Unlike tech companies’ tentative foray into building services, Sealed Air Diversey Care in Charlotte, North Carolina, recognized the arrival of robots as an immediate opportunity to transform the industry — and address its customers’ common grievances.

“We continuously hear from leaders of floor care that our customers need to do more with less,” says Ryan Greenwald, TASKI sector marketing director. “We’re an industry that has a high-level of turnover. Any consistency that you can put into place is valuable to customers.”

In 2015, Sealed Air Diversey Care acquired Oregon-based Intellibot and integrated robots into its floor equipment line.
Though all of the aforementioned brands may use automation technology differently, each machine relies on a series of sensors and navigation systems that help create and store predestined paths and drive the floor cleaners onward. It’s an incredible feat of engineering; just getting the machine to avoid obstacles requires math beyond most people’s level of comprehension.

In some cases, the equipment can even collect valuable data — such as cleaning times and coverage — to help BSCs further increase efficiencies.

“There is a whole element of the telematics giving you a kind of reporting at fleet level,” says Beers. “These are truly connected devices. There is an incredible amount of data that can be mined.”  

As far as cleaning ability, most manufacturers say the process is not much different than existing automatic floor care machines.

Regardless of how these machines may differ, floor cleaning robots provide three main benefits: labor reduction, improved cleaning and reliable consistency — and with labor adding up to 80 percent of BSCs’ total costs, there is little debate over the business advantages.

“It does exactly as told,” says Van Bidell, Sealed Air Diversey Care regional sales manager. “If you need to clean at a higher frequency, you don’t require the extra labor to do it. You can go to two shifts a day without an increase in costs.”

With the time saved from autonomous cleaning, manufacturers say janitors can be delegated to more pressing tasks, such as cleaning restrooms and other high-touch areas.  

“It’s smart enough to know where it is,” says McElhattan. “We can sit it on a basketball court and it will understand which direction it is facing and where it should go next. We can take a map, or the robot can draw its own map, of an airport or conference center. Our job is to make it simple.”

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