Retail Business Services (RBS), the services company of grocery Ahold Delhaize USA, has launched a pilot of UV disinfection robots from Ava Robotics in two of its affiliated distribution centers to aid in enhanced cleaning procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“2020 was an unprecedented year for grocery retail,” said Chris Lewis, EVP of supply chain for RBS, which has offices in Quincy, Massachusetts; Salisbury, North Carolina; Carlisle, Pennsylvania; and Scarborough, Maine. “As we delivered an exponential volume of products to grocery stores and their customers to provide the nourishment families need, ensuring the safety of associates in our distribution centers has been a top priority. In addition to other robust health and safety measures, the robots have enabled us to further enhance disinfection procedures at two sites to protect our greatest asset — our people. We were pleased to be the first in the industry to support the testing of this technology.”
The test builds on already robust measures that RBS has put in place to promote distribution center associate health and safety during the pandemic.
Enabling autonomous UV disinfection in workplace settings such as corporate offices and warehouses, Ava’s robot offers the following features:
- Applications that disinfect both air and surfaces
- A disinfection rate of about 9,000 square feet per hour, with 99% effectiveness against COVID-19
- Full autonomous operation and safe navigation
- Remote access to the robot for facilities managers or other users
- Emailed reporting, automatically sent to managers, confirming appropriate dosages for assigned areas
- Integration of screens and speakers for disinfection-related announcements
- Easy integration with cleaning best practices and existing protocols
When asked about plans to introduce the robot at additional company facilities and divisions, an RBS spokeswoman told Progressive Grocer: “The team continues to evaluate the technology at this time. No decisions about further rollout have been made yet.”
The robots have also been piloted at other organizations, among them Steelcase and Boston City Hall. Ava's UV robots are expected to become widely available and ship in early second quarter of this year.
The UV Disinfection Robot is the latest addition to Ava’s total workplace solutions, which also include Cisco Webex-enabled telepresence robots, designed with the aim of helping global enterprise businesses drive workplace collaboration initiatives.
“With this timely expansion of our technology, we are bringing an intelligent UV disinfection robot with autonomous mobility to a market in great need,” said Youssef Saleh, co-founder and CEO of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Ava. “Businesses must make employees, customers — and really anyone coming into their place of work — feel confident that all that can be done to keep them safe and healthy is being done.”
Ahold Delhaize USA, a division of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, is the parent company for Ahold Delhaize’s U.S. companies, consisting of Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Co., Hannaford, and Stop & Shop, as well as e-grocer Peapod; RBS, a U.S. support services company providing services to the brands; and Peapod Digital Labs, its e-commerce engine. Operating more than 2,000 stores across 23 states, Ahold Delhaize USA is No. 11 on The PG 100, PG’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in the United States.