The University of Maryland Aces the Test for a Clean, Safe, Healthy and Sustainable Environment with Help from Unger Enterprises
The Building Services team at the University of Maryland doesn’t hesitate when asked their goal: They exist to support the mission of the university to “provide excellence in teaching, research, and service” by providing a healthy and safe environment for learning. This is no small task: the team is responsible for 94 buildings, 5.4+ million square feet, 550 classrooms and lecture halls and 921 restrooms that include more than 4,600 fixtures, all of which must be cleaned and disinfected daily by a staff of 187 housekeepers.
The University of Maryland has a strong academic and research reputation and was recently ranked #22 among top public national universities and #50 in best global universities by U.S. News & World Report (2018). The University also receives honors for its clean environment, having recently been GS-42 recertified, the Green Seal Standard for Commercial and Institutional Cleaning Services.
As 30-year University of Maryland veteran and Executive Director for Building and Landscape Maintenance Harry Teabout III puts it: “We have always strived to be world class.” This is evident in the University’s approach to cleaning and facility maintenance.
The Challenge: Increasing Efficiency
Similar to other universities and organizations over the years, the University of Maryland has been faced with budget reductions which resulted in the need to increase efficiency and productivity. For the Building Services team, this meant doing more with less following a team headcount reduction of 100 full-time employees. The team needed to find a way to do things faster while maintaining its extremely high quality standards. They found the answer in a “team cleaning” approach with the help of Unger Enterprises, Buckley and Associates and Daycon Products Co., Inc., the University’s industrial distributor. That approach, which has been in place for many years, continues to pay off in terms of helping the university achieve more quality cleaning results in less time.
Before team cleaning, the University had no standardization across cleaning products and procedures and no synergies among cleaning products. In addition, they were dealing with eight to 12 vendors, which resulted in a broad range of disconnected products across the campus and a lot of headaches for the Purchasing department, which was spending 30 percent of its time buying cleaning products. Building Services realized that moving to one contract could save them thousands of hours while also giving them the consistency and standardization they lacked.
“This was an ‘aha moment’ when the team realized that we could partner with Procurement and articulate our Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) and floor care needs and move from bidding on individual products to bidding holistically,” explains Keith Gurley of Daycon Products Co., Inc..
The Solution: A Better and More Efficient Way to Clean
With the move to one contract, the University of Maryland brought in long-time cleaning partner Unger Enterprises to standardize their processes, procedures and products. It all started in the restrooms, which is a critical area for cleaning and an area where the most intensive training is needed for dealing with chemicals and bodily fluids.
“Restrooms are an area where the most complaints arise, but can also be an area of opportunity to showcase the cleanliness and health of an entire organization,” said John Lombardo, Vice President of Global Marketing for Unger Enterprises.
The University of Maryland began using Unger’s RestroomRX in the summer of 2017 and now have approximately 100 of these restroom work stations across the campus. The RestroomRX includes everything in one system – a Cleaning Cart (including vinyl trash bag, all tool clips and holders), 32-quart or 16-quart dual bucket system, mop holder, color-coded Micro Mop 15.0, telescopic dustpan, NiftyNabber®, swivel brush, toilet bowl brush, and duster – so that custodians have everything they need at the beginning of their shift.
“We organize the tools and make them easily accessible to deliver the right tool for the right job, and ultimately to significantly improve quality of clean, worker safety and productivity,” said Lombardo. “Ergonomics are key to the design to ensure worker safety and reduce workers compensation costs.”
Key benefits of the RestroomRX include:
- Safety – The Ergo Rail eliminates poor posture and allows custodians to maneuver the cart in and out of restroom entrances quicker and easier. A patented clip system ensures all tools have an identified position on the cart and are securely in place while moving down the hall. Custodians do not have to bend or reach to get tools from the cart.
- Efficiency – The Storage Module substantially limits trips to a supply closet to restock supplies, which increases productivity. The patent pending Narrow Tool Tower design allows all tools to remain within the boundaries of the cart.
- Cleanliness – Tools in the system, such as the Dual Bucket, Telescopic Dustpan and patent pending Drip Tray, are designed to deliver optimal productivity and cleaning results.
