As we have learned, clean and healthy facilities provide the literal foundation for effective in-person education — from K-12 schools to university campuses. Due to the ongoing and unprecedented spread of COVID-19, today’s parents, staff and students are more aware than ever of the cleanliness, health and safety of their educational facility. Though schools have typically been a breeding ground for seasonal colds and flus, school cleaning services require new policies designed to allow students to safely remain in classrooms, even in the midst of a global pandemic.
This puts increased pressure and high workloads on schools’ custodial staff who are now responsible for deep cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in each classroom multiple times a day, in addition to their other responsibilities. At a time when labor shortages are at all-time highs, many school administrators are now left wondering how they can meet these new cleaning standards and maintain a safe learning environment for their students and staff.
Cleaning Robots Go to School
Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) can help K–12 schools and universities keep up with daunting new cleaning needs and requirements. AMRs are designed to safely and quietly navigate dynamic indoor spaces such as busy school hallways, classrooms and gyms during regular school hours. This new breed of robots is already hard at work supporting custodial teams in a number of schools, including Denver Public Schools and SAIT in Calgary.
Unlike older generations of industrial robots, Brain Corp’s robotic cleaners run on an advanced AI software platform, called BrainOS®, that enables them to follow complex cleaning routes in public spaces.
Cleaning robots, specialized in floor care services, can support new hygiene standards in schools in four ways:
Meeting Labor Challenges Head-On
School floors are some of the largest and dirtiest surfaces, and improper floor care can lead to a number of health and safety issues: slips and falls, bacterial growth and the spreading of viruses. That said, many of today’s educational institutions are facing both rising labor costs and a shortage of qualified, experienced and reliable talent to fill out their cleaning crew. With cleaning demands rising faster than professional cleaning resources, cleaning teams may find themselves overburdened and forced to make tradeoffs between the quantity and quality of their work — especially as it relates to cleaning floors. Enter cleaning robots.
Robotic floor scrubbers can take on the tedious, yet crucial, task of deep cleaning floors, increasing custodial staff’s bandwidth to focus on disinfecting high-touch surfaces throughout the school. Hence, robots don’t replace cleaning staff, they work alongside employees to make existing cleaning teams more efficient. BrainOS®-powered floor scrubbers use an incredibly intuitive touchscreen workflow that makes it easy for non-technical employees to quickly run and manage cleaning robots. Additionally, robotic floor scrubbers are often the same, or similar, to the core cleaning machines already used by schools. Since cleaning teams are typically familiar with existing equipment, adopting robotic cleaning teammates to fill the labor gaps is a relatively simple process.
Supporting Stringent Cleaning Demands and Requirements
The positive correlation between cleanliness and learning outcomes in the classroom is undeniable. Clean, orderly school spaces reduce faculty and staff sick-day absences and, in turn, lead to consistent instruction for students. Prior to the pandemic, U.S. schools spent an estimated $25 billion per year on teacher absences. With rising cleaning and disinfecting service expectations, robotic floor cleaners provide a solid foundation for consistent facility cleaning — giving schools the confidence that their spaces are cleaned thoroughly, every time, and addressing operational challenges around logistics and costs.
Keeping Schools Clean While Staying Within Budget
The heightened focus on facility cleaning solutions means schools must clean more frequently, which could require increasing working hours. Rising wages and changes to mandated benefits are additional concerns for school districts that may face even more budget cuts in 2022 and beyond. Floor cleaning AMRs add just a small incremental cost to a school’s daily operations, whereas repeated cleaning in a traditional manner compounds labor costs. AMRs enable frequent and consistent floor cleaning, allowing schools to do more to keep facilities dirt-free — even with high staff turnover — and stay within their budget, saving them thousands of dollars. They can also help reduce high costs of equipment damage from operator error during manual operation.
The good news is that there is financial help available to schools for purchasing cleaning robots through the CARES Act. This funding enables schools the opportunity to sustainably solve their labor challenges and future budget concerns while meeting their cleaning needs.
Tracking, Verifying and Reporting Cleaning Tasks
Making sure cleaning tasks have been completed thoroughly and on time is a challenge for custodial staff and school administrators across the country. AMRs assure school administrations that facilities are consistently and thoroughly cleaned, while also giving the school the option and flexibility to autonomously clean the floors more frequently — when they want with no additional cost. Brain Corp’s AMR floor cleaners feature integrated data capture technology that delivers near real-time performance and utilization tracking. This data verifies if and when cleaning has been done correctly, delivering quantifiable proof that schools are taking the necessary steps to mitigate health and safety risks. As part of the route and cleaning verification process, these robots can communicate directly with staff through the BrainOS® Mobile app, providing route updates, machine information, performance trends and notifications.
AMRs provide professional cleaning solutions that help schools deliver on their commitment to provide a top-notch education without compromising on keeping students and faculty safe and healthy. Learn more about how BrainOS®-powered robots can support the education industry’s cleaning needs by downloading our e-book.