Robots are revolutionizing facility management with new automation opportunities and cutting-edge applications. Facility management includes dozens of tasks and responsibilities. This workload can be difficult to balance successfully for a team of any size. With facility management robots, processes can be streamlined and optimized for efficiency, safety, and quality.
Robots allow facility management tasks to be automated, especially with the help of software-driven robotic process automation, or RPA. A robot vacuum cleaner is an everyday example of automation with robots. On an industrial scale, robotic automation can be found in automated assembly lines and warehouses.
Facility management includes many physical tasks that in the past would have been difficult to automate. Personnel must be able to move freely around a facility and perform these tasks independently. Until recently, there were few robots capable of roaming hallways without being plugged in or performing different tasks in a varied environment. Today, though, robots are a perfect solution for a range of facility management automation needs.
Robotic process automation builds on this, using artificial intelligence as well as physical robots. AI and robots are often applied together to maximize an automated system’s capabilities. A robot typically has to be pre-programmed to perform all of its tasks. An AI can adapt to its environment, though. With advanced sensors and cameras, the AI-robot pairing can become even more versatile.
One of the top applications for facility management robots is automating routine, everyday tasks. Some of the most time-consuming facility management tasks are things like cleaning, building inspection, and transporting things around facilities. Robots are great for automating all of these responsibilities and more.
From basic robot vacuum cleaners to cutting-edge UV disinfection rovers, robots have become excellent at cleaning and basic maintenance tasks. The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 sparked a surge in popularity for cleaning robots, which has given development a boost in recent years. Autonomous mobile robots, or AMRs, in particular, are great for facility management because they can roam completely wirelessly and independently.
Today’s cleaning robots can autonomously vacuum, sweep, scrub, and polish floors as well as disinfect virtually any surface. Among the most popular facility management robots today are UV disinfection robots. Many schools are adopting them, as well as offices, malls, and other large facilities where sanitizing can be difficult.
UV-D robots are a perfect example of how robots improve facility management. Careful, comprehensive disinfection is extremely time-consuming and tedious, especially in large facilities. UV-D robots automate this process and are able to perform it with more consistency and effectiveness than most people could.
One of the most important innovations in facility management robots is the Internet of Things, or IoT. This is the growing web of devices connected to the Internet. There are two basic veins of IoT technology: general IoT and Industrial IoT (IIoT).
General IoT covers all non-industrial applications, from smart home devices to smart delivery vehicles. Industrial IoT includes applications mainly in manufacturing but can include other industrial settings such as warehousing and other supply chain organizations.
IoT allows facility management robots to sense the environment around them and also allows robot supervisors to keep an eye on performance. For example, it has become popular in warehouses for robots to navigate using RFID tags and tracking devices. IoT tags help the robots identify items on shelves, as well.
In facility management, IoT can be used to track autonomous robots throughout a facility, monitor robot maintenance needs, inform a robot’s actions, and more. For example, in more industrial or hazardous facilities, IoT sensors on robots can report things like smoke or air pollution. IoT sensors also allow for predictive maintenance on robots.
By constantly monitoring a robot’s performance, the IoT sensors can indicate when a robot will be in need of a tune-up before an actual breakdown can occur. This saves facility managers time and money.
As mentioned above, robotic process automation goes beyond physical facility management robots and automates using software. This is extremely valuable in facility management. A significant part of successfully managing a facility happens behind the scenes – in scheduling, organizing, monitoring, and optimizing numerous processes and tasks. AI is excellent at these kinds of tasks as well as physical tasks performed by robots.
AI and robotic process automation software can simplify facility management. For example, a study by Deloitte found that several key facility management tasks can be automated at least 70% using RPA. These include monitoring utility consumption, processing bills, and scheduling facility management tasks.
Automating these tasks using robots and AI will improve efficiency and reduce costs and waste. For example, by monitoring utility consumption with RPA, a facility manager can identify areas where resources are being poorly utilized and make adjustments.
Warehouses are a great example of RPA and robotics at work. Modern automated warehouses are seeing increased storage capacity, sales, and productivity due to automation. Robots and AI also create a safer work environment by reducing human exposure to strenuous, potentially dangerous physical tasks. The safe benefits apply to facility management.
One of the facility management tasks that AI can be particularly helpful with is facility security. By combining physical robots with security AI and the right sensors or cameras, facility managers can build a top-notch security team. Airborne drones and land-bound rovers both work great for facility security, depending on the needs of a specific site.
For example, using computer vision, an AI could identify suspicious objects or activities through a robot that quietly patrols the halls. Once any potential danger is encountered, the robot can remotely report this back to a human supervisor. Then, appropriate action can be taken to address the situation with minimal risk to human employees.
Experts are still studying the effectiveness of security robots, but they have proven helpful so far. This is especially true for situations involving large crowds or a large area to cover. Smaller facility security teams could also benefit from the added eyes of an autonomous security robot.
Facility management robots are helping sites all over the world operate safer, smarter, and more efficiently. Automation streamlines operations in facility management. It can result in higher productivity for human team members and noticeable cost savings over time. Facility management robots combine efficiency, mobility, and effectiveness to offer top-notch care and maintenance in any site or building.