Robots are having a big impact on the cleaning industry, but it may not be in the way you think. Rather than replacing employees, autonomous cleaning machines are maximizing productivity, increasing reliability, and elevating janitorial employees’ skills.
Robotic cleaning machines can assume repetitive, labor-intensive tasks like floor cleaning, leaving employees free to focus on high-value jobs that require a human to complete. Those employees may value the opportunity to operate robotic cleaning machines, which can increase job satisfaction and skill sets. Additionally, using robotic machines can help minimize losses from employee absenteeism, high turnover, and equipment accidents.
While the advantages of autonomous cleaning machines are many, the machines may not be right for everyone. Here are some questions to ask if you’re considering robotics.
1. Do I have the right application and expectations for autonomous machines?
Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are most efficient and appropriate for wide open spaces that are cleaned for at least three hours a day (retail, education, health care, distribution centers, etc.), five days a week. Automated floor scrubbers can be trained to clean multiple routes per building and navigate around fixed objects. Additionally, with enhanced safety features, these mobile robots will avoid inclines and declines along with avoiding any new changes presented within the environment.
2. How well-positioned is the partner to enhance the technology as robotics change?
Robotics in the cleaning industry is very much evolving. Manufacturers are working to produce both machines and software that meet diverse needs. When considering partners, look for a company with a long history in the cleaning industry, plus the expertise and resources to update the software, in order to improve performance and functionality. It’s critical to work with a manufacturer that can provide direct service on an autonomous platform to avoid long delays and/or downtime.
3. Once the machine arrives, how quickly can we use it?
Once the AMR arrives, it can be utilized within minutes. With no outside programming needed, the machine can be taught an autonomous route or routes and be running with no operator shortly after its arrival.
4. Who will train my staff?
It’s important to partner with a manufacturer that provides training and deployment support to ensure proper robotic utilization. This can often include mapping assistance for your building, and streamlined route pairing (connecting of routes)to support a fully cleaned facility. Training should also support staff knowledge of reporting as well as the heat maps that are autogenerated with this cleaning technology.
5. What impacts will using robotic cleaners have on my cleaning staff?
Rather than replacing employees, robots work in tandem with cleaning teams. Employees will need to prepare areas for robotic cleaning machines by moving floor mats and, in some cases, pre-sweeping the floor. In addition, while the AMR is cleaning your hard floor areas, the cleaning team can be taking out trash, disinfecting touch points, wiping down windows, edge mopping, and performing additional tasks that are critical in supporting a clean and safe environment.
Robotic cleaning machines are changing the cleaning industry, but they’re not right for every situation. Be sure to research the capabilities—and limitations—of autonomous cleaning machines to ensure they are the correct fit for your facility.