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The Evolution of Robotics

The Evolution of Robotics

2016 was the “coming out” party for floor-cleaning robotic equipment at ISSA Show North America in Chicago. There were a handful of companies that introduced robotics that year. Some say 2016 was an encore year. There were efforts in the mid-1990s to bring robotics to floor care, but back then, they were very expensive, and didn’t catch on. Now, barely three years later, there are robotic units cleaning floors and charming building occupants. Jan Willem Tinge, the vice president of global marketing for Diversey, Inc., was part of the robotics “reveal” in 2016. He says the acceptance has been rapid. “At first, people were asking questions like, ‘Will robots replace people?’ And now they ask, ‘What kind of navigation technology are you using?’ It took just one year to get to the enthusiasm about and acceptance of robots. It’s quite logical. We know there is a labor shortage and staff turnover, and that people don’t aspire to be cleaners. Now, robotic equipment is becoming more affordable, particularly because of big investments from tech companies and organizations pursuing autonomous vehicles,” he said. Robots are becoming more mainstream. Linda Silverman, president of Maintex, reports: “In the last few years that I’ve served as a juror for the ISSA Innovation Awards, we’ve seen more autonomous equipment from all over the world. And we’re seeing more acceptance of these machines.” The “evolution” from cleaning floors by hand, to mops, autoscrubbers, ride-on machines, and now robots, is something that Pamela Voigt specifically talks to her staff about when onboarding robotic floor machines. Voigt, superintendent of custodial services/building operations for the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver Campus, was in on the robotics movement before most people, when approached by A&K Robotics, a start-up company founded by UBC alumni who asked their alma mater to help them gain insight on the day-to-day work of floor cleaning. When the trial period ended in 2018, UBC officially added robots to their fleet of floor machines.

What leaders are saying about the robot market

The answers vary from five to 30 when people in the know—the robotics champions in their respective manufacturing companies—are asked, “How many companies are currently in the robotic floor machine business?” Tinge said: “There are probably 30 out there with something meaningful in various stages of development, not including those with just concepts at this time.” He believes 12 are beyond the demo and installation stage and are actively selling robotic machines. One thing that experts agree on is that the competition is friendly; manufacturers are pushing each other forward. “The market is big enough for everybody. We encourage everybody from robot companies to jansan companies,” said Phil Duffy, vice president of innovation with Brain Corp., which provides autonomous solutions to transform manually driven products into intelligent machines. Brain Corp.’s equipment is installed on six different machine original equipment manufacturer assembly lines. Holly Borrego, senior director of cleaning services of C&W Services of Chicago, described it from the end-user perspective. “Everybody, from the robotics companies, to the machine companies, to the sensor companies, are working together to improve the concept. It’s nice to see manufacturers play well together and listen to us. I love the camaraderie in the industry. I think it’s been a great change in the industry in which manufacturers are saying, ‘Tell us what you need. And what are your decision parameters?’ I think they’re shaping a new way of understanding what we need. The robotics and technology have forced and propelled manufacturers to listen more closely.”

Is it ‘autonomous’ or ‘robots’?

It’s all so new that the jansan industry has not yet settled on a universal name for these machines. It runs the gamut from the Tennant Company’s “autonomous mobile robots” (AMRs) moniker, to the University of British Columbia’s “robotic autoscrubbers” (“robots” for short). The machines are not really autonomous—yet. Matt Fussy, director of product management with Nilfisk, explained: “There are different levels of autonomy. Right now, they are semi-autonomous, because they require help from operators who have to fill and empty, press the ‘start’ button, and manage the robot during its shift. It kind of mirrors what the car industry is doing, in that there are various levels of autonomy. A fully autonomous machine will eventually move the operator out of the equation, and ideally will navigate from and to, a charging station, fill, dump, and refill. I think the evolution will be more about being smarter and intelligent, rather than expanding into different products.” Within the world of robotic machines, there are several different types: Robots completely built from scratch; new floor machines on which robotic equipment is added on the assembly line; and existing machines retrofitted with robotic equipment. A&K Robotics produces the only known retrofit kit on the market. Matthew Anderson, A&K Robotics CEO and co-founder, said: “Our system is application agnostic. The ‘brain’ we developed can be attached to anything with wheels. It is a kit that goes on existing machines.”

