How Norwegian University Reduced Labor Costs with Sensor Technology
The Norwegian School of Sport Sciences (NIH), surrounded by Oslo’s vibrant nature, is one of the world’s best providers of sports science education and an international leader in athletic research. The university is home to 1200 students and 250 employees, 32 of which, including 14 in-house cleaners, administer 72,000 square meters of buildings and sports facilities.
About half of NIH’s real estate, 36,000 square meters, including offices, toilets, showers, athlete halls, reading halls, swimming halls, and libraries, requires daily cleaning. To ensure a healthy and spotless educational and working environment, they get help from Disruptive Technologies Certified Partner Datec, a leading Norwegian company specializing in the development of innovative cleaning management software.
How Does the World's Smartest Cleaning Work?
147 tiny wireless sensors are installed across the school’s meeting room doors and bathroom stalls. The sensors send data to Datec’s smart cleaning system CleanPilot Connect, which was installed on portable tablets and handed out to NIH cleaners.
The fully integrated cloud-based smart cleaning tool gives cleaners a full overview of all cleaning tasks, access to communication tools, and the ability to mark planned and solved cleaning tasks.
The sensors are tiny, cost-effective, and come with an adhesive backing, which is peeled to stick the non-intrusive sensors in doors. Cloud Connectors, the gateway between sensor data and the cloud, are plugged in to wirelessly transmit sensor data to CleanPilot Connect. An NIH room turns smart without any technical expertise, and in less than 5 minutes.
"The tiny size allows the sensor to fit into the gap between the door and the door frame. It’s easy to hide too, so people don’t pick on it. No maintenance is required, which is absolutely great. I do not think we have one sensor that has lost any power during the years we have used them yet. So we are also very happy with the battery life." Tore Sundby, Manager for Swimming Halls and Cleaning, NIH
CleanPilot Connect improves cleaning efficiency, increases safety, and simplifies the cleaners’ planning and work schedule. At NIH, CleanPilot Connect uses data gathered from tiny wireless sensors to:
- Improve cleaning quality and align efforts with actual space use
- Enable users to request cleaning service in toilet rooms or copy machine service in copy rooms
- Reduce overtime spend and use of cleaning resources
- Keep a comfortable air temperature in the swimming halls
Align Cleaning With Actual Usage
By setting rules for how frequently the cleaning is done, NIH bases cleaning and maintenance on actual usage rather than manual scheduling.
Proximity sensors on doors track the occupancy of meeting rooms and restroom stalls. In combination with feedback buttons that users press to alert the staff of an area that needs attention, NIH’s smart cleaning efforts are truly aligned with occupancy.
Cleaning staff receives an alert after a room has reached a threshold number of visits or if a user presses a feedback button, enabling the room to be cleaned shortly after the need occurs. There is an abundance of real estate and a long distance between buildings, so when a cleaning notification comes through, it can easily be assigned to the cleaner closest to the area.
It is equally important to have sensors in areas that are not used that often. This way, NIH can steer cleaners to the areas where there is a greater need, and postpone cleaning rooms that were underused.
"The system is similar to a taxi central, which directs the closest car to a customer. Similarly, we have a lot of buildings and long distances and can assign ad-hoc tasks to the cleaner closest to the area. We now clean the facilities more correctly, and not based on predefined rules that are not adjusted to the current needs, which is great.” Tore Sundby, Manager for Swimming Halls and Cleaning, NIH
Improve Cleaning Efficiency & Quality and Optimize Resources
Using CleanPilot Connect has led to more efficient cleaning when adjusting efforts taking occupancy and the cleaner’s location into account. The Datec & DT enabled smart cleaning system saved 40.5 cleaning hours in sensor-fitted spaces in October 2020 alone. Cleaning staff was then relocated to other useful tasks, like enhanced COVID19 cleaning measures.
NIH is seeing an overall reduction in overtime spend and a decrease in the volume of cleaning supplies used. In addition, the cleaning manager allocates the time previously spent on organizing cleaning efforts towards improving systems and the work environment. The cleaning staff has also embraced the new technology, as it enhances their efforts to create a clean and healthy environment for NIH students and employees.
Most importantly, the cleaning quality has improved. NIH staff are seeing fewer complaints. They now receive positive feedback on the quality of cleaning, which was rare before COVID19. Both employees and students understand the importance of cleaning staff and maintaining good hygiene.
The sensors and system are providing us with priceless insights. It has been fun to use the smart cleaning concept, and we think it is cool to test out new technology that is far ahead internationally. We will install many more sensors and test on several different other use cases, always learning and improving along the way.
- Tore Sundby, Manager for Swimming Halls and Cleaning, NIH
How Much Smarter Can NIH Get?
Beyond cleaning, the NIH swimming hall is retrofitted with DT temperature sensors. The sensors send alerts when the air temperature becomes uncomfortable and the swimming halls get too cold.
Because of their positive experience with Datec, NIH is looking into another sensor roll-out, this time around desk occupancy. They plan to stick DT sensors under desks and chairs in employee meeting rooms and student group rooms. This will help them ensure employees and students have the right space for their needs, as well as understand working styles to accurately measure and allocate space capacity.
"We worked closely with NIH on this case to identify the KPIs for the school as a whole, and how smart cleaning could contribute to them. Based on data from the DT sensors and the analytics from Datec CleanPilot, they were able to establish new routines and a smarter way of cleaning, and to achieve an even higher quality of their service." Jan Kristensen, Chief Sales Officer, Datec
Rolling out other types of sensors for different use cases will be extremely easy because NIH already has Cloud Connectors throughout their buildings to facilitate smart cleaning. One Cloud Connector can support up to thousands of sensors and is designed to make scaling up effortless. All NIH has to do is install additional sensors, and the nearby Cloud Connectors will immediately pick up and transmit sensor data.
NIH is going beyond being a fantastic university. Thanks to IoT sensor technology, they are on their way to becoming the world’s smartest school.