Monthly Archives

September 2018

Robots are taking over campus (in a good way)

If you own a Roomba or regularly ask Alexa about the weather, you’ve seen how technology is changing the way we live. These advancements save us valuable time and energy and can help us be more productive.

They can be just as helpful for your school’s custodial and grounds management programs, making them more efficient and cost-effective.

The robot revolution is here, and, at SSC, we’re embracing it.

Here are a couple examples of how we’re using robotics and technology on our campuses.

Rain or shine, Chona gets to work

Meet Chona, the newest member of the SSC grounds team at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith.

The Husqvarna Automower has been running since the beginning of the 2018 school year and has been doing a great job, according to Grounds Manager Matt Rich. Rain or shine, the automatic lawn mower starts automatically at 6 a.m., cleans an area that’s marked off by boundary wire and re-docks when it’s finished.

This Roomba-like lawnmower saves SSC about 100 hours of labor per year, which can be rededicated to other areas of campus.

“The mower is very quiet, which is nice because we have restrictions about mowing on campus while classes are in session,” Rich said. “It allows us to maintain areas near housing and buildings that we couldn’t normally do.”

Rich and his team also partnered with the school’s engineering department, and he will be teaching a class in November about the use of GPS technology in the workplace, bringing in the Automower to show students how it works.

“A lot of students and faculty love seeing Chona,” he said.

‘An impossible place to get to’

Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences is housed in a recently renovated warehouse. Seven pod-like structures in the cavernous space hold classrooms and work rooms for students.

While walking on the second level and looking down at the pods, Unit Manager Gene Fritzinger noticed a problem: Over time those pod roofs collect dust and he didn’t have the equipment to clean them. Plus, the roofs don’t have railings, so he knew it wouldn’t be safe for humans to get up there.

“We just didn’t have access,” Fritzinger said. “We couldn’t reach them from the walkway. It just seemed like an impossible place to get to. … I cringe to think of someone walking on top of the roof. That wasn’t an option.”

So, he hired robots.

The iRobot vacuum cleans the roof each night, after everyone has gone home, and Fritzinger can pull up the video the next day to make sure it did a good job. It stays on each pod roof for a week before being brought down, cleaned and put on another roof. Fritzinger got the first robot about four months ago and recently bought a second one.

Not only is it safer, but it allows Fritzinger’s team to focus their time and energy on other parts of campus.

“When you’re in this business, dust makes you nervous,” he said. “Now the roofs always look great.”

(Top photo courtesy of Rachel Rodemann, University of Arkansas – Fort Smith.)


Want to learn more about how SSC uses technology to keep schools running smoothly? Get in touch with us today.

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