The Benefits of Automated Cleaning
It is evident throughout the ICE Group that technology and innovation are at the heart of everything we do, and we strive to stay ahead of the game in both equipment and technological advances. We place huge importance on technology – from web-based service systems and ground-breaking equipment telemetry, to smart video technology and automated cleaning.
Automated cleaning today
Currently, automated scrubber dryers are being used successfully in a wide range of environments, including:
- Hospitals and healthcare facilities
- Schools, colleges and universities
- Food and high street retail stores
- Airports, over-ground and underground stations
- Warehouse and manufacturing facilities
The robotic scrubber dryers on the market today can clean not only open areas, but also environments where people are constantly walking around – demonstrating total obstacle avoidance, and safety.
Automating cleaning tasks is about offering flexibility, along with cost savings and improved standards, and many of our major customers are already enjoying these benefits. The feedback that we continue to receive is that using a robotic machine gives the operative time to do detailed cleaning, which often gets missed if they are spending time pushing a floor cleaning machine around.
It’s no secret that the cleaning industry has been slow to accept robotic solutions. However, it is now seriously gathering pace, and you only need to look at the difference between Interclean 2016 and 2018 to see that the industry is now getting behind robotic equipment.
Now that the demand is increasing, and more companies are realizing the benefits of automated cleaning, there is a need to continuously add new features and extra value. With the ICE Robo 3, which was launched earlier this year, we are now seeing mapping of cleaning zones that previously took 1 hour, now being completed in just 1 minute. Plus, it is now even able to drive itself to the cleaning start point, and clean multiple areas during one cleaning cycle. Operatives can also set the cleaning start time – meaning cleaning can be done at a time to suit.
Whilst human interaction is required to fill and charge the robotic machines currently available, there are several machines currently in development that return to a docking station to refill and charge themselves, so it will be interesting to see the impact that these will have on the industry over the next few years.
Challenges of automated cleaning
Initially, we have found that acceptance from the cleaning staff can often be a challenge, but once the machine has been installed on site and the operatives understand how it can enhance their role they fully embrace the benefits of automated cleaning.
In terms of costs, these are still typically higher for robotic equipment than for traditional scrubber dryers. However, with our purchase option customers can expect a 20% ROI over 3 years. Alternatively, the machine can be rented, giving a saving of around 22% over 3 years.
The future of automated cleaning
Undoubtedly, over the next few years the industry will see a greater choice of automated cleaning machines and increased competition. Currently there are several robotic machines in development from major manufacturers that will prove an interesting addition to the market. Robotics still plays an integral part in our strategy, and will continue to do so. We also see it as a real positive that more autonomous machines are coming to market this year as we really believe that this is the future.
There is also the element of interaction and user interface to consider. Now that we can clean complex floor areas quickly and efficiently, the next step is to utilize computers to provide a huge amount of management information as part of the Internet of Things. Remote management of automated machines is already possible, and an invaluable feature of automated cleaning, but inevitably this will evolve to provide an even deeper level of information.