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Digital Pest Management

Pest management options for a digital generation
the view from a pest management expert

Globally, rats and mice can spread more than 35 different diseases. These diseases can be spread to humans directly, through handling of rodents, contact with faeces, urine or saliva, or through rodent bites. Diseases carried by rodents can also be spread to humans indirectly, through ticks, mites or fleas that have fed on an infected rodent. The impact to human health is only one aspect of pest management that needs to be considered.

Twenty percent of the world’s food supply is believed to be contaminated by rodents. In addition to contamination and/or consumption of food products, rodents can cause severe structural damage to facilities. A rodent can exert up to 7,000 pounds per square inch of pressure, allowing them to gnaw through actual structures and wiring. Statistics claim that 20% of unknown fires are suspected to be caused by wires that have been chewed or frayed by rodents.1

These are statistics than cannot be ignored

Twenty percent of the world’s food supply is believed to be contaminated by rodents. In addition to contamination and/or consumption of food products, rodents can cause severe structural damage to facilities. A rodent can exert up to 7,000 pounds per square inch of pressure, allowing them to gnaw through actual structures and wiring. Statistics claim that 20% of unknown fires are suspected to be caused by wires that have been chewed or frayed by rodents.1

What challenges are pest management experts trying to solve?

The challenge of delivering effective pest management while demonstrating a commitment to social and environmental responsibility can be difficult to balance. The use of rodenticides is a part of traditional pest management. However, the level of awareness of business managers and owners of having toxic chemicals and poisons employed throughout their properties has significantly risen over recent years and this shouldn’t be ignored.

This leads pest management professionals to consider other options. Basic rodent trapping is seen as an acceptable alternative to rodenticides, but by design these are labor intensive solutions and do not provide any form of deterrent if not regularly checked. Additionally, traps that are not addressed in an expedited fashion after a rodent has been caught can create a biohazard risk.

Although digital technology can be an appealing alternative, it needs to address the right topics and not just be technology as the latest trend. The reasons that a digital solution would be interesting need to align with the following topics:

"How can it be integrated into traditional solutions? Pest management professionals are not likely to completely transition away from their existing solutions unless the business proposition makes sense"

"As there is always a cost for implementing something new, the cost of implementation needs to be able to be recouped in the overall value proposition. And maybe even drive additional margin"

"A tool that provides the ability to refocus time for key problem areas and a more proactive vs. reactive solution to integrated pest management"

"Transparency as to what work is being done to share with end customers. In addition to them seeing a reduction in rodents at their sites, to be able to"

How did digital pest management solve these challenges?

Overall, the implementation of a digital pest management solution allows for closer cooperation with end customers. First and foremost, by providing the ability to visually show clients where the rodents were, how infestations are being controlled and then more importantly where they were not via heatmaps and instant notifications. Therefore, the movement of the pests between different business areas could be shown to accurately identify the root cause of a problem area. With the root cause established, tenants, landlord, pest companies and authorities were able to develop clear strategies to deal with mouse infestations originating from various locations which the site pest controller did not have the authority to access.

This transparency in communication can be built between the pest management experts and the end customer through more detailed information as to the performance of the traps, including false positive triggers and traps with a catch inside. By having immediate alerts, a dead rodent could be removed more quickly from its location, reducing the possibility for uncomfortable odors and further pest activity in these areas. Additional treatments were carried out immediately within seconds of activity notifications, and problem areas elsewhere in the facility received concerted proactive treatment while the remote monitors protected the routine inspection areas. All-in-all with the increased collaborative style, the end customers felt more involved and saw a higher value-add in external pest management.

How will this change the business model going forward?

Digital pest management allows for small to mid-size pest management organisations who do not have the capacity to develop a digital monitoring system to provide a solution to customers with a higher level of sophistication and reporting that their customers will come to expect. The outcome is that the end customers feel they are receiving a highly technical, higher performing service and this provides the pest management professional with a better platform to compete against larger firms on a more level playing field.

The top five attributes that allow for an up-leveled solution in the future are as follows:

  • The solution integrates with traditional pest management and does require a full swap out of what is currently being used. This is a value-added set of tools that helps to complete a wider range of solutions that can be offered.

  • A standardised, formal level of information to provide end user customers. This level of consistency ensures the appropriate expectations for the information they will receive and when they will receive it.

  • A cleaner more professional workplace due to the immediate alerts when a trap is triggered. Upon inspection, a dying rodent can be removed almost immediately instead of over an extended timeframe, which today can run up to eight weeks.

  • The Bayer brand name is helpful in showing the credibility of the tool.

  • Mid-size pest management organisations can now have the opportunity to work with end customers who previously only worked with larger organisations. The professionalism of this tool presents these firms in a very different category than is possible today.

“In summary, the time is right for a move to a digital solution”

More and more industries are going through a digitisation process internally and a similar solution from a pest management provider would be a welcome progression of a way of doing business that has not changed much over the last forty years. Increased information sharing leads to a closer more strategic relationship with end customers and can increase the longevity of existing contracts. The sophistication of the Bayer tool allows for up-levelling to serve larger customers that might be out of reach today.