A news round-up of stories in the FM sector
Medirest, the healthcare division of Compass Group UK & Ireland, is introducing 12 new cleaning robots to support several NHS hospitals across the UK. Medirest has partnered with cleaning specialist Killis to develop the technology, which is suited to large open areas in hospitals. The team has been trialling three of the robots within partner hospitals for over a year. Designed to support Medirest’s team of 3,000 cleaners, the robots enhance repetitive cleaning procedures in spaces such as corridors, freeing team members to focus on touch-point and cross-infection hot spots – forming the perfect ‘cobotics’ relationship. The technology incorporates a scrubber-dryer system, which uses 70 per cent less water and fewer chemicals than traditional cleaning methods, which helps NHS trusts to operate more sustainably – as well as contributing towards Compass Group UK & Ireland’s net-zero targets. The robots are now active in hospitals including Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University College London Hospitals NHS Trust, with more hospitals across the UK signing up to use the technology.
FM provider Unify by Bruntwood is launching a supported internship programme to aid people with disabilities and from disadvantaged groups. Working in partnership with social impact body Pure Innovations, which supports disabled people to find independence, Unify is offering up to four internships each year, giving people three months of experience with the potential to be offered permanent roles at the company. Operating out of Bruntwood SciTech’s Citylabs in Manchester, Pure Innovations approached Unify in December 2020, looking for placements after many of its work experience programmes dried up during the Covid-19 lockdown. Experiencing a surge in demand for its cleaning and facilities management services, Unify responded by offering a week-long work trial to a Pure Innovations candidate, Jamie Read. After completing his trial, Read, who has a learning disability, has been employed by Unify since March. The company has since welcomed its next intern from Pure Innovations to the group in April and is working towards becoming a Disability Confident Employer.
A tool that allows users to easily calculate how much bioenergy they can produce from biomass was launched yesterday (1 July) by researchers from the Energy and Biproducts Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University. Called the Bioenergy Mass-Energy Balance Model, the easy-to-use tool allows the user to experiment virtually with different biomass materials in several industrial processes including cement production, tea production and food processing to understand the potential implementation. Developed with the focus on bioenergy development in the Global South, users can simply and easily calculate how much heat or electricity they can produce from the biomass. The EBRI team based at the university that developed the tool introduced the model and summarised their methodologies at the online event. The project was funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office as part of the Transforming Energy Access programme.
Serco is taking part in a pilot programme at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Australia to reduce workplace injuries using wearable technology. Serco’s Safety, Environment and Wellbeing (SEW) team is trialling the use of body sensors with employees in its waste management, supplies, linen, catering and cleaning divisions who perform heavy manual handling duties, to identify how movement, load and time of day affect the risk of injury. Volunteers wear sensors on their backs and arms during their shifts. The sensors send data to a cloud-based dashboard that can be viewed by the SEW team to see which tasks have a higher physical load and how people move differently during shifts. The data can also be used by employees to measure their own movements and receive alerts when they move in an unsafe or inefficient way. The SEW team has identified risks for specific tasks as well as fatigue-related risks for 28 employees. SEW lead Chris Gifford said wearable technology has the potential to offer significant insight into the impact of certain tasks on employees which can then be applied to prevent injuries.
Air purification expert Rensair has partnered with the Central London Alliance (CLA) – a politically agnostic Community Interest Company – to support economic recovery in the capital in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. The company is offering free air quality consultations to help convert workplaces into Covid-safe environments for London’s returning workforce. The public is concerned about returning to their workplace especially as the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said transmission from inhaled airborne droplets poses a greater threat than from touching contaminated surfaces. So Rensair is offering free consultations on indoor air quality. Taking into account floor plans, existing ventilation systems and occupancy rates, the company determines if there is a gap between workplace air quality and that recommended by the WHO and UK SAGE Committee.
Velair is known for its innovation within the hand dryer sector. Its latest product is the Pebble Mini, sister model to the futuristic-looking Pebble, which Velair describes as the “first and only true multi-product plug-and-play hand dryer”. Boasting the same sleek design and scratch-resistant UV-coated finish, the environmentally friendly Pebble Mini produces only 140kg of carbon emissions a year. It also offers antimicrobial protection, owing to its ION PURE technology. The compact Pebble Mini is as small as it is robust, having scored a maximum rating of 10 on the IK impact resistance scale. With the simple Terra4 docking station included, once installed the Pebble does not require skilled labour to replace, repair, service, or upgrade. The whole thing is wrapped up with a 24-hour, three-year replacement manufacturer’s warranty.
Redwigwam has won its biggest-ever contract as demand surges for flexible workers across the UK. The Liverpool-based company provides fully managed, trained and flexible staff for a wide range of sectors including the retail, logistics, cleaning and hospitality industries, and has its own AI-powered staffing platform to match its database of 150,000 flexible workers with its 4,500 registered businesses. It has just won a contract that will provide employment for 10,000 temporary staff across the country in a variety of roles over the next six months. The range of roles includes warehousing, logistics, hospitality, cleaning and field marketing. Lorna Davidson, Redwigwam founder and CEO, said: “We know from listening to our community of workers that the traditional employment model is increasingly outdated. Flexible work is the future. We have all sorts of workers on our platform from working mums to students and they’re all looking for work that flexes around their requirements. We’ve got 10,000 roles to fill over the course of the rest of the year with this contract win and they all recognise the importance of flexibility.”
Noble House Prepared, a brand that delivers chef-prepared, restaurant-quality frozen dishes direct to the consumer, has extended its offer to meet the changing needs of the corporate catering sector as a result of the pandemic. Factors such as the high number of employees working away from the office on a daily basis, high costs associated with running a fully staffed catering team and the need to minimise food wastage all combine to enforce the appeal of a ‘micro market’. The brand has developed various formats to help businesses streamline corporate dining costs. This includes a partnership with a leading nationwide vending machine and micro-market supplier, enabling staff to select their frozen prepared meal of choice (plus a wide range of hot and cold drinks and snacks) and then heat to order. Alternatively, Noble House Prepared can supply a branded freezer (with professional microwave if required), which offers a choice of dishes from its comprehensive portfolio of starters, mains, sides and desserts.
Thoma Bravo, a private equity investment firm focused on the software and technology-enabled services sector, has acquired iOFFICE, the workplace experience and asset management software-as-a-service solution from Waud Capital Partners. iOFFICE enables businesses to manage their workplaces and optimise physical asset performance while enhancing human interactions with the built environment. Its solution portfolio combines employee experience with integrated workplace management system capabilities, as well as enterprise asset management and facilities maintenance platforms. Designed with scalability in mind, iOFFICE’s native cloud-based applications grow with clients as their needs evolve. It clients include Starbucks and Progressive Insurance.