How IoT is transforming on-premise laundry dosing in healthcare

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As we enter the second decade of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the cleaning and hygiene industry finds itself in the midst of an exciting and rapidly evolving era of communication and connectivity.

Known as the Internet of Things (IoT), this technological growth is a marriage between smart device technology and the generation, processing and accessibility of data. In the consumer sector, this has led to the emergence of the smart home, with users enjoying the ability to remotely control a multitude of household items – from lighting and heating to kitchen appliances and household appliances. security – via computers, smartphones and tablets.

And there is no sign of this boom slowing anytime soon, as Statistica estimates the global installed base of internet-connected devices will grow from 13.8 billion today to over 30 billion by the middle. of the decade.

But it goes far beyond domestic use. Businesses around the world are embracing Industry 4.0 – also known as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – by integrating technology into physical applications to help managers improve everything from operational efficiency to compliance environmental.

As a world leading manufacturer of chemical metering pumps and control systems, SEKO influences and sees firsthand how this cutting edge technology is changing what is possible in traditional chemical metering pump applications, including commercial and on-site laundry. dosage.

In the healthcare sector, where hospital laundry costs average 2-3% of the budget, site managers have a distinct choice between installing, operating and maintaining an on-site laundry or outsourcing the washing of items such as sheets, blankets, towels, uniforms, coveralls and gowns to a contractor.

The argument against an in-house setup is often that beyond the initial expense, it results in ongoing costs such as utilities, chemicals, maintenance, and repairs. However, if the service were to be outsourced, it is likely that the selected contractor would also face such costs which would ultimately be passed on to the customer – in this case the hospital, where budgets can be particularly tight due to the effects. of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As laundry outsourcing takes the responsibility of managing the process and the need for a dedicated laundry room away from the hospital, it leaves it tied to the contractor’s inflexible turnaround times and the potential for downtime. . Meanwhile, in some cases, mass cleaning methods, such as using a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide at higher temperatures, cause chemical and mechanical damage to towels, linens, and laundry. other fabrics, resulting in more frequent replacement and subsequently increasing costs.

Despite the many advantages and disadvantages, it is generally accepted that an on-site laundry ultimately offers better washing performance, longer fabric life and greater flexibility than can be achieved through the outsourcing, which is why about two-thirds of hospitals choose to wash in-house. .

In order to manage such operations, the healthcare industry clearly needs chemical dosing systems that can handle high load demand across multiple machines while maintaining accuracy and consistency over an extended period of time.

Additionally, the rapid growth of IoT in everyday life means that equipment users now expect the latest systems to provide them with some measure of remote access and control via smartphone, tablet. or a laptop.

This is one of the reasons why healthcare operators striving to improve performance, efficiency, convenience, reliability and durability are increasingly specifying web pump systems for commercial washing machines in sites such as hospitals and nursing homes.

In the healthcare industry, where infection control is paramount and heavy and stubborn soiling is common, only the highest washing standard is acceptable in order to properly protect patients, residents and staff, and systems. IoT-ready metering and control can help operators consistently achieve this goal throughout the life of the equipment.

Along with the benefits for patients and residents, one of the main benefits of IoT is that features like up-to-date downloadable manuals, self-adjusting smart sensors, and step-by-step online technical support can speed up the process. installation, configuration and commissioning and reduce the associated time and costs.

During operation, data is collected on several values ​​of the pump, including the state of the wash cycle, chemical consumption and equipment performance, which can then be viewed historically or in real time via a cloud-based platform thanks to the web server integrated into the system.

With this vital information at their fingertips, users can program and adjust wash formulas, maximum flow rate, unit of measurement and other parameters as well as select pump operating modes such as manual, batch and timed to optimize performance and minimize chemical consumption.

Common features include the ability to display chemical consumption in financial terms, allowing projected detergent and fabric softener savings to be accurately calculated and presented to key decision makers when considering dosage changes .

By reducing chemical and energy consumption in this way, operators benefit from immediate improvements in efficiency while being able to more accurately budget and rationalize the volume of chemicals stored, which is particularly useful on small sites where space is limited.

Most IoT-based systems include an alarm log that allows users to identify and act on faults immediately, helping them improve efficiency in planning for maintenance, repairs and upgrades. equipment level and minimize costly and inconvenient unplanned downtime.

The technology even allows the performance and condition of specific components to be assessed, meaning the user can be alerted that a part needs to be replaced and have it changed before it breaks down and causes downtime. costly unplanned downtime. For healthcare facilities operating on tight budgets, this would allow them to avoid using contract laundry services as a stopgap that, in the short term, would prove costly.

Meanwhile, the prevalence of data logging and analysis means that washing machine manufacturers are able to monitor trends, user preferences, and common issues over time in order to refine l ‘equipment and improve their product offering. This ultimately benefits end users, who can use the latest and most advanced laundry dosing equipment and exploit new features that improve washing performance and chemical consumption.

It is not only the efficiency of equipment and public services that can be improved. For those who run public and private healthcare facilities across multiple locations (which may be in different countries or even continents), IIoT means operations management can be anywhere in the world and still be as efficient as it is. ‘she would be in front of the laundry. system itself.

In addition, unnecessary trips by service technicians to perform routine maintenance – who can travel a considerable distance to assess the condition of a system only to find it in perfect working order – can be eliminated because they do not should be deployed only when needed.

As the global healthcare industry looks to a post-COVID future, the benefits of IIoT today offer operators the opportunity to take control of in-house laundry costs in the short and long term, helping to deliver reliability and confidence at a time of great uncertainty.

SEKO is a global manufacturer of chemical dosing systems for multiple industries, and has supplied its major on-site laundry equipment – including the popular Wash Series IoT-enabled units – to hospitals, nursing homes and other locations. health care for many years. The full range can be viewed at www.seko.com, where you will also find the contact details of your local SEKO representative.

Image Credit: © stock.adobe.com / au / iconimage


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