Ideal spaces and locations

Today, robotic floor machines are predominantly used in large office environments, airports, health care, shopping centers, retail, universities, and manufacturing plants. While some experts recommend floor-cleaning robots for big areas, such as a space with more than 80,000 square feet cleaned on a daily basis, and large budgets, others suggest that it’s not just about facility type, population, or square footage. According to Dennis Collins, global product manager–robotics at Tennant Company: “These machines are changing the questions we ask about customer needs. It used to be about square feet. Now it’s, ‘When do you clean? How do you clean? How many people are here? How often do you clean?’ It’s more consultative.” He noted that Tennant talks more about obstacles than square feet. “From a bodega to a warehouse, it’s all about the process that the customer has. What’s best for the customer? And what are their expectations?” Everyone agrees that while a robot is in use, its operator can be doing other tasks. In an airport, it might be spotting carpet in the seating area while the robot runs on the concourse. In a university setting, it’s the detailed cleaning. “Our robot operators gain back one to two hours in a day, which is time that can be shifted to the detailed cleaning which is typically lower on the priority list. In that extra time, our employees dust blinds and bookshelves, clean floor vents, use grout brushes on crevices, and wipe down window ledges,” said Voigt. Borrego emphasized the importance of moving the labor hours saved by the robot to something else. “We’re able to take on some of the work internally that in the past we subcontracted to others. In some cases, we’ve added more things to our portfolio in order to be more competitive, such as high cleaning and dusting, interior window cleaning, carpet and upholstery cleaning, and power washing.”

Empowering and promoting cleaning employees

Robotic floor machines enable people to accomplish tasks at a higher productivity rate, often doing the work that the cleaners don’t want to do. “We’re trying to help create a world in which people come home from their jobs and feel energized and inspired to use more of their potential. When they are meaningfully engaged in the jobs they do, they are happier,” said Anderson. He continued: “When we train new users, we present certificates at the end of the training. People feel empowered. They often say, ‘I’m so happy to be doing this.’ And then they ask for more robotic machines.” Borrego shared that the prospect of working with robotic machines helps with recruitment. “The robot isn’t about replacing or reducing our headcount. It offers opportunities for employees to learn about robotics and other life skills.” Both Borrego and Voigt noted that unions have been receptive to robots. Voigt said: “We have a strong unionized environment, so when we were ready to start our first robotic trial, one of the first things I did was meet with the union. I explained that the robot would be used as a tool and would replace the mundane task of walking behind an autoscrubber and not replace workers.” Borrego says she hasn’t had any union employees come to her with concerns about displacement. “Robotics offer employees higher-skilled positions within an organization, such as robot fleet management. When we promoted one of our employees, she cried and said, ‘Now I can go home and tell my daughter I’m running a robot.’ ”

Interaction between humans and machine

Interaction starts during the demonstration of a robotic floor scrubber. Fussy talked about how prospective customers—globally—react. “Everybody seems to be curious about how the robot works, and if it’s safe. When we do demos, everyone wants to jump out in front of the machine to see if it stops.” Robots create new relationships between custodians and the people in the buildings they serve. On the UBC campus, students ask the custodian questions about the robot. “The student and custodian interaction elevates the custodians. More often than not, the custodian is ‘invisible,’ but when the custodian and the work they do is recognized, it’s a wonderful thing,” Voigt shared. Robots can take on fun identities. According to Tinge: “We offer the opportunity to do custom wraps on the robots, such as cartoon characters and customers’ branding. Our robots are deployed in a children’s hospital in Hawaii, where there are terminally ill kids. A robot there is wrapped as ‘Thomas the Train.’ It cleans, plays music, and the children look forward to seeing it. These little things are fun to do, gives the robot a human touch, and makes it less scary.” He continued: “When you think about it, we are really the first industry that has robots out in the open.” Voigt also said that their wraps are fun and quirky. “We like to make them interesting. For example, we have one that says, ‘I clean floors but I don’t write papers,’ and another wrap says, ‘I interned on the Death Star.’ ” Depending on the facility, some managers don’t like to run robots during daytime traffic because it can slow down the robot and reduce productivity. Conversely, one client asked its BSC if they could run the robot during the day, “So our customers can see that we’re technically innovative.”

