WHILE THE STAGNANT economy has garnered lots of attention lately, two other issues—technology and the green movement—have also transformed the janitorial business over the past few years. In this Internet-centered age, practically every industry has been substantially affected by the huge number of technological advances hitting the market, and the BSC business is no different. Whether it’s enhanced software applications, high-tech sterilization tools, or simply smallersized machinery, enhanced technology is infiltrating every facet of our industry.
“At this point, most BSCs should be using technology in their daily operations,” says Michael Jenkins, President of CleanTelligent Software. “It is no longer going to be a question about whether a BSC is using technology, but how they are using technology to be adaptive to daily processes and client needs.”
At the same time, the push for the industry to become more environmentally friendly has also had a big impact on BSCs. These days, many cleaning products and practices are green and getting greener. What’s more, there is also a widespread shift toward improved sustainability. What BSCs are discovering is that both technology and the green movement are not only directly beneficial in their own right, but adhering to these principles also saves money. And improving the bottom line, especially in today’s economy, is something everyone can get behind.
New Sterilization Technology Could Revolutionize Hospital Cleaning
New disinfection technology developed in collaboration with an infectious disease expert could call a halt to bed-bug outbreaks in hotels and apartments, and it may ultimately help prevent many hospital deaths. Dr. Dick Zoutman developed Medizone, a vapor-andgas sterilization pump, in collaboration with Dr. Michael Shannon of Medizone International. The technology works by pumping out a mixture of ozone and hydrogen peroxide to sterilize an entire room. This technique is far faster and more effective than wiping down a room, as it kills bacteria on curtains, floors, walls, mattresses, furniture, and other surfaces in less than one hour.
Medizone is not the first sterilization technology to work by pumping gas into a room. What makes it unique is its ability to sterilize surgical equipment, along with the rest of a space, during one of its automated cleaning procedure. According to Dr. Zoutman, the technology mimics the very strategy that the human body uses to kill bacteria. An antibody attacking a germ produces a highly reactive compound by combining ozone with a minuscule amount of hydrogen peroxide. The mixture proves to be highly reactive and deadly to viruses, bacteria, and mold.
A major U.S. hotel chain has already shown interest in using Medizone to combat bed-bug infestations, since it could potentially save the hotel company millions of dollars in lost furniture. Similarly Medizone could be used as a new way to clean hospital rooms by eliminating pathogens that cause unnecessary infections and deaths.
Current Floor-Care Trends May Cost More than they Save
Results from an online survey conducted for Tornado Industries indicate that BSCs today are stripping and refinishing floors less frequently than five years ago. Because of environmental concerns and cost constraints, many clients are delaying refinishing cycles, while some have decided to forgo them all together.
However, survey results also indicated that delaying refinishing cycles or not refinishing floors at all can actually lead to the need for more labor and additional costs. Almost the entire sample group of over 60 building service contractors agreed that floors without finish are harder to maintain than routinely refinished floors. BSCs should help their clients consider the long-term environmental and economic effects of not refinishing their floors.
Additionally, the survey results showed that many BSCs could alter their choice of cleaning equipment to better accommodate environmental concerns. Respondents’ answers were about evenly divided as to whether they thought rotary-pad or cylindrical brushes are more environmentally friendly, but the majority reported that they used rotary-pad systems. However, studies from the American Institute of Cleaning have shown that cylindrical brush floor machines generally use less water and chemical than a rotary-pad system. Cylindrical machines are also easier to use, as they splatter less water and chemical on walls and other surrounding surfaces, a common problem with floor-care machines.
CleanTelligent Announces New App for Apple, Android, and Blackberry Users
This March, CleanTelligent Software released a new app for the cleaning industry that’s compatible with Apple, Android, and Blackberry mobile devices. The app, previously only available on Windows devices, promises to bring more mobility to the janitorial industry, while also simplifying quality control.
The CleanTelligent app is well-known for its inspection capabilities, and it’s a standalone device, so users won’t need an active internet connection to record inspections. The new app provides inspectors with all of the information they need to complete inspection of any building.
The app offers five aspects of an inspection: the problem, its location, the severity of the problem, details of the situation, and a picture of the problem. This eliminates the need for using paper and paper files to store such data, which not only saves paper, but also time and money.
“With mobile inspections, employees can instantly record detailed tasks and deficiencies,” says CleanTelligent president Michael Jenkins. “Businesses can then use the data to benchmark and measure trends to create goals for productivity and client retention.”
The software also features a “human signature” section, where users can enter signatures from supervisors and clients directly into the CleanTelligent database, greatly enhanicng record-keeping and tracking.
To learn more about these apps and other quality control software from CleanTelligent, visit www.CleanTelligent.com or call 801-375-0375.
Janitorial Equipment Demand to Reach $6.7 Billion in 2015
The U.S. demand for janitorial equipment and cleaning supplies is predicted to increase by 2.2 percent each year, starting in 2012. Based on this prediction, demand for this equipment will reach a staggering $6.7 billion in 2015, a tremendous increase from the decline recorded between 2005 and 2010. These gains have been driven by the fact that many companies are now replacing their existing janitorial equipment with updated products designed to improve ergonomic performance and worker efficiency. But due to the green cleaning movement, many potentially hazardous chemicals are not seeing such an increase in demand. Instead, these chemicals are being surpassed by newer, more environmentally friendly products.
Of all major product segments, BSC professionals should expect the fastest growth to come from manual cleaning products. This growth will be driven largely by product development and the growing number of business establishments in the U.S. In particular, the development of microfiber cloths will enhance cleaning-cloth sales, because they require very few cleaning chemicals. Newer and more efficient versions of wipes, squeegees, and wet mops also require minimal chemicals and are expected to experience above-average gains.
