Couple of months back, we at Vision Cleaning tried using automated commercial high rise window cleaners to clean high rise windows. Our purpose back then was to test these robots with the intention of incorporating them into our commercial high rise window cleaning service especially for dangerous high rise jobs.
Two months and 19 attempts later, we’ve given up. Here’s why:
Setting up the commercial high rise window cleaning robot takes about as much time as setting up the tools, equipment and cleaning platform for humans to do the job. The highland window cleaner needed to be properly aligned and its grip to the glass and non-glass surface had to be properly tested before letting it go. The automated window cleaning robot needed to be always released from the top so that the weight of the wire does not detach the robot from the glass surface.
The biggest challenge we faced using robots in high-rise window cleaning situations was the fact that a high rise building or commercial front, is not always 100% glass but usually a combination of glass and metal or glass and concrete or some other fancy material.
Before we let the commercial high rise window cleaning robot begin, we need to ensure that the surface will provide sufficient adhesive force for the robot to cling to. Also, to provide an element of safety, we needed to anchor the robot tether firmly to the roof as there was always a danger that the robot or automated commercial high rise window cleaner might fall off in which case, at the very least we would have lost an expensive piece of equipment and in a worst case scenario, people might get injured or even killed. A Domestic window cleaner can weigh anything from 5kgs to 25kgs. Imagine it dropping on somebody from say 20 stories up. The potential for serious injury or death is very real.
Setup and safety issues apart, the main reason we decided against using automated Professional window cleaning services robots was the fact that as yet, they just don’t do a good job. A robot window cleaning device has no way of distinguishing a dusty window from a grime covered dirty window. It treats all glass surfaces alike and therein lays the ultimate problem to using robots for cleaning windows. Also, unlike humans, the robot has no way of sensing how much pressure its cleaning brush can exert over the glass. In our experience, window panes are not uniformly dirty and therefore treating each and every pane the same does not do a good job of cleaning windows at all.
The ultimate test came when we cleaned two identical glass surfaces of a large shopping mall. One surface was cleaned by our human crew while the other was cleaned by the robotic professional window cleaners. The manager at the mall was far from impressed with the robot. He said and I quote, “good attempt by the robot but your human crew would have to redo the part the robot did”. And that folks was the last time we used an automated window cleaner. When it comes to window cleaning only humans can do a job that will be appreciated by fellow humans.