New decision-makers

The decision-makers for the robots are different than those who are traditionally in charge of buying an autoscrubber. “Because of the expense, it goes farther up the financial ladder than other equipment purchases,” according to Rod Dummer, executive vice president and co-owner of Dalco Enterprises, Inc. “One lesson learned is to not make a decision for the customer. Show the machine, explain it, but don’t cross anyone off your list. You never know who might adapt it. And another thing to remember is that you cannot sell a robotics machine if the decision is price-driven.” Bryan Smith, senior marketing manager–Americas at Tennant Company, said: “Different people are getting involved in the discussions, such as innovation teams and public relations people. The decision-making about floor cleaning robots is moving higher up in the organizations that have more advanced strategic goals around innovation. Floor cleaning is becoming part of that conversation. There are definitely new audiences and new influencers.”

How do you know a robot is a good idea?

Now that robots have been deployed into real-life situations, people are already seeing a return on their investment. Borrego says their metrics show savings on repair, maintenance, and vacation hours. “Another advantage is, I can see everything about the routes the machine took. That’s very important for the validation of the cleaning process. If there is a slip-and-fall accident, we will be able to see exactly when the machine was in that area,” she said. And then there’s the precision factor, according to Duffy. “In every single test we’ve performed, the robot has outperformed the human. Robots calculate distance precisely, while humans tend to ‘eyeball’ things, especially at three o’clock in the morning when they’re tired. It’s much bigger than just the devices. It’s about accuracy, service, training, and certification.” The best part about having these robots is, according to Voigt, “being a leader in the industry with these innovations in custodial services. We already have cost savings and engagement between staff and students. I wish we would have done it sooner.”  
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Commercial Cleaning Services in Detroit

Thawing Out Ice Melt Confusion

In many parts of North America, building owners and managers are legally required to place ice melt compounds not only on immediate building entries but on nearby walkways and sidewalks as well. Typically, they turn to their jansan distributors and cleaning professionals to select the proper compounds to use and install at their facilities to promote safety and minimize their impact on floors, carpets, and the environment.

Because there are literally dozens of ice-melt compounds available and how they are used and installed can vary, this can prove to be a more difficult task than initially believed. The following is an overview of what these products are, how they work, and how to use them safely and effectively.

Ice-melt compounds are minerals that effectively reduce the freezing point of water. This is why they are used on walking surfaces during cold and adverse weather. They do this by attracting moisture to form brine, a high-salinity solution that generates heat, helping to melt the ice. Once this brine is formed, it spreads out over the surface and also helps break the bond between the ice and the surface, allowing it to be more easily removed.

Product Ingredients

Although there are many types of ice melts made by a variety of manufacturers, the active ingredients in most of these products are typically a combination of the following ingredients along with sand and clay to help promote foot traction:

  • Sodium chloride. Also known as rock salt, this is the most commonly used type of ice melt. However, ironically, it has limited effectiveness in extreme cold below 20°F. It can also be corrosive to steel, certain building materials, and concrete sidewalks, as well as damaging to nearby vegetation.
  • Calcium chloride. Similar to sodium chloride but more effective, calcium chloride removes moisture from the air and can work at extremely low temperatures, down to -25°F. However, it generally is more expensive than sodium chloride and also can damage nearby vegetation.
  • Magnesium chloride. Comparable to calcium chloride, this compound is less corrosive and far safer to nearby vegetation.
  • Potassium chloride. Although many fertilizers contain potassium chloride, when used as an ice melt, it is not necessarily safe for vegetation. The high concentration of potassium chloride makes it harmful to plants but effective at preventing ice buildup on walking surfaces. It is also less corrosive than some of the other ice-melt compounds already mentioned.

Application Best Practices

No matter which product or combination of ingredients is used, ice melts work best if they are applied before snow or ice accumulates so that they are in contact with the surface. This is why city streets are often coated with ice melt before an anticipated storm strikes. However, if applied after snow or ice has accumulated, the products can still be helpful, but will work slower with limited overall effectiveness.

