Fast Forward to the Future
The year is 2035. You just catch the morning transit as the self-driving street car pulls away from the stop. The days of forgetting your transit pass – indeed, the transit pass itself – are long gone. Your morning transit takes exactly 17 minutes – no jams, no delays. Since no-one drives their own vehicles these days, commuting is stress-free. You walk into the office building where the security robot invisibly confirms your identity and welcomes you warmly. Just before you make it to your cubicle you can see last night’s cleaning robot storing itself back in the closet and powering down for a recharge. The workplace is easier when everything just works.
How far off are we from a reality like this? The world of automation and robots has fascinated people through science-fiction for decades – but as those stories become ever closer to reality, there are fears in some quarters that automation will lead to heavy job losses.
It’s clear that technology is a key driver of social and economic change, and it’s been this way since the Industrial Revolution. But when it comes to robotics, the future is bright. Here’s why.
Robotics expands human potential
Automation does not mean that the need for the human touch will vanish. Having developed and deployed the Neo automated floor-scrubbing robot throughout the world, we know that even the smartest devices rely on human intelligence to deliver a benefit. Neo is not deployed at facilities to replace cleaning staff but instead to work alongside them, helping facility operations teams improve efficiency and cleaning performance. Floor scrubbing automation releases time for cleaning teams to perform more important or time-consuming tasks during their shifts.
Facility managers tell us that, before deploying Neo, assessing cleaning performance and managing quality was a significant challenge, requiring continual supervision. There were simply no metrics, little reporting and a lot of subjectivity. Perhaps major corridors and concourses would be cleaned regularly, but with variable quality. There simply wasn’t time for operators to clean those hard-to-reach areas of the food court, warehouse floor or baggage concourse, for example, because the high-traffic walkways got all the attention.
Automated floor scrubbing, in partnership with human custodians, resolves that issue. While Neo handles the walkways, operators can work in tandem on tasks like edge mopping, resulting in higher standards and a better customer experience. Managers and supervisors can review and report on cleaning performance after every operation, with easily-accessible metrics like area coverage, water consumption, cleaning duration and more. And, of course, as a hard-working member of the facilities team, Neo relies on human maintenance and support to keep performing at its best.
Much of the panic that some trendwatchers feel about robot automation is unfounded. As the former Director of California’s labor department, Michael Bernick, points out, a similar “distress” surrounding automation took place in the 1960’s. However most of the “doomsday” predictions proved to be unfounded. Instead, economists assert that: “automation improved productivity, buying power [has] increased and new jobs were created”.
Smarter business cleaning
At Avidbots, we predict that in 20 years no-one will be driving ride-on floor scrubbers. Indeed, we strongly believe all manual scrubbers will go the way of the VHS, 8-track cartridges and silent movies. But in an increasingly competitive climate, the smartest businesses will reinvest the efficiency gains from cleaning automation into higher-order differentiators like product development and customer experience, all of which rely on human capital.
It’s the reason why some of the world’s biggest brands are working with Avidbots today to learn the potential and reap the benefits of working side-by-side with robots. While stories of computers and other devices “stealing” jobs have done a great job of selling newspapers and generating clicks for many years, developments in robotics are actually creating more opportunities for employment. The world needs talented designers, engineers, technicians, facility managers, supervisors and operators to create, maintain, deploy, and utilize robots like Neo and friends. It all leads to a more productive and progressive future, with incredible potential for today’s and tomorrow’s workforce.
Build your business on a better experience
Our vision at Avidbots is to bring robots into everyday life to expand human potential. In the world of automated floor cleaning, it means helping the world’s leading airports, retail malls, healthcare, industrial and educational institutions reach new heights of productivity and efficiency. Real-world opportunities to build smarter businesses and deliver better customer experience. Why not get in touch and learn how Neo can transform your operation?
While it’s fun to imagine the world in 2035, this is no science-fiction. Collaborating with customers around the world each day, we continue to be excited and inspired by the benefits delivered by robots like Neo and other automated solutions. The vision we have to expand human potential is becoming reality, and we’re just getting started.