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Author's profile photo Mark Darbyshire

Public Convenience

Big Data is everywhere these days. Its latest frontier is the humble washroom. Just about all of us at some point have been caught short using public facilities in restaurants, hotels or airports with either a lack of soap, toilet rolls or paper towels. Austrian hygiene company, Hagleitner, is using the Internet of Things to make that a thing of the past.

The company’s senseMANAGEMENT solution (HAGLEITNER senseMANAGEMENT – washroomHYGIENE – Products – Hagleitner) includes intelligent sensors equipped with an integrated radio frequency system, which counts every soap, disinfectant and towel release. Information, such as dispenser fill levels, battery status and the number of disposals is sent to a web-based central site and made available to facility managers 24×7 for easy access on their smart phones or tablets. This means cleaning staff are kept informed at all times about which refills are required where, increasing customer service levels and saving time, particularly in large sites, such as hotels, hospitals or across multiple sites in fast food chain restaurants.

The immense volumes of data are all managed by SAP HANA. To me, Hagleitner is a great example of a company that’s re-envisioned its entire business model by harnessing big data, and seeing the art of the possible. They used to sell paper and cleaning products. Now they sell expertise.

The company has created mathematical models that are revolutionising washroom resource planning. They’re now able to help customers match supply and demand, save storage space, optimise logistics and deployment of personnel – including specific routes cleaning staff should take, and the ability for maintenance and personnel to be scheduled individually depending on demand – as well as reduction of carbon emissions with just in time delivery and predictive planning and reduced inventory.


One of their most high profile examples is the Berlin Olympic Stadium. More than 50,000 fans attended the Germany vs. Argentina World Cup match. When the whistle blew at half time, real time updates kept the multiple washrooms stocked thanks to what Hagleitner calls its “Big Washroom Data”.

Embedded sensors in public washrooms and the Internet of Things means this not only saves time and money but also intelligently manages compliance issues for healthcare and streamlines fulfilment through supply chain and product ordering systems.  

It adds up to a lot of data. Fast food restaurants generate just 45 MB of data per day, but larger companies and hospitals have to handle much greater volumes. A single dispenser, for example, transmits 27 measurements, alongside time data, the location of the device and the customer name. The amalgamated data from all of its customers is in the region of a terabyte. Analysis of this data gives Hagleitner answers to big picture questions – not just individual orders.

One of the things I like most about this example is Hagleitner’s vision in thinking differently. When the company first shared its ideas, customer feedback was less than enthusiastic. In fact, most customers were unconvinced that it was even worth putting any sort of advanced technology into something as mundane as a washroom. But despite their reactions, the company could see the potential for networked systems and value added services.

More than 100 registered patents later, it has now set the global standard in hospitals, operating theatres, cruise ships, airports, fast food restaurant chains, and some of the world’s major sporting arenas to name but a few. And the company itself has achieved its own long term goal of knowing how much disinfectant and how many dispensers to produce – just by thinking differently. Ask yourself, what could you achieve in your own organisation with that sort of mindset? 

Find out about more companies’ use of SAP to Run Simple

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