Inventors designed cleaning robots to complement human labor. These gizmos can do almost anything – from floor cleaning to window cleaning – at unbelievable speeds. Robots also eliminate the need to put a window washer at risk when hanging from a skyscraper. By taking care of repetitive tasks, robots allow workers to focus on thought-intensive tasks that machines cannot perform.
On paper, cleaning robots sound very promising:
- Dirt sensing
- Vacuum cleaning
- Wet mopping
- Auto charging
- Fall detection
- Gyro sensing
- Sensors allow the robot to work with minimal human intervention
- Cleaning robot finds its way around obstacles
- The ultraviolet light that kills bacteria and viruses
- The HEPA filter can capture 99.97% of all particulate matter greater than 0.3 micrometer
- Tank controls the amount of water that the mop needs, so there are no spills on the floor
The true limitations of a cleaning robot become apparent when tested in an actual home.
While a robot can effectively sweep low-traffic areas, it is not built for heavy-duty cleaning. Dry leaves and other debris often get entangled in the robot brushes. When there is so much dust, the robot tends to spread more dirt around rather than clean it.
The mop head has to be detached and cleaned manually if it gets too dirty. The wheels can sometimes get stuck on loose carpet threads or difficult corners. As efficient as they can be, robots still require human intervention to function properly.
Commercial cleaning robots
Cleaning robots designed for commercial cleaning are far more sophisticated than those little round gizmos at home.
In the United Kingdom, the Hefter Robot Cleaner is a member of the janitorial crew in the Manchester Airport and Queen Elizabeth II Hospital. The size of a shopping cart, the Hefter can clean more than 200,000 square feet per day. It is built with laser scanners and ultrasonic detectors to be able to maneuver around obstacles. After one guided tour by a human operator, the Hefter will be able to perform its tasks unsupervised. It even keeps a log of all the places it has covered. After completing its routing, the Hefter goes back its home station to recharge and refill.
Robots can now clean outdoors too! The Figla navigates sidewalks with ease as it picks up trash along the way. It has infrared, gyroscopic, ultrasonic, and camera sensors that identify uneven surfaces and detect trash. The Figla is able to cover 21,500 square feet within the two-hour charge cycle of its battery. You can convert it into an indoor cleaner by swapping parts and choosing the wax hardwood floor setting.
Duct cleaning robots
Duct cleaning can be labor-intensive and requires special skills and training. Tech companies have now developed robots that can crawl through air ducts and eliminate dust and debris. They can access ducts through any pre-existing vents – even those that are too small for humans. These bots are equipped with cameras to guide their human operator during the inspection and cleaning process.
Window cleaning robots
Swiss company Serbot AG developed two specialized robots for cleaning glass surfaces of skyscrapers. The Gekko and the CleanAnt can move freely without the need for guiderails even in high-wind conditions.
The Gekko is designed for flat surfaces while the CleanAnt can move around curved glass and over obstacles. Both models can clean a skyscraper glass surface 15 times faster than a human can.
The Gekko and the CleanAnt work well with detergents as well as dry ice and demineralized water. Special water-enzyme solutions are great for cutting through oily buildup on glass buildings. The bots are capable of filtering and recycling cleaning liquids, thereby reducing waste.
Special-purpose cleaning robots
The Xenex is a cleaning robot that is specially designed to kill bacteria in hospital rooms. It pulses xenon UV light to disinfect a room completely in just 5 to 10 minutes.
The Lady Bird is another special purpose cleaning robot developed for rest stop bathrooms in Japan. It has sensors to prevent collisions with customers and bathroom fixtures. It scrubs toilets and floors while also interacting with humans. Additionally, the Lady Bird engages in light conversation and can even provide weather and traffic updates. It can perform any janitorial task at a whopping cost of $30,000 upfront.
Why Human Cleaners are Irreplaceable
Although bots can speed up janitorial jobs, human cleaners are still irreplaceable for the following reasons.
Machines are not capable of spotting every detail.
Robots are programmed to perform specific tasks – but these tasks do not include quality control. Only a human cleaner can tell if the robot did a good job. Glitches do happen in the world of machines. Thus, if a robot detects what seems like an obstacle, it will go around it and miss that spot.
Machines cannot build rapport with clients.
Custodians and janitors sometimes interact with clients while they clean. If you exclusively rely on machines, that opportunity to build a reputation for excellent customer service would be lost.
Machines cannot provide flexible services.
Maybe a client has a special request or is not satisfied with the work? A human cleaner can quickly address the situation by offering a complimentary service or re-cleaning the area.
Robots promise efficiency and reduced labor cost for the commercial cleaning industry. But it is impossible to replace the human touch when it comes to meeting precise expectations of clients.
Here at Prestige Property Services, we rely on machines for specific tasks to make cleaning precise and efficient. But we also employ highly skilled human cleaners to ensure that everything is done to your standards.