Cleaning 4.0
Dated: 20-03-2019
 
Public spaces face a curious dilemma – while they see the most traffic through any given day, they are also expected to constantly be clean and aesthetic. Whether it’s a waterfront, park or community spaces, outdoor cleaning involves several challenges and is subject to weather conditions, the footfall and the kind of surfaces that need to be cleaned. The unaccountable hours invested by the cleaning staff definitely calls for a round of applause. Having said that, companies world over are constantly investing in hours of R&D to introduce innovations that not only reduce man hours but also save time, energy and increase efficiency. One of the fields in this respect is robotics. 
 
Robotics can play a major role for efficient and quicker cleaning results. Cleaning service providers in the Gulf region have always welcomed new innovations or developments with sustainability as the main focus area. This section talks about one such partnership between service provider and technology.

The case

Tandeef, the city cleaning arm of Bee’ah – a sustainability pioneer in the Middle East - has introduced an autonomous electric-driven vacuum machine for street cleaning in the region as part of the expansion of its comprehensive, nextgeneration waste collection fleet. “As a waste management pioneer, Bee’ah is constantly looking at and investing in the latest industrial technologies, to increase efficiency, complement the efforts of our employees, reduce emissions and our carbon footprint and to make our operations as sustainable as possible. We introduced an autonomous electric vacuum cleaner into our fleet in phases commencing from September 2018, before being officially launched in January 2019, in line with Bee’ah’s participation at EcoWaste 2019 (held as part of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week). The feedback we have received has been very positive, with government and commercial entities and the public expressing their enthusiasm at seeing such futuristic equipment for cleaning on the streets,” avers Fahad Shehail, CEO of Waste Management Services at Bee’ah.

The new electric sweeper complements the advanced fleet, which includes eco-friendly, AI-integrated vehicles that follow an optimal route management system. “Inspired by an autonomous vehicles used for litter picking in other countries, we attended industrial exhibitions worldwide and worked with international experts, to identify a machine that could yield similar benefits in the UAE,” informs Shehail. "The autonomous electric vacuum cleaner is a unique concept that will redefine the waste collection sector. It is the very first electric litter vacuum cleaner with an autonomous driving system and a cutting-edge innovative system that is able to recognise and automatically follow the operator along the day, during the cleaning tasks in the city,” explains Shehail.

Automation in cleaning

This revolutionary electric urban litter vacuum cleaner allows the operator to work independently and frees him from the management of the traction of the vehicle, enabling movement with complete agility between the city's obstacles. The autonomous system can be trained to recognise and automatically follow the operator through the day. Additionally, a hand gesture sensor ensures that the autonomous system moves only when required. The system also takes care of the burden of full navigation, obstacle detection and avoiding people, ensuring total freedom for the operator, and safety for the urban areas in which it is used.

Equipped with a powerful, compact battery, the autonomous vacuum cleaner can be fully charged in four hours and delivers 10 hours of uninterrupted operation. Emitting zero CO2, the urban and industrial vacuum cleaner is sensor-guided and produces minimal noise when operational. Shehail says it not only respects the environment because it produces zero emissions, but it is also the only urban and industrial waste vacuum cleaner developed with the operator’s needs in mind; making cleaning tasks more ergonomic and less heavy.

The sweeper includes a locking mechanism that ensures stability on slopes and uneven terrain. In addition, the autonomous system is equipped with a power suction, which automatically sprays water on small items like cigarette butts to avoid fires. It also deploys a fire extinguisher, which can come in handy during an emergency. “Operators are given training on basic functions and maintenance. They are also instructed on how to engage and disengage the automatic system, switch to manual mode, and to operate the tracking and recognition sensors,” informs Shehail. Currently, the machines are deployed at various locations within Sharjah City.

In addition to ensuring fuel efficiency through renewable sources, Bee’ah’s fleet is regulated using an advanced, integrated fleet management system, which includes features like waste vehicle setup, bin asset management, smart monitoring and incident management, driver behaviour, performance monitoring, resources scheduling, and call and dispatch centres to reduce carbon footprint and save resources. The company currently has a fleet of over 1,200 vehicles including waste collection trucks, mechanical sweepers, bin washers, leaf collectors and street vacuum cleaners.

Their fleet also includes electric cleaning vehicles which are used in the conservation of desert areas. “We were one of the first companies in the Middle East to include electric and CNG vehicles within our fleet, and we continue to be one of the strongest advocates for the adoption of green vehicles in the UAE. “In 2018, we became the first company in the Middle East to place an order for Tesla’s revolutionary electric Semi trucks,” concludes Shehail.