Autonomous Solutions: Tennant Co.
Primary location: Eden Prairie | Employees: 4,300 | Specialty: Autonomous floor-cleaning machines
At a time when cleaning standards have become more rigorous and help is hard to find, Tennant Co. is innovating. A leader in the cleaning industry for 152 years, the Eden Prairie giant manufactures, sells, and services equipment around the world, including autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) that clean industrial and commercial spaces without a human operator.
“We’ve been reinventing ourselves by our move into robotics,” says Josh Fulkerson, director of advanced product marketing and innovation. The T16AMR robotic cleaning machine is the latest addition to the fleet. A fully autonomous industrial floor cleaner, it can sweep and scrub while navigating space using real-time sensor data. Both 2D and 3D cameras and long-range lidar scanners help the robot “see,” making adjustments to unexpected obstacles while working safely alongside employees.
“We want to help our companies do what they need to do to keep things clean,” Fulkerson says, “but also help their customers perceive their company as putting their best foot forward, keeping a clean facility, or making people feel better about shopping at some of the places that we serve.”
Demand for data that helps customers manage their spaces is another driver of autonomous innovation, says Tennant’s global product manager Maggie Koester. “The needs aren’t only for a clean facility, something everyone is even more aware of these days, but also for additional solutions like inventory scanning and data collection.”
The use of autonomous cleaning robotics eliminates mundane, repetitive tasks for employees and creates higher-level high-tech jobs that Koester says will likely be more desirable, particularly in a tight labor market.