4 Major Ways Robots Are Helping With Commercial and Industrial Cleaning Tasks
Robots that help with cleaning in residential and commercial settings have been popular for many years. Most people own a Roomba or self-cleaning vacuum, but industrial cleaning robots are also making their way onto the scene.
The cleaning robot market size is currently at $8.9B in 2021 and is only projected to grow.
The popularity of industrial cleaning robots can be credited to lower costs, the elimination of human error, increased productivity, and decreased facility downtime.
Continue reading to see what industrial cleaning means, the benefits of utilizing robots for industrial cleaning, and how robots are taking over industrial cleaning tasks.
What Is Industrial Cleaning?
Before diving into how robots are helping with industrial cleaning tasks, it’s important to define what industrial cleaning is.
Industrial cleaning services include typical commercial cleaning tasks and heavier, more complex cleaning, including special equipment, cleaning supplies, and methods. Industrial cleaning also includes hazardous cleaning completed in industrial facilities such as power plants, refineries, chemical plants, and paper mills.
Industrial cleaning tasks include:
- Asbestos removal
- Hazardous spill cleanup
- Industrial vacuuming
- Tank cleaning
- Hydro blasting
- Conveyor cleaning
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Benefits of Using Robots for Industrial Cleaning
There are many benefits of utilizing robots for industrial cleaning. Some of the most significant advantages of robotic cleaning are:
- Cutting costs: In many cases, robotic cleaning tasks can be done two to three times as fast as traditional cleaning methods. Plus, using robots for cleaning eliminates any potential errors and setbacks.
- Improving employee productivity: Employees work harder, stay healthy, and are happier when they have a clean environment to work in.
- Keeping workers out of harm’s way: Many cleaning tasks at industrial facilities are dangerous. Instead of putting your human crew in harm’s way, send robots into dangerous situations.
- Their ability to work 24/7: Unlike human workers who get tired and need breaks, robots can run around the clock, resulting in quicker cleaning and less downtime for facilities.
One of the more common applications of industrial robotic cleaning is for floors.
Robotic floor cleaners were seen often in stores and schools, but have made their way into more industrial settings like factories, warehouses, and plants.
Robots help with typical janitorial floor cleaning tasks like stripping floors, refinishing, sealing, and pressure cleaning. Autonomous robots can work overnight while your workers are not at work or during the day alongside them.
The majority of floor-cleaning robots have routing algorithms to ensure the safety of people and products using cameras and cloud computing.
SoftBank, a Tokyo tech company, developed a robot called Whiz that can vacuum over 16,000 square feet in three hours and can offload up to 30% of cleaning time traditionally spent vacuuming manually. The Whiz can be rented for $222 per month. To compare, hiring a commercial cleaning service to come once is around the same price as renting the Whiz for a month.
Floor cleaning in industrial buildings decreases the risks of on-site injuries — like slips and falls — for your employees and also lowers cleaning costs. Investing in a floor-cleaning machine is a one-time investment instead of ongoing labor costs.
Labor accounts for 80% of the cost of commercial floor cleaning, so utilizing robotic floor cleaners is appealing because of their low margins.
On industrial sites that store mass amounts of liquids, like oil refineries and chemical plants, the traditional way of cleaning tanks was with human crews — this posed many threats.
To adequately clean an industrial tank or vessel, human crews have to enter the confined space and manually clean it and remove sludge. Being in a confined space means the tank has no ventilation and no easy way for humans to escape should something happen. When humans are manually cleaning industrial tanks, they may be exposed to harmful gases, chemicals, or combustion.
Now, with the help of companies like Ecorobotics, industrial tank cleaning can (almost) be done entirely by robots.
With this new method of cleaning, the robots enter tanks instead of humans. The robotic machines are remote-controlled by a human nearby, but besides that, they function on their own, leaving human crews out of harm’s way.
Industrial tank cleaning robots don’t get tired like humans do — which means they can work longer and with no errors so that your plant or sites have limited downtime and continue to produce profits.
Ecorobotics customers typically see a 20% to 25% cost reduction when compared to traditional cleaning methods.
Serbot AG, a company in Switzerland, invented robots used to clean the outside of skyscrapers and industrial buildings. Window cleaning robots can clean windows 15x faster than humans, and there are many different kinds of robots to complete the task.
In many cases, robots attach to the windows with spider-like suction cups and rotate around to clean the window. Another robot works like an ant on skinny feet — they enable the robot to maneuver around more intricate building designs that aren’t perfectly flat.
Industrial window cleaning robots are so dependable that they are entrusted with cleaning the Louvre’s famous glass pyramid.
Using robots for window cleaning is beneficial in keeping humans out of harm’s way.
Duct cleaning is expensive because it’s labor-intensive and requires a level of specialty.
Duct cleaning often goes overlooked in industrial facilities because it’s a tedious and time-consuming task, but regular duct cleaning is important for many reasons.
A healthy working environment increases productivity and keeps your workers safe and healthy. When workers stay healthy, they continue coming to work instead of having endless call-in-sick days.
Clean ducts in manufacturing or industrial facilities can also prevent fire hazards and reduce the risk of duct collapse, keeping employees and buildings safe.
Using robots for HVAC and duct cleaning means humans no longer have to waste precious time getting into the air ducts to crawl around and clean.
Robots enter through pre-existing entries and crawl through the air ducts, collecting dust and debris. Since the robots are smaller than humans, they can enter the ducts at many points, whereas humans can only enter at larger access points and, in some cases, even have to cut out an access point.
Similar to tank cleaning, the duct-cleaning robots are remote-controlled by a human. The robots come with a camera, so the controller can see exactly where they’re going and scan the ducts for any issues.
Robotic duct cleaning saves time and cleans more effectively than traditional methods.
Start Utilizing Robots for Industrial Cleaning Tasks
It’s clear that robots are making industrial workers’ lives easier by taking over time-consuming and dangerous tasks, whether for window cleaning, tank cleaning, or other industrial cleaning tasks.
To learn more about tank cleaning robots and how you can use them to save on facility costs, check out How You Can Save Money on Tank Cleaning With Robots.