Miami University Oxford Ohio Press Release

Miami University Saves Over 5 Hours a Day Using Cobi 18

Cobi 18, robotic scrubber, cleans Miami University McVey Data Science Center
THE OVERVIEW

Operational Excellence and State-of-the-Art Learning Facilities

Miami University in Oxford, Ohio sits on 2,138 acres that encompass 154 buildings and residence halls. The university is one of the top 50 national public universities and each year over 18,000 students flock to the main campus.

The university is known for holding itself to high standards when supporting excellence across all departments.

Its most recent effort to provide the most advanced and state-of-the-art learning facilities for students includes the construction of two new buildings on campus, the Clinical Health Science and Wellness facility, and the McVey Data Science facility.

David Wiseman, Director of Buildings and Special Services, has worked for Miami University for 24 years. He is responsible for making sure the campus facilities are clean and safe for all staff and students and that the environment is conducive to living and learning. His team takes pride in upholding the school’s commitment to excellence when it comes to keeping the campus clean and conducive to learning and living. 

David oversees 13 District Managers who then oversee janitorial employees across the campus. Of those building managers is Lacinda Harrod, who is responsible for multiple buildings on campus, including the Clinical Health Science and Wellness facility, and Jennifer Tillman, who is responsible for the McVey Data Science facility.

Together, David, Lacinda, and Jennifer ensure that the two newest buildings on campus exhibit a pristine shine. Their teams are responsible for cleaning restrooms, stairwells, common areas, kitchenettes, dusting, mopping, cleaning glass, and floor care. David, Lacinda, and Jennifer work to make sure their teams are supported with the right tools to keep buildings in excellent condition.

Becky Ramey, a Building Coordinator at the Clinical Health Science facility, notes that on top of being a large building, there are also lots of students in and out each day. It can be very hectic, which makes it important to have certain cleaning projects done before most students arrive. 

The Clinical Health facility houses many clinic rooms that require a higher level of cleanliness and must be sanitized regularly, plus the building has nearly 40 restrooms that need consistent attention. Between the expansive amount of space to clean, the strict levels of cleanliness, and the bustle of students, the building requires 24/7 attention and can be time-consuming to cover. 

“It’s a very big building with a lot of students in there every day, it can be very hectic in the building.”

Becky Ramey

Building Coordinator, Clinical Health & Wellness Building

For Jeff Bridgeford, the Building Coordinator at the McVey Data Science facility the challenges are slightly different. While the building doesn’t have to meet strict sanitization standards, it is constructed largely out of glass. 

Because of this, dust and fingerprints show up very easily and the windows and glass require constant attention. This is in addition to the regular cleaning that must take place each day. This can make time management tricky for Jeff and his team. 

Another challenging aspect of the McVey Building is the vinyl flooring on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the building. Scuffs and shoe prints show up very easily on the vinyl flooring making it challenging to keep it looking new. 

In addition to the size and complexity of the buildings, labor shortages have also been a challenge. 

Labor challenges led David to seek out new and innovative ways to support his teams and provide them with the best tools possible to complete the work efficiently and effectively.

SOLUTION

Free up Staff by Implementing Robotic Floor Scrubbers

While looking for ways to augment labor, help his teams meet the scope of work, and address the cleaning challenges in both the McVey Data Science and Clinical Health Science facilities, David decided to implement robotic floor scrubbers by ICE Cobotics.

Robotics are not new on campus, Miami University uses food delivery robots and robotic vacuum sweepers, so looking for additional technology options was an obvious next step. 

“Even before Covid, we were looking at technology. Covid and the ensuing labor challenges gave us a nudge to improve our position,” says David. 

David worked with ICE Cobotics to integrate two autonomous floor scrubbers called Cobi 18 into the cleaning operations processes at the two new buildings. 

While Becky and Jeff have used the Cobi units in the McVey and Clinical Health Centers since the buildings opened, both team members remember what it was like cleaning floors before using autonomous technology like Cobi. 

