How autonomous cleaning solutions improve cleaning results and help keep workers safe

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The outbreak of COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the importance of cleanliness. It has also resulted in much-deserved recognition and respect for the people who work to keep spaces like supermarkets, airports, schools, warehouses, and healthcare facilities clean and hygienic. Without cleaning professionals dedicated to cleaning, sanitising, and disinfecting surfaces, day in and day out, it would be impossible to prevent infections like COVID-19 from spreading.

For these professionals to maintain the desired level of clean, they need the right tools, including equipment that will enable them to clean efficiently, effectively, and safely. That’s why more institutions, from hospitals to high schools, are welcoming autonomous scrubber dryers into their cleaning fleet.

Benefits of autonomous solutions for coronavirus-related cleaning

Right now, cleaning is more important than ever, especially in areas where COVID-19 may be present. There are a multitude of tasks to complete, and the people who do those tasks must be kept safe while they work.

In such environments, the main benefits of autonomous solutions are threefold:

  1. Efficiency: In many buildings, floorcare is a major undertaking. Even for a skilled operator using a ride-on scrubber dryer, the job can take several hours – hours that could be spent on more detail-oriented objectives. But an autonomous machine gives staff the ability to focus on other tasks that benefit from extra effort. Now, instead of cleaning the floor, that same operator can spend those hours cleaning and disinfecting door handles, light switches, restroom fixtures, and other high-contact surfaces
  2. Effectiveness. By following staff-programmed paths without deviation, autonomous floorcare solutions can regularly deliver between 98% and 99.5% coverage. Our research shows that when operators use standard floorcare equipment, they typically miss about 15% of a space without meaning to. Given current public-health concerns, every floor should be cleaned from corner to corner – a goal more easily achieved with autonomous equipment.

  3. Worker safety. Autonomous solutions significantly reduce, and may even eliminate, the amount of time staff members spend in areas where germs may be present. Once a route is programmed into a machine, the machine will clean that same route every time, with no human intervention required. When the cleaning route is completed, or the machine needs assistance, it will notify the operator.

Best practices for using an autonomous scrubber dryer to prevent the spread of infection

Follow these best practices to ensure efficient, effective, and safe cleaning with an autonomous machine.

  1. Clean floors frequently. Adjust your cleaning schedule to reflect heightened hygienic requirements. This may include scrubbing high-traffic areas more often than usual.

  2. Use approved chemicals. You should always follow the guidelines provided by your local authorities, and make sure that the detergent you use is approved for scrubber dryers. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, grocery stores and other retail establishments may want to use hospital-grade cleaning chemicals. For more information, visit the COVID-19 sections of these websites: World Health Organization: Coronavirus Disease 2019, Australian Department of Health: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Alert, ISSA.
  3. Clean the machine and all consumables after use. Once the machine has finished its work, clean all parts of the equipment — including squeegees, pads, and brushes — and let them dry thoroughly. Be sure to leave the recovery-tank lid open.

  4. Adhere to safe practices when programming and/or cleaning the machine. Follow the recommended protocols for personal protection issued by your national, regional, state, and/or local public-health authorities (e.g., wearing masks and gloves, washing hands frequently, avoiding touching one’s own face, etc).

For more best practices, read our article:
How to Clean Your Floor Safely and Effectively with a Scrubber Dryer.

Features to look for in an autonomous cleaning solution

Autonomous solutions are advanced pieces of equipment that use the latest robotics technology. Here are the most important features to look for when evaluating autonomous machines to support infection-control cleaning.

  1. Third-party safety certification. Autonomous cleaning machines are designed to operate in complex environments that contain people and other obstacles. This raises the stakes when it comes to safety, so be sure that your machine is third-party certified to applicable safety standards in your jurisdiction.

  2. Easy, flexible path programming that guarantees a complete clean every time. Different autonomous solutions allow you to program cleaning paths in different ways. To ensure thorough cleaning, choose a machine that can calculate and execute the optimal cleaning route, ensuring maximum coverage and efficiency. In addition, because the physical layout of the space to be cleaned may change, select a machine that allows operators to easily program a new path on their own rather than having to call an engineer.

  3. The ability to store multiple cleaning paths for the same area. You may need to clean some parts of the floor more than others, such as entryways and other high-traffic areas. Look for a machine that lets you store, and run, multiple cleaning paths. This also helps if you have different operators cleaning the same area in shifts.

  4. The ability to adjust performance for different areas. The areas you need to clean more frequently may also require more rigorous cleaning. Best-in-class autonomous solutions allow you to program different settings (e.g., amount of chemical, brush pressure, water flow, and suction) for different routes.

  5. A system that applies only clean water. You can’t clean a floor with dirty water. Some autonomous solutions have onboard water filtration and recycling systems, which may not be effective in filtering out germs. Look for an autonomous solution that guarantees only clean water is dispensed onto the floor.

Nilfisk is here to support cleaning teams that work tirelessly to fight the spread of COVID-19. If you have any questions about autonomous solutions or cleaning during this time, please contact us at

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