Wearing gloves, apply ice melt thinly over the surface; use a fertilizer spreader for small areas or a walk-behind spreader for large areas. The entire surface does not necessarily need to be covered with ice melt. Further, the use of scoops and shovels to apply the ice melt invariably results in overuse of ice melt compounds, which can be costly and hamper performance. “Less is more” when it comes to using ice melt effectively.

Most manufacturers will list recommended amounts of ice melt to be used based on the area to be covered as well as climate conditions. If very cold weather or a severe storm is expected, manufacturers may suggest adding some water to the product to start the actual melting process more quickly. Typically, if the proper amount has been used and applied, the product will begin working within about 20 minutes.

Cleanup Issues

Although ice-melt compounds can help promote safety and their application might be legally required, they can be damaging to floor surfaces. Sodium chloride, for instance, can leave a white powdery residue if left to sit on floors over an extended period of time. Other types of ice melts can damage floor finishes and even create a surface residue that can become slippery when wet, potentially creating a hazard.

To help prevent this, cleaning professionals can remove ice melt from most floor surfaces by using a specialty product designed to remove the ice melt haze. Cleaning professionals should choose one that is a neutral pH balance cleaner and a certified green product to help protect the environment, themselves, and building occupants. The pH balance is critical; too high or too low of a pH can remove a floor’s finish while typical neutral cleaners are ineffective at thoroughly removing the ice melt haze from the floor.

First, remove any mats and thoroughly sweep or vacuum the floor area to be cleaned. Afterward, dry mop using a microfiber flat mop to remove any remaining ice melt and then apply the specialty ice melt haze remover. If using a quality product, no rinse should be required. Otherwise, the floor will need to be rinsed and rinsed again if any ice-melt residue remains on the surface.

In some cases, building managers and cleaning professionals find ice melts a necessary evil. On the one hand, they keep walkways and surfaces from becoming too slippery for foot traffic. On the other hand, their use can be damaging to structural surfaces, vegetation, and floors. But with proper selection, use, and removal, the benefits of these products can far outweigh their drawbacks.

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Commercial Cleaning Services in Detroit

Ebola: Prevention and Control for the Cleaning Industry

What is Ebola?

Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is the severe, life-threatening disease caused by infection with an Ebola virus. Many people who contract EHF die from it. Find ISSA’s official statement and suggested talking points regarding cleaning to reduce risks related to Ebola.

Worker Protection

Workers performing cleaning tasks in areas contaminated by symptomatic individuals with EHF or environments reasonably anticipated to be contaminated with infectious body fluids are at risk of exposure. That is why it is important to follow the worker protection guidelines set forth in the OSHAFact Sheet on Cleaning and Decontamination of Ebola on Surfaces—see below.

Appropriate Disinfectants

Use an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered disinfectant that is effective against a non-enveloped virus to disinfect hard non-porous environmental surfaces. Look for products with a label which claims to be effective against non-enveloped viruses such as norovirus, rotavirus, adenovirus, or the poliovirus.

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Commercial Cleaning Services in Detroit

The Difference Between Sanitizing and Disinfecting

In the cleaning industry, there are many misunderstandings about disinfectants and sanitizers. The terms are frequently interchanged in discussions, as many people believe they have the same meaning. Though they are similar, there are differences between sanitizing and disinfecting.

A disinfectant is a chemical that completely destroys all organisms listed on its label. The organisms it kills are disease-causing bacteria and pathogens, and it may or may not kill viruses and fungi. From a legal standpoint (U.S Environmental Protection Agency guidelines), disinfectants must reduce the level of pathogenic bacteria by 99.999 percent during a time frame greater than 5 minutes but less than 10 minutes.

A sanitizer is a chemical that reduces the number of microorganisms to a safe level. It doesn’t need to eliminate 100 percent of all organisms to be effective. Sanitizers do not kill viruses and fungi, and in a food-service situation, the sanitizer must reduce the bacteria count by 99.999 percent. Sanitizers are required to kill 99.999 percent of the infectious organisms present within 30 seconds.

If you are involved with cleaning food-service areas, then you’ll be interested in sanitizers. If you are involved with cleaning medical facilities, you’ll be more interested in disinfectants. If you provide green cleaning services, you may want to consider which one will have the least harmful enviromnental impact. If you just need to remove soil, you should consider using an all-purpose cleaner rather than a disinfectant or sanitizer.

