January 04, 2021

What to Know When Considering Autonomous Cleaning Equipment

Cobi 18 robotic floor scrubber cleaning hard flooring in office waiting room area

The cleaning industry is forecasted to grow at least 10% by the year 2026. 

This is big considering the average job growth rate across industries is estimated to be around 7%. This kind of growth requires cleaning companies to be creative and adapt to changing needs and standards. Especially in an industry with high turnover and absenteeism rates, making it key to address problems head-on. 

In a world where technology is omnipresent, more and more companies are turning to automation to help them meet challenges. 

Introducing robotic or automated equipment does not mean replacing staff; realistically, very few occupations will fully be replaced, only certain activities are likely to be automated, and in most cases, these are repetitive activities that can be offloaded to help humans get more done. 

Research done by McKinsey shows that “45% of work activities could be automated using already demonstrated technology.” 

This means functioning together and using smart technology to build cleaner, more hygienic environments and better working experiences for everyone. 

Features to Consider When Adding Autonomous Equipment to Your Team

Automation can serve to address growing needs in the industry, while also supplying a solution for high turnover rates and increasing expectations. 

To assess if autonomous equipment is a good fit for your business, there are multiple things you should consider. 

Examine Your Space to See if Automation is the Right Fit 

The first thing you will want to look at is the space that is to be cleaned since not every room or space is suitable for robotic solutions. There are several features that you should watch for when checking to see if automation will be a good fit. 

1)  One major consideration to take into account is floor space. The size of your facility and the type of facility are important to consider when choosing a robotic cleaning machine.

For example, larger autonomous equipment works better in faciliteis that have large open floor plans and 1000's of square feet to cover each day.

For smaller locations, like convenience stores for example, you will want to look for an autonomos solution that is compact, like Cobi 18 by ICE Cobotics.

Cobi is a compact robotic floor scrubber designed for smaller spaces and to navigate busy real-world environments like convenience stores or smaller retailers.

2) Not only the width of the space but also the level of the floor should also be considered. Very uneven surfaces are likely not suitable for autonomous equipment since they cannot navigate up and down stairs or other elevated parts of floors. 

Look for Features That Help Save Time and Ensure Safety

1) Delayed Start

Usually, you want cleaning to be done when there is the least amount of traffic in your facility. This means that cleaning staff often must work after closing hours or very early in the morning.

Finding employees to work these shifts can be difficult, but autonomous cleaning equipment is designed to help overcome this problem. 

Many robotic machines come with a delayed start feature. This ensures the machine can start working anytime you program it, even at night.

This feature gives you more flexibility since you can plan the task at any time of the day and the machine will start working without you having to touch it or even be around. 

2) Easy Set up

One important thing to consider is how easy it is to map routes with the machine and what is required to do so.

Some autonomosu equipment requires the distrubutor to send technicians to map the site. This can be time consuming for the user.

Cobi 18 is an option that can be set up by anyone. Cobi is incredibly easy to learn, and anyone can map a route, save it, and then deploy the machine. Plus, ICE Cobotics offers a vast library of online training mateirals should anyone on your team need a reminder.

This makes it easy for you to be in control of the time spent using the machine and cleaning your facility. No need to call in technicians to help get the job done.

3) Cloud-Based Storage

These routes are not only saved to the specific machine but are stored using Cloud-based software. This way, mapped routes are saved to the cloud and can easily be transferred from one machine to another. This is an important feature in an instance where a machine goes down or needs servicing. 

Since the routes and information are saved in the Cloud, the routes can be transferred from one unit to another. This prevents cleaning teams from having to re-map routes, meaning less downtime overall. 

4) Lidar Sensors

All the sensors function to scan the environment for any obstacles, like people or objects, so, the machine can safely maneuver around them.

Lidar Sensors use scanning and light reflection technology to detect obstacles in the robot's path, allowing it to maneuver around the obstacle. 

The cliff sensors are specifically designed to prevent the machine from falling off any edges or cliffs, which also ensures the safety of the machine itself. 

5) 2D & 3D Cameras

The 2D & 3D cameras work in conjunction with the Lidar Sensors to detect any obstacles that may appear in the robotic cleaning machine’s path.

The cameras are used to navigate the area, detect obstacles, and redirect or stop the device, as they communicate with the Lidar Sensors and other safety features in Cobi. 

6) Turn Signal Lights and Audible Noise

Turn signal lights work the way you would expect them to. Whenever the machine makes a turn, the signal light will automatically turn on to alert anyone around the machine.

7) Emergency Stop

Should anything go wrong, the emergency stop ensures the robot can always be stopped if necessary. The emergency shut-off button is in an easy-to-reach location and will stop the machine at once if there is any sort of emergency. 

Additional Benefits of Autonomous Cleaning Equipment

Beyond programming and safety features are the added benefits of bringing on robotic cleaning machines.

These may not be as clear as the physical features of autonomous solutions but are just as important to consider, as the long-term impact can positively improve the bottom line. 

1) Autonomous solutions can help reduce employee turnover 

Reasons for the high turnover rates stem from increasing focus on cleanliness combined with stricter guidelines resulting in an increased workload, unclear expectations for staff, difficult working hours (often after a building is closed), and repetitive tasks that can lead to a lack of interest. 

Robotics equipment, like Cobi, can help reduce turnover by taking on repetitive and mundane tasks so workers will be able to focus on more challenging aspects of their jobs.

This will increase the motivation of employees, decreasing the chances of them leaving. Robotics also share the workload, taking away a part of the time stress that many cleaners experience. 

In this way, robotics can aid employee retention by improving job satisfaction, performance, and overall work quality. 

2) Autonomous Solutions can help improve client satisfaction 

Autonomous cleaning solutions can be of significant use when you aim to deliver better results. They clean often and consistently, ensuring the cleaning checklist is completed and the work is done on the same level every day.

Besides this, they also enable staff to focus on other tasks that they otherwise might not be able to tend to, by taking over the most repetitive jobs.

With the help of cleaning robots, more work is getting done at a higher level, which ensures overall better results. 

Autonomous cleaning equipment also helps in delivering a confirmed clean. Being able to say that the job is done helps keep clients satisfied and, in this way, keeps them committed to the company. 

3) Autonomous cleaning equipment can improve staff efficiency and productivity 

Recent research by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) shows that a positive connection exists between the use of autonomous equipment and the productivity of staff.

Introducing automation to your team is beneficial for both the employees and their managers since both continuously aim to improve their results. 

Adding an autonomous machine to the cleaning process can be helpful in multiple ways. 

By introducing Cobots, autonomous cleaning robots, staff can have more time on their hands for other assignments. Robots take on repetitive tasks and will free up staff to focus on other high-value work. 

While the floor is being cleaned by an autonomous vacuum sweeper or scrubber, cleaning employees can tend to other things, like disinfecting surfaces or cleaning areas that the equipment cannot reach. 

Autonomous equipment can deliver more consistent results, while simultaneously allowing staff to work on tasks that otherwise might get skipped due to a lack of time. 

Not only will autonomous solutions increase the productivity of staff, but they can also aid in perfecting the cleaning process.

The best method for improvement is to know where you stand, measure it against where you want to be, and adjust your process to get there. 

ICE Cobotics is an industry-leading technology and cleaning equipment supplier, specializing in automation and all-inclusive subscriptions. .

Contact one of our equipment experts to get started!

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