86 per cent of CEOs say AI is mainstream technology in their office in 2021 – SemRush
Only a few years ago, the idea that we could work in tandem with robots was something that sounded like a plot line from a sci-fi movie or a dystopian novel. But now, accelerated by the pandemic, humans and machines coming together to solve the world’s most pressing issues is a reality. And it’s a narrative that isn’t limited to areas such as medicine or aerospace, the more ‘everyday’ areas of our lives are witnessing this shift too; education, shopping, and cleaning to name but a few.
At the start of this month (June 2021), Mrs Buckét hosted an Innovation Day at the Wales Millennium Centre for all senior members of the team. We were joined by two brilliant innovative cleaning suppliers, Killis and ICE, to learn about the capabilities of robotics and how they are ultimately going to change the way we, and others within the sector, work for good in the not-too-distant-future.
Here are three of the key learnings we took away from the experience.
1. Robots aren’t going to take over
There are still anxieties around whether robots will begin to replace humans, making manual labour redundant and putting thousands out of work slowly but surely. In a report by McKinsey in 2017, it was predicted that a third of US workers would be replaced by automation. However now, with the understanding of problems such as bias and technological breakdowns, it’s clear that robots will not be able to function to their full capabilities without humans. So, it’s not so much that robots will replace humans, but the role humans play in the workplace will inevitably shift.
It will be a similar story for the cleaning industry. Robotics will not be there to overtake the human cleaner; in fact, the story is quite the opposite. Machines and AI will be bought in to aid the cleaner, ensuring that the job undertaken is completed to the highest standard possible.
For example, an autonomous machine, such as the Whiz which can cover 5,000 square foot in an hour, can be left to complete the repetitive tasks. This allows cleaners to focus on important detail work, such as high-traffic areas or touch points, which carry hundreds and thousands of harmful pathogens, viruses, and bacteria and, if missed or not cleaned properly, can present huge risks to employers and their teams.
We must remember that the best cleaning operatives are people because they see things. For us, it’s very important to learn how robots can work alongside our people to help us make our services smarter, leaner, and more effective – Emma Shepherd, Area Manager
2. Innovation will improve the health of cleaners
Cleaning isn’t a risk-free job, working continuously with chemicals and heavy equipment puts many, at risk of problems such as musculoskeletal disorders or slips, trips and falls, particularly if they are not trained or looked after properly,
As we saw during our innovation day, modern technologies are helping put an end to these issues through clever designs. Take the cordless backpack hoover by i-power, for example, a simple solution to many dangerous problems. By wearing the hoover on the back, weight is evenly distributed and can be fitted to cleaners’ unique body shapes for a comfortable fit.
On challenging areas, such as stairs, removing the need to carry something while climbing reduces the risk of falling – especially combined with the cordless element – as well as helping to avoid any back strain with the continuous need to bend down and pick up a heavy hoover.
3. Robotics will improve sustainability
Sustainability has been a hot topic over the past year, and with the UK aiming to reach a net-zero emissions status by 2050, reducing our carbon footprint is at the top of the agenda.
Cleaning is a notorious player in the increase of carbon emissions. From the chemicals used to the types of packaging many pieces of equipment and products are stored in, the industry has had to seriously rethink how it operates.
By investing in robotics and automation, we can create bigger changes for the greater good of our planet. These innovations enable us to reduce the overuse of chemical products, improve water recycling, reduce noise pollution and much more. The list is truly endless.
To find out more about how Mrs Buckét is implementing innovation and technology to make our cleaning services more efficient and effective, talk to one of our team.