NHS Fife has welcomed its first fully automated cleaning robot to the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy. The robotic scrubber-dryer works without the need for staff to steer, freeing them to perform other duties at the hospital. The robot is deployed overnight in corridors and can sense obstructions, allowing it to change direction and continue cleaning.
To herald its arrival, youngsters in the children’s ward were given the chance to give it a name. Suggestions were entered into a draw before the winning name – Zig – was selected at random by retiring ward clerk, Jennifer Kane, on her final shift following 43 years service. NHS Fife support services manager Midge Rotheram said Zig was already making a big difference: “It is exciting for NHS Fife to be at the forefront of this new technology and be a Scottish first. We have been using Zig since February and it has already helped to make our cleaning process more efficient and established itself as a key member of the nightshift team – results so far have been very positive.”
The TASKI Intellibot range of robotic cleaning machines is destined to “transform floorcare, building care and facilities management”, say its makers Diversey Care. The first fully-automated commercial cleaners available in Europe, the robots are programmable, can be managed remotely, report performance metrics, and connect with the ‘Internet of Clean’, Diversey’s platform which merges machines, dispensers, sensors, beacons and other smart devices.
Floors are divided into separate rectangular areas which the machine learns automatically. Routes comprising two or more adjacent areas are then named and stored in the machine’s memory. Functions are managed by a simple icon-based colour touch-screen. After initial setup, the machine can be used by any authorised operator who enters a password and selects the required route and positions the machine at a predetermined starting point.
No special training is required and different operators can be restricted to specific tasks, areas and routes. This means, for example, that new users can be allocated basic tasks until they become more experienced. Trained operators can also programme new areas and routes. The machine cleans the designated area always following the same path. After completing its task the machine comes to rest in a pre-programmed position, typically in a corner or next to a wall to minimise the risk of obstructing ongoing activities.
Calum Meadows, country lead for Diversey Care in the UK & Ireland, said: “These machines can improve the economics of cleaning by significantly boosting productivity, saving up to 80% on labour costs and using up to 85% less water and chemicals.”