Robots have arrived

Robot cleaners get scrubbing in WTC Amsterdam

Robot cleaners get scrubbing in WTC Amsterdam

You may have spotted them scrubbing away as you move around the WTC. Three cleaning robots are a new weapon in the battle to make sure the complex remains spic and span.

The three robots have been patrolling the car park and the enormous stone floor spaces in Central Hall and Lobby H/I for the past few weeks. Their arrival is the latest in a string of innovations introduced by D&B The Facility Group, which has just renewed its cleaning contract with CBRE for the third time.

‘D&B is a people-focused company,’ says Elmer Engel, managing director of the D&B cleaning services at WTC Amsterdam. ‘Our partnership with CBRE has a focus on innovation and flexibility. We trust each other, and that means we are willing to experiment together when it comes to new methods and innovations.’

The robots are an extension of the technology with D&B already uses behind the scenes, such as the sensors to make sure the rest rooms have enough toilet paper and soap. ‘WTC tenants and their guests use the rest rooms 13,000 times a day, and we can only do our job properly by using our cleaning hosts as cleverly as we can,’ says Elmer. ‘We don’t only have to clean. We must also keep the toilet roll and soap dispensers filled up, at the right time and in the right place.’

Technology delivers both high quality services for the WTC and its tenants, as well as potential cost reductions, despite the considerable price tag attached to each robot. ‘Yes, the robots are very efficient at keeping such big spaces clean, which benefits the service costs,’ says Elmer. ‘But equally importantly, they give my colleagues more time to do other work, and believe me, there is more than enough work to do that sensors and robots can’t manage.’

Another knock-on effect is the impact on staff, by relieving them of some of the heavy, repetitive tasks and therefore boosting job satisfaction. ‘Try mopping a floor yourself for two hours in a row,’ says Elmer. ‘And that is what we do every day. Our cleaning hosts are happy that monotonous, physical jobs are now being done by their metal colleagues!’

Flexibility in the cleaning roster in an office complex where occupancy rates fluctuate is also a key part of the job, and that became increasingly obvious during two years of coronavirus.

‘While we might be at the end of the pandemic, that flexibility has been a positive addition and as far as we are concerned, it can stay,’ he says. ‘Over the past two years, we have developed a way of being able to scale up quickly – thanks, in part, to those sensors. We know how many people used the toilet and we can extract trends and make forecasts about the coming days.’

As for the robots, they too can be used only when needed. ‘If there are more visitors, you use them for longer,’ he says. ‘And if you don’t need them, you can simply switch them off.’

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