Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online
April 2014 Feature 1

Robotics And Hands-free Floorcare

Advanced autoscrubber technology can help operations do more with less.

May 2, 2014

Technology changes all things, and this is certainly true in the floorcare industry.

The autoscrubber was first invented in the 1950s to the relief of sore backs everywhere.

Since then, there has been a succession of improvements to the autoscrubber to make cleaning more efficient and less costly.

A newer autoscrubber advance allows the operator to clean either in a manual mode, or at the push of a button, to walk away while the machine continues to clean the floor and truly multitask.

Today, one person can scrub the floors and clean the bathrooms at the same time.

Robotic floor cleaning has been around for a number of years, but only in the last three or four years has it started to take off for both commercial and residential cleaning. 

Technology At Work

The technology that “drives” Hands-free Cleaning® is a combination of sensors and onboard intelligence that enables the machine to “see” the room.

Each time the robot enters the room or hallway, it determines the best way to clean and how to avoid any stationary or moving obstacles.

This real-time navigation allows it to easily adapt to changes in the environment — for example, a desk or cart moved into a hallway.

The onboard intelligence can also provide information available at the user's fingertips to make the job easier.

Performance reports can be sent directly to a computer or smartphone showing who ran the machine, the location, when it ran, if there were any problems or if maintenance is required.

In addition, remote diagnostics allow service technicians to monitor their machines 24/7 and provide remote assistance to reduce service calls.

If a service technician is required for an on-site call, he will know the service issue before he leaves the shop, making sure he has the right parts the first time, reducing downtime.

The Hands-free Advantage

Like cruise control on a car, Hands-free Cleaning is not the perfect solution for every situation.

However, it’s great to have when you need it.

Depending on the environment, the operator can easily switch between manual and hands-free mode.

Manual mode allows for traditional cleaning and works best for smaller areas with lots of obstacles like classrooms.

Hands-free mode is great for large areas that typically take a lot of time to complete, e.g. hallways, conference rooms, gymnasiums, etc. — time that the operator could be spending on more productive activities.

Maximum hands-free run time is typically around four hours on a battery charge.

Safety

Robotic autoscrubbers have an excellent safety record.

Multiple sensors surround the machines and are continuously scanning the environment for obstacles and people.

If a person cuts closely in front of the robot, it will instantly stop and wait for the person to move along.

If the person doesn’t move, the robot will slowly proceed around the person and resume cleaning.

If the robot can’t determine a safe route around the obstacle, it will remain stationary and call the operator’s phone or pager for help.

There are also sensors that prevent a tumble down stairs or off loading docks.

Improved Productivity And Consistency

Over the years, autoscrubbers have gotten wider and faster in an attempt to improve productivity.

Hands-free operation can take productivity to an entirely new level by allowing one person to do the work of two.

For even greater productivity, one person can run multiple machines at the same time.

Cleaning consistency can also improve since the robot covers the same area each time: No wandering, no skips and no breaks.

Doing More With Less

We all find ourselves at some point trying to do more with less.

Budgets are squeezed, expectations are changed and there’s never enough time in the day to finish the job.

Technology changes all things, and Hands-free Cleaning autoscrubbers are a new tool that can help an operation improve results more consistently while reducing costs.

 

Erick Frack is the president of Intellibot Robotics LLC, the leader in robotic commercial floor cleaning. Visit www.IntellibotRobotics.com for more information.