Samson Adelekun joins Q3 as Bid Coordinator, working closely with our sales team on the development of PQQs and bid submissions. Based in London, Samson…Read More
There’s a website called will robots take my job.com. On this website you can enter virtually any job and the website will assess, as a percentage, the likelihood of that role being taken over by a robot. So, just for fun we typed in “cleaner” and once it had qualified that this meant janitors and cleaners, (excluding maids and domestic housekeeping cleaners), the algorithm spat out the answer 67%.
That’s a quite scarily high number, but is it realistic? Q3 is at the forefront of using “tech” in delivery of commercial cleaning and FM services, so we asked Alex Gavrilovic Q3’s Solutions Director for his opinion. Alex has worked in the cleaning industry for some 25 years and is currently involved with deploying robots on a few of Q3’s contracts, so he knows a thing or two about this.
Alex explained, “Right now, robots are being used in two main areas, carpet vacuuming and wash-scrub-dry operations on hard-floors. In both cases, they really come into their own on large areas of flooring. So, deciding when and where to use robots, is very much reliant on our knowledge of the space and our experience and expertise of the ROI and productivity the machines will deliver in that space. We need to factor in the expanse and complexity of the area in which the robot will operate and the client’s specification, including frequency of cleaning.
“These ROI calculations have changed quite recently because like so much new technology, the cost of the robots has dropped significantly since they first arrived on the scene and leasing deals are available to avoid large-up front capital outlay. Productivity has also improved many-fold because of technical improvements in the equipment, such as speed and battery life.
“The hard surface cleaning robot machines are ideal for expansive areas such as airports, hospital corridors, distribution centres and shopping centres. They even come with cameras and sensors now and some models can talk to customers in a variety of languages. This really provides a “Wow!” factor in places like malls and airports, adding to the customer experience and reinforcing the perception of being in a place where people care.
“Of course, there’s also one more very important you simply cannot forget when deploying robots and that’s the human element. Robots are not yet truly autonomous, and the reality is that the robot is complementing the work of a human being in virtually every situation. There still needs to be a person there to undertake basic checks on the robot at the start of the shift, such as brushes, water levels etc and to take it to the start point. Humans also have to map the area in which the robot is operating and remap it if there are layout changes – which is inevitable in most operational situations. This means that right now, we are investing a lot into new training programmes to upskill many of our cleaners to become robot operators and technicians on major contracts.
“In reality, on a typical contract, the robot will still only be carrying out about a third of the cleaning activity with more complex areas such as washrooms and offices still being undertaken by humans. It’s true that you can get higher quality and greater consistency with robots and there certainly aren’t the number of HR issues, but that’s not the main consideration.”
As Alex has explained, there are upsides and downsides to using robots in commercial cleaning and the decision to use them is not straightforward. The cleaning company needs to make an informed judgment on when and when not to call on robot technology, which means that they aren’t going to completely take over the cleaning world anytime soon. Indeed, it will probably be a long time before they even attain the 67% figure predicted by willrobotstakemyjob.com.
Ironically, the same innovative, technology we currently see in robots makes them brilliant in some situations and yet almost useless in others. I expect that just like the Daleks, they will eventually crack the problem of going up stairs and then we’ll all be looking over our shoulder?
Here are some more news and opinion articles that may be of interest:
Mark Hazelwood, the MD of our IFM business, talks about our partnership with Facilio and how it is helping to deliver a quality service to…Read More
Showcasing Q3 hard services' latest prestigious new contract in Chelsea The Q3 hard services team has secured a new, high-end, residential maintenance contract with GWRC…Read More