June 23, 2020

Innovation in the manufacturing industry: Autonomous cleaning for factory floors

No sector of the economy has embraced automation quite like the manufacturing industry and its associated warehouses. Over the span of a few decades, the entire field has transformed as forward-thinking organizations adopted robotics, industrial computing, at-scale automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning applications across their factory floors.

The pace of automation shows no signs of slowing. Experts predict that by 2025, more than 25% of manufacturing functions will be automated with roughly 1.2 million industrial robots deployed. The motivations for such swift innovation are complex, varying by company and the technologies available at the time. Certainly, increased productivity has been a driving force since the first industrial robot landed on the General Motors assembly line in 1961. Ever since, companies have continued to modernize, using automation to compete and respond to market conditions.

Leading companies like Saint-Gobain, Posco, UTC Aerospace Systems, DHL, 3M and Christie Lites have deployed automation for floor cleaning. The Avidbots Neo autonomous floor-cleaning robot maintains factory and warehouse floors alike. Built for public and commercial spaces, and powered by the Avidbots AI Platform, Neo delivers a high quality, consistent and measurable clean with minimal human intervention. Neo is easy to set up and operate, requiring no special training or programming. Once cleaning is underway, Neo automatically detects obstacles and dynamically updates its route — maximizing performance and minimizing cleaning time.

Jeff Williams, Engineering Manager at Saint-Gobain Ceramics/Boron Nitride has seen the benefits of using Neo:

“The Avidbots Neo autonomous floor scrubber is being used at our facility to eliminate a non-value-added task from our production team and improve safety as our material is lubricious and can create slippery walkways. We chose Avidbots following a successful on-site demonstration in which we were able to prove out their technology and equipment in our industrial environment. Since deploying the unit, we have received excellent customer service and quick responses from the company.”

The manufacturing industry, often operating in 24/7 production environments with associated warehouses, faces unique cleaning challenges. Although employee safety is imperative within the manufacturing environment (minimizing slip-fall incidents, dust exposure, viruses, etc.), a lot of the time cleaning isn't a core KPI, which means management doesn't consistently track cleaning frequency. When cleaning isn't closely monitored, no one is accountable for the job. Implementing an autonomous floor scrubber such as Neo creates a safer environment for staff while letting the manufacturing plant focus on its core competencies.

As companies have integrated Neo autonomous floor cleaning robots into daily operations, they've realized the following benefits:

  • Productivity: By having Neo take the time-intensive task of maintaining an expansive warehouse and factory floors, management can reassign labor to other high-value tasks.
  • Safety: Employee injuries and absences due to repetitive strain are reduced — disinfecting with Neo also reduces the spread of viruses among employees.
  • Profitability: Neo’s consistent, ongoing cleaning — even in the most hazardous work areas — reduces dust kick-up and spilled product, creating a safer work environment resulting in less downtime.

As for people and equipment working around Neo, Avidbots Autonomy ensures flawless navigation and object detection.

Avidbots offers manufacturing-specific Add-ons, including Blue Light to increase the visibility of Neo. Between labor costs, fewer facility repairs due to human error, reduced maintenance costs (versus traditional scrubbers) and liability savings, Avidbots Neo boasts an impressive ROI. Manufacturing companies typically recoup the cost of a Neo unit within 12 to 18 months.

If you’d like to discuss how Neo, the autonomous floor-cleaning robot, can benefit your manufacturing facility or warehouse, please contact us.