By Holly Borrego, RBSM, I.C.E.
From the April 2018 Issue
From smart buildings to robotics, technology is changing the way the facilities industry operates and maintains the places where people work, learn, and play. Even janitorial services, which traditionally rely on manual processes, are getting into the act. At client sites in Massachusetts from Boston to the Bay Area, my team and I are piloting innovative new technologies. We’re looking to embrace innovation early, so we are positioned to move with change rather than react to it. One of the technologies we are the most excited about is sensors.
A recent The New Yorker article talked about the revelatory customer satisfaction data being gathered through simple, four smiley-face or frown-face button kiosks developed by HappyOrNot. Even with the limited data provided by four feedback choices, retailers are using HappyOrNot to drastically improve operations and as a result, sales.
Imagine the ability to give not only satisfaction data about restroom cleanliness, but real-time information on specific maintenance needs. For instance, new technologies utilizing touchscreen interfaces allow restroom visitors to give feedback on the cleanliness of a restroom. The selections of “average” or “needs service” prompts a graphic of the restroom, so the visitor can tap the exact location of a problem. The input generates immediate notification of the problem to the cleaning team.
Additionally, sensors continuously monitor these spaces and can foretell issues by dispatching work orders directly to the cleaning team. This means there’s no more waiting for the custodian to refill the paper towel dispenser, or, alternately, members of your facilities team aren’t wasting time on needless rounds. Instead, the sensors provide valuable, real-time data about stocking and refuse levels, delivered to the supervisor’s device. The cleaning staff is always where they’re needed, when they’re needed. And given that 30% of planned maintenance actives are carried out too frequently, there are real opportunities to drive cost savings through a more targeted approach.
In addition to giving real-time feedback on problems, a sensor system’s cloud platform analyzes data over time, providing predictive analytics of washroom usage and service schedule so that teams can be managed more effectively. Additional benefits include raising occupants’ awareness of resource usage, which can help support “green” efforts to reduce waste.
Sensor technology can also be used to track facility assets like HVAC and lighting units and can turn them off when they’re not in use.
Restroom Cleaning: Basics Remain Important
High-tech innovations are certainly changing the way we approach cleaning, but effective cleaning practices remain the foundation of proper restroom cleaning. Here are several cleaning strategies that I’ve found to be very effective.
- Implement a color-coded microfiber cleaning program for mops and rags. This will help your staff identify which cleaning products are designated for which tasks at your facility. For example, we use red for toilets; green for dusting; blue for windows and glass; and yellow for counters, sinks, and other surfaces.
- Be specific about how rags are handled. My team and I recommend that a user dispense chemicals directly onto a rag and then ring out excess liquid; that they place dirty rags into the appropriate laundry container; and that they always work from high to low and from clean to dirty.
- Employees should have access to product dispenser systems that are calibrated and accurately dispensed. Using highly concentrated cleaning products is more sustainable when it comes to things like packaging and transportation. However, to ensure the environmental benefits and to keep employees safe, it’s important that these highly concentrated products are used in dilution control dispensing systems. If a dispense system is not available, staff should be educated on correct dilution rate and PPE requirements for all chemical mixing.
- Cleaning products should always be diluted per the manufacturer’s directions. When diluting chemicals, always make sure to ensure accuracy through the use of measuring cups, dispensing pumps, and automated dilution equipment. Be sure to periodically check the dilution equipment for accuracy.
- Understand that adding extra concentrated cleaning product does not make the cleaning product work better or faster. It only wastes materials and can even result in the job taking more time.
- If your facilities feature glass windows, consider investing in a telescopic glass mop and pad system. This tool is inexpensive (around $75), and it enables workers to reach high glass windows with ease, (up to 12′), clean restroom mirrors from top to bottom, and clean entry doors without streaking the door glass. Make sure to always clean glass surfaces with the correct microfiber pad.
- Supply staff with proper cleaning carts and instruct them on standard stocking procedures. This can lead to a significant increase in productivity.
- To ensure that proper restroom cleaning procedures are always followed, quarterly training on cleaning procedures is a must. Provide laminated task cards and attach these to each cleaning cart so that employees have an immediate reference to remind them what they learned in training.
Complaint avoidance is our goal. Sensors, training, proper tools, and equipment are all components of a successful cleaning program. Investing in the right place helps us know when and where our staff needs to focus to avoid complaints and improve the customer experience.
Borrego is the senior director of cleaning services at C&W Services, a facilities services and management company to a diverse portfolio of clients and market segments. She is responsible for the development, implementation, and support of the company’s janitorial service line strategy. This includes operational excellence and continuous improvement processes, as well as 5S and Lean programs, performance-based cleaning, and green cleaning initiatives. Borrego has more than 29 years of experience in the building service industry, holding every position from front line janitor to managing director. Previously, she was cleaning services director for North America at ISS Facility Services.
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