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A US mega-retailer recently announced
it has begun conducting tests of an
autonomous floor scrubber.
The system is being tested in five stores in the
late evening hours when the stores are either
closed or have the fewest customers and staff
members. While the tests will continue for a
while before a final decision is reached whether
to invest in more machines or not, initial reports
indicate the systems are working out well.
So how does this thing work? According
to the report, an employee first drives the
machine over the floor areas to be cleaned.
The machine is equipped with cameras,
sensors, a navigational mapping system, and
a storage device, similar to what we have in
our smartphones and computers. These all
help tell the machine what floor areas are to
be cleaned, but even more crucial, they help
the machine remember them.
In most cases, what the machine is to
remember are “repeatable” cleaning tasks,
performing the same cleaning tasks in the
same areas every time the machine is used.
Should there be an unexpected change in the
pathway, for instance, a person is in the path
or an unknown object is now on the floor, the
machine stops and adjusts course. Being able
of the new
making waves in
IT and cleaning:
What’s here and
to remember these repeatable tasks is all the
result of what is known as IT.
At one time, IT referred mostly to mainframe
computers operated by some giant bank
or airline. But today, the term has a much
broader reference; IT is now used to describe
computers, networks, and computer-related
systems and equipment. It also encompasses
the hardware, operating systems, software,
and storage devices used in these computer
and computer-related systems.
Without information technology, the
scrubber we just discussed would have no
idea which floors are to be cleaned. In fact,
without IT, it would not even know where
the floor is.
IT is just beginning to find its way into the
professional cleaning industry. A decade
or more ago, IT was probably not even
considered. But things have changed a lot
in the past few years, and the success of this
floor machine has undoubtedly caught the
eye of other manufacturers in the industry,
also making floorcare equipment.
So, not only are we likely to find more
of these manufacturers introducing floor
machines that can think, remember, and
work autonomously, we can expect other
types of cleaning equipment and devices
made for the professional cleaning industry
to enter the market, all equipped with IT.
The following are examples of some of
the cleaning systems now available or
coming online in the next three to five years
specifically designed for the professional
Devices are being introduced for restrooms
that monitor the cleanliness of toilets
and other restroom fixtures and can send
real-time alerts, either by email or text to
smartphones, to notify cleaning professionals
or managers when the restroom needs
attention. These systems are also designed
to check for restroom odors and if floors or
counters are wet. And it keeps a count of
how many people use the restroom and when
the restroom is used the most. All of this
information helps cleaning professionals keep
restrooms cleaner, healthier, and ensure they
are appropriately supplied throughout the
day, especially before busy periods.
Also for restrooms, devices are being
developed that tell cleaning workers and
managers, by again sending real-time alerts,
when paper supplies are running low in
restrooms. Designed for many types of
commercial spaces, from schools to offices,
these devices can be instructed at what point
supplies are needed for different restrooms.
For a busy restroom, for instance, once a
toilet paper roll is half used, it can be set to
call an attendant. In a less frequently used
restroom, it may be configured to wait until
only a quarter of the roll is left.
Systems that monitor cleaning workers
are also available or coming online. These
systems can tell when a cleaning worker
enters a room to clean, how long they are in
the room, and when they leave. It can also
monitor what surfaces and which areas of
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