Today’s digital world has everyone adapting to rapid changes at the hands of technology, where the concept of smart buildings is now increasingly important and well established among architects, building owners, and facility management companies.
More so with the advent of the Internet of Things being in full swing, the fully automated and remote-controlled spaces that were once just possible in science fiction are now an accepted—and even an expected—part of everyday living.
Internet of Things is the term used to define a growing network or system of physical objects that are interconnected through the Internet, enabling the sending of data collected through software, sensors, and other relevant technologies.
It is now apparent that with practically everything and everyone going digital, things around us are getting smarter—watches, kitchens, cars, production lines, among others. Modern-day washrooms are no exception to this.
Smart Washroom Technology = Smart Washroom Benefits
With the incessant digital technology advancements and commercial buildings becoming smarter, it should follow that washrooms should likewise reap the benefits of these innovations.
Now, why you may ask would businesses, building owners, architects, and designers want their washrooms smart in the first place. Here below are some of the points that discuss the answers to that question.
Accurate Fact-Based Data Analysis
Smart solutions for your commercial washroom such as Dolphin’s SMART Inform technology will provide your business with valuable information that will help you discover your washroom’s personality by collecting key statistical data that can be analysed and evaluated to show usage patterns.
This data can include the washroom space with the greatest interaction, washroom peaks and troughs, the most-used basins or cubicles, among others. This information can significantly help washroom management understand what needs to be done to be more efficient and ensure the best possible user experience: topped-up consumables, washwall systems to eliminate queues, and squeaky clean environments especially after peak hours.
Smart systems, like the Alavo mirror systems from Dolphin, are not only innovative but can be robust and stylish. The smart taps, soap dispensers, and hand dryers also from Dolphin’s premium selection of washroom solutions are sleek, modern, and sophisticated enough not only to enhance user experience but can come in stylish finishes and coatings that perfectly fit any washroom design or pattern.
Improved User Experience
As with any other businesses, user experience is considered the ultimate objective of whatever product or service they are offering. Whether you’re operating a retail store for shoes or mobile phones or a practicing lawyer in a legal firm or a medical professional, you definitely aim for your clients to get the best experience with your product or service.
For smart products, the direct advantage goes directly to the user through a user interface. In the case of smart washrooms, your users will get the most smart washroom benefits with the innovative features and functions, the most popular of which is the elimination of any cross-contamination risks with the use of the sensor taps, for example.
Enhanced Hygiene Washroom Solutions
The need for better hygiene solutions in our washrooms has been stressed recently particularly with the pandemic by accredited bodies, such as the CDC, WHO, among others. Various recommendations have been made including the use of sensor taps and dispensers and removing unnecessary touch points in the washroom that can serve as venues for contamination.
More recent studies acknowledge the need to have commercial washrooms open up with the lockdowns easing off as more vaccination programmes have rolled out globally. With that said, non-touch taps and dispensers have been widely recommended for modern-day tap designs where activations by sensors are considered.
By entirely removing touchpoints from the handwashing process in your commercial washroom, contactless smart taps and dispensers are a more hygienic alternative that significantly help reduce the spread of harmful microorganisms that cause health problems. Smart lights that use integrated heat-sensor technologies for “occupancy systems” to determine and indicate cubicle usage can also be used to minimise and even eliminate touching latches, doors, and locks.
Efficient Cleaning and Maintenance
In most cases, smart washrooms will have sensors installed on refillable supplies such as soap, toilet tissue, and paper towers. Custodial personnel can use the data feed from the smart system so they can check dispenser levels and receive real-time notifications and alerts once refillables reach critical levels and need to be refilled.
Obviously, this is a twofold advantage in the cleaning and maintenance aspect of your commercial washroom. One, this will rid your custodial staff of the unnecessary task of having to physically check each individual dispenser in your washroom facilities. This will likewise eliminate any downtime for your users as they don’t have to wait for any refills in case something runs out.
Bringing the latest in smart technology to your commercial washrooms enables your business and your users to experience the best of both worlds. With a smart washroom system that alerts your maintenance staff real-time when dispensers have reached predetermined levels where consumables need to be replaced, you can maximize use without having to sacrifice usability.
Better Sustainability and Waste Reduction Efforts
Since the launch of the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) in 1990, various sustainable design programmes have been developed and global organisations are able to demonstrate their commitment to the environment by following green building standards.
With this environmental awareness extending to building design, nothing comes closest to best sustainable practices in your commercial washroom than having water and energy-efficient taps and dispensers as your top most considerations for smart solutions. Dolphin’s smart taps have been precision-designed with low-flow functionality, saving no less than 20 percent of water expense for your business, while saving another 20 percent more on energy consumption as no water that is not being used is actually pre-heated.
When it comes to the sustainability agenda, plastic waste remains one crucial topic. Many basic washroom essentials, such as soap and other cleaning agents, are contained in plastic bottles or dispensers.
Smart technology solutions will normally have functions that adjust the volumes of soap dispensed, for example, or provide an optional buffer time in between soap use for your public washroom, significantly reducing both plastic and consumable waste.
