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Flying into the future: New cleaning robots at Kelowna airport first in Canada

YLW has purchased 3 Greenco Robots to assist with facility maintenance
Ionut Bordieanu (left) with Greenco Robots and Neil Janssen with Bouygues double check the new cleaning robots at Kelowna International Airport before sending them off on their duties (Brittany Webster - Capital News)

Kelowna International Airport is taking to the future with new cleaning technology.

YLW has recently purchased three cleaning robots to assist in maintaining the facility.

Greenco Robots Business Development Manager for B.C. Interior Ionut Bordieanu says its the first Canadian airport to make use of such technology.

“We are fortunate and happy that we can bring to the market these tools. That’s what I call them, that’s how we like to show them to people because they are tools. We are fortunate to be the first because we get the views; people see it and they reach out to us, and if we can help the demand right now - people need help, all the industries need help - if we can help a little, that’s our goal.”

YLW has purchased two Vacuum-40 robots complete with side brushes, three hours operation on a full charge, and an eight-litre primary bin to collect garbage. This bot even knows when its battery is running low and returns itself to the charging station.

The airport also purchased a Scrubber-75 outfitted with four-stage water recycling filtration and the option for manual operation.

The robots are being used by Bouygues Energies and Services, the company holding the maintenance contract for the airport.

Contract Manager Neil Janssen says the robots are filling a major gap in staffing as floor cleaning needs to be done at night.

“[YLW] has been under personnel pressure, everyone from car rental agencies to the White Spot to the people working at the airport is having trouble getting people. We are no different. I only have three-quarters of my housekeeping staff, and so I have to find other ways to clean this airport.”

Janssen says he’s previously had to hire private companies at a higher expense to make sure all the necessary cleaning is done.

But when it comes down to it, the floors would get neglected as bathrooms, garbage disposal, and other areas of the airport took precedent for cleaning.

The bots have been at the airport for about a week now.

Janssen says they are still working out a few kinks, but overall the addition has been smooth.

“All of these had to be mapped. So, moving through the airport - every inch of the airport - that took a few weeks for the mapping of these. Now, we are just starting to use them on a full-time basis.”

Humans are still required to empty the bins, replace the water, and fix any problems the bot has.

Janssen says the robots likely wouldn’t have even been considered if there wasn’t local support.

Greenco Robots launched their first bot in the Okanagan at Smitty’s Restaurant in Kelowna back in May with great success.

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Bordieanu says the company has since been approached by a number of businesses looking for the extra help.

“The most popular now are the service robots. The restaurant industry and the hotel industry suffer a lot, so they were the first to try it… The service robots, there’s a hype right now. The cleaning robots, they’re starting to be more popular.”

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