Janitorial Automation, the Next Wave

As the U.S. economy inches forward, some facility managers have had time to take stock of the effects several rounds of budget cutting have had on the buildings they manage. Limited investment capital found its way into many budgets, so labor and supplies were often cut, rather than the preferred method of reducing labor costs through improvements in productivity.

Now that austerity measures have done what they can for most budgets, investments in automation are beginning to make real and lasting improvements, and will be seen widely in the cleaning industry over the next several years.

Simple cuts in labor hours are not sustainable without long-term damage to quality of cleaning and the degradation issues deferred maintenance results in. Without improvements in the quality of cleaning, building infrastructure and imagery in many cases will continue to suffer. Coming back from further years of minimal cleaning, the costs of replacement will begin outweighing the temporary value cuts in supply budgets and running on minimal crews offered as interim measures.

At 33,000 sq ft/hour, an Advance propane burnisher outperforms its electric smaller cousin by five and a half times. Automation improves your return on cleaning, paying for that investment quickly in most cases with large cuts in labor required. Labor represents 95% of many cleaning budgets.Reliable data from organizations such as the ISSA, show that about 19 dollars out of every 20 spent in the cleaning budget is invested in labor. Without increases in labor productivity, facility managers have been faced with cutting from about five percent of the budget or cutting labor directly. Labor that was necessary to maintain building minimum standards. Many buildings have simply gone without adequate staffing for several years.

Now, budgets are getting enough of a second wind that actual improvements in productivity - cutting labor without cutting necessary tasks - are becoming possible by investing in automation or taking on concepts like cooperative cleaning. If you invest in cleaning equipment, you are working on the 95% of your budget that is committed to labor. Changing the effectiveness of custodial labor with automation gives you payoffs that reduce the overall budget while increasing the definition of clean for your building.