By Megan Bozman

Cleaning is certainly not a function many of us associate with rapid development and new innovation. The only new advancement that comes to my mind is the “Roomba” automated robot vacuum. I haven’t invested in a Roomba, and aside from owning a “Swiffer,” I clean the same way I was taught as a child.

However, one way smart building technology is already impacting cleaning is by allocating resources in a more structured manner. This is one of the many uses of smart building technology at the Oslo, Norway offices of ISS.

Incorporating Wider Variety of Data

Writing for the European Cleaning Journal’s new Cleaning in the Digital World special supplement, Marco Cardinale, writes, “Where connected cleaning is making an entry, sensor-supported cleaning on demand is not far behind.”

“Thinking forward to the future, the pool of usable data can be enlarged significantly so that ultimately very precise cleaning on demand can be practiced. The trick is to make use of all data in a smart building. ‘Weather sensors can reveal whether, for instance, heavy rain will lead to heavier soiling,’ states Philipp Kipf.”

Brilliant! Of course, on rainy or snowy days, cleaning needs will be substantially greater. Simply incorporating this data can improve service allocation.

It’s all about the Analysis

IoT sensors and data analysis can present opportunities for new business models, including pay-per-use. I can just imagine the reprimanding signs taped up, and emails flying around in an office where cleaning was paid out on an as-needed basis.

Cleaning Robots

I personally don’t feel the cost of a Roomba is worth the investment. Additionally, I’ve read horror stories about them running through cat vomit or dog poop and spreading it through the house. Jesse Newton shares the story of what he refers to as, “the Pooptastrophe. The poohpocalypse. The pooppening.” Thankfully he saw humor in the incident, so feel free to laugh with him. “And you’ll see a brown-encrusted, vaguely Roomba-shaped thing sitting in the middle of the floor with a glowing green light, like everything’s okay. Like it’s proud of itself.”

The use of autonomous cleaning machinery in commercial buildings is quite a different story. Writing for ECJ, Mr. Cardinale continued, “In my view, developing the use of robots in complex premises such as office buildings is a complex matter. For example, the sensor technology must ensure sufficient environmental perception to guarantee collision-free operation even if something unexpected happens.”

IoT Cleaning Technology from Nilfisk

That just happens to be exactly what Denmark-based Nilfisk, manufacturer of professional cleaning equipment, is mastering. Nilfisk products have already joined the IoT. For example, TrackClean provides customers with remote access to connected cleaning machines, in addition to monitoring machine fleets and providing useful data via web portal.

New Autonomous Floor Cleaner

The New Autonomous Floor Cleaner from Nilfisk and Carnegie Robotics
The New Autonomous Floor Cleaner from Nilfisk and Carnegie Robotics

Earlier this month, Nilfisk launched the company’s Horizon program, a roadmap for innovative, intelligent and connected products. Working with Carnegie Robotics, the Horizon Program is a strategic, long-term program of multiple product launches.

In spring 2017, Nilfisk will launch the company’s first intelligent cleaning machine. The Nilfisk website states, “Our work with Carnegie Robotics is like no other partnership in the industry. We have combined over a century of cleaning expertise with technologies used in military operations, machine vision and autonomy research to develop the most sophisticated, highest performing, autonomous cleaning products on the market.”

The floor cleaner navigates its environment through four different sensing technologies. Cleaning modes include Manual, “Fill-in, the fastest way to get started with autonomous cleaning,” and “CopyCat” which, as the name implies, replicates your desired cleaning path. Finally, a remote user device enables remote pause or stop, communicates current machine status, and alerts the user of any issues.

The Nilfisk Autonomous Floor Cleaner navigates its environment through four different sensing technologies

Glamorous?

In continuing his article for ECJ, Mr. Cardinale writes, “Data-supported cleaning on demand, meaningful use of robots, pay-per-use and smart building information modelling do not suddenly render the down-to-earth cleaning sector glamorous.”

Sorry, Sheila E. is not going to sing “Glamorous Life” about your smart building, IoT, or cleaning tech.
Sorry, Sheila E. is not going to sing “Glamorous Life” about your smart building, IoT, or cleaning tech.

I had to laugh at this. The average person doesn’t find anything pertaining to smart buildings, IoT, the use of big-data, and automation the least bit ‘glamorous.’ But that’s OK. Those of us who are fascinated by tech are well aware that we’re often lone geeks.

Ironically, the article continues to mention tech that reasonably could be deemed “glamorous,” such as augmented reality goggles that enable workers to see the degree of cleanliness, window cleaning done by people with jet-packs or robots with suction pads, self-cleaning window blinds, and cleanliness assessment by drones with 3D cameras and GPS.

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