12 Steps to Accelerate your Cobotic Journey

A major shift to cobotics in response to COVID-19

By Nils J.van der Zijl, VP Sales & Marketing, Softbank Robotics EMEA 

Growing numbers of FM providers and cleaning contractors are turning to cobotics to improve performance and meet heightened demand for cleaning in response to COVID-19.

With cleaning under the spotlight like never before, the deployment of cobots (collaborative robots which work alongside frontline teams) is enabling FM providers to meet rapidly evolving client needs as businesses look to re-open their workplaces and increase customer footfall. 

By implementing cobotics within their cleaning operations, FM providers can drive efficiencies and productivity, whilst also supporting and protecting frontline cleaning staff, many of whom are working in challenging situations during the pandemic.

However, whilst it’s easy to understand the concept of cobotics and the benefits are immediately evident, the reality of how businesses should actually go about introducing cobots into their operations is a lot more complex.

A strategic approach to cobotics

As with any major technology implementation or digital transformation programme, the introduction of cobots into the workforce requires planning and vision. It isn’t as simple as getting hold of a few cobots and handing them out to cleaning teams. This tactical approach is the reason why so many innovation initiatives in FM have failed in recent years.

Instead, to achieve success, consideration must be given to the wider impact of

cobotics across all areas of the organisation. By developing holistic, change management plans, FM leaders can ensure that cobots are introduced in a seamless and effective way and that all stakeholders (frontline staff, clients and end users) derive the full range of benefits that cobotics can deliver as quickly as possible.

Working with IFMA to optimise cobotic implementation in FM

We recently joined forces with IFMA on a series of webinars which explored the critical success factors in implementing cobotics. We collaborated with leading thinkers and practitioners from across the European FM industry and with innovation leaders that have implemented cobotics into their organisations to learn from their real-life experiences. 

(A huge thank you to Dianna Steinbach at ISSA, Alexander Granderath at DRG Consulting, Elke de Jong at CSU, Sascha Hartmann at Dussman Service Deutschland, and Peter Ankerstjerne at JLL and the recently appointed Chairman of the Board at IFMA.)

The output of these discussions is the new ‘Practical Guide to Implementing Cobotics in FM’, which details key areas that innovation leaders should consider when starting out on their cobotics journey. 

This is the first Guide of its kind, offering FM leaders practical, on-the-ground advice on how to implement cobotics into their operations.

The Guide is broken down into two parts. 

The first part looks at on-the-ground deployment and change management, covering the planning and cultural and behavioural change aspects involved in integrating cobots into the workforce. 

The second part looks at commercial and contractual factors, including the new financial, commercial and resourcing models that are needed to successfully implement cobotics.

Along with IFMA, we hope that the Guide will be a really useful resource for FM providers and cleaning contractors over the coming months and years. It’s available for free download here and we’d like to invite innovation leaders across the FM industry to read it and share their thoughts and their own experiences with us.

But if you’re in a rush right now and want to get a taste of what the Guide covers, here’s a quick snapshot!

12 steps to accelerate your cobotic journey

  1. Develop a cobotic strategy
  2. Start with a proof of concept
  3. Fail fast, learn faster
  4. Tailor communications
  5. Make upskilling a priority
  6. Create cobotic ambassadors
  7. Re-frame existing client contracts
  8. Develop new contracts based on shared goals
  9. Minimise risk and increase flexibility through opex models
  10. Re-think future workforce models
  11. Measure the broadest set of KPIs
  12. Be flexible about yielding the benefits

The Guide takes innovation leaders through each stage of this cobotic journey and offers practical advice and useful tips to help navigate potential pitfalls and deliver positive and sustainable change. 

The Guide is essential reading for FM leaders looking to kickstart or ramp up their use of cobotics in response to COVID-19.

To download the ‘Practical Guide to Implementing Cobotics’, click here.

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