At the Forefront of Robotics

If you think 2001: A Space Odyssey is the stuff of fantasy, right now cutting-edge FM businesses are harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to transform their workplaces.

As automated technology continues to grow – reports suggest the global robotic market will be worth $181 billion by 2019, rising by 2-3 per cent annually to about 25 per cent[1] in the next decade – the challenge is how to adapt to the fast-changing environmental landscape.

Offering faster response times to differing situations, improved efficiency and the potential to save thousands of dollars, robotics position facilities managers at the forefront of cutting-edge technology.

Australia is already pioneering the ‘portering’ robotic market, with Chip the social humanoid robot developed by property group Stockland. Chip assists visitors to Stockland’s Merrylands Shopping Centre in Western Sydney.

Global real estate services firm, JLL, also has a new robot in its service offering – JiLL – who is used as a concierge at its newest Sydney office. And in Tokyo, the 2020 Olympics is shaping up to be a tech-filled wonderland complete with a robot village, driverless taxis and superfast 5G wireless connectivity.

But what if portering could be used within a FM environment?

In Perth, it’s already happening. The new Fiona Stanley Hospital now has the largest robotic drug dispensary in the southern hemisphere, where robots scan, move and store $200,000 worth of drugs every day.

With improved efficiency and human error removed, the hospital has recorded a 70 per reduction in running out of stock.

In Scotland, robotics takes facilities management to a new level.

At the Forth Valley Royal Hospital, British-based company Serco has created a ‘segregated flows’ strategy that sees 12 robots act as porters to deliver and collect food, waste and deliver clinical supplies – all via half a kilometre of service tunnels under the hospital.

The robots are managed by the hospital’s facilities management helpdesk system, which monitors, generates statistics, and works from an advanced[i] wireless network.

Even standard grounds, building and security maintenance are benefiting from robotics and automation, providing facility managers with even greater control and efficiency.

For example, Finland-based company, ZenRobotics[2] has designed the world’s first waste-sorting system.

The ZenRobotics Recycler uses robotics to transform waste processing, reducing the dependency on human labour and driving predictability into the sorting business. It will deliver its first system to Australia shortly.

And finally, drones are becoming accepted in facility management. Already popular in the engineering industry, drones can also reduce human labour significantly and add value by providing views and inspection access for hard to reach areas. For example, a drone could provide vision to areas where a lift or scaffolding is normally used.

With the technology improving at breakneck speed, facilities managers must rise to the challenge – today and into the future.

Keep informed about the latest in robotics at Total Facilities, championing high performance environments and bringing the brightest developments in technology.

[1] http://www.theage.com.au/business/property/robots-to-make-shopping-easier-20161205-gt410e.html

[2] http://zenrobotics.com/country-spotlight-australia/

About the Author: Annie Reid

Annie Reid is a qualified journalist, professional copywriter and published author with a passion for everything bricks and mortar. For many years, she’s written thousand of stories for newspapers, magazines and clients around the world. Somewhere between the heady buzz of headlines and deadlines, she discovered a niche for creating tailor made content for the property, real estate, architecture and design industries. Annie holds a Bachelor of Arts and is currently studying a Masters in Publishing and Communications, both from the University of Melbourne.