Robot cleaner on a white background

Small businesses are creating and customizing their own automation solutions to increase productivity and save money, according to ZD Net. One of these businesses is Alaska Professional Janitorial (APJ).

Like many small businesses, APJ faces high labor costs and a tight labor market. After APJ struggled to find workers, owner Curtis Lucas started thinking of other options.

He remembered an article about a Japanese company that had built cleaning robots and thought they should be on the market soon. In the meantime, he decided to build his own.

Lucas, doesn’t have an engineering background but does have a love for technology. He built his first autonomous commercial vacuum for less than a thousand dollars. He then adapted that technology to an autoscrubber for hard surface floors — autonomous floor scrubbers already exist, but their price tags start at around $25,000.

Lucas wanted to design a robot to work in new environments with no human support. Most industrial floor scrubbing robots require a human to guide the machine around the cleaning area the first time out.

With the custom robots, APJ’s productivity and cost savings soared. Instead of paying roughly $60 per night to clean, APJ can now get the job done for $45 per night. Multiplying that over multiple buildings every night and the savings are significant.

While most companies are not engineering their own technology, across the country, CleanLink reports that floor cleaning robots are gradually being deployed in airports, hospitals, retailers and office buildings.

“I think cleaning robots are going to be the first robots that we see in our daily lives,” says Dale Krausenik, vice president of marketing and product development at NSS Enterprises, Toledo, Ohio. “Four to five years from now, you’re going to be at the mall and see these machines.”