Autonomous floor cleaner operates

In the not-too-distant past, autonomous floor cleaning equipment sounded like something out of a science fiction story. But today, these machines are a reality in a number of facilities — and the market is showing signs of steady growth. The overall cleaning robot market is expected to grow from $2.09 billion in 2018 to $4.34 billion by 2023, according to a study by Markets and Markets

With this projected increase in sales, jan/san distributors are more likely to take on the role of robot consultants in the near future, according to manufacturers of autonomous floor machines. Instead of just selling robotic equipment, distributors may have the opportunity to support end users after the sale to ensure that their investment improves the efficiency and cleanliness of their facility.

“We see distributors playing an impactful role as the autonomous product category matures with increased market adoption — both identifying customers’ needs and providing support,” says Jamie O’Neill, general manager U.S. floor care and industrial vacuums, Nilfisk, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

Bryan Smith, senior marketing manager at Minneapolis-based Tennant Company, says that his company partners with distributors for the sales process and after-sales support of the company’s robotic machines. 

“We work closely with our distributors on the customer evaluation, deployment and service because this is new technology, and it’s a learning curve for both of us,” he says. “But I think that’s going to evolve and change over time.”

Smith foresees a day when distributors that sell robotic cleaning machines will handle extra services currently outside their realm of expertise. 

“We want our customers to have quality service and support after the sale — whether that’s provided by Tennant or our distributors,” he says.

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