It's hard to clean station toilets!

What is the “savior” that keeps it clean November 30, 17:10

Station toilets are often used when commuting to work or school, or when traveling long distances.

There are probably many people who have had the experience of being "saved" by the thorough cleaning and the provision of spare toilet paper.

When I interviewed about cleaning station toilets, I found that it takes more effort than I thought to keep them clean.

The toilet is now being reborn with new technology.

(Tomoka Miyoshi, reporter of the Economic Department)

Adhering to station toilet cleaning

The interview was conducted at Shin-Osaka Station, the gateway to Osaka.

Shinkansen, JR conventional lines, subways, etc. are available, and the conventional lines alone are used by about 100,000 people a day.



Four of the restrooms in the station are managed by JR West.



I interviewed the cleaning staff in the early morning of early November.

We polish the toilet bowl, wipe the seat, and clean the hand washing area and floor.



It is also essential to replenish toilet paper and soap and collect garbage.



The cleaning staff proceeded with the cleaning work one after another with familiar hands.

24-hour cleaning

An average of 10 to 12 people are cleaning during the daytime, and the four toilets are cleaned and replenished every hour.



It is said that they also clean the station premises, but from the last train to the first train, there are cleaning staff and they continue to clean 24 hours a day, regardless of the year-end and New Year holidays.

Due to the large number of people using the toilet, sometimes 15 rolls of toilet paper are used in a single day.



Because it is a public toilet, it is said that there is a large amount of dirt that can not be compared with ordinary households.



However, the toilet is the face of the station.



We are cleaning as much as possible in a limited time so that you can use it comfortably.

The problem is "when the toilet is crowded"

How fast and efficient can cleaning be done?



One of the challenges is how to deal with when the toilet is crowded.

I think there are many people who often see the sight of a queue forming near the entrance of the toilet.



Even in such a situation, it is necessary to clean at a set time, but cleaning cannot be done unless the toilet in the private room is available, and I have been worried about how to reduce the loss of time.

Hiroshi Mizobe, Manager, Technical Planning Department, JR West Mentech


"If the toilet is crowded, you don't know when the private toilet will be available, so it's difficult to replenish toilet paper and soap. There is also a lot of waiting time, so I feel that it is very wasteful to proceed with cleaning efficiently.Furthermore, when users are waiting in the toilet, they say, 'I'm worried about the cleaning staff.' I think it's also a mental burden for the cleaning staff because they have to stay in the toilet all the time in the crowd."

"Notice" of cleaning timing

How can we efficiently clean toilets during busy times?



We are experimenting with the utilization of IoT, which exchanges data over the Internet.



The sensor attached to the door of the private room of the toilet detects the availability of the room by opening and closing the door.



This information is sent to the terminal held by the cleaner.



Also, when toilet paper, soap, etc. are running low and need to be replenished, it will be displayed on the terminal screen.

Cleaning staff can smoothly proceed with cleaning from vacant private rooms while grasping the congestion situation of toilets and whether equipment is necessary.



In addition, information on vacant rooms will be provided to users via the app, encouraging them to use vacant restrooms, which will lead to alleviation of congestion.



It is said that there is always a shortage of workers to clean station toilets.



By utilizing such digital technology, we believe that it will be possible to reduce the burden on cleaning staff and to clean efficiently with a small number of people.

Hiroshi Mizobe, Manager, Technical Planning Department, JR-West Mentech


“We are still short of manpower, but we already know that the manpower shortage will continue to increase. We believe that toilets are the face of a station, so we want to reduce the burden of cleaning, but we also don't want to lower the quality of service.This conflict is extremely difficult. It's the place."

What bothers the cleaning staff is...

Another problem that bothers cleaning staff is clogged toilets.



Many users try to flush more water when they clog the toilet.



As a result, water overflowed from the toilet bowl, requiring cleaning of not only the toilet bowl but also the floor, resulting in a large burden on cleaning staff.



To solve this problem, we sought the cooperation of a major housing equipment manufacturer to utilize IoT.



In the system developed by this manufacturer, a sensor detects the amount of water, and if the amount of water exceeds a certain level due to filth, the water will not flow even if the "Flush" button is pressed.



It prevents water from overflowing.



In addition, it notifies the cleaner's terminal of the information that "clogging" of the toilet has occurred.

We believe that the toilets that need to be cleaned can be identified at a glance, and cleaning can be prioritized. I am also looking forward to

Shoji Ogawa, Manager, LIXIL Business Innovation Department


"I've heard that toilets in stations and other places are used by an unspecified number of people, so it often happens that the toilets get clogged and the floor gets dirty with sewage. Work related to toilets in offices and commercial facilities is also extremely tight due to labor shortages.We want to solve the problem of labor shortages while maintaining cleaning efficiency and quality with new services.”

To be installed at the new station in Osaka, which will open next spring

JR West has decided to introduce a new toilet equipped with new functions using "IoT" at Osaka's "Umekita underground station" scheduled to open next spring, and will introduce it to other stations in the future. We are also considering introducing it.



Furthermore, since it can be applied to public toilets such as expressways and airports, he hopes to expand the business widely.

Mr. Satoshi Hashiba, JR West Railway Headquarters Innovation Headquarters,


"We used to spend a lot of manpower cleaning the toilets, but by changing to a notification-type operation, we think that the number of manpower needed will decrease, and the labor force will increase. We believe that we can also respond to the declining population.In the future, after confirming the effects of the new system, we would like to expand it to other public toilets and help solve social issues.”

New technology for station toilets: Pay attention to whether it will penetrate

We often hear that toilets are the “face of the company” or “the face of the facility”.



On the other hand, it may have been rare for businesses to prioritize spending on public toilets such as stations, but through this interview, new technology that not only changes awareness but also greatly changes the way cleaning is done. I felt born.



In addition, I thought that considering efficient operations from the worker's point of view would lead to the reduction of profits and costs for businesses in terms of how to continue with the declining labor force population.



The use of IoT to save labor and improve services is spreading in various industries.



Attention will be paid to whether the new technology of station toilets will penetrate.

Reporter


Tomoka Miyoshi Joined the Bureau in


2017


After working at the Nagoya Bureau, this August, he


was in charge of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and covered the railway industry, etc.