It is far more common for medicine, genetics and space flight to dominate conversations when talking about disruptive technologies. To many people’s surprise, the cleaning industry is one that will benefit from artificial intelligence and internet technology in the near future.

There is a keen awareness that we need to produce food on an ever-increasing scale to feed our growing population. An undesirable outcome from this pressure to produce more food more quickly could be a failure to maintain standards along the supply chain, explains Emma Corder, country manager for Nilfisk South Africa.

“We’re already inundated with food scares and actual infections that have very real consequences for society. It is therefore hardly surprising that we’re seeing a growing interest in automation of varying degrees in the cleaning industry,” says Emma.

Lessons on how to deploy these technologies and the possibilities they unlock are constantly being fed into Nilfisk’s product development programmes. The company has a global footprint and interests in virtually every type of industry, placing it in the unique position to respond to this need.

A white paper entitled Connecting to the Future that explores the opportunities that connected devices and systems can deliver, was recently published by the company. The report paints a picture of how technology is expected to impact the industry.

The insights, which were drawn from the company’s Global Cleaning Trends survey, were enlightening but not especially surprising, says Emma.

“Of the respondents, 29% believe connected cleaning will be a major trend this year, with a third saying they were ready to use connected cleaning solutions now. A further 28% expect to start using connected cleaning equipment in the next two years. This evidence supports our conviction that the benefits will become ever more clear as companies see the value,” says Emma.

The potential for technology to automate mundane, but critical cleaning functions is wide ranging and includes a mix of autonomous and human-aided applications. The white paper lays out predictions for three distinct phases that the integration of connected devices will undergo in the near to mid future.

Companies that are using the technology to monitor machines and processes remotely are the ones taking the first step towards this high-tech future. This initial wave of embedding technology will lead to increased integration of functionality and systems. Remote monitoring of equipment can identify faults or failures and immediately set processes in place to fix or repair machinery, for example. Predictive maintenance that relies on data from the field can then further promote uptime and best use of equipment.

“Technology is going to become not only indispensable, but fully integrated into broader ecosystems like smart city grids. It would not be beyond the bounds of reality, I think, for simple and complex cleaning processes to form part of a building’s automated maintenance processes,” says Emma.

The same concept applies to industries or value chains that are becoming increasingly connected. There is no reason that a batch of milk, for instance, cannot have a fully traceable and auditable record from source to table. Scheduled automated cleaning and maintenance can be included at any part of the value chain.

“We are excited about the role technology can play in transforming industries and value chains by enabling them to be more efficient, cost-effective and transparent,” concludes Emma.

For more information, contact Nilfisk on +27 (11) 801 4600 or via www.nilfisk.co.za.

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