Ensuring a Clean Image
Dated: 10-04-2017

The first impression is crucial for any facility. Asset managers will agree that the hygiene and cleanliness of a facility can make or break occupant perception about the facility. However, a few areas are significantly more challenging to manage given the frequency and high rate of footfall they receive. These areas are generally termed as ‘high-traffic’ areas, and they get additional attention; some even use specific equipment and best practices to achieve optimal results.

Megha S. Anthony takes a look at a hotel, a traditional fruit and vegetable market, a hospital and a retail mall, and finds out how they manage their cleaning schedules and what innovations are used in ‘high-traffic’ areas.

HOSPITALITY SECTOR Facility: Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi

Built as an iconic landmark, Emirates Palace, managed by Kempinski, can be a challenge to maintain. But, the dedicated staff handles it with élan. Speaking about the factors that are taken into consideration while planning a cleaning schedule, Pamini Hemaprabha, Executive Housekeeper, Regional Rooms Specialist, Master Trainer, Emirates Palace, says, “The most important task is to lock down on the best dates and time when the traffic is a bit less. And, it’s always best to circulate the necessary information prior to scheduling work to all the related departments.” She adds that one must ensure that a well-trained team is available on the job and supervisory coverage is a must. Apart from these, the other factors that are considered are the safety precautions of the equipment being used and necessary signage made available as an indication of the work in progress. And when there is a high-profile visitor at the hotel, as is the case usually at Emirates Palace, schedules are amended and tasks may be preponed.

One of the first tools used to monitor the cleaning schedule is the human, says Pamini. “Competent staff must be well aware of the safety and security related elements to cleaning. There should be an action plan along with a proper checklist before the start of the job and post completion,” she says.

Apart from this, prior to cleaning of high-traffic areas, one must also ensure that the necessary equipment like high-level cleaning and heavy duty machines are in place. However, there are other equipment and solutions that are used in these areas to ensure quicker cleaning processes. Equipment like Blowers can assist in quick drying of carpets and areas. Pamini explains that there are advanced machines that clean and sucks the floor water at the same time leaving dry surfaces in no time.

Since these areas almost represent the image of the facility, it is important to get the right person for the job. A competent, well-trained team member with a good attitude is essential to handle these areas. The training given to the personnel is also different as the individual has to perform the task quickly and effectively. “One will need to be a multi-tasker as well because at times the person could be asked to maximise the cleaning depending on the situation. Only a confident member who has patience and is well aware of machine operation and chemical usage and knowledge can be considered for these tasks,” she concludes.

HEALTHCARE SECTOR Facility: Hospitals maintained by Tanzifco Emirates

Having handled a portfolio of facilities, Ali R Deryan, General Manager, Tanzifco Emirates, says that the challenge intensifies while cleaning high traffic areas in a hospital or any facility with a high footfall. Deryan says, “Based on our experience of almost a decade and a half in the UAE, maintaining high traffic areas requires deep-rooted experience so as to draw out an effective schedule to keep the premises sparkling clean at any given point of time. Constant monitoring is needed along with the knowledge of peak traffic times so as to enable the scheduling of the cleaning tasks with consideration of the time required to execute the cleaning. To conclude, nights are ideal for scheduling deep cleaning while the day involves maintenance