Through 2015, institutional cleaning is expected to be the fastest growing market sector. Many hospitals and other healthcare facilities are growing more concerned about minimizing the risks of cross-contamination and poor indoor air quality. This should boost demand, as BSCs in healthcare facilities are pressured to replace old janitorial products with newer models.
Green Seal Releases New Certification Standard
In August 2011, Green Seal released a new Standard for Specialty Cleaning Products, GS-53. This new standard greatly broadens the product types that Green Seal can certify, and it now includes many products that cleaning professionals use regularly. The standard is life cycle-based and includes special considerations for occupant health in institutional facilities, such as schools and nursing homes, where they are particularly vulnerable to communicable illnesses.
Earlier reports by Green Seal indicated that stakeholders wanted more certified cleaning supplies, such as graffiti removers, motor-vehicle cleaners, dish detergents, deck and outdoor furniture cleaners, and odor removers. In order to be certified under GS- 53, products must perform as well as national marketleading products and effectively clean common soils and surfaces at the least-concentrated dilution level recommended for routine cleaning.
The standard prohibits the use of several hazardous chemicals traditionally used in cleaning, such as formaldehyde donors, 2-butoxyethanol, phthalates, and heavy metals. GS-53 for Institutional and Industrial Cleaners offers purchasers guidance in what features to look for when selecting green cleaning supplies.
Carpet Cleaning Sector Makes Strides Toward Going Green
In the past, developments in green cleaning were driven, in large part, by chemical means. The primary goal of green advocates used to be to get chemical manufacturers to produce cleaning products from ingredients with a minimal impact on the environment. Today, however, facility managers not only want ingredients that are environmentally friendly, but they also want them to be sustainable and made from renewable resources. Green cleaning has also expanded to include many new technologies. In particular, improvements in green carpet cleaning have been made possible by both new technology and chemical cleaning agents developed from sustainable ingredients.
New developments in carpet-cleaning technology are helping to make green carpet cleaning easier and more effective. Today, when selecting a new carpet extractor, cleaning professionals have many new features and environmentally friendly designs to choose from. For example, new recycling extractors recycle water and chemical several times before the extractor has to be refilled. These use substantially less water and chemical than traditional extractors, and therefore, significantly reduce water and chemical consumption.
Many old extractors consume roughly two gallons of water every minute. New low-flow extractor systems use less than half of this amount. Cleaning professionals should look for low-flow extractors recognized by the Low Moisture Carpet Cleaning Association, as they are guaranteed to leave carpets dry within two hours or less, with 65-percent indoor humidity and at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Although most portable extractors have a box-style design, cleaning professionals now have the additional option of an upright dolly design, which was originally developed to make extractors more maneuverable. But studies have shown that upright dolly designs also aid in eliminating hose constrictions inside the machine, enhancing moisture recovery and airflow. Developments in wands have also made extractors easier and less stressful to use, as they remove moisture more effectively and with less strain than old models.
Aside from new technology, cleaning professionals are also starting to green their carpet cleaning techniques in several other ways. Today’s cleaning professionals are rejecting the traditional technique of mixing chemicals and water in their extraction tanks, and instead they’re pre-spraying carpet with chemical, which has been shown to use less chemical than old methods. Although using extractors is the most effective way to clean carpets, such heavy-duty methods are not always necessary.
Many cleaning professionals are taking up interim cleaning techniques, such as encapsulation, shampooing, and bonnet cleaning on carpets that have only minimal soiling. Interim cleaning methods facilitate short drying times and typically use less water and chemical than extractors. Additionally, many new green cleaning chemicals can efficiently clean carpets with cold water, cutting down on the large amounts of energy consumed by hot-water extractors. Opting for cold-water cleaning techniques also reduces the risk of releasing harmful fumes into the air by heating cleaning chemicals.
New Hand Dryers Blowing Away Older Models
Today, hand dryers have moved beyond their old reputation of being slow and ineffective, with manufacturers constantly working to go green with new hand-drying technology. And by improving drying times and lowering energy bills, handdryer manufacturers are beginning to alter the once-negative public opinion of these devices.
Because new high-speed hand dryers are designed to dry hands in as little as 10 to 15 seconds, they’re able to lower energy consumption. Many even have automatic deactivation devices to decrease wasted run time by shutting the hand dryer off when it is no longer in use. Plus, newer units operate on lower wattage than old models. A conventional hand dryer runs at about 2,400 watts, but the latest models can operate at 1,000 watts.
With the combined advantages of lower wattage and shorter operating time, manufacturers claim that some new green hand dryers consume 80-percent less energy than conventional models. Such energy-saving hand dryer models help facilities earn points toward LEED certification.
Americo Highlights New Maroon EcoPrep Product
Americo Manufacturing Company recently announced the release of Maroon EcoPrep (EPP), a chemical-free stripping and surface-preparation floor pad. The EPP is ideal for repairing floors before recoating, and the pads are available in standard rotary or oscillating machine sizes. Americo is a leading manufacturer of environmentally friendly floor pads, hand pads, and floor matting.
Maroon EcoPrep pads offer many benefits to BSCs. The EPP is environmentally preferred because it eliminates the use of harsh chemicals. What’s more, the pad is easy, fast and effective to use, which ultimately increase productivity, while improving floor appearance and providing for longer wear. The EPP is not only competitively priced, but since it doesn’t rely on chemicals, it ultimately reduces overall costs in the long run. -John Miller, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Americo.
Look for even more advances on the green and technology fronts as we head into the future. As long as these two issues keep evolving, they will continue to change the way BSCs do business.