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Commercial Cleaning Services in Detroit

Ten Tips for Tip-Top Carpet Care

Due to the global economic decline over the past few years, many cleaning contractors have been expanding their service offerings. Contract cleaning is no longer viewed as recession-proof; even so, it can be recession-resistant, and one of the ways to make this possible is to offer more services, including carpet cleaning. But before contacting your jansan distributor and ordering a new portable extractor, there are a few things contractors should recognize about carpet cleaning.

Let’s examine 10 important items contract cleaning professionals should know about carpet cleaning. There are certainly are more that can be added, but being aware of these 10 subjects can give you better insight into carpet cleaning.

No. 1: Training. Might as well as start with this one first. Carpet cleaning is both a science and a skill, and as such it requires contractors to have some quality education under their belts. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) is probably the leader in these training programs; however some national janitorial supply houses offer excellent training programs. It is important to know that just like refinishing floors, no contractor should learn how to clean carpets on their customers’ carpets. Learn first―then clean.

No. 2: Low moisture. A term you should understand is low-moisture carpet cleaning. The Low Moisture Carpet Cleaners Association defines it as any procedure that allows carpet to dry in approximately two hours taking into account climatic and other conditions. A low-moisture portable extractor is designed to use less water than a conventional extractor and typically has an advanced vacuum system to more effectively extract moisture from the carpet. Together, these features help carpet dry faster with less chance of mold or mildew developing.

No. 3: Hot or cold. Some portables are cold-water machines; others have a heating element that heats the solution to approximately 212 F. Both types of machines can prove very effective; however some technicians find that heat can make the molecules in a cleaning solution work more effectively.

No. 4: Stains and spots—there is a difference. If a carpet has spots in it, you’re in luck. Spots are soils or residue that generally can be removed with extraction or by using the proper spot remover. A stain, on the other hand, actually changes the color of the carpet. While correction is still possible, it can be difficult.

No. 5: The spot test. This term can be misleading. The spot test refers to testing a cleaning solution in a small inconspicuous area to be sure it does not cause damage, discoloration, or bleeding of dyes. This term also is common in upholstery cleaning and rug cleaning as well as other types of cleaning.1

No. 6: Pre-spray. Rarely do carpet cleaning technicians mix cleaning solution and water in the tank of the extractor. Instead they pre-spray it onto the carpet―one section at a time so it does not dry out―and apply more pre-spray to spots. Remember, the pre-spray also needs a few minutes to dwell to work effectively.

No. 7: Avoiding the call-back. It is very important in commercial carpet cleaning to clarify with the client if stains, spots, or soiling in the carpet may remain after cleaning. This helps eliminate what the industry refers to as call-backs―when the customer asks you to come back and clean the carpet again. Time is money in the carpet cleaning business, and avoiding call-backs helps ensure this add-on service is lucrative for your business.

No. 8: Equipment selection. Today there are many portable carpet extractors available. The best advice I can offer is to look for a manufacturer that has been in the business for several years, and possibly even better, has built the same or similar machine for several years. View portable extractors like computer software. Version 1.0 may have problems that are corrected in version 2.0. You want version 2.0 or higher. Also, a system with variable pound per square inch—or psi—allows you to clean more delicate fabrics such as upholstery and partitions.

No. 9: Interim or restoration. Very likely, you already perform interim carpet cleaning. This is the use of a low-speed floor machine to shampoo or bonnet clean carpets. Interim means it is an effective cleaning procedure between carpet extractions. Carpet extraction is restoration cleaning; the goal is to help restore the carpet to its original condition.

No. 10: Pre-vacuuming. This has become a forgotten step in carpet cleaning, and that is a mistake. Carpets should be vacuumed before cleaning. Vacuuming removes dry soils in the carpet. If dry soils are left in the carpet, the moisture from the extractor essentially turns them into mud, making them more difficult to remove. Pre-vacuuming allows the extractor to work more effectively and can improve worker productivity as well.

