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The Internet of Things: What It Does and How It Can Help Your Self-Storage Operation

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The phrase “Internet of Things” (IoT) has become fairly common over the past couple of years, but some of us are still struggling to understand what it really means and how it applies to the self-storage industry. What is IoT and how can it help your operation?

When it comes to customer service and operational efficiency, technology is creating new and exciting opportunities that benefit self-storage operators and their tenants. For example, kiosks, online-rental tools and other contact-free solutions have become expected features of the user experience, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. Facility-management software has evolved to improve productivity, expediting the billing and payment process, minimizing delinquency, streamlining overlocks, and much more.

One of the more recent technological advances being applied in self-storage and lots of other industries is the Internet of Things (IoT), a wireless network of physical devices that use sensors and software to connect and exchange data online. Functioning without any human intervention, the IoT provides valuable information you can use to understand and make decisions about your business. The options available today are easy to install and offer real-time data on the overall health of a facility. Let’s see what it does and how it can help your property.

What It Does

In self-storage, IoT technology sets out to answer one main question: How’s my facility doing? Operators who implement IoT solutions gain access to information for their entire physical environment. The connected devices can tell you about:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Pest activity
  • Door/unit status
  • Gate status
  • Water leaks
  • Tenant movement

The critical benefit of IoT in monitoring grounds, buildings and individual self-storage units is accuracy. It can help pinpoint actual or potential problems, which allows you to be proactive rather than reactive, thereby reducing risk and maintenance costs.

Another key advantage is its remote capabilities. You can now monitor the general health of your facility without having to be physically onsite. Traditionally, it’s been a manager’s responsibility to walk the entire property multiple times per day to check for open units, cut locks and other unwanted conditions. Mobile-enabled, remote access eliminates that.

Installation

A typical IoT installation with a gateway and multiple devices takes about three hours. Since the devices are wireless and battery-operated, no electrical work is required. They’re often affixed using long-lasting, double-sided tape, and the batteries usually last about five years.

How to Access the Data

The data available via IoT is a treasure trove, but how do you get it? Usually, the information is reached through a dashboard you can access using an Internet browser or mobile app. You can also receive a weekly or monthly report showing short- and long-term trends, which’ll help you identify any discrepancies and why they may have occurred. You can even receive alerts based on individual preferences.

Long-Term Value

As of now, IoT is still largely just a concept in the self-storage industry. Once its value and return on investment (ROI) are fully understood, the adoption rate will likely soar. Savvy facility operators will quickly recognize its potential because they’ll have better control of their properties. IoT should also lead to lower expenses and higher operational efficiency.

IoT technology is poised to transform self-storage properties into “smart” facilities. It’s also future-proof, meaning the devices will continue to evolve as capabilities improve. These solutions will allow you to monitor facility conditions in real time, providing ownership, staff and customers with peace of mind.

Ben Friend is general manager of HowsMyStore.com, a division of HowsMyStuff LLC, which provides wireless monitoring solutions for the self-storage industry. The company’s easy-to-install and -maintain sensors are designed to help operators reduce risk, prevent problems and earn extra monthly income. For more information, call 401.932.6046; visit www.howsmystore.com.

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