At GSF USA, our people are the driving force behind cleanliness at our customers’ facilities. Whether they are day porters, supervisors, branch or area managers, or work in our offices, they are responsible for upholding our high standards and maintaining customer satisfaction.
Some of our cleaning professionals are maintaining schools to keep children, teachers, administrators and visitors safe. Others are diligently cleaning and disinfecting commercial office buildings so employees can feel more confident while at work. And still others are overseeing cleanliness in medical offices and hospitals where health is paramount.
This quarter, we are celebrating 10 more milestone anniversaries among our team. Some employees have hit the five-year mark, others are achieving 15 years and one long-time team member is noting a silver anniversary for 25 years of service with GSF.
Congratulations and thank you to our loyal employees at GSF USA!
What has a brain but runs on wheels rather than legs? If you guessed a robot, you’re right! Many people are familiar with at-home robotic vacuums that sweep up soils and debris. In commercial settings, robots are also an asset. These autonomous floor care machines offer maintenance for both hard and soft flooring. Robotic floor scrubbers can tackle tile and wood floors, while self-guided vacuums can address carpet and other types of flooring.
Advanced equipment like this offers numerous advantages and a clear return on investment. With an increasing number of facilities utilizing robots for floor care, it’s important that managers and their teams understand how to properly integrate machines with employees.
How Autonomous Machines Support Employees
One of the main concerns around the increasing use of autonomous technologies is that they will replace the need for humans in the workplace. It is certainly not the case with robotic floor care and the cleaning industry. Robots still need some supervision by employees, who set these machines into place and start them on their floor care routes each day. For this reason, they are often referred to as collaborative robots or cobots. Cleaning professionals are instrumental for the successful operation of cobots and for completing other high-value tasks like disinfecting surfaces and addressing maintenance issues.
Robotic machines take away the majority of the repetitive motions and strain associated with floor care. They’re always ready for their tasks and diligently perform cleaning according to a pre-determined route, making sure to address all areas of importance. Robots are also incredibly productive and can help facilities reduce the chemical and water they use to clean floors. And lastly, one of the best advantages is that they deliver consistent results every time they operate. While the best employees can expertly perform manual floor care, automating this task can ensure floors always look clean.
Recommendations for Working with Floor Care Robots
Review the below tips for successfully implementing new floor care equipment and technologies in your facility:
Evaluate where the cobots will be used. Does your facility have lots of square footage that includes open spaces like hallways, lobbies, gymnasiums and mezzanines? If so, robotic equipment may be a good fit. Before investing in new machines, determine where the cobots will be used and stored. This will require you to shift the daily duties of your team, as they won’t need to dedicate as much time to floor care once the cobots are on site. If you have a strategic plan for where and when the equipment will run, you will be more likely to use it regularly and recoup your initial investment more quickly.
Conduct training with employees. Training is crucial for achieving the results you desire. It’s likely that many of your custodians have not yet worked alongside cobots. They must understand the responsibilities of the machine, as well as how to operate it, maintain it and respond to its status notifications. While the equipment won’t need much supervision, it will need to be powered on and set up in the space where cleaning will occur. Autonomous floor care equipment has mapping capabilities and allows employees to select specific routes depending on the floor and area. Conduct hands-on training so employees can interact with the cobots and how to address alerts during a route or after the cobot has completed cleaning.
Think big when it comes to sustainability. Robotic floor scrubbers can significantly reduce chemical and water use, thereby saving facilities money and reducing environmental impact. But facility managers can go one step further regarding sustainability. Consider selecting machines that produce an effective cleaning chemical onboard, known as ec-H2O™ Technology. This approach transforms tap water into a safe and sustainable cleaning solution that removes soils without leaving a chemical residue behind that can damage floors or require extra cleaning. According to a third-party study by EcoForm, ec-H2O supports green cleaning operations in seven categories: energy, CO2 emissions, ozone, smog, acid, eutrophication and particulates.
Carefully maintain your machines. Properly maintaining your robotic assets is essential for prolonging their lifespan and increasing ROI. Store equipment in a secure area of the building so that unauthorized personnel do not have access to it during after hours. Additionally, charge the machines regularly so they are always ready for use and can perform their intended routes. If the equipment requires new parts or troubleshooting, make these adjustments as soon as possible so the machine remains in good working order.
