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The Exclusive Magazine for the Building Service Contracting Industry Since 1981

Cleaning In The Midwest

Written by  Sam Burroughs

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Winter in the Midwest can bring many challenges for commercial cleaners. Keeping spaces clean and fresh while heat units are blasting and snow abounds is not always the easiest task.In this issue of SERVICES, we will tackle some of the challenges commercial cleaners in the Midwest face while updating you on all of the noteworthy news from the past year.

Looking Forward For building service contractors, advancements in technology, safety and training have all been important this past year. Tradeshows, which convened all over the country in 2017 to bring together the industry’s top professionals and distributors, honed in on the advancement of automation technology.

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The potential of automated cleaners, specifically floor cleaners, in the Midwest is almost limitless. Cleaning in the winter in the Midwest creates a unique nemesis for janitorial workers: snow. The constant presence of snow means that foot traffic is bringing in water, dirt, mud, slush and road salt.

Keeping floors clean is laborious. It can take up a lot of your team’s time and resources. But with the prospect of automated floor cleaners becoming more prevalent, this advancement in technology could allow winter work in the Midwest to become much more efficient.

It is estimated that the robotic cleaning market, which encapsulates all manners of technological advancement from automated floor cleaners to self-driving cars, will grow from 2.09 billion in 2018 to 4.34 billion by 2023, according to Markets Insider of Business Insider.

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THE POTENTIAL FOR AUTOMATED CLEANERS.....ESPECIALLY IN THE MIDWEST, IS ALMOST LIMITLESS

What this means is for BSCs in the Midwest is that, in the face of rising labor costs, they can more effectively allocate their human capital to tasks that require a person to be present, while monotonous, time-consuming and laborious tasks are done automatically.

While automated floor cleaners are relatively wellknown in the residential arena, the capabilities of automated commercial cleaners are continuing to be developed. Through a combination of the increased rise in use of automatic household appliances, an increase in labor costs and an increased emphasis on safety, the perfect foundation has been laid for this technology to flourish.

Automated floor cleaners can get that winter grime out of hard-to-reach areas by way of design. As technology develops, the machines can be customized to fit into commercial spaces, such as the technology used to make the cleaners for shipping containers, according to Markets Insider.

For BSCs in the Midwest, the advancement of this technology also means reallocating employees. As the machines collect the dirt, snow and debris, the containers will have to be emptied and the machines will need to be monitored and run properly.

Employees need to be trained on how to transport the automated cleaner if it is not already located at the facility, how to set up safety barriers and signs while the machine is running, how to safely operate it and how to do basic troubleshooting in case of a problem.

This topic also brings up the question of quality control. Who will check a robot’s work? Most quality control training will translate, but some facility managers may need additional training when it comes to making sure the floors have been cleaned even in those hard to reach places.

This technology is also extending to cleaning windows as well. The window-cleaning robot sector, according to Markets Insider, is one of the sectors expected to grow.

In the Midwest, automated cleaning technology could not come at a better time. Winters can be messy and persistent, making usual cleaning tasks take up more time. In 2018, as labor costs rise, investing in automated cleaning machines may help BSCs better allocate people’s time for efficient cleaning during winter in the Midwest.

News from the Midwest For the past year, BSCs in the Midwest have experienced a lot of changes that will affect the industry going forward.

On the topic of robotic development and its impact on cleaning in the Midwest, OSHA established a two-year alliance with the Robotic Industries Association and NIOSHA. The alliance is geared toward improving awareness of occupational hazards from both industrial robots and advancing robot technology.

This region, like many other regions, saw an ongoing emphasis on safety. OSHA extended the compliance date for electronically submitting injury and illness reports, giving more time for employers to become familiar with the system. The two-week extension, from Dec. 1, 2017 until Dec. 15, 2017, allowed BSCs to better learn the new rules and regulations for proper injury and illness reporting.

OSHA also recognized Worker’s Memorial Day at the end of April in 2017, participating in observance across the Midwest and the nation. Honoring American workers as the backbone of the nation’s prosperity became an important moment during conversations of labor shortages, rises in cost of labor and other industry challenges. BSCs were among those commended for the essential service they provide, and those who have been injured or lost their lives in the workplace were remembered and honored as well.

News coming from the Midwest continued the conversation surrounding challenges and triumphs for the industry throughout the year.

In Ohio, the U.S. Department of Labor cited a roofing contractor for exposing employees to safety hazards that included falls, according to an OSHA press release. The contractor faced a $91,629 penalty. For the BSC arena, this helped continue the conversation surrounding safety in the work place - a number one concern for contract cleaners.

Five roofers were spotted by inspectors working at heights over 8 feet without the proper fall protection in addition to employees using nail guns without eye protection. The company was also cited for failing to train workers. Safety training is another important conversation being had in the cleaning industry, especially during Midwest winters when slip hazards can be increased by wet floors.

Whistleblowing was also a topic for the Midwest. In Illinois, a mechanic who alleged he was fired after stating concerns about unsafe working conditions received $40,000 in back wages, according to an OSHA press release. Safety is something that is taken seriously in every industry and the Midwest helped continue to lead the national conversation on the importance and seriousness of workplace safety.

Safety hazards, from a fatal grain dust explosion in Wisconsin to overexposure injuries, were taken seriously in the Midwest, applying to almost every industry and furthering the conversation surrounding safety training, prevention and proper injury and illness reporting - especially in the BSC arena.

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NEWS COMING FROM THE MIDWEST CONTINUED THE CONVERSATION SURROUNDING CHALLENGES AND TRIUMPHS IN THE INDUSTRY

In addition to safety hazards, the Midwest also led the conversation in effective training programs. In Illinois, operation engineers and Local 150 renewed their alliance to train and protect operators of heavy equipment, according to an OSHA press release.

This training may continue to expand and include operators of automated cleaning machines as technology advances.

From providing your workers with the safest workplace to advancing your workforce with the latest technological advancements, BSCs in the Midwest played an important role in the service industry.

In this issue Winter in the Midwest can be harsh, but cleaning can be harsher. In this issue of SERVICES Magazine, we will look at green cleaners, additional services you can add to your business model and other technological advancements that affect the BSC industry.

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