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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.



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


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