Issue: 25 October 2017
First Robotic Floor Cleaner in Scotland
TASKI Intellibot transforms overnight cleaning at major hospital
Scotland’s first fully automated robotic TASKI Intellibot cleaning machine is helping the overnight cleaning team at NHS Fife’s Victoria Hospital to maintain corridor floors. Known affectionately as Zig, the new TASKI swingobot 1650 scrubber drier works on its own so that overnight team members who previously operated floorcare equipment are now utilised to concentrate on other important cleaning duties, helping improve cleaning results and productivity and, most importantly, the hospital environment.
“We have been using Zig since February and it has already helped to make our cleaning processes more efficient and established itself as a key member of our overnight team,” says Midge Rotheram, NHS Fife Support Services Manager. “With our existing ride-on machines, one member of our team will drive and someone else will do the ‘additional tasks’ such as floor edges, high dusting, glass, doors and so on. Now Zig cleans the floor while only one member of staff does all the detail and the second can work in other areas. It’s about using the machine and team in combination to deliver the best results.”
Like many hospitals, The Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy has corridors and open spaces that it cleans using conventional scrubber driers. This ties up members of the overnight team on an important but laborious task. As a long-term user of Diversey equipment, including some large ride-on machines for overnight work, the team were keen to assess the potential of the new TASKI swingobot 1650 scrubber drier after its launch in 2016. Midge Rotheram and Angela Meldrum, Domestic Supervisor, attended a demonstration organised by Kris Robertson, TASKI & Robotics National Business Development Manager at Diversey, at a hospital in Glasgow.
“We wanted to see the machine in action but weren’t sure if it would be right for us,” says Midge Rotheram. “Following this demo, we both thought it was fantastic.
“After considering how and where we could use a robot and reading up on the information obtained at the demo I contacted Neil Durrant and advised him that we were looking to consider options further. Consideration was given to where it would clean, how often, run time, resources and how feasible it would be to use at Victoria Hospital. It was a big commitment because there was not a ‘trial’ model we could run for a week to see how it performed – we had to go by what had been displayed at the demo and the information that was already available. We decided, after considering the figures, to lease rather than outright purchase.”
Diversey’s Intellibot specialist Paul Martorano and regional account manager Neil Durrant visited the hospital to help the team identify the areas where the machine would be most useful. Setting up the machine included taking it through some basic steps to build and memorise an internal map of the proposed working areas. Once these maps have been created the machine is set to work in that area using simple on-screen instructions.
“We can use the machine in lots of areas but specifically corridors and streets,” says Midge Rotheram. “We don’t need to worry about it because it does the work as long as we put the water and chemical in and press the right map for the area we are going to clean.”
The team saw an immediate improvement in the finish to the floors. This has happened because they can assign the machine to clean each floor regularly, at a slower speed and with less chemical and less physical resource, giving better consistency overall.
“I can see that it has improved finish and made a difference,” says Midge Rotheram. “We are getting consistency throughout with the floors being cleaned by the robot, no matter how old they are and what area of the site.”
The overnight team of around 16 members of staff is split into two groups, with some staff working alternate weeks or nights within that week. The shift runs from 8pm until 7am and, depending on what else is going on, the machine can be in use and working the whole time. The Domestic Supervisor Angela was trained first to use the machine along with 2 or 3 other staff but now further staff and supervisors have received training with others planned on a gradual basis.
“Our night team is not large and they are spread out, it can be a very busy shift with lots of demands due to the patient and clinical activity so I am constantly looking at ways to best support the team where I can,” says Midge Rotheram. “The robot works really well overnight because the corridors and streets can be quieter with much less activity, this is one of the reasons we clean at night, the robot just helps and is included very much as part of our team.
“We are taking a relatively cautious approach initially. The robot was initially restricted to one area only to allow the staff using it to build their confidence and feel comfortable with what it could do and how it performed but we have now progressed, adding more areas and more maps and this is expected to continue as user confidence grows. One of the maps is our clinical street which is long, wide
and also has quite a slope in one part but thankfully that presented no problem for the Intellibot.
“We have experienced a few minor technical issues but Diversey has fixed these very quickly. The support we have received from Paul, Neil and others in the team has been excellent.”
NHS Fife has been keen to engage with staff, patients and the wider community about the new machine. This has included a press day, staff awareness events and even a competition to give the machine its nickname of Zig. These initiatives help promote the benefits of robotic cleaning and explain to patients, visitors and staff that they may well see the machine working unattended and not to be alarmed. Members of the night shift domestic team have been enthusiastic about their new recruit.
“We are having lots of positive experience,” says Midge Rotheram. “Our staff want to work with the robot and ask if it can do other tasks or clean in other areas. We are getting very positive feedback from the Domestic Team and little negative feedback from other staff who work overnight, overall it has been the right choice for us.
“There are other areas of the site we will look at using our robot, allowing the floor maintenance to continue while utilising the existing staff for other key duties, now that we have Zig we want to continue to develop. We are also considering other sites where a robot could be used successfully.”