Not all UV-C disinfection robots are built the same and choosing the right solution can make a huge impact on you and your team’s efforts to mitigate pathogens and create a safe and healthy environment. Here are 5 considerations when deciding on the right UV-C disinfection robot.
Do you go stationary or autonomous?
Not long-ago choices were limited on the type of UV-C disinfection device you could add to your infection prevention workflow. The choice was a stationary device that required an operator to constantly move it from room to room, and location to location within the room. While this is still a viable and effective option for a variety of environments, it can have its limitations when used for larger spaces, and when staff is limited.
Therefore, a solution that combines the effectiveness of UV-C disinfection with the efficiency and safety of robotics and artificial intelligence is in high-demand.
Enter autonomous UV-C disinfection robots—the future of inactivating pathogens in and around high-use environments. Autonomous UV-C disinfection robots have opened a variety of opportunities to improve the health and safety of humans interacting in specific locations such as hospitals, schools, and offices, as well as industries such as hospitality, public venues, transportation, and more.
While UV-C disinfection solutions have been in use since the 1980’s, truly autonomous robotic options have been limited. A good autonomous robotic solution will help you increase effectiveness through its mobility, mapping, scheduling, safety, data collection, ease-of-implementation, and usability. In addition to these considerations, be sure to look for a company that knows robotics and understands how artificial intelligence supports and supplements your existing protocols.
Does it fit your environment?
Overall footprint of any UV-C disinfection robot is important—you’ll need to know if it can get through hallways, doorways, in and around rooms, and between objects such as furniture or equipment.
A stationary UV-C robot can be manually pushed into rooms and set in place for disinfection. The size—base width as well as overall height—will determine whether the device can fit through doorways and into smaller inner rooms such as a patient bathroom in the case of hospitals. Be sure to consider the weight of a stationary device as well since an operator will need to be able to push the robot around to each disinfection point.
This is where an autonomous robot can make a big difference. A well-designed autonomous solution will combine expertly engineered robotic technology with innovative artificial intelligence (AI) to navigate rooms—moving from disinfection point to disinfection point, while avoiding obstacles. An ADIBOT A1 for example, utilizes radar, LiDAR, multiple cameras, and an array of sensors working in tandem with onboard AI to create maps of the environment, move through spaces while detecting objects, using the data to provide safe and effective, 360-degree complete disinfection.
This is a game-changer when considering the positive impact on time to disinfect, labor costs, efficiency, safety, and the inactivation of pathogens.
How will it address “shadowing”?
Let’s start with defining “shadowing” in the case of UV-C disinfection. UV-C, like any light, is subject to being partially or even fully blocked by a solid or opaque object, rendering it ineffective on the opposite side of the object that the light is emitted on.
Think of a flashlight being directed at a table with a box on it. That flashlight will cast light on the side it’s pointed at while casting a shadow on the opposite side. If that flashlight does not move from that position, the light will never hit the other side.
The same is true with a UV-C disinfection device that never moves. The UV light will not hit the shadowed side and you won’t achieve complete disinfection. To get 360-degrees of UV-C disinfection, the device must move to other sides of the room, equipment, and objects.
While a stationary robot can be pushed to various disinfection points in a room, it requires an operator to be on-hand, setting the robot in place, leaving the room while it disinfects, then returning to move it again. This can work well in a smaller setting where the total number of rooms to be disinfected is minimal.
In larger applications such as a hospital where there are multiple patient rooms and operating rooms that need disinfection, an autonomous solution really makes a difference. Rather than set a stationary UV-C device to disinfect, leave the room and wait, then re-enter and move it to another position—an operator can set multiple disinfection points around the room in a matter of minutes, and leave the room to let the autonomous robot work.
As the autonomous robot moves around the room from disinfection point to disinfection point, objects— such as tools, equipment, and furniture are being hit with UV-C light from multiple angles. Meanwhile, operators can be prepping the next room for this UV-C final step in a complete disinfection process.
What safety features are included?
The safety of everyone around your UV-C disinfection robot is a big consideration when deciding on the right solution. How will you detect a breach to the disinfection area? Are there communication tools in place to know the current state of your robot? Can it avoid collision while navigating your environment?
It’s in the area of safety that having an autonomous robot with artificial intelligence will really make a difference for your team.
A well-designed autonomous UV-C disinfection robot will employ a variety of technology to detect motion, avoid obstacles, communicate status, and provide warning to those in the area. An autonomous UV-C disinfection robot like the ADIBOT A1 features a front facing camera, PIR sensors that detect body heat, a highly visible top-mounted status light, audio notifications, and Bluetooth enabled exterior safety sign with internal motion sensors.
These features combine to actively monitor the environment, provide clear warning, and automatically shutoff the robot when a breach is detected.
Will it provide you valuable data?
Informed decisions begin with the right data, and your UV-C disinfection robot should be able to provide you and your team with insights that help you understand the overall effectiveness of your disinfection protocol. This may include everything from detailed reports on a room-by-room disinfection basis, to high-level operational overviews. Each stakeholder in a hospital for example, from EVS to Infection Prevention, as well as departmental and executive leadership should benefit from data collected by your UV-C disinfection robot.
Both stationary and autonomous solutions can provide important information—with an autonomous solution like the ADIBOT A1 providing more detailed and extensive data due to its artificial intelligence and ability to map environments and record disinfection point locations.
Imagine being able to tell exactly where your UV-C disinfection robot moved to in an operating or patient room, and to see where it stopped to disinfect. Knowledge like this gives you key insights into the effectiveness of your team, your protocol, and overall infection prevention efforts.
One more thing: What does cost of ownership really look like?
We said 5 things, but it wouldn’t be right to not mention costs of owning a UV-C disinfection robot.
With cost of ownership, some key considerations come to mind. Of course, there’s the initial purchase, with UV-C disinfection robots ranging in price from $20,000 to over $100,000. Depending on the manufacturer, there can be additional charges for service contracts and required maintenance. Additionally, cost of consumables like bulbs can vary depending on the quality of UV-C bulbs used by the manufacturer. Look for a UV-C robot that uses bulbs rated for at least 16,000 hours which will provide you a much longer overall lifespan.
How much value would a fully autonomous solution provide—one that can operate as an independent team member—in cases where staffing shortages and resource constraints could potentially lead to higher infection rates?
When it comes to your customers, or your patients, your partners and your staff, health and safety is not an area where you’ll ever compromise. However, choosing the right UV-C disinfection robot can be challenging.
Consider all the points above, and if you’re still finding yourself wondering which is the right solution for you, get in touch. We’re passionate about robotics and artificial intelligence, but even more passionate about this technology making a positive impact on everyday human life.