The Future of Floor Care
If you’re aiming for picture-worthy floors, you have to regularly address surface soils and keep the finish or carpet fibers in the best shape possible. Today, many innovative solutions can help cleaning professionals simplify their daily floor maintenance tasks. The use of robotic equipment is on the rise because it enhances productivity, ensures consistency and promotes customer satisfaction. By following the above best practices, organizations can successfully integrate robotic solutions into their workforce alongside hardworking custodial employees.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, facility managers have had to determine how best to disinfect the buildings they oversee. Some facilities remained open to the public and required frequent cleaning and disinfecting to address pathogens and instill confidence among the public. While many buildings closed temporarily, like office buildings, sports stadiums and convention centers, facility managers must have a plan for disinfecting as these facilities reopen for returning workers and scheduled events. Our considerations for disinfecting help facility managers identify solutions that meet their employees’ and visitors’ needs and enable more effective and efficient disinfection.
Disinfecting’s Role in Health and Safety
Cleaning is a necessary step for maintaining appearance in buildings because it helps remove soils from surfaces. Meanwhile, disinfecting is a method for maintaining health and safety. Disinfecting takes place after cleaning is complete. The process kills bacteria and fungi and inactivates viruses that can be transferred to people and make them ill. Some pathogens can live for hours or even days on surfaces like desks, phones, shopping carts, elevator buttons and more.
Regular disinfecting plays an essential role in upholding public health during a pandemic and even under normal conditions. In fact, disinfecting is frequently key to minimizing the scope and severity of outbreaks. The proper application significantly reduces the spread of germs that can cause SARS-CoV-2, influenza, norovirus, MRSA and other conditions. There are many different disinfecting solutions on the market, and different ways to apply these products. This can make facility managers’ roles even more complex.
Key Questions around Disinfecting Your Building
There are certain disinfecting considerations that every facility manager should review to maintain the safest buildings possible, including:
Is your disinfectant safe? There’s a reason this consideration is listed first. It’s the most important because many new products and application methods have emerged and gained popularity during the pandemic. Your disinfectant must be safe for your employees, your surfaces, your environment and your facility’s visitors. Look for a solution that will not irritate eyes and skin, especially since employees will regularly use this disinfectant. The chances are that if the disinfectant is safe for cleaning professionals, it will be safe for those entering your building. The best disinfectants don’t leave residues behind that can damage surfaces or fragrances and fumes in the air that aggravate conditions like asthma and allergies. Safe disinfectants support good indoor air quality (IAQ) and public health. Those made from water, salt and electricity, referred to as electrochemically-activated solutions (ECAS), are not only safe for people, they are safe for the planet.
Do employees know how to apply your disinfectant properly? Having the right products is critical, but so is using them correctly. When selecting a disinfectant and any non-traditional application equipment, like electrostatic sprayers rather than spray bottles, make sure that it will be easy to train employees to use these solutions. Employees will need to follow the manufacturer’s dwell time, or the time that the surface remains wet with the solution. Employees may also need to wipe the surface after the disinfectant is applied. In some cases, disinfectant will need to be applied more than once to keep the surface wet for the required dwell time. Adhering to these best practices ensures that the disinfectant can achieve its kill claims.
What is the expiration date of your disinfectant? Products work best if they are used ahead of their expiration date. This will vary depending on the type of solution you are using. For example, ECAS are most potent in the first thirty days. For this reason, building service contractors typically install an on-site generator in the facility to create disinfectant on demand. While it’s likely that your employees will be regularly disinfecting and won’t be keeping products on the shelf for too long, some facilities have stockpiled disinfectants to avoid shortages that occurred early on in the pandemic. Always use a disinfectant that is closest to expiration before using newly purchased solutions. Consider organizing spray bottles in your janitorial closet so the products nearest to expiration are at the front and easily accessible.
What is the anticipated frequency of disinfecting in your facility? The frequency of disinfecting is likely to fluctuate over time, given that cases of COVID-19 are declining in many areas, and winter typically brings an increased number of cases of cold and flu. Create a schedule based on factors like building occupancy figures, the number of days per week people will have access to the facility and the likelihood of illness transmission. This is typically higher in places like schools and healthcare facilities. Notify staff of their responsibilities and roles related to disinfecting and make them aware of changes in disinfecting frequency as soon as possible.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Disinfecting Your Building
When it comes to disinfecting, following best practices can lead to better results for your facility, cleaning staff and guests. Providing employees with safe, sustainable solutions is of the utmost importance. Equally crucial is training these cleaning professionals to correctly apply disinfectants, as products are the most effective when employees follow the manufacturer’s instructions. While different buildings will take different approaches to disinfecting based on foot traffic, cleaning schedules and other factors, it is necessary that facility managers have a clear plan in place for cleaning and disinfecting over the long term.
Don’t leave disinfecting to those who aren’t skilled to do it properly. At GSF USA, we have decades of experience cleaning and disinfecting. Contact us to learn more, and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest company news.