They have spent hours mopping in other buildings on campus and Jeff points out, “It’s a lot of wear and tear on your body.” 

In the new buildings, Cobi is used during both shifts and by the employees who work those shifts. The team members work together to keep the units charged, maintained, and ready to run routes as each new shift comes in for the day. 

Jeff notes that in the McVey Data Science Building, “we can turn it [Cobi] on and then go wash windows, and clean bathrooms while it’s running, we’ll poke our head out and check on it occasionally. It helps us out tremendously to get things done before students arrive and the building fills up. It’s been a lifesaver in that respect for us.”

Becky echoes Jeff’s sentiment and highlights, “We can start him and let him go and then move into the clinics and get those rooms up to the high level of clean that has to happen.” 

David is happy to see the team members adopting robotic technology. “It encourages me because our employees see we are trying to give them tools that make them more efficient and do not add more physical strain,” says David.

“It encourages me because our employees see we are trying to give them tools that make them more efficient and do not add more physical strain."

David Wiseman

Director of Buildings and Special Services

RESULTS

Happy Staff and Consistently Clean Buildings

Cobi fits in really well on campus with both the other robots and the students and staff. Becky and Lacinda often overhear staff and students asking where Cobi is if they don’t see him out cleaning, and Lacinda notes, “he is part of the Miami Family.” 

Jeff and his team named their Cobi unit “ICE” like Iceman from Top Gun, and they like how simple it is to use. 

“I like how you can just turn him on. He's preprogrammed to clean the floor, once you program it, and that’s an awesome feature. It’s simple to use,” says Jeff.

Jeff goes on to point out that by running Cobi on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the McVey building he has been able to keep scuffs and footprints to a minimum. 

“Cobi helps keep scuff marks down as it’s cleaning,” he says. “It’s a tremendous help to have Cobi there with the challenge of the flooring.” 

“I like how you can just turn him on. He's preprogrammed to clean the floor, once you program it, and that’s an awesome feature. It’s simple to use."

Jeff Bridgeford

Building Coordinator, McVey Data Science Building

David uses the i-SYNERGY fleet management system integrated into Cobi to track cleaning data and monitor progress. 

His goal is for each Cobi unit to clean at least 3.5-4 hours each day, essentially giving the teams back four hours of cleaning time daily. 

For example, one day Cobi cleaned for 4 hours and 17 minutes and 24,500 square feet in the McVey building and for 5 hours and 27,240 square feet in the Clinical Health Science Building, giving those teams at least an additional 4 hours to focus on other critical tasks. 

“I track the data in the i-SYNERGY app and it shows that we are saving on average about 5.5 hours a day,” notes David.

Having Cobi has helped the teams in both buildings meet goals and increase productivity. David notes that “Cobi allows us to maintain clean floors, while staff complete more complex work.”

David goes on to point out that he receives lots of feedback on the cleanliness of the floors in the Clinical Health Science building and the reason is they can devote more time to cleaning the floors because they have Cobi. “We can let Cobi run and we don’t have to have a person sitting on a machine and running it,” says David.

“Cobi is a lifesaver, we just let him go and it’s just wonderful. He’s part of our family over here.”—Becky Ramey, Building Coordinator Miami University

When asked if there is a main reason he’d recommend Cobi, David replied, “I feel like you can keep your floor cleanliness quality at a level that is going to keep your facility presenting well, and the folks assigned to that building can focus on other critical and complex tasks like bathrooms which need to be sanitary and glass which needs to be clean.”

“It’s really easy to use and the staff enjoy it, they have fun with it, and it has become part of the team,” says David.

“As a manager, Cobi is great! It’s less tedious, we set it up and let it go and I’m able to utilize my team in more critical areas.”

Lacinda Harrod

Building Manager Miami University

THE PROOF IS IN THE NUMBERS
5 hrs gained
each day

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