The autonomous floor scrubbers allow cleaning staff to be more focused on high-touch points, deep sanitizing, and traveler experiences. This technology has been particularly helpful during the pandemic when cleaning has never been more important. It allows us to balance costs with enhanced cleaning performance for our clients.
– Don Toole, SVP Sales & Marketing, Flagship Facility Services
Flagship Facility Services is a leading facilities management company based in San Jose, Calif. Founded in 1988, Flagship has set a precedent for how a facility services company should go about business. Flagship serves multiple verticals, but one of its core markets is aviation. The company works within all facets of the air travel industry, including the sanitization and maintenance of major airport facilities in Tampa Bay, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Orlando, and many more.
As Flagship’s business grew over the years, it faced the challenge of balancing floor cleaning performance with rising labor costs. Flagship’s goal was to find a solution that would enable it to do more with the same number of resources. Additionally, the company wanted to be able to prove accountability for airport clients through real-time operational metrics—information that was difficult to provide on a timely basis. The recent pandemic only exacerbated many of these challenges as cleaning became more important than ever for Flagship’s airport clients. Flagship knew that it needed to think outside the box and look for a cost-effective solution that provided both enhanced cleaning efficiency and better data and reporting. This is where advanced technology, specifically robotics, came into play.
Flagship had been eyeing robotic scrubbers for years but wanted to make sure the technology was safe for high-traffic environments, and that the ROI was significant. In 2019, Flagship discovered Brain Corp, an AI software company that powers a variety of collaborative robotic (cobot) applications, including autonomous floor cleaners. The company conducted an initial pilot of several BrainOS- powered cleaners and was impressed with the usability and performance of the machines, as well as the ability to get detailed, cloud-based metrics on demand. The pilot was a big success and was well received by employees. Deployment only took a couple of days and required no custom infrastructure or specialized training. With the onset of the 2020 global pandemic, Flagship purchased additional robotic scrubbers, T7AMRs, powered by Tennant Co., a Brain Corp manufacturing partner.
Flagship has seen a strong return on its robotics investment, which has helped improve cleaning consistency at its client airports, while giving valuable time back to workers so they can focus on other critical tasks, such as sanitizing high-contact surfaces and assisting travelers as needed. The company estimates that it will re-allocate up to 10,000 hours back to employees by the end of 2020.
The robotic cleaners have delivered other benefits as well, including improving social distancing so that both employees and travelers feel safer; helping fill labor gaps due to absenteeism; and providing a highly visible sign of the airport’s commitment to cleaning.
Finally, the robots provide something that was difficult to get otherwise: up-to-the-minute reporting of cleaning performance by robot, or across the entire fleet.
Estimated hours of productivity gained in 2020 through robotics
Number of robotic cleaners to be deployed by Flagship this year
Square feet of airport space that Flagship cleans every day
Given the success of its robotics program, Flagship planned to expand its fleet of autonomous scrubbers to 16 by the end of 2020. The company is also looking to pursue other robotic solutions, such as autonomous vacuums, and more technologies that help drive operational efficiencies and improve customer experiences.