Having worked in school maintenance for more than 26 years, I’ve seen my fair share of accidents. It’s hard not to with kids running through the halls, pushing and shoving to get to class; lunch trays getting tipped over, and food and beverages awaiting a misplaced foot; or locker doors getting left open or slammed on fingers.

It’s no secret that accidents will happen—especially in such a busy and frantic setting as a school. But some accidents can easily be prevented.

A lesson in chemistry

Wet, slippery or sticky floors seem to be one of the primary causes of accidents—whether in a school, an office complex, a hospital or a retail facility. Throughout my maintenance career, floor safety and cleanliness have been my two biggest concerns. But for much of that career, it seemed that the two didn’t go hand-in-hand.

Then I learned about an automated foam scrubbing system that claimed it could actually make my schools’ floors cleaner and safer. I wanted to learn more.

The technology behind this system, though revolutionary, is really quite simple. A water and detergent mixture is injected with air to create a foam cleaning agent. The detergent is pre-measured so there’s no overuse of chemicals—my staff never has to worry about measuring and mixing the solution. In fact, this system uses 90 percent less detergent than conventional automated scrubbers. That means there’s virtually no slippery or sticky detergent residue after cleaning. And, the system uses 70 percent less water than conventional automated scrubbers, so floors are drier faster after cleaning.

Too good to be true? Guess again. During September, I purchased a walk-behind automated foam scrubbing system and started using it in one of my grade schools. For the first time, my staff was able to use floor cleaning equipment during school hours. There’s no concern about students or faculty slipping and falling, and the floors are safe to walk on immediately after cleaning. In fact, in the two years since I first purchased this machine, I haven’t witnessed a single slip and fall accident where the machine has been used. And the floors aren’t only safe, they’re clean—cleaner than I’ve ever seen them using mops and buckets or even conventional scrubbers.

Do the maths

What I like about this new automated foam scrubbing system almost as much as the safety it offers our students, faculty and staff, is the fact that in improves my cleaning staff’s productivity.

Because the chemical is pre-mixed in an easy-to-use cartridge, it’s simple for staff to simply attach it to the scrubber. They don’t waste their time measuring detergent or mixing solutions. And because the right amount of chemical and water are used, there are fewer empty/fill cycles, too. My staff actually gains about an hour of cleaning time per eight-hour shift because they don’t have to spend time refilling the machine. They just add water and go.

Plus, they no longer need to store and move those heavy drums of chemicals because they can just reach for a cartridge. And talk about productivity—one of those cartridges can clean up to one million square feet. It’s a fact that I experienced first hand when I realised we hadn’t changed the chemical cartridge on the scrubber in more than three months. Now there’s a maths lesson I actually enjoyed.

Preparing for the future

We recently learned that our school district would be opening several more buildings, bringing our school building count to 13, our student count to more than 11,000, and the total square footage of floors to be cleaned to more than 1.7 million.

Can you imagine cleaning that much floor surface with mops and buckets? I can’t. So I’ve now ordered four automated foam scrubbing systems that are riding machines. If I thought my staff’s productivity increased using a walk-behind foam scrubbing system, I can’t imagine how much more productive they’ll be when I bring in the four new riding scrubbers. Actually, I can. And I, for one, can’t wait for school to start.

FaST™ is Prescription for Safety and Productivity at Lahey Clinic

The Lahey Clinic in Boston is widely considered one of the elite healthcare facilities in the Northeast. The clinic has approximately 900,000-square-feet of flooring and seven floors that accommodate 3,000 patients per day. The facility is cleaned by Sodexho, one of the leading Building Service Contractors in the U.S.

“We have plenty of traffic through this hospital that makes it necessary to clean the floors everyday,” said Frank St. Peter, director of environmental services for Sodexho. “It is a huge job with a lot of demands for us to deliver great performance while continuously lowering our costs.”

To increase productivity and safety at the clinic, Sodexho purchased a Tennant 5680 automatic scrubber with FaST (Foam-activated Scrubbing Technology). FaST is a patented cleaning process that injects air into a water and detergent mixture to create a foam cleansing agent. Using less water and less detergent, FaST leaves just-scrubbed floors immediately dry and safe. It also increases productivity by 30 percent by reducing by 70 percent the number of empty-fill cycles per use.

The impact of the 5680 FaST machine at Lahey is impressive. “I used to drain and refill my machine three or four times during one cleaning run. Now, I scrub the same area without returning to the janitor’s closet,” said Bienvenido Faulkner, a Sodexho housekeeper at the Lahey Clinic. “Plus, the floors are immediately dry. It is much safer and so much easier without the chemical mixing and constant empty/refills.”