ICE Ltd describes the last 18 months as a pivotal point for the cleaning industry, as the heightened awareness of a clean and safe environment, brought about as a result of the pandemic, has elevated the appetite for innovation in automated cleaning processes to new levels.
Historically, cleaning has been a back of house function, not to be seen, and an undervalued process. The events of the past 18 months have changed this 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 taking place behind the scenes.
The benefits of automating cleaning processes by using autonomous machines (or robots) working alongside cleaning staff are being more widely understood. That is the key, because automation does not mean replacing cleaning operatives but provides the opportunity to redeploy that labour elsewhere, for additional deeper cleaning. Whilst the machine takes the strain of the manual and repetitive tasks, trained cleaning operatives are able to focus on hygiene and sanitising activities to promote cleaner and safer environments.
ICE introduced its range of Co-Botics autonomous floor cleaning machines last year, during the first wave of the pandemic. It has continued to develop the range with models to suit varying requirements, as well as adding features such as auto-refill and re-charge service station for the Eco Bot 50 and Eco Bot 75 machines. There is also the UV Bot, which sanitises the environment using UV rays and disinfection mist to minimise the risk of cross infection.
ICE Co-Bots are being installed in many sectors, including education, transport hubs, logistics and warehousing operations, factories, retail and hospitals. Their presence, working alongside cleaning teams, provides additional assurance of a clean and healthy environment, helping to give the public peace of mind that large public places and transport systems are being adequately cleaned, with proof of this provided by fully integrated telemetry and cloud-based reporting on a clean-by-clean basis. They also enable cleaning staff to maintain social distance. The introduction of automatic cleaning technology is benefiting many facilities, both in terms of enhanced cleaning and cost-saving, as well as providing a positive return on investment.
As the demand for autonomous cleaning equipment continues to gather pace and more facilities realise the benefits that it can bring, the important point to remember is collaboration. The key to successfully utilising robotics is to collaborate with the cleaning professionals on the site 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 frontline cleaning staff so that they see the real value of the machines as working with them, and 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, ICE believes that investment in automated cleaning is not just pioneering, but essential for future cleaning.