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The inevitable rise of robots in facilities management

01 Sep 2016

Driven by technological advances, facilities management today features greater automation. Dona White, CEO of North Port Event, says the pace of which is picking up rapidly.

“Advances in artificial intelligence, sensor technologies and connectivity means the introduction of robotics to the management, control and cleaning of buildings is a distinct possibility,” she explains.

“That puts facilities management on the cutting edge - and, in turn, that level of technology makes for a particularly exciting trade exhibition,” explains White.

She also points to reports of new sensor technologies that equip robots to ‘see’ obstacles in their path.

These, coupled with cloud technology, provides the computing power to ‘think’ and respond contextually to different situations. White explains that this raises the possibility of the introduction of robots to perform a range of tasks.

Those tasks include cleaning of anything from light fittings to floors and walls, to mowing lawns and vacuuming carpets.

White says these are renowned as ‘low-tech’ and often backbreaking tasks that traditionally have had to be completed manually, at great cost, and with the added challenge of human resource management.

Science fiction? White doesn’t think so.

Already, domestic vacuum cleaners are available, which prowl the living rooms of homes across New Zealand and the world while the occupants sleep.

On a more industrial scale, a hospital in the UK has achieved automation in laundry and waste removal.

“These are exciting developments for the owners and operators of any facility, where maintenance is an expensive yet crucial facet of keeping a building in a condition fit for purpose,” says White.

The workplaces of the future are likely to include a wide range of technologies that enhance personal productivity and convenience that eliminates tedious manual work.

She says New Zealand’s buildings have an unmatched opportunity to see the latest in facilities management technology available today at the Facilities Integrate showcase being held in a couple months.

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