Robotic floor cleaners and vacuums have been a mainstay in U.S. households for the better part of two decades--mere child's play compared to emerging technologies in the commercial cleaning industry.
The Future of AI in the Commercial Cleaning Industry
To one degree or another, most people are familiar with the quirks and pains of the current iteration of cleaning robots.
The devices tend to be a bit clunky, bang against the walls, have little to no discernible logic behind their chosen cleaning route, and routinely get themselves stuck-- virtually eliminating the 'set it and forget it' concept behind automation.
Fortunately, the future of robotics and artificial intelligence is looking much brighter due, in no small part, to the billions of dollars invested in research and development by a wide range of corporations focused on several aspects of facility and occupant health.
A significant improvement in floor care has arrived in the form of three-dimensional mapping and location awareness--allowing automated floor scrubbers and robotic vacuums to map out a precise route, increasing efficiency, and reducing vital resource consumption.
Additionally, obstacle recognition, while not yet perfected, takes a critical step toward addressing safety concerns by allowing the automated floor care appliances to navigate around people and other moving or stationary obstructions.
A promising innovation in healthcare is AI-monitored handwashing stations which adapt to changing conditions to detect and provide immediate feedback on anomalous or insufficient handwashing by hospital staff.
Expanding this type of monitoring and feedback system into other industries, especially schools, childcare, and foodservice, will significantly reduce the transmission of dangerous pathogens and increasing healthcare costs.
Something a bit more conventional are internet of things (IoT) systems combined with machine learning algorithms capable of monitoring practically any aspect of a facility, analyzing millions of data points, and providing critical information to key personnel.
Practical implementations of this type of technology monitor facility occupancy and use, and cross-references that with additional information regarding soap, paper towel, and toilet paper levels to improve the efficiency of custodial services.
More advanced systems are capable of predictive analysis, going so far as to create cleaning schedules and assignments based on big data analysis.
Addressing Concerns and Criticisms Regarding the Implementation of Artificial Intelligence in the Cleaning Industry
Over the last few years, especially as technological innovations have improved, the concern over robots and automative services replacing human workers has grown--due, in part, to a misconception regarding the current state of artificial intelligence.
Many individuals incorrectly believe that artificially intelligent technologies can or will, at least in the near future, possess the ability to conceptualize, process, and adapt to current and changing circumstances and respond as a human would, which is incorrect.
AI-driven devices respond according to programming developed by humans, and can only adapt within the framework of their design, presenting a paradigm where efficiency can be improved by working in tandem with human staff, as opposed to replacing them, and serving the added advantage of freeing up staff for business-critical, higher-paying tasks.
Robots complement and augment labor.
The future will be robots and humans working together.
Robots substitute [labor] activities, but do not replace jobs.
Automation provides the opportunity for humans to focus on higher-skilled, higher-quality, and higher-paid tasks.
References & Resources
- Artificial Intelligence and Cleaning
- AI Helps Track Hospital Hand Hygiene
- How Artificial Intelligence is Reshaping Facilities Management
- 7 Ways Artificial Intelligence Is the Future of FM
Automation does not replace the need for human labor; it compliments it and frees human workers' time to focus on critical tasks without the burden and consequences of physically repetitive work.
While certain technologies are just emerging, many are currently available to commercial businesses and consumers that can significantly improve the cleanliness and hygiene of floors and other surfaces while enhancing the management of human and natural resources assigned to the maintenance of various facilities.
The task of implementing and maintaining these technologies, as well as the facilities they monitor and clean, can be daunting.
Outsourcing to a vendor with the resources necessary to provide skilled management and labor, as well as ongoing training and staff augmentation is critical to rapidly onboarding these services without breaking your financial bottom line.
If you would like more information regarding the management or installation of facilities monitoring systems or automated cleaning systems, or if you would like to schedule a free, no-obligation walkthrough of your organization's facilities, contact us today for a free quote!
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