While cleaning companies have been evolving with technology and adopting new automated machinery into their procedures, there has been a lot of discussion and rising concern around robots completely replacing humans in the cleaning industry.
Over the last year alone, COVID-19 has garnered a spike in new cleaning technologies emerging across the globe and in the usage of robotic cleaning machines. As industrial cleaning service providers plan for the new realities of their cleaning programs, technologies that help their teams clean more efficiently and safely are an important consideration. Our TEAM has evaluated the costs and benefits of robotic machinery as an effective cleaning solution for your workplace.
Finding the right balance between technology and humans in effective cleaning is more important now than ever. Keep reading to learn about the advantages, disadvantages, and our verdict on whether robots are actually as valuable as everyone says they are or if there’s still a crucial need for human labour in the cleaning industry.
ADVANTAGES OF CLEANING ROBOTS
MINIMIZE DIFFICULT, DANGEROUS, AND “DIRTY” WORK
Robots can play an important role in making work environments safer by reducing work tasks that lead to accidents and mistakes due to human error. Different technologies can be used to eliminate the need to have humans do some of the toughest and most dangerous cleaning tasks. For example, a robot can eliminate the need for window washers to dangle hundreds of meters in the air, for a human to clean hazardous chemicals such as radioactive sludge, or an inspector to crawl through a tight pipeline. It’s possible to let robots do some of the most hazardous parts of a job while humans stay involved in ways that aren’t as likely to cause harm.
New cleaning technologies such as Tennant’s T16AMR, ICE and Nilfisk’s robotic floor cleaning machines, can save businesses money while minimizing their environmental impact and maintaining the health and safety of their employees. By providing the option to reduce human hours in strenuous or time-consuming cleaning processes, robots can generate significant cost savings.
DATA & REPORTING FOR CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT
Data tracking is increasingly important and widespread across business and technology. The best way to optimize the cleaning process for best results is to utilize the tracking and analytics available with certain technologies. Autonomous cleaning technologies such as the Avidbots Neo™ can provide a high level of insight and performance measurement so we can monitor, manage and track their performance in real-time.
At TEAM Group, we utilize robots to access detailed reports of every cleaning operation, including precise productivity metrics and sector-level coverage maps. Issues experienced while cleaning, such as areas or aisles skipped because of obstacles, will be highlighted.
Additional metrics that can be tracked in these performance reports include:
- Total area cleaned
- Total cleaning time
- Water consumption
TEAM Group’s PDSS Paint Defect Solutions Software is another technological advancement that can be used to guarantee successful solutions. Meanwhile, Robinson’s web application suite platform and dashboard allows us to schedule tasks and generate completion reports that can be viewed by clients in real-time.
These technologies equip us – and our clients – with the information needed to improve the effectiveness of our cleaning operations and boost ROI.
Autonomous cleaning machines allow cleaning companies to clean areas more frequently without increasing labour costs. Robots can be used to clean high-traffic areas within facilities every day if that’s what’s required by a client, without having to depend on additional labour. They can also be used when increased cleaning is required to due COVID-19 concerns. In 2020, for example, the demand for Avidbots has increased by 100% due to the pandemic. It’s evident that the need for thorough, reliable and frequent cleaning has become priority and robotics may be the most efficient way of achieving this.
DISADVANTAGES OF CLEANING ROBOTS
INCAPABLE OF SEEING – OR CLEANING – EVERY DETAIL
While these cleaning robots may be great for facilitating many custodial jobs, they often require attention and assistance. What if something gets in the way of the machine? What if the machine can’t squeeze into a tight space? What if the machine experiences a glitch while cleaning? These are all possible issues that must be monitored and handled by skilled workers.
IT CANNOT PROVIDE SPECIALIZED SERVICES
One of the most significant advantages of human interaction is the ability to provide excellent customer service to clients. If a client is not satisfied with the work that was done, a worker has the ability to remedy the situation by offering additional services or re-cleaning a particular area.
As everyday technology continues to become more advanced, it is crucial to remember that these robots and machines cannot be relied on for everything we do. In the cleaning industry, in particular, there is little room for glitches since the safety of staff and workers are on the line.
NOT SUITABLE FOR ALL ENVIRONMENTS
Since robots are most suitable for specific environments, it’s always best to retain cleaning staff to ensure the proper cleaning of every surface and space. Here’s a list of where robotic cleaning does and does not work:
THE FUTURE VERDICT
It’s clear that there’s a need for robotics in the cleaning industry. But this need does not negate the importance and value of real workers. Autonomous cleaning robots should not completely replace cleaning staff but work alongside them as part of a broader team.
Skilled and diverse cleaning teams are more critical now than ever. Offloading monotonous and laborious tasks, like vacuuming, to a robot allows businesses to redeploy their cleaning crews to other important cleaning tasks.
At TEAM Group, we employ a happy balance between humans and technology to ensure the most efficient, cost-effective and successful cleaning procedures for our clients.