Ever since Rosey the Robot first wheeled across our TV sets, we’ve looked to technology to help us with our cleaning efforts, both at work and at home. And many wonderful advancements over the years have allowed us to be more efficient and more effective, while providing higher customer satisfaction.
Of course, we often hear the fear of automation and robots replacing humans, but the reality is much less dire. Technology gives us the tools to do our job more efficiently, and really should be embraced, not feared. Michael Schaffer, president & CEO of Tornado Industries, addressed this issue in a recent blog:
“Many people have knee-jerk reactions of fear and concern about the idea of robots taking over our industry. The truth is, that’s unlikely to happen in our lifetimes. Instead, innovation is just adding to the tools at our disposal to help us do a better job for our customers.”
I know I’m personally excited about some of the new technological advancements in cleaning because it will allow us to reduce our costs in the long run and increase our productivity. It also gives our team more time to focus on that personal touch at which they excel. And no one can deny it’s changing our market; in fact, the European Cleaning Journal predicts the value of the robotic cleaning market will hit an estimated $2.5 billion by 2020.
New tech has arrived
Have you met Xenex, the germ-zapping robot? Hospitals around the country are using this new robot to drastically cut the rate of hospital-acquired infections, a major killer in the United States. The device uses UV light to combat dangerous microorganisms that may survive even a thorough manual cleaning.
Many Europeans cities – and even a few U.S. locations – are experimenting with self-cleaning public restrooms, which use robotic arms that deliver UV light to disinfect toilets throughout the day.
And the technology of the Roomba has also made its way into commercial cleaning, allowing hands-free floor care. Some machines are now being built with Wi-Fi to automatically report time scheduling and maintenance needs.
So many of these new advancements are being driven by the Internet of Things (IoT), the overall concept of connecting everyday devices to the Internet to allow better control and automation. This includes everything from your refrigerator and toaster to your smart watch on your wrist. And the popularity is growing: Business Insider estimates 24 billion IoT devices will be on the market by 2020. Many cleaning professionals and those in charge of facility management look forward to the continued evolution of these devices. Doreen Bessert, custodial supervisor for Manitowoc County DPW, told CleanLink she’s ready:
“IoT will become a great time saver for staff. For example, preventive maintenance can be tracked on equipment, and empty/refill times on dispensers or trash receptacles. Staff will no longer need to check these items as often as they previously had, thus freeing up some of their time to tend to other tasks. I see being able to perform more project work on a quicker rotation schedule, which, in turn, will increase the facility appearance.”
Looking for what’s next
Here at SG360, we’re doing our best to encourage the next generation of inventors. As a proud partner with Jonesboro Public Schools, we’ve been excited to work with the high school robotics team as they come up with innovative new tech tools that may dramatically impact the cleaning industry in the years to come. These kids are incredibly bright and innovative, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with.
Even though I try to stay up on all of the latest technology (my kids might say otherwise), it’s hard to keep up with all of the latest advancements—but I also know there’s no stopping the march of progress. The best path for all of us is to embrace the coming changes and learn how to use these new tools to our advantage.
While we may still be a long way from Rosey the Robot, we’ve come a long way since the Roomba, and it’s fun to see where it all goes from here.
Dave Harvey is the president and CEO of SG360, a facility services company specializing in janitorial, facilities management and restoration services. What new technology is making an impact in your life? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.