One additional point to consider is certification. It is a wise idea to not only learn about carpet cleaning but become certified by an organization such as the IICRC. Certification can open many doors for you. In the eyes of your customer, certification tells them you are a trained carpet cleaning technician.

1 Source: Scott Warrington, Director of Technical Support, Bridgepoint Systems
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Commercial Cleaning Services in Farmington Hills, MI

Floor Care Tips: Strip & Wax

While it is not unusual for Detroit, MI, to experience tough winters, the winter of 2014 was one of the worst in the city’s history. But Detroit was not the only city that suffered through a brutal winter; both the northeastern and southeastern United States experienced record-low temperatures and more snow than usual.

While the winter of 2014 made life difficult for millions of people in the United States, it also created havoc for many floors in schools, office buildings, convention centers, and other facilities around the country. Those floors that managed to hold up were most likely protected by a durable floor finish designed to prevent resoiling and applied by a well-trained cleaning professional.

A Year-Round Process

Even under ideal conditions, floors are exposed to contaminants and outside soiling, including salt and other ice-melt chemicals. Without adequate cleaning measures in place, such soiling can cause serious damage to even the best floor finish. Proper floor maintenance, especially during winter months, includes frequent cleaning, installation of high-performance matting, and damp mopping with a daily cleaner. If floors require more serious care, buffing/burnishing or using an automatic scrubber and then recoating the floor can usually remove soils and blemishes on a finished floor, restore its shine, and add a layer of protection.

If a durable finish has not been applied, floors can take on a darkened appearance. Even when a finish has been applied, simply polishing, scrubbing, and recoating are not enough to restore a floor’s appearance due to the volume of soil that has been tracked in. The best option in this situation is to strip and then refinish the floor.

Floor Stripping and Refinishing Pointers

Before going further into the stripping and refinishing process, facility managers and cleaning professionals should consider some basic floor-refinishing facts. First, before beginning any work, make sure winter’s havoc has completely passed, especially after a harsh winter such as this past one. Some facility managers in Chicago, for example , usually begin major floor care work in April or May. However, they are waiting until June this year just to ensure the cold weather is long gone.

Another practice to consider is to select floor care products―including daily cleaners, strippers, finishes, etc.―that are the same brand and come from the same manufacturer. There is often a synergy in these product formulations, meaning they work together well. This also can streamline the floor care chemical selection process.

Further, instead of viewing floor care as a cleaning task, building managers and cleaning service providers should recognize floor care for what it is—an investment. If done properly, a proactive floor care program can pay returns by minimizing slip-and-fall accidents, reducing costly refinishing cycles, helping to maintain a clean and healthy facility, and establishing the quality impression facility owners and occupants want to convey.

The Stripping/Refinishing Process

There are several steps to properly strip and refinish a floor. The first step is to clean the floor effectively before stripping. Sweep or vacuum and then damp mop the floor using a fresh mop. Change the mop head and rinse the bucket frequently to ensure soils are not being spread from one area to another.

When using strippers, gradually apply them in small areas to ensure the chemical does not dry on the floor. Be sure that a stripping pad has been attached to the floor machine, typically a low-speed buffer.

A wet/dry vacuum also should be employed to help remove the slurry left behind during the refinishing process. The goal is to ensure that soils and the old, damaged floor finish is vacuumed up and thoroughly removed.

While cleaning professionals should not cut corners, there are ways to streamline the process and move things along a bit faster. For instance, using a no-rinse stripper that does not require the use of a neutralizer can save time. Be careful that chemical residue is not left on the floor, as this can harm the floor’s appearance and impact the durability of the finish once it is applied.

When applying finish, remember that these chemicals dry from the top-down. Therefore, while the surface may be dry to the touch, the finish may not have dried thoroughly or hardened completely. Waiting 30 minutes or longer between applications should be sufficient in most cases, but the reality is that many environmental factors impact how fast finish dries.

As to the number of coats, view the first two coats of finish applied to the floor as the foundation. From there, three or four additional coats are typically recommended. Note that it is extremely important to apply thin, even coats of finish. This enables each coat to dry more thoroughly and harden, increasing the durability of the finish and creating better protection for the floor.

