buildings open to the public.

IoT devices are a welcome tool to businesses in addressing these challenges and to facilities managers who struggle to identify problems that are hidden from view. New devices and applications are capable of sharing information through mobile apps, online portals or email to provide a complete performance review of the building and highlight any problem areas. As building management becomes more complicated, management must have access to the right data for decision making in order to be able to understand the problem and respond by identifying the appropriate solution.

Modernising facility operations

Many companies have reported 10 - 15 per cent cost savings from IoT projects, so it's important to look at the value devices bring and the operational savings they offer to choose the right technology. The opportunity of IoT systems to revitalise revenue and reinvent staff resourcing are significant.

From a staff resource perspective, using detectors and monitoring systems will enable managers to deploy staff immediately to problem areas whether it's replacing missing towels, emptying bins or dealing with pests - without having to do manual checks. This minimises time and training costs in a period which is likely to see staffing challenges and high staff turnover rates.

Addressing age-old problems

The advancement and diversification of IoT devices age-old problems within a property can be addressed. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is advancing the role of detectors to provide information and insight to problems previously monitored by trained staff. Using sensors and machine learning, detectors are able to assess and identify the problem providing the necessary insight for the team to deal with it appropriately.

Detectors have evolved to help in areas where previously only people or animals were capable of doing, and at a time when staff resources are at an all time low and business risk is high, a new approach must be taken. To illustrate, pest control for many hospitality businesses and public buildings is a big problem, which can impact business reputation and put it at risk of litigation and, especially now, scrutiny from health and hygiene authorities.

In recent years we've seen pest traps become increasingly intelligent, capable of identifying even some of the smallest of pests like bed bugs. Strategically placed IoT devices analyse pests through image sensors and machine learning, which informs facilities staff of the type of pest so it can be dealt with appropriately - reducing human monitoring and training - while enabling operators to be responsive with the right treatment.

At a time when revenue and cashflow is essential to the very survival of the business, issues need to be dealt with before they become a financial and operational problems.

Future of smart sensors

With the greater availability of technology, understanding of AI and the commercial benefits which have been proven by IoT in recent years, we'll begin to see higher levels of adoption. Facilities managers now have the opportunity to work with their wider organisations to identify potential threats and find detection solutions that will help them identify problems quicker, innovating how they minimise risk and keep staff resources contained.

IoT detectors and sensors are part of the move to smart business, offering intelligent and mature solutions for digital transformation that allows staff to focus on tasks that bring higher value. In order to maintain motivation and productivity, managers must engage staff with the technologies and the benefits they bring, to appropriately deploy team efforts to enhance delivery and the well-being of the staff.

A smart building that uses technology will not just allow business to survive, but have the opportunity to thrive in the new tomorrow.

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