Smart Building Technology in action
A gym or similar sports facilities present a many-sided environment to supervise and maintain. With many customers coming in and out throughout the day and all expecting a high-quality location for their activities, monitoring things such as people flow, equipment usage, and air quality become key to giving customers the best experience. Information becomes key, allowing informed facility owners to maintain their facilities in a presentable and optimal shape. In a rapidly expanding business, a top-level customer experience builds a solid foundation for a high Customer Lifetime Value.
Maintaining a high-level commercial facility experience can be relatively inexpensive and easy. Smart building technology is used in all commercial housing and facilities to collect environmental and behavioral data. The data allows companies to optimize their operations to cut costs, reduce emissions, increase security, improve health conditions, and make many informed decisions.
With smart building sensors and associated software, it becomes easy to see both negative and positive trends in facilities. These types of solutions are especially warranted in facilities available often to customers but only part-time staffed. As the contemporary trend of less staff and more automation continues, the smart industry grows and provides ever-more clever solutions.
Some issues to address
Heavy load on machines
If you have ever taken that step of taking yourself to the gym, you have probably experienced occupied machines or broken equipment. These situations often resolve themselves as the equipment usage finds its balance, but sometimes a piece of equipment is too popular. Unless some gym members report this, then the business can lose customers over a long period before the manager realizes the issue.
People usually prefer to be squeezed together with loved ones, and usually not even with them during a workout. For many, an overcrowded gym with hot, sweaty air, loud noise, and busy equipment can be enough to motivate a rapid change of gym.
Customers have increasingly valued the experience of fresh or healthy air after the recent pandemic and similar events highlighting the importance of good air quality. Although it might be impossible to guarantee total protection from these things, the effort and experience add value and can make the hesitant comfortable to stay.
Unsanitary machines, overflowing trash containers, and scattered equipment across the gym. This is an unpopular sight with customers, but it is neither comfortable to have staff constantly cleaning the shared areas. Without being properly informed, it is difficult for facility managers to find this balance.
One of the most significant challenges gym owners face is maintaining good air quality. When working out or doing sports, we truly put our bodies to the test, and minor irritants can become unbearable. People with respiratory issues or sensitive to poor or foul air will be the first to leave such a location.
WHO estimates that 334 million or 4 out of 100 people globally have asthma, for whom it is vital with proper air quality. In the US alone, asthma affects 5-10% of Americans, while 1 out of 7 older adults has some form of lung disease (and 1/3 of these experience severe issues). Without delving into the whole plethora of health challenges and possible air contaminants, the value for a gym in maintaining a welcoming environment for everyone becomes evident.
The cost of the resulting churn
Looking at costs, or losses in these examples, we see customers changing their gym provider to be the prevalent cause of revenue loss.
2,36% of people globally, with up to 21-22% in countries like Sweden, Norway, and the US, are gym members. With each gym member carrying a value of everything from about $200-900 annually, depending on the country (European and North American gym members are typically worth around $500 each), it is easy to calculate a quite high potential loss due to poor air quality alone.
Let us use the US as an example; By dividing the total of 64,2 million American gym members with the 41 370 gyms in the country, and by generously counting as low as 5%, or 1 in every 20 people being sensitive to poor air quality, we could expect a loss of about $38 500 from that gym’s annual revenue. This 5% would quickly increase simply by adding the customers that are merely sensitive to foul or bad air. This is a substantial loss considering that smart building technology makes air quality monitoring and optimization very cost-effective.
Other factors that can nudge members to switch gyms can be; machines always occupied, unavailable staff, or facilities in poor conditions or lacking maintenance. Monitoring facilities with smart building technology allows business owners to avoid unnecessary spending or loss without overdoing maintenance and disturbing the customers.
Keeping the mind and body in good shape is a given foundation for all people’s health. During times of pandemic scares, it becomes even more critical. Further looking at lifestyle-related respiratory issues, it is paramount that sufferers can get back on track in healthy environments that promote success and well-being. With this in mind, it becomes clear that proper maintenance of every aspect of the facilities is vital.
The challenge, then, is how to do this cost-effectively. With smart building technology, it becomes easy to gain valuable insights to avoid losses and attract new clients, allowing business owners to not only avoid losses but to increase revenue. If we look at what sensors can aid within these environments, we can see many data points valuable to monitor.
Below is an example of a customer case from a large Swedish real estate company where we added further application suggestions. This client runs our IoT platform Yggio as the foundation for the entire office property’s operation, including a gym. Yggio enables customers to combine sensors and technology from many different brands, allowing them to choose the most suitable technology for every case. Here, our customer chose to deploy both Presence sensors from Sensative and multi-sensors from Decentlab running via the Yggio platform.
