Kelowna International Airport is heading into the future with new cleaning technology.
YLW has recently purchased three cleaning robots to help with facility maintenance.
Greenco Robots business development manager for BC Interior, Ionut Bordieanu, says it is the first Canadian airport to use such technology.
“We are fortunate and happy to be able to bring these tools to market. That’s what I call them, that’s what we like to show them to people because they are tools. We are lucky to be the first because we get the views; people see it and communicate with us, and if we can help the demand right now, people need help, all industries need help, if we can help a little bit, that’s our goal.
YLW has purchased two Vacuum-40 robots complete with side brushes, three hours of operation on a full charge, and an eight-litre main bin for garbage collection. This bot even knows when its battery is running low and returns to the charging station.
The airport also purchased a Scrubber-75 equipped with four-stage water recycling filtration and the option of manual operation.
The robots are being used by Bouygues Energies and Services, the company holding the airport maintenance contract.
Contracts manager Neil Janssen says the robots are filling a major gap in staffing, as floor cleaning has to be done at night.
“[YLW] has been under pressure from staff, everyone from car rental agencies to White Spot to people working at the airport are having trouble getting people. We are not different. I only have three-quarters of my cleaning staff, so I have to find other ways to clean this airport.”
Janssen says that previously it had to hire private companies at a higher cost to make sure all the necessary cleaning was done.
But when it comes down to it, the floors got neglected as restrooms, the garbage disposal, and other areas of the airport took precedent for cleanliness.
The bots have been at the airport for about a week.
Janssen says they’re still ironing out some issues, but overall the addition has been smooth.
“All of these had to be mapped. So moving around the airport, every inch of the airport, took a few weeks to map these. Now, we are just beginning to use them full time.”
Humans are still required to empty the bins, replace the water, and fix any issues the bot has.
Janssen says the robots probably wouldn’t even have been considered if there hadn’t been local support.
Greenco Robots launched its first bot in the Okanagan at Smitty’s Restaurant in Kelowna in May to great success.
Bordieanu says that since then several companies have approached the company for additional help.
“The most popular now are service robots. The restaurant industry and the hotel industry suffer a lot, so they were the first to try… Service robots, there is a hype right now. Cleaning robots are starting to become more popular.”
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