Why Cleaning Analytics Matter
Data can revolutionize the cleaning industry.
- By Faizan Sheikh
- Jun 01, 2022
You have thousands of square feet of facility space to clean. Maybe even tens of thousands or over a million square feet. How do you know if areas are being missed?
Regular and consistent facility cleaning has never been more important than it is now. Cleaning prevents the spread of viruses, encourages the general health of employees and helps maintain a sound operational workplace to ensure production quotas are met. But how can you ensure your facility has been properly cleaned day after day? Rich cleaning analytics and reporting are the answer.
Data has revolutionized many industries, and the cleaning industry is next in line. Rich analytics and real-time reports are now easily available thanks to the rise in autonomous cleaning solutions; these efficient cleaning robots are changing how we measure a facility's cleanliness.
What’s Your Clean Plan?
Consider this: the second largest area of any facility is the floor, second only to the ceiling. The floor is ground zero for dust, dirt and debris, which can build up quickly. Depending on the size of the facility and the work performed inside, the floor can become filthy within hours. Workers and machinery continually kick up particles throughout the day, dirtying surfaces, causing potential contamination of production lines and infiltrating the air workers breathe in during their shift each day. The bottom line: an unclean facility poses risks to both worker health and building operations. That’s a risk that facility managers can’t afford to take.
To ensure a facility stays clean, a cleaning plan must be implemented. For many, that involves traditional ride-on or walk-behind manual floor scrubbers. However, manual scrubbers are subject to the whims and direction of the humans operating them. Human error is common, and cleaning documentation is dependent on an employee’s commitment to detail. Consider the multitude of ways something may not get cleaned or logged properly. Leaner staff due to labor shortages means employees may be asked to fit more into their schedule than time allows, creating pressure to cut corners. Alternatively, dynamically changing facility layouts mean a worker may not know the new cleaning route. The list and reasons are endless!
Semi-autonomous floor scrubbers offer some operational efficiencies over manual options, including less human oversight. However, semi-autonomous solutions typically operate using a teach-and-repeat principle, only being as good as the routes an operator has taught the machine. This means they are prone to stoppages when environments change. Once stuck, the operator has to locate and rescue the floor scrubber and re-teach it a new path based on today’s layout changes. This is a time-consuming task that results in non-productive downtime. Research shows that 82 percent of facilities experience changes in layout significant enough to affect a robot’s performance during a one-week period; a semi-autonomous solution instead of a fully-autonomous solution means your staff is regularly babysitting a machine, moving it daily.
A cleaning plan that leverages fully-autonomous solutions offers a multitude of benefits: a robot can be taught a facility and determine the best route to clean each time, adapting on the fly to environment changes such as a moving forklift or pallet blocking an aisle; the machine can operate without human intervention, reallocating employees to more critical tasks; and remote assistance can move the robot if needed without staff intervention.
But perhaps the most valuable benefit is the data and analytics robots bring to the table. Data-driven cleaning solutions provide the most reliable answer possible to the questions “Is my facility clean? How thoroughly was it cleaned, and by whom?”
Cleaning a facility and measuring the results are as easy as pressing go with a fully-autonomous AI-powered robot. While the robot is cleaning, web-based software monitors and measures each move, providing real-time productivity metrics that can be viewed 24/7/365 from anywhere in the world. One can tell exactly where a robot is at any given moment, what areas it's already cleaned and what areas are still pending.
Take, for example, AI software. The platform leverages data from a variety of robot sensors and provides situational awareness, enabling advanced decision-making capabilities. This allows Neo to reliably determine its position within the space and find the best path for the task at hand—all without human intervention. Fully-autonomous robots rarely get lost, stuck or need to be rescued by a local operator, reducing reliance on employees compared with other semi-autonomous methods such as teach-and-repeat.
Data-driven, fully autonomous robots are also unmatched in obstacle avoidance. Using a variety of sensors, the robot constantly evaluates data being collected to ensure the robot avoids anyone or anything. Unlike other self-driving machines that get confused and typically stop when multiple obstacles are in the way, fully autonomous robots handle navigating dynamic environments with ease.
No More “You Missed A Spot”
With robotic cleaning solutions deployed, detailed, accurate reporting on the cleanliness of a facility becomes a breeze. Insights into entire cleaning operations are available on demand and at the click of a button. For example, metrics like total area cleaned and total cleaning time can be viewed at any moment.
With this information available, facility managers better understand a building; they can spot potential operational problems before they happen while increasing productivity. Productivity metrics provided by AI-driven solutions can highlight any issues experienced while cleaning, including an area or aisle that was passed because it was blocked. This allows the facility manager to address changes to the facility floor that may impact both cleaning and production.
Data can also help meet facility sustainability goals. In-depth performance capabilities can track and record water consumption, allowing the adjustment of water flow and brush pressure to design the right clean for any given facility. Extraneous water usage can also be monitored and eliminated.
Likewise, robots offer oversight not available with manual commercial floor scrubbers. For example, technology allows you to manage, monitor and measure a singular robot or fleet of robots remotely in real-time from anywhere in the world. Automated alerts to mobile devices are included for events such as cleaning completion and performance, required water changes, routine maintenance and other activities, meaning you’ll never be in the dark about your cleaning operation.
Why Measuring Clean Matters
At the end of the day, missing an area that should be cleaned can mean a facility is shut down or production is paused over a failed inspection; likewise, it could mean an employee becomes sick or injured, creating lost labor issues.
Robotic cleaning solutions and AI-driven platforms are designed to ensure your facility is cleaned more thoroughly. Likewise, they enable data-driven decision-making to create operational efficiencies, maximizing a return on investment. Most importantly, they work smartly and make time spent generating reports and data for inspections a thing of the past—letting your team focus on doing what they do best: focusing on your core business.
This article originally appeared in the June 2022 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.