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Cleaning automation can provide tangible benefits despite shortcomings

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by Harikrishnan Venugopal , Research Analyst, Facilities Management
1 January 2017


Over the years, cleaning automation has gained more prominence in developed economies and many are contemplatingto shift from traditional methods.Robots canperform tasks such assweeping, vacuum cleaning, and scrubbing in a single pass. While industry veterans initially ridiculed and dismissed the idea of using robots, in reality, the robot revolution is turning out to be a lot friendlier and helpful.Robotic cleaners are distinguished based on their cleaning expertise such asfloor moppingand dry vacuum cleaning. Each cleaning and operating mechanism of robotic floor cleaners has its own advantages and disadvantages. Employing robots makes the laborious task of cleaning easier and time efficient.

Favorability factors for cleaning automation

Despite a very hard competition from manual cleaning service providers (which is very much in practice now), factors such as reduction in recurrentexpenses, safety, and quick access makes automation in cleaning, a favorable option.The demand is huge due to increasing cost pressure and importance of safety at work. Though the main competition is from traditional cleaning practices such asmanual cleaning with a boom lift, or water-fed poles, there is no comparable solution on the market for automated cleaning. To add up on all this, the robot cleaning equipment makers are confident that the cost factor will be a major advantage for them in the price-sensitive cleaning market.

Drawbacks in the traditional cleaning system

There are only limited methodologies in the current manual/traditional cleaning. The architecture oftoday’s office buildings around theworld islimitless with a large number of skyscrapers. According to a study, more than 30 percentof these buildings have glass facades.Cleaning these manually is time intensive and exposes cleaning personnel to considerable risk. In addition, there are many surfacesthat are difficult to access and cannot be cleaned at all. The costs for a facade cleaning depend on many factors, including the characteristics of the facade, total area, interval between cleanings, labor costs.For high-rise structures, safety becomes an even greater concern, which is why some companies are turning to automated window cleaning equipment. These machines can be operated using remote control to climb and clean the surface of the building eliminating the need to suspend a worker from a chair or lift.

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