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Safety Considerations for Robotic Cleaning Machines

Safety Considerations for Robotic Cleaning Machines

Safety in workplaces continues to be a top priority and with more technology arriving on the market and facilities investing in robotic cleaning machines we have summed up some safety consideration you can consider before purchasing.

Autonomous cleaning machines rely on programming, operation and maintenance to maintain safety measures and how buildings are cleaned. We address the main changes since the introduction of robotic cleaning machines and protocols that can improve your sites safety.

Conduct a risk assessment.

A new work plan that involves robotic machinery, means a new risk assessment must be undertaken. The equipment distributor or manufacturer will be able to work with you to perform the full risk assessment prior to purchase. The license distributor should be able to guide you through specific needs, facility type and workforce. 
The idea of the risk assessment is to pinpoint hazards – foreseeable and relevant conditions that are potentially going to hinder the introduction of the robotic cleaning machine to the facility. 

Consider focusing on:
  • Startup and programming procedures
  • Environmental conditions
  • Location of the robot
  • Requirements for corrective tasks
  • Human error
  • Possibility of robot malfunctions
The risk assessment process will help determine the appropriate type of functional safety controls needed to reduce risk to an acceptable level. All findings brought about by your risk assessment should be written in a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that will be incorporated into your facility plan and training programs and should be accessible to anyone who may interact with the machine.

Prevent Human Error

The reason why robots are intended to prevent accidents in your workplace is because they replace the tasks traditionally performed by humans. Robotic cleaning machines can help improve safety for human and reduce the mistakes made by humans. Cleaning team are now able to get more out their jobs, contribute to the workplace and high-level tasks that need to be performed. 

For example, nighttime cleaning crews may get tired or lose focus, which can lead to accidents or damaged equipment, structures or products. Autonomous cleaning machines are designed to be reliable and consistent in addition to being designed with built-in safety features.

Automated cleaning equipment requires trained personnel to program and operate the machine, plus perform routine maintenance. Things to consider:
  • Having an intensive training program and an SOP that includes double-checking programming 
  • Safety videos and consistent review of safety pitfalls and ways to avoid them 
  • Determine if the vendors you’re considering will provide start-up training 
  • Ongoing and consistent education and support for your team.

The practical matter of having pre-programmed cleaning machines on the same floor as human workers and building occupants does pose safety risks. Employees will also need to prepare areas for robotic cleaning machines by moving floor mats, signage, carts and setting up routes. Plus, robots will need to be taught new routes when furniture or fixtures change. Additionally, cleaning staff can be reallocated and/or better coordinated so they can perform other tasks now that the robot is cleaning the floors.

A Guide to Safety Features to Look for in Your Robotic Cleaning Machines

As you look for the right robotic cleaning machine for your facility, it will be important to seek equipment with safety features that anticipate human error, programming issues and other hazards we can’t control.

  1. Sensors and Cameras. Robotic cleaning equipment that is powered by vision-based artificial intelligence combined with robotic technology will have built-in sensors that allow the machine to avoid people and unplanned obstacles in complex, real-world applications. Multiple cameras identify when an unexpected object is near the machine. This can direct the machine to slow down or stop as soon as it detects an object moving. Some machines can even move objects that are noticed through sensors and cameras. See how multiple cameras and sensors work together to create a system of safety checks that prevent collision.
  2. Emergency stop buttons. Even without a rider, autonomous cleaning machines may need to stop short for an unexpected reason. Robotic cleaning machines with emergency stop buttons that can be deployed when the machine has a rider or by an operator when the machine is in autonomous mode can be an important safety feature to consider.
  3. Password protected user interface screen. Accidents happen when people who aren’t trained get access to complex machinery. Make sure only trained personnel have access to your autonomous cleaning machines by looking for password protection and other features designed to limit access.

Learn more about how these safety features look in Tennant’s robotic cleaning machines, like the T380AMR, and T7AMR. Are you thinking about robotic solutions for your business? 

Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With a vision to become a global leader in sustainable cleaning innovation that empowers our customers to create a cleaner, safer and healthier world, Tennant creates solutions that are changing the way the world cleans. Tennant products include equipment used to maintain indoor and outdoor surfaces, as well as TennantTrue® financing solutions, equipment parts, service, and maintenance to help ensure superior cleaning performance from your Tennant machines.

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