Beyond Stripping and Refinishing

Daily care is critical to maintaining floor finishes after the refinishing process. Many facility managers find it best to establish a daily floor maintenance program. PROimage Facility Services Inc. can help customers create this program, which should include regular sweeping/vacuuming and damp mopping, as well as buffing/burnishing and scrubbing.

Given the expense of flooring products and installation, floor care is a crucial investment for any facility. Implementing a proper daily floor care routine is an essential part of protecting this investment.



Contact PROimage Facility Services at (313) 387-1977 today! Your Facility’s Professional Image Is Our Business.


Janitorial Services in Plymouth, MI

Quiz: Understanding Hospital-Acquired Infections

During the 1830s, hospitalism was a term used to identify a growing problem in hospitals throughout northern Europe. It referred to diseases contracted by patients because of their stay in a hospital. Health officials at that time believed hospitalism was caused by poor ventilation; few believed in germs or cross contamination. Today, hospitalism is known as nosocomial or hospital-associated (or -acquired) infections (HAIs). We now know that along with other measures, hygienic cleaning can help prevent these illnesses.

The following short quiz is designed to test your knowledge of HAIs. After all, the more cleaning we know about HAIs, the better we will be able to prevent them. Take the test and then check your answers below:

  1. About how many people acquire HAIs in the U.S. each year?
    1. 100,000
    2. 500,000
    3. 1 million
    4. 2 million
  2. What are the total costs of treating HAI patients each year in the U.S.?
    1. Less than US$3 billion
    2. About $3 billion
    3. About $4 billion
    4. More than $4 billion
  3. What is the number of extra days a patient typically stays in a hospital as a result of an HAI?
    1. Five
    2. 10
    3. 20
    4. More than 20
  4. What is the average number of patients that die each year in the U.S. due to HAIs?
    1. 5,000
    2. 10,000
    3. 20,000
    4. 30,000
    5. More than 50,000
  5. Where are HAIs ranked among causes of death in the U.S.?
    1. 10th
    2. 12th
    3. Fourth
    4. Fifth
  6. What percentages of HAI cases are preventable?
    1. All
    2. 70 percent
    3. 50 percent
    4. About 30 percent


  1. D
  2. D
  3. C
  4. E
  5. C
  6. B



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Janitorial Services in Bloomfield Hills, MI

Cleaning for Health

If there is one expression that has become the motto, if not the marching orders, of today’s professional cleaning industry, it is “cleaning for health.” This all-important phrase was likely first coined by Dr. Michael Berry in his precedent-setting book, Protecting the Built Environment: Cleaning for Health. Since then, this concept has become powerful and significant—and rightly so.

Clean Evolution

At one time, our main purpose was to clean for appearance. But after Berry’s book was published, our industry was forced to reevaluate its primary function. We have now realized that our work and what we do for our end-customers is far more meaningful than just keeping floors shiny, counters wiped off, and carpets vacuumed. What we do helps keep people healthy.

While these changes were taking place, cleaning was also moving toward center stage in our industry. Cleaning to protect human health means reducing the negative impact cleaning can have on the health of cleaning workers and building occupants as well as protecting the environment. After all, what’s the point of having clean, sterile surfaces if people get sick because of the cleaning products used?

Around this same time, frightening public health scares, such as SARS, norovirus, MRSA, and other diseases, became prominent in headlines and news coverage throughout the world. Doctors and public health professionals were unable to stop the spread of these diseases and infections with vaccines or medications. Instead, cleaning professionals were called upon to provide health-based solutions aimed toward minimizing outbreaks and cross-contamination. In fact, one presenter at a Cleaning Industry Research Institute—CIRI—event even suggested that due to the connections between cleaning and health, the professional cleaning industry should be placed under the umbrella of the health care industry.

The link between cleaning and protecting human health is now a well-established part of the cleaning industry, lifting both our industry’s image and confidence and giving cleaning professionals a definite role and purpose beyond just tidying up facilities. However, this new role has also caused us to face a serious dilemma. How can we tell if we are cleaning to protect human health? As we all know, appearances can be deceiving when it comes to cleanliness. Fortunately, evolving methodologies can prove that visually clean surfaces are safe, healthy, and hygienically clean.



Contact PROimage Facility Services at (313) 387-1977 today! Your Facility’s Professional Image Is Our Business.