Monday, December 19, 2005

Here, robot robot -- make my business more efficient!

There was a great article in this month's Reader's Digest about robotics making our lives easier. Many of the items were far fetched like the rubber sink, the robot that attaches to your wall and mops your floor while you sleep. I'm sure they'll be there but they are not currently meaningful.

I want to tell you about one item that I have seen work and I believe can begin to save businesses on janitorial fees. There are two janitorial essentials businesses need -- continual vacuuming and continual trash dumping. Trash dumping -- that can happen during the day without bothering workflow. Vacuuming -- now that is another story.

We have an incredibly large 3,100 square foot concrete floor facility at my father's farm. To sweep and resweep -- it took forever and we really just felt like we were pushing the dirt around.

That was until he got a roomba by a company chillingly named iRobot (Will Smith had a movie by this name.) This little baby moves around the floor quietly and gets up the dirt. When we leave, we make sure we put the countless dining chairs up on the table (the more clear area the better) and the floor stays spotless. With seven grandchildren and a dog -- that is amazing.

Now, how can this apply to your business? Well, how about having daily trash pickup handled by someone in your office, easy enough. Try a Roomba and move it to a different room nightly -- or for that matter get a one for the large rooms. Set it to vacuum at night. When it is "tired" a/k/a batteries are running low -- it returns to the docking station for a new charge.

This is definitely one item on my wish list. I think it has a business application and not just one for tired housewives. I'd like to see an industrial version that moves itself from room to room and uses GPS.

Currently for less than $300 you can get one of these. I believe we will continue to see rote routine jobs such as these supplanted by robotic devices with increasing frequency over the next several years. They have just announced the Scooba for linoleum flooring that is just coming to market.

I am dissappointed that they don't have a more commercial offering for carpet cleaning as I think that is where real potential lies, but until then, smaller home offices and high traffic offices with secure information make great locations for the roomba.

Now that is a bright idea!

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