This further prevents commercial washroom users from extracting any more soap than they actually need and save on waste. These smart technology systems likewise allow for larger containers such as the jumbo soap dispensers from Dolphin that significantly cut out the amount of plastic waste generated compared to smaller containers.
Understanding the Smart Washroom Technology
So how exactly do smart washrooms work?
Although typically a small part of a big suite of smart building products, smart washroom technology solutions have a massive impact on your buildings’ overall performance. When properly installed and implemented, one of the major smart technology benefits can be that your property managers, building owners, employees, and personnel who need access to relevant data can readily find information on every running system in the building in a single common digital interface.
Having the need to have your washroom facilities spotless and in pristine condition when your business is open translates to ensuring that your custodial and maintenance team have access to real-time usage information.
Again, this scenario used to be just part of science fiction, but with everything going digital nowadays, the technology for all of this and even more is now readily available. Working with your team of designers, architects, and tech teams plus a bit of creativity, you can now easily set up almost any automated function you can think of to work together to give your users the best commercial washroom experience they deserve and have your washroom always being a pleasure to visit.
So what makes up a smart washroom? Let’s get into details of a few upgrades that will guarantee not only high-quality washroom experience for your users but enormous money, energy, and water-saving opportunities for your business while helping safeguard the future of our planet.
The Smart Washroom Features and Components
Infrared sensor taps, automatic faucets, touchless taps, touch-free taps—all these refer to those taps where water automatically flows when they sense movement under them through their sensors. Again, usage data can be collected and analysed to streamline cleanliness in your washroom. When there’s no need for someone to touch a tap, surely there’s a lower chance these taps will drip water on your sink counter.
It’s difficult to overstate the significance of smart dispensers when you’re looking to set up a smart bathroom. Not only do we want to completely eliminate any frustrating experience for our users when they reach out for toilet paper or soap and not find any, we don’t want to put anyone at risk for contamination. Hence, the use of smart dispensers to accurately keep track of what you need, when, and how often is a must.
While many businesses are aware of the frequency needed to maintain or refill consumables in their washrooms based on the normal ebb and flow of visitors every day, there are still cases when restroom supplies run out as quickly and refills cannot be made immediately. With your intelligent washroom technology, you can easily monitor traffic and make sure all dispensers are fully stocked and things are kept clean always.
Automated toilets have been in use for many years now so with the advent of intelligent washrooms, it’s no surprise that they will remain as an essential element and be brought further into the future. Upgrading these smart toilets involves the integration of technology into your network for your custodial and maintenance staff to receive notifications and alerts from any sensors sending in feedback whenever the toilet undergoes some issues.
Obviously, energy efficiency and sustainability is a mainstay when it comes to smart innovations including those involving commercial washrooms. And while LEDs and other energy-saving lighting have grown even more popular the last couple decades, no lighting fixture saves as much energy as that which is turned off. That and you can have your lights programmed to dim or completely switch off when not in use.
It’s no surprise that commercial washrooms can be the source of more than their fair share of offensive and unpleasant smells in your commercial building. And while many if not all of these washrooms already make use of various air freshener types that blast absorbents either to ward off these unwanted smells or dispense flavoured scents to overcome the same, new automations allow for synchronisation of air freshening with sensors.
Obviously another important aspect of an intelligent washroom setup is having smart heating, ventilation, and air conditioning solutions set up to ensure your guests feel comfortable when using your washroom. Heating/HVAC innovations can likewise be integrated in your washrooms where comfortable temperatures regardless of the weather outside or the climate in the rest of your space can be easily maintained.
Dolphin’s Alavo Mirror Systems and Washroom Configurator: Setting Up a Smart Washroom
So now you have finally decided your business will be setting up smart washroom facilities for your entire building. Now if your team is uncertain about how to go about configuring, planning, setting up, and installing, there’s no reason to worry. There’s no need to spend valuable time and resources trying to figure it all out yourself, as making use of this smart technology is easy and simple.
At Dolphin, we have our very own Alavo washroom configurator that essentially enables you to collaborate with your team of designers, planners, and architects to tailor-design your very own smart washroom configuration.
From lighting controls to functionalities behind the mirror, from sensors for hygienic operations to modern styles and designs, from control panels to the number of wash stations, Dolphin’s proprietary configurator for Alavo is your one-stop configuration system to help you set up your innovative washroom with confidence.
Other innovative washroom technology available include having sensors installed across all taps, dispensers (toilet paper, paper towel, and soap), and having them communicate with a cellular router in your commercial building. The router feeds all the data to centralised servers that further work on a cloud server. From the core smart washroom platform, data is analysed, reports are builts, and relevant notifications are sent out in real time.
With all the information and data available for your washroom maintenance staff, they’re up to date on the corresponding tasks that need to be carried out, all with the unified goal of maintaining a clean washroom space.
While we’re already enjoying all these smart washroom features and smart technology benefits, there’s still so many opportunities and possibilities that have yet to be explored and discovered when it comes to bringing the Internet of Things into our commercial washrooms.
If you’re looking to upgrade your commercial washroom with state-of-the-art smart technology, start with our Alavo washroom configurator at Dolphin and explore the unlimited options of smart washroom solutions our Dolphin team can easily provide for you.