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Innovative Technologies Disrupting Today’s Cleaning Industry

Thursday, June 27, 2019

After nearly a decade of little to no major product advancements in the commercial cleaning industry, the last few years have been pivotal in the industry’s evolution.

Today more than ever, there is a need for both owners and operators to have a firm grasp on the technologies that can bring success—understanding what technologies are available, recognizing which technologies will best serve their customers, and knowing how to use those technologies to their fullest potential.

Here are just a few of the technologies that are positively disrupting the cleaning industry today:

Water and solution systems
While neither disc nor orbital floor scrubbers are new to the cleaning industry, the systems that control and regulate water and solution usage, as well as the technologies that power the scrub deck itself, continue to evolve to improve cleanliness, safety, sustainability and operator productivity.

Using excess water when scrubbing is simply wasteful and presents a safety hazard. And using too much chemical is environmentally unsound. Having to make multiple passes and repeatedly stop to dump and fill a solution or recovery tank is time-consuming. But today’s more advanced scrubbing technologies allow the operator to automatically switch between chemical-free, water-only, or varying degrees of detergent use; change down pressure; change flow rates based on machine speed; and rotate an entire orbital scrub deck.

As a result, operators can effortlessly transition between different floor types and address varying degrees of traffic and dirt patterns; improve productivity by reducing dump and fill cycles as well as multiple cleaning passes, and deliver more consistently clean floors.

Using excess water when scrubbing is simply wasteful and presents a safety hazard. And using too much chemical is environmentally unsound. Having to make multiple passes and repeatedly stop to dump and fill a solution or recovery tank is time-consuming. But today’s more advanced scrubbing technologies allow the operator to automatically switch between chemical-free, water-only, or varying degrees of detergent use; change down pressure; change flow rates based on machine speed; and rotate an entire orbital scrub deck.

As a result, operators can effortlessly transition between different floor types and address varying degrees of traffic and dirt patterns; improve productivity by reducing dump and fill cycles as well as multiple cleaning passes, and deliver more consistently clean floors.

Autonomous Equipment
By combining state-of-the-art optics with cutting edge navigation and operation software, an autonomous machine provides the operator with the freedom to address higher level cleaning tasks, such as break rooms, windows and stairways that might otherwise be overlooked.

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While a robotic machine will automatically do what it is programmed to do, an autonomous machine will go a step further and respond intuitively to its environment with components and systems that can be readily applied across industries.

Franziska Kirstein from the robotics firm, Blue Ocean Robotics, is an expert on the interaction between man and machine. She predicts that service robots (such as autonomous cleaning machines) will most likely work alongside humans rather than replacing people completely.

“I believe, service robots and people will work alongside each other rather than separate from each other – with the machines completing the repetitive tasks and people carrying out the qualitative tasks. Furthermore, we also see a progression of people throughout the value chain into positions that are more value creating”, Franziska Kirstein explains.

People       Autonomous machines
 

  • Qualitative tasks
  • Evaluating a complex context
  • Assessing the need for cleaning
  • Spotting extra dust/dirt
  • Reaching higher areas
 

  • Repetitive and time-consuming tasks
  • Reliable, predictable performance
  • Ensuring cleaning consistency
  • Tasks that are un-ergonomically
  • Tasks that are hazardous
  • Tasks with a lot of walking/lifting
  • Collecting data

Hans Hendrik Lund, new President and CEO of Nilfisk states: “From Nilfisk we will see an entire range of autonomous machines. This would cover all the different aspects of floor care, including vacuuming for example,” he explains. In his opinion “up to 40 per cent of the total professional cleaning market can be addressed by autonomous  solutions.”

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What about the other machines in the company’s portfolio? “We will continue to make small innovations to our other products,” says Lund. “We are also asking ourselves, do we really need so many products? Could we simplify the ranges?

Lund is convinced the professional cleaning sector is going through fundamental change and his focus is on placing Nilfisk at the forefront of that change. “Do we do this at full speed, or do we allow other companies to lead the way?” he says. Hence the ambitious plans and targets. “It will happen. Having that vision will drive commitment.

Lund’s objective is now to “inspire and set a vision” for one of the industry’s leading developers of cleaning systems and solutions. There’s a real purpose in what we do as an industry,” he explains. “We make the world a cleaner place, which is very inspiring. And we work with customers who understand the value of clean – we are doing something really important. What we do impacts on business and it impacts on wellbeing, I very much appreciate that. “And we have well-qualified experts and competition in the field.”

He continues: “Innovation runs in the DNA of Nilfisk and I come from a tech industry where that is the top priority. One obvious area for us to focus on is robotics because we feel the value proposition is so clear.” The company committed to the development of autonomous cleaning solutions in 2016 when it launched The Horizon Program, a schedule of multiple product launches in partnership with Carnegie Robotics. ItsLiberty A50 autonomous scrubber dryer made its debut last year, with further developments to come.

Just as technology has revolutionized how consumers communicate, shop and wash their dishes, it has revolutionized how cleaning operators and owners deliver the cleanest and safest floors in the most productive and cost-effective way possible. And as with consumer technology, the best is likely yet to come.

Nilfisk is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of professional cleaning equipment.

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