Advances in technology are rapid and the commercial cleaning industry is changing as a result.
I am amazed at the ever-increasing shift away from what have always been manual office cleaning tasks to tasks that are now capable of being completed by ‘smart machines’. We read, hear and see examples of technology improving our everyday lives. Self-driving cars, voice-powered personal assistants like Googles ‘Alexa’ & Apples ‘Siri’, are either fast becoming or are having a significant impact on our lives.
Last week, I attended the Total Facilities Live (TFL) show in Melbourne where the Facilities Management Industry showcase innovation and development in systems, products and processes across the sector. I hadn’t attended the show for a couple of years, but it was evident that the industry is being significantly impacted by advancements in technology and moving forward at a ‘rate of knots’. The process of cleaning has always been labour intensive and as an overhead, the cost of labour has always been proportionally the largest component on the expenses side of any P & L, with materials and equipment lagging.
Finding ways to reduce the labour component in any business is key, without compromising the level of service delivery. The advances over the past couple of years have been significant as evidenced at the TFL show last week and there is equipment hitting the market designed to reduce the labour component across an integrated commercial cleaning service.
The primary drivers of these advances are the improvements that have been made in battery technology and the engineering of equipment to take advantage of these improvements. Battery power technology is on an exponential growth spike. They are smaller, lighter and can provide reliable power.
Improvements in battery technology and D.C powered equipment allows for lighter, safer and more convenient cleaning machines. They are getting close to having similar power and output as AC powered machines. The days of heavy AC powered backpack vacuum cleaners appear to be numbered. Considerable time saving can be realized using cordless equipment. No need to run long 3 core flex leads around the office, no need to have A.C equipment tagged and tested every six months and the inevitable damage to paintwork that cords cause being pulled around corners causes, is avoided.
A couple of examples of equipment I spotted was the Makita battery-powered cleaning range. Makita have always been synonymous with producing great power tools. They make a range of battery-powered tools for tradesman but have obviously seen the opportunities in other areas.
The vacuum robot, powered by a couple of Lithium-Ion batteries has the capability to autonomously roam your office and remove debris from both hard and carpeted floors for hours. They have also developed a ‘backpack’ style vacuum cleaner that is light and is close to the power output of regular A.C corded models.
As for hard floor services, I observed in action the ‘Eon’, an autonomous floor scrubber. Made by Avidbots, This is a serious bit of kit. While at the upper end of the cost scale, this machine has some serious smarts, eliminating the need to have an operator walking behind to guide its path. It removes the tedium associated with the servicing of large hard floors areas.
While these types of advances in technology and equipment are never going to eliminate all of the tasks associated with cleaning an office or large commercial facility, I am sure that the human element will continue to be reduced, delivering both economic benefits and greater consistency in service.