Facility Management and Cleaner Tracking Digitized with Bluetooth
Facility management needs easier access to geolocation data to make cleaning verification fast and reliable. Here’s how technology makes it happen + case study.
Facility cleaners for a given location have made their rounds, checked each room, noted broken assets, and returned to the office. How can you prove with absolute certainty that they’ve performed each task? More importantly, can managers point to this evidence without spending a small eternity locating and aggregating data? Though these jobs are crucial to all manner of industries, and they’ve been around for many years, data logging in facility management is far from perfect. It’s also anything but optimized.
Facility management: why data matters
Reliable data on who has gone where and at what time is crucial to this field, much like employee tracking in general, poor monitoring can lead to anything from confusion to fraud or even tax issues. As government and tax officials can be very unforgiving, it’s important that hours and proof of work be easily recorded and reliably accessible. Simple misrecording can quickly lead to incorrect wage distribution and 401K or tax complications. When your job is managing facilities or employees, tax complications are the last thing you want added to your plate.
In short, there are two main reasons companies invest in better solutions for facility cleaner tracking. Often, their current situation offers:
- No visibility on whether the cleaner has been in the area to be serviced
- No visibility on how much time a cleaner has spent and should be invoiced for
Traditional methods in facility management involve lots of pen and paper, but modern solutions are leveraging technology to make it easier for facility workers to clean and go. The general goal is to reduce the amount of time cleaners spend simply recording information. When you’re job is cleaning, the last thing you want added to your plate is paperwork.
Popular modern options include:
Though these are very different forms of communication, they all have one clear factor in common:
The secret ingredient to quickly recording or validating proof of work is geolocation or proximity to that specific workplace. There are many reasons that digital solutions are beating pen-and-paper including absolute certainty that their generated data is reliable. Rather than having to guess exactly what time a cleaner was in which room or struggling to verify that your team has, in fact, visited a specific location, digital records can instantly show all this information and more. This clarity helps accounting by making hours easier to track. It helps legal teams by reducing mistakes and proving work done. In the end, it even helps the cleaners by making their work easier to record.
So what are my options?
Let’s revisit those common technologies used: GPS, QR, phone calls, and Bluetooth. GPS has been used by consumers and businesses for years to track large-scale movements. Traditional phone calls can be made to a head office to confirm that the worker is on location. QR or barcodes are now being used as a cheap option paired with an app. Finally, Bluetooth is being used to connect the cleaner’s smart device to a location automatically.
GPS: Established, good for long-distance tracking but not for tracking within a building.
Calling: Though calling is a traditional and straight forward method, it isn’t foolproof and makes for time-consuming data entry.
QR and barcodes: This cheap solution using printed codes requires cleaners to actively scan the codes to be registered at each location.
Bluetooth: Uses low-cost beacons installed at specific locations to automatically register cleaners in the area.
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How do beacons work in facility management and cleaner tracking?
While there are going to be minor differences from deployment to deployment, many businesses use a single beacon to denote a single area. For example, one beacon is assigned to the second floor employee bathroom in the downtown mall. Another beacon may be the central uptown location’s service desk. Wherever a cleaner needs to work—or wherever employers mark as important locations—there will be a beacon.
When the cleaner enters the space, a specially designed app on their smart phone automatically detects the beacon and logs that information. This data is now digitally stored and can be instantly accessed at a later date, immediately entered into a spreadsheet, or even used to power a response–like an alert–in real time. Because this is difficult to fake or spoof, employers can then show their employee’s proof of work with absolute certainty whenever necessary. That also means automating time sheets and records as needed.
Most notably, this means employees need not fish out their phone and scan a code or call up an office number to confirm their work. They can simply do their job and move on.
Where can you find beacons tracking and confirming cleaner movements? On almost every continent, there are already beacons deployed that are helping facility managers automate their confirmation processes. One company, Spotless, uses Lighthouse.io’s solution to track employees at numerous locations.
Lightouse installed 300 beacons in food courts, stores, and bathrooms across New South Wales and Victoria, Australia. Now Spotless employees can use an Android app to interact with beacons on their routes. On top of this, Spotless also uses analytics to better understand the movement of their employees. Lighthouse has gone on to install hundreds more beacons in the new mall locations serviced by Spotless.
(More on their beacons story here)