The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Four Ways Robots are Helping to Address Facilities Management Challenges

Four Ways Robots are Helping to Address Facilities Management Challenges
11 March 2021
 

Amidst a myriad of safety concerns and government guidelines, facilities managers have turned to new methods and technologies to ensure better hygiene and to keep workplaces operational.

Among these innovations have been AI-powered, self-driving robots, specifically autonomous floor scrubbers, that have helped tackle the increased need for cleanliness in commercial and public spaces. Below are some key ways automated robots have proven their worth in light of 2020’s pandemic challenges. 

Michel Sprujit, Vice President and General Manager of Brain Corp Europe, explains how FMs can leverage the power of robotics in several applications. Brain Corp is an AI software leader that powers the world’s largest fleet of autonomous mobile robots operating in public spaces. Spruijt joined Brain Corp in 2019 and is responsible for partner support, team expansion, and the oversight of general operations throughout the region. Prior to joining Brain Corp, Spruijt held the position of General Manager EMEA at Ergotron. During his twenty-year tenure, Spruijt successfully built cross-functional teams and managed Ergotron’s growth trajectory in EMEA. He speaks four languages including Dutch, English, German, and Hungarian, and received a degree from Grafisch Lyceum Utrecht. 

 

"Robots enhance a business’ brand value by serving as a visible testament to smart operations, improved cleanliness and overall innovation" 

 

1. A Reliable Partner

 

Even before the virus struck, high staff turnover was a problem that blighted many sectors, with facilities management being no exception. To put this into context, a 2018 whitepaper put the janitorial staff turnover figure at a staggering 200 per cent, with reasons ranging from low wages to minimal opportunities for career progression. Under normal circumstances, this was a cause for concern; in the context of a global pandemic, issues like this come with a different level of risk.

By introducing user-friendly and reliable autonomous cleaning devices to work alongside existing teams, the impact of problems such as transient staff could be minimised. 

Thanks to centralised, cloud-based robotic software platforms, facilities managers are able to oversee multiple, vertically integrated robotic applications from different equipment manufacturers, allowing processes to be monitored and managed in one place. 

With consistent and reliable cleaning technology in place, facilities managers could be reassured that heightened cleaning challenges were kept under control. 

 

2. Re-Evaluating Cleanliness

 

COVID-19 has put facilities management in a difficult position regarding workplace hygiene: managers have found themselves under pressure to meet enhanced cleaning requirements without increasing costs, or over-extending existing teams.

Owing to real-time performance data and digital reports, it is now possible to accurately track cleaning operations. As cleaning operations can be remotely audited, it has become possible to evaluate hygiene compliance from a cost-benefit perspective. 

On top of this, robots enhance a business’s brand by serving as a visible testament to smart operations, prioritised cleanliness and overall innovation. 

As more facilities managers deploy robots, we can expect to see the industry begin to adopt a new approach to evaluating cleaning with a more accurate measure of cleaning performance and ROI.

 

cleaning robot

Picture: a photograph of an automated floor cleaning robot in an airport departure lounge 

 

3. Delivering Proven Cleanliness

 

It can be easy to establish a cleaning routine for a particular building or complex; the hard part consists of ensuring that such cleaning can be maintained to a measurable standard. 

Using self-driving robots, cleaning operations can be monitored and data collected on performance indicators such as: cleaning coverage, number of routes run, and percentage of autonomous usage versus manual. Visual heat maps showing areas cleaned can act as detailed visual reference points.

This data reporting allows routine cleaning performance to be optimized and verified. In the coming years, a greater number of facilities managers will use data insights to adjust their operations, demonstrate clear “proof of work” metrics and ensure compliance with established standards.

 

MSpruijt_BrainCorp

Picture: a photograph of Michel Sprujit

 

4. Gaining Productivity 

 

Robots have been crucial in freeing up additional hours of productivity which can be used for other strategic priorities. With automatable tasks such as floor cleaning and point-to-point delivery carried out by AMRs, ground staff can be redeployed to tackle higher priority issues, such as cleaning higher traffic areas and high-contact surfaces. 

Only a few years ago, robotic floor scrubbers, vacuums, and other self-driving machines that operate in business environments were seen as a novelty – an innovative solution, but not must-have devices. This attitude changed as the health crisis spread across the world and accelerated the uptake of mobile robot deployments. 

Robotic deployments have grown significantly in the past 12 months. According to data from Brain Corp, the AI firm powering the world’s largest fleet of autonomous cleaning robots, its machines generated 3.3 million hours of additional productivity for commercial businesses in 2020. This is up from 331,000 hours the year before.

With a greater number of robots having now been integrated into facilities operations to provide advanced cleaning and meet new levels of need and expectation, their value has been proven and their place in the future of facilities management placed beyond doubt.

Picture: a photograph of an automated floor cleaning robot in a supermarket aisle

Article written by Michel Sprujit | Published 11 March 2021

Share



Related Articles

University Researches AI Surveillance for Social Distancing Monitoring 

Researchers at Griffith University, Australia, have developed an AI video surveillance system to detect social distancing breaches in an airport without compromising...

 Read Full Article
Government to Invest in Robotics and AI Projects

The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy is to invest in 38 business-led projects to accelerate their robotics and AI technologies. Such...

 Read Full Article
Italian Airport First in the World to Receive COVID Five-Star Rating

Rome Fiumicino Airport is the first airport in the world to be certified with the COVID-19 Five-Star Airport Rating, by international air transport rating agency...

 Read Full Article
ABM Works with UK Airports to Improve Customer Confidence

Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports are reimagining the customer journey and introducing new hygiene measures to increase visitor confidence. ABM UK, a provider...

 Read Full Article
AI To Predict And Control Buildings' Energy Demands

BP has expanded its digital energy portfolio by investing in energy management platform, Grid Edge - AI technology predicts, optimises and controls a building’s...

 Read Full Article
I'd Rather Be Replaced By A Robot Than A Human Being

While people generally prefer to see jobs go to people rather than to robots, this preference reverses when they consider their own jobs. In that case, they prefer to...

 Read Full Article
Bolting In Bots On The Road To Smart FM

A combination of robotic and internet technology is transforming the efficiency and effectiveness of contract cleaning, writes Christian Berenger, who believes we are...

 Read Full Article
Ocado Deliver Update On Robo-Warehouse Inferno

Ocado's massive robot controlled warehouse in Hampshire was destroyed by fire on Tuesday (Feb 5). The company has now delivered an update to ThisWeekinFM -...

 Read Full Article
Harnessing The Power Of AI - New Book Launched

A much needed guide to AI is how RICS have described a new book by Katie King which focuses on AI in marketing but references facilities management - an area the author...

 Read Full Article
How FMs Can Harness The Power Of AI

Katie King, whose new book, Using Artificial Intelligence in Marketing, has just been published, has written exclusively for ThisWeekinFM on the impact AI is having in...

 Read Full Article