- Phillips 66 is offering floor-cleaning robots to its more than 7,000 branded fuel locations, according to an emailed company announcement.
- The fuel retailer has partnered with Michigan-based cleaning technology company Ice Cobotics for the rollout, which will feature Ice Cobotics’ Cobi 18 autonomous floor scrubber.
- Using autonomous cleaning bots aims to help Phillips 66 maintain cleaner and more organized sites — as well as provide a better overall customer experience — as it looks to “create c-stores of the future,” according to the announcement.
Phillips 66 is Ice Cobotics’ first partner in the c-store industry, and the technology company is “hoping for more” to come, Lynnea Page‑Jenkins, communications specialist for Ice Cobotics, said in an interview.
Ice Cobotics also offers its floor-scrubbing technology in traditional office spaces, healthcare facilities, universities, public venues, manufacturing facilities and more.
The battery-operated Cobi 18 floor scrubber runs for 90 minutes at a time and can clean 5,000-7,000 square-feet per hour. Store owners can track their “clean score” through a mobile app to see how the machine has performed with various routes. Users only need to set the floor scrubbing route once, and the machine will know to follow that path moving forward. It costs retailers $15 per day to use.
The Cobi 18 will help Phillips 66 lower operating costs, Lou Burke, manager of branded sales for Phillips 66, said in the announcement. According to Ice Cobotics, the machine can help curb staffing shortages by taking on repetitive work and allowing employees to focus their attention in other areas, including stocking coolers and shelves and keeping fresh food and drink areas clean.
While floor-scrubbing bots have made noise in the grocery industry, it remains an untapped resource for the c-store sector, especially in the U.S. In June 2021, Circle K spearheaded this initiative overseas, when it launched 100 mobile-operated cleaning robots in its distribution center in Hong Kong.