“This is one of the best products I have seen for getting a true clean and has increased our standard of cleaning across the campus,” said Byron Coleman, Operations Manager, Building Services.
Beyond the system itself, key to the success of the RestroomRX is that Unger didn’t just deliver the tools but also the processes to standardize the cleaning approach. Prior to team cleaning and RestroomRX, the University of Maryland used a zone cleaning approach in which every cleaner cleaned in their own way. With the Unger system, restroom cleaning is now a structured process with standardized tools and best practices, and the University conducts training every month to ensure compliance. “This approach allows every employee to be better than average,” said Coleman.
In addition to improving cleanliness, the RestroomRX system brought the University “consistency across the campus so that every customer walking into any of our buildings knew exactly what to expect,” added Sheryl Shamblee-Carter, Zone Supervisor.
When asked why Unger was the right solution for the University of Maryland, Assistant Director for Building Services Bob Pils explained it this way: “I’ve been in the industry for 30 years and Unger is truly on the cutting-edge of innovation. They are never standing still but always thinking ahead to the next innovation and customizing solutions for us.”
Final Graders Are In: A+!
Perhaps the most impressive result of the University of Maryland’s cleaning program is that despite losing 100 full-time employees from the custodial staff, the University experienced no decrease in the quality of cleanliness – a tribute to the efficiency and productivity gains of the Unger solutions and the Building Services team’s dedication.
A third-party study done annually by Sightlines backs this up, consistently rating the University of Maryland with top inspection scores in the housekeeping area. The most recent survey results show that the University of Maryland’s inspection ratings exceed their Big Ten Schools peers’ average.
The GS-42 re-certification, which helps with recruitment, is another proof point that the program is working. The University of Maryland was the first public university and the second among all universities in the country to be awarded the certification. The University reviews all of the products it purchases each month from a sustainability standpoint, and 82 percent are consistently scoring higher than the standard every month across all 94 campus buildings.
The housekeeping staff are among the biggest fans of the new cleaning system. Unger is providing them with the tools and processes to help them do their jobs more safely and efficiently. Over the past 5 years, the Building Services Department has seen a significant reduction in work process/ergonomic injuries.
Some of the biggest impacts can’t be measured. Some organizations don’t view facilities management as a revenue-generating business, but the University of Maryland Building Services team sees it differently. “If our grounds don’t look clean, we could lose prospective students,” said Pils. “You never know who is on campus, whether they are prospective students or future donors. The mission for us remains the same: ensure a clean, safe, healthy environment for everyone who walks on our campus or into any of our buildings.”
“Prospective students and their families may not recall all of the specifics of the academic programs we offer after they visit, but they will remember what the campus looked like and the feeling of whether they want their child living here,” added Teabout. In other words: You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
What’s Next: From Floor to Ceiling
In addition to the RestroomRX rollout, the University of Maryland is currently in the process of rolling out additional new systems from Unger. The University has begun using Unger’s Stingray glass cleaning kits, which clean windows 25 percent faster and use 39 percent less chemicals than traditional cloth cleaning, with approximately 35 being rollout out now. Glass is a major
architectural component of the school both in the exterior and interior of the buildings. The extension poles on the Stingray make it much more efficient and safer to clean up to 18 -feet high panels of glass. It’s also fast, easy to use and as the Building Services team explains “does the job the first time around.”
The University also plans to soon begin testing of the Unger Excella™ Floor Cleaning System, a flat mopping system with microfiber technology that improves ergonomics, efficiency and worker safety. A key differentiator of the Excella when compared to other flat mops is that the Excella handles all floor care needs – including damp mopping, wet mopping, dusting and finishing – in one single solution. Custodial staff can use the Excella for a variety of applications ranging from small spot cleaning to medium-sized rooms to large surface areas such as gymnasiums and cafeterias.
“It’s clear that Unger has been doing their homework when it comes to new product introductions,” said Pils. “It’s about innovations, and the right tools for the right jobs and constant reinvention.”
Gurley sums it up with a Wayne Gretzky quote to describe Unger’s mentality: “’I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ This is what Unger does in product innovation.”