The emergence of new technologies has resulted in the replacement of humans, with robots, in many industries across the globe, and the trend has hit especially hard on Long Island with the growing use of Intellibot Robotics floor scrubbers in schools.
Intellibots are known to substantially reduce custodial labor costs, as they can clean approximately 10,000 square feet per hour and run approximately 240 minutes on a single battery with barely any human intervention necessary.
For a human to clean that much space, it would take at least twice as long, and require more than three times as much water.
Intellibots, which are touted for cleaning entire schools with less than 20 gallons of water, have on-board computers that allow them to map out the areas in a school that need to be cleaned. The devices also feature sensors that can detect objects in its path.
These sensors help the Intellibots to safely move around stationary or moving obstacles, and avoid crashing into people or falling down stairwells. Additionally, the units have the ability to page a human operator if it runs into a problem it can’t figure out.
Long Island Taxpayers Weigh In
Long Island schools have been presenting lean budgets for vote by taxpayers, since New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo implemented a 2% property tax cap for all districts.
The cap was a true game-changer, as schools needed to quickly come up with cost-saving measures to prevent programs from getting cut. Intellibots are helping schools find savings in floor-cleaning costs, and Long Islanders seem to have mixed feelings about it.
“I don’t like the idea of technology replacing jobs when it cuts down on the comforting human element of personal interactions, but there’s not much of that when it comes to school custodians” said Glen Cove resident David Arslanian. “With jobs like bank tellers and toll collectors slowly getting replaced due to technology advances, I feel that those are far worse because those positions require far more human interaction with customers. When I go to a store or bank, I want to deal with a real person, not a robot. But the average person doesn’t ever see or deal with school custodians, so it’s a bit of a different dynamic.
“However, it’s sad that these jobs are going away and probably never coming back.”
Between elementary, middle and high school, most Long Island districts that feature a three-school layout have hefty custodial budgets, and Intellibots are helping to keep the taxpayer burden to a minimum due to the anticipated reduction in energy and water usage.
Ever-increasing labor costs is the driving force in the shift to robotics, and that’s certainly the case in commercial floor cleaning. NEA.org notes that the FLSA requires public school employers to pay at least one and one-half times a custodians’ regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in the workweek.
Intellibots, on the other hand, are robots that don’t receive weekly paychecks, let alone overtime pay. Intellibotorobits.com also explains that each robot can save an estimated 80% in labor costs, since they only require 15 minutes of human operator time for preparation before running their autonomous routes.
What does the future hold for Long Island custodians?
So far, in Long Island districts that utilize Intellibot technology for floor-cleaning purposes, they have only been implemented as custodians voluntarily left or changed departments. For example, the Locust Valley School District began using Intellibots this year, replacing a custodian who retired.
While that essentially means no Long Island custodians were immediately let go as the result of the implementation of Intellibots, it still adheres to the trend of technology replacing human jobs.
Eric Holden, a lifelong New York resident, supports the implementation of Intellibots in schools, because it will reduce the burden of school taxes on Long Island’s hard-working tax payers. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
Personal Source, David Arslanian