The last 12 months have proven to be a pivotable point in our industry. The embracement and appetite for innovation through autonomous cleaning is like nothing we have seen before. This time last year during the first wave of the pandemic, we launched ICE Co-Botics – the industry’s first comprehensive range of autonomous floor cleaning machines. Now here we are 12 months on, and we couldn’t have imagined how well the range would be received and adopted – we now have well over 100 Co-Bots deployed in a multitude of environments.
It hasn’t been an easy road, but with a decade of experience and a tried and tested method, ICE now have the platform to educate and prove that automation isn’t about replacing operatives it is about redeploying that labour elsewhere, such as sanitising and thorough detailed cleaning.
During the pandemic there have been many sectors that have had to continue working, most at an extremely heightened pace, particularly in the areas of healthcare and logistics. These sectors have needed to operate under difficult circumstances whilst ensuring that the environments were safe and thoroughly cleaned, all at an appropriate distance. ICE Co-Botics can accommodate all these factors and then some. The Co-Botics equipment has been designed to integrate into cleaning team operations, picking up the manual and repetitive tasks, which then allows operators to focus on hygiene and sanitising activities to promote cleaner and safer environments.
Historically, cleaning has always been a back of house function, not to be seen, and an undervalued process. Given everything that has happened this last year this has changed dramatically. People want to see cleaning taking place, they want proof that the places they are visiting are both aesthetically and clinically clean. The public expect more from cleaning now – they want it to be front and centre rather than behind the scenes. Comfort is gained by seeing an autonomous machine in operation alongside a cleaning operative – providing complete proof of a clean and healthy environment.
We currently have machines installed and operating alongside cleaning teams in schools, airports, train stations, hospitals, logistics centres, manufacturing/warehouse facilities, and retail environments across the UK. And we are really seeing how the introduction of Co-Botics is benefiting facilities both from a cleaning and a cost saving perspective.
Airports across the UK have introduced Co-Botic equipment into their daily cleaning operations, which has hugely contributed to providing a safe travel experience and means that passengers and staff can be confident of the utmost cleanliness and hygiene levels throughout the airports.
But it’s not only airports in the transport sector who have benefited from introducing autonomous cleaning equipment. Train stations such across the UK have integrated robotic sanitising machines into their cleaning operations as part of a drive to re-instil confidence in rail travel, particularly in large cities.
In the area of education, schools have found that introducing autonomous equipment has resulted in increased efficiency as the Co-Bots are utilised to clean the corridor and hall floors whilst the valuable labour resource focuses on sanitising and deep cleaning.
We have also seen the adoption of Co-Botics in numerous distribution centres throughout the UK and Europe. These facilities use automation extensively, so have been quick to embrace Co-Botic cleaning and have seen huge benefits, including improved cleaning standards and real return on investment opportunities.
As the demand for Co-Botics continues to gather pace and more facilities realise the benefits that autonomous cleaning can bring, one key point to remember is collaboration. The key to successfully utilising Co-Botics is to collaborate with the cleaning operatives to ensure that the machines become part of the cleaning team, and are not seen as a threat or a separate function. This requires fully involving the front-line operators so that they see the real value of the machines as collaborating with them, not replacing them.
In these changing times, it’s clear that facilities service providers must achieve more, both in terms of productivity and quality, without compromising financial budgets. Therefore, we believe that investment in automated cleaning is not just pioneering, but essential for future cleaning.