Managing machines, overcrowding, and maintenance
There are many places in a gym where you can gather valuable information through what is known as presence sensors. A presence sensor measures the presence of something in an on/off fashion, allowing business owners to follow usage patterns of machines, doors, water coolers, and similar. Here, the customer chose to put Sensative’s presence sensors on all machines to measure the overall activity level for each machine.
Continuously occupied machines could be an issue in the long run as customers will get tired of waiting whenever they want to work out. Placing presence sensors on every machine makes it easy to see the most popular equipment. Business owners can thereby determine which, if any, would benefit from further investments. As machines are expensive, no one wants to buy them on a hunch. By monitoring usage patterns, gym owners can easily see when the environment requires more equipment and avoid losing customers due to overcrowding.
Looking at facility maintenance, especially cleaning services, monitoring with smart building technology can quickly alert when there is a need for cleaning. By placing presence- or magnetic open/close sensors (like Strips +Guard) on, for instance, toilet doors, trash cans, and machines, business owners can get in-depth knowledge on how well the maintenance is upheld. This knowledge then allows for informed decisions that can improve efficiency and service. Business owners can set up rules where the system alerts and encourages staff to act upon certain events. An example could be having Yggio send out alerts to staff when a certain number of people have visited a toilet or used a machine, indicating that it is time to clean this area.
Apart from using data in automation, presence sensors can also tell if some areas of the facilities are more crowded than others based on data from machines, doors, and more. After monitoring and gathering data for some time, it would become apparent if it is necessary to change the gym layout or move machines to spread out the more popular machines or areas. It might even reveal that more extensive facilities are needed.
Optimizing air quality
Our client chose to place multi-sensors in several areas of their facility to measure air quality, optimize the usage of their HVAC system, and follow any alarming trends in general. With these multi-sensors running through Yggio, our client can measure air quality by carbon dioxide, relative humidity, and hydrocarbon values. Sensative offers several air quality sensors for indoor monitoring, such as the Strips MS +Comfort, Square Comfort, and Square +Air.
Many people breathing in a closed indoor space can quickly accumulate carbon dioxide due to poor ventilation. An even greater culprit of the sometimes unhealthily high amounts of carbon dioxide found indoors is outdoor air being pulled in when people enter or exit the facilities.
As most are probably familiar with, a lack of ventilation and a buildup of carbon dioxide makes people very tired. Such an environment would become very strenuous for anybody exerting themselves during a workout or sports activity. As no one wants to feel limited or ill without cause, this situation could easily lead to customers looking for better workout facilities.
The relative humidity is a commonly monitored value, and this functionality is thus typically featured in multi-sensors. High humidity levels can lead to uncomfortable and sometimes even dangerous conditions, as high temperatures in conjunction with high humidity lead to the body being unable to expel enough heat, making it unbearable to work out. It is not wise to be a cheapskate during a summer heatstroke when it comes to the HVAC, while no owner wants the system to run on max 24/7 when unnecessary.
Hydrocarbons, measured as VOC (volatile organic compounds) or TVOC (total volatile…), show a wide range of organic compounds that can pollute the air. In a gym environment – This could be emissions from sources such as plastic carpets and other materials or alcohol from hand sanitizer.
While alcohol is not significantly detrimental to the lungs, other pollutants, such as plastic nanoparticles, can be harmful when a person is continuously exposed. A person without respiratory problems will likely not notice the pollution before it builds up and becomes a real health issue. In contrast, sensitive people could easily find breathing difficult in such an environment and easily cause customers to leave.
After our client company implemented its smart building solutions with Yggio as the data collection and service layer, the results (shown in the graphs above) clearly showed that some values were alarmingly high at times. It was clear that both carbon dioxide, relative humidity, and hydrocarbons spiked dramatically during weeknights and weekends. The levels dropped again during weekdays and continued dropping exponentially until the following weekend when they returned to the highest levels again.
After further investigations, the company discovered that the HVAC system had been programmed to run at reduced flow during weeknights and weekends to preserve energy and reduce costs. It all came down to underestimations of how much the HVAC system needed to run, which clearly shows the difficulty in optimizing without the proper data. Smart building technology lets business managers optimize operations and expenses to care for customers while also providing a better and healthier environment.
To summarize, data collection and mapping of patterns and abnormalities allow business owners to make informed decisions across the board. As a result, customers can be offered a healthy, comfortable, and encouraging training environment, while business owners avoid losses and increase their value in a highly competitive industry.
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Our DiMS IoT platform Yggio is a powerhouse developed for, and praised by, smart building owners, smart utilities and smart cities. If you are interested in employing Yggio with your sensors of choice, want to see a demo, or need help tailoring a solution for your specific needs, contact our sales team to evaluate your requirements and possibilities.