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Autonomous Cleaning – Where Is It Going?

By Markus Asch

 

Robotics and automated solutions are on the advance everywhere. At the same time, the debate on what the effects will be on the use of human labour is omnipresent. Studies predict that the need for service robots will grow worldwide – including cleaning robots – and the acceptance in the population is also increasing.

 

The challenges within the market are not decreasing: Increase in labor costs, an aging population reducing available work force especially in developed markets or the customer’s request of new solutions to reduce total cost of cleaning – to name just a few.

 

Nevertheless, autonomous cleaning must be considered as a whole within the wider context of digitalization. Digitalization in cleaning means more than connecting machines via internet. It means connectivity between processes and technology and making processes more efficient.

 

In the cleaning process, humans and machines are given different tasks. The human cleaner is a high-tech instrument that will not be replaced in the foreseeable future. A person sees a room, identifies the action needed, breaks it down into steps and finds solutions for unexpected problems or unusual processes – machines will not be able to do this in the foreseeable future. On the other hand, there are cleaning processes that can be excellently carried out autonomously – just think of long corridors, for example. However, the dividing line is very fine. This means that humans and machines must be coordinated and interact with each other.

 

It is about using the different skills of the available manpower and machines in the best possible way for the cleaning process of the future in order to achieve the desired results efficiently. In this connection, machines compliment human labor, they will not replace humans – the cooperation will become increasingly collaborative.

 

Autonomous cleaning, and hence the digitalization process in the cleaning sector, are becoming increasingly relevant, and will be accompanied by major changes in the cleaning sector. We must see this as an opportunity and at the same time have the courage to turn existing processes on their head and rethink them.