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Eliminating complaints with intelligent restrooms: Before and after study reveals how Internet of Things impacts cleaners’ work

A study by SCA and its global hygiene brand Tork investigates how Internet of Things (IoT) impacts work by cleaners and facility managers. The results show increased quality and efficiency in combination with reduced stress among cleaners. The study is based on Tork EasyCubeTM, an IoT-based service that provides real-time information about cleaning and refill needs.

Internet of Things is often referred to as a phenomenon for the future. Yet, early solutions already exist for the cleaning industry. One example is Tork EasyCube – a digital service with connected devices that provide cleaners with mobile access to real-time information about cleaning and refill needs.
To investigate changes in ways of working, Tork has carried out a unique before and after study of Tork EasyCube – based on observational studies complemented by data from the system. The study has been carried out at IKSU Sport, northern Europe’s largest sports facility, in Umeå, Sweden. A 236,000 sq ft. facility with 1,500,000 yearly visitors and a team of 30 cleaners. In total, 300 connected dispensers have been implemented in washrooms, changing rooms, gyms, sports halls and other areas.


The results show a new logic for cleaning. Instead of static cleaning rounds, the team has shifted to need-based cleaning, resulting in increased efficiency. Knowing in real-time what’s needed, when and where have enabled the team to reduce dispenser controls by 77%. These kinds of effects has also made it possible to reallocate cleaning activities to where they matter most to achieve a noticeable higher quality. From a situation where complaints about cleaning quality and empty dispensers occurred frequently, they now don’t occur at all. The study also shows a boost in staff’s motivation thanks to increased control, less stress and more focus on what matters most.


“The system makes the job more dynamic and meaningful, I feel like I have the energy to do more when I know that everything I do matters,” says André Söderberg, cleaner working at IKSU.


Key results:
•    Shifting from static to need-based cleaning: The Tork EasyCube service has enabled the cleaning teams to work in new ways, and shift from static cleaning rounds to need-based cleaning, leading to double-digit improvements across efficiency and quality.
•    Unnecessary work reduced: Instead of running back and forth to physically check if a dispenser needs a refill, cleaners now know in real-time what to do. Before only 1 out of 4 dispenser controls led to a refill, and after the implementation, 7 out of 10 dispenser controls are motivated by a refill. The total number of dispenser controls has also been reduced by 77%  — saving valuable time and work for the cleaners.
•    Increased amount of actual cleaning activities: No time wasted has freed up time that can be focused on additional and more thorough cleaning with a direct impact on quality – especially in frequently used areas, where cleaning activities have increased by 62%.
•    Reduced time with empty dispensers: The time dispensers are out or almost out of refills have been reduced by 76 % and in critical areas with most visitors, the same figure is 88 %, with a direct impact on washroom quality.
•    No complaints: Before the implementation of Tork EasyCube, cleaning was a major problem area, with frequent complaints. With the system in place, and the shift from static to need-based cleaning, complaints about cleaning have been completely eliminated.
•    Smoother hand-over between shifts: Better overview and no time wasted makes it easier to finish tasks on time, handing over facilities in better shape to the next shift, which removes the risk of conflicts and frustration.
•    Refined planning and staff allocation: With insights from the system, the management team has been able to make new decisions; including charting and comparing monthly needs to more efficiently allocate resources over the year. As a result, staffing hours will be shifted from the winter period to the fall and spring, which require more intense cleaning.
•    Higher sense of meaningfulness among staff: The study shows increased pride among the cleaners,
and tasks that used to be repetitive and dull feel meaningful when adapted in real-time to exactly what is needed. The cleaners feel more in control and less stressed, while at the same time being more effective. This has also resulted in reduced sick leave.
•    Easier to attract and train new staff: Being able to work with the support of the system has been an attractive benefit to recruit new staff, and the training time for new cleaners has radically decreased. They can start working and become part of the team right away.


 “I had underestimated what can be done with this system. Before Tork EasyCube™ was implemented, our management team was considering building new changing rooms to solve the cleaning quality problem, which would have cost millions. Now that money can be used more efficiently, and we’re already thinking about how to take the next step,” says Bo Andersson, property manager and head of facility management at IKSU.


About the study
The before and after study at IKSU Sport has been executed by ScandInfo on commission by SCA. The study consists of observation studies and interviews before and after implementation of Tork EasyCube at the IKSU Sport facility with 20,000 visitors/week. Before and after implementation 24 hours of observation (4 shifts over 3 days) and 9 interviews with cleaning staff and facility management have been carried out. The results have been compared between the two time periods. In addition, based on data from the Tork EasyCube system, the time when dispensers are out or almost out of refills, have been analyzed and compared. For this analysis, data from March in 2015 (before implementation) has been compared to data from the same month in 2016 (after implementation).


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