How Robotics and Automation are Transforming Soft Facility Management

May 17, 2024 4:52:46 PM

How Robotics and Automation are Transforming Soft Facility ManagementAs a forward-looking company, Isnaad is always evaluating how new and emerging technologies can improve its services. Robotics and automation are certainly gaining a foothold in the sector, with efficiency, consistency, and quality among the key benefits. These all appeal to us as a service provider and also to our clients, particularly where it means helping staff perform better rather than replacing them and losing human skills. Here’s what you need to know.

Isnaad's Approach to Technology and Innovation:

At Isnaad, we have never shied away from new technologies. While tech is often associated with hard facilities such as heating and lighting, it has a role in our specialist area of soft services such as cleaning and security. For example, we’ve already experimented with an autonomous cleaning machine.

Our approach is based on a simple philosophy: we aren’t interested in technology for its own sake, but rather how it can improve our services. This can include improving our staff’s productivity or automating basic tasks to free them up to concentrate on tasks that require skill, judgment, and experience. We also look for tech that better helps us achieve our commitment to sustainability.

We will not be afraid to adopt new technology when it offers proven improvements to our services, but we won’t be caught up in the cult of the new.

Robotics in Action

Robotics in ActionPerhaps the most exciting aspect of robotics in soft facility management is just how many areas of the sector it could bring benefits to. Some examples of current and potential uses include:

Cleaning robots don’t simply offer consistent, tireless performance, but can carry out tasks that are difficult or unsuited to humans. These include handling hazardous materials or pests and dealing with hard-to-reach locations like swimming pools.

Security robots can increase capacity for routine patrols and act as an early warning system. (It’s an interesting area as while these robots never get bored or lose focus, early deployments showed just how important the interpersonal skills of human security officers are.)

Food delivery robots and other delivery drones have proven highly impressive, particularly in busy urban areas where vehicles are often stuck in traffic. We can certainly see potential uses, for example in moving light equipment around the larger facilities we manage. As always though, we’ll be looking for cases where these tools improve our ability to work rather than simply getting caught up in the novelty.

Robotic maintenance tools. While these are more traditionally associated with hard services, there’s a role for them in soft services. Specialist cleaning such as building facades and sewerage all use vital equipment that needs regular maintenance. Automation of these tasks could not only free up human staff for other tasks but even allow more frequent maintenance.

The Future of Soft Facility Management with Robotics

Like any technology, robotics, and automation look set to evolve in the soft services sector. Some of these developments will be simple physical improvements with devices getting smaller, lighter, and operating for longer.

Other changes could be more fundamental. We expect to see greater integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning. This could mean robots that use sensors to gather information about their work and surroundings and use it to devise more efficient schedules and operations.

For example, you may have seen domestic floor cleaning robots that can plan the most energy-efficient route to cover an entire floor but adjust on the fly to obstacles or be diverted to priority cleaning areas. Scale up that approach to industrial cleaning, add in data about different operating schedules for staff and equipment across a facility, and you can see how the robot cleaners could balance efficiency with a lack of disruption to operations.

Of course, it’s also possible that robotics tech will evolve in ways we can’t yet imagine. Whatever happens, though, Isnaad will remain unafraid of technologies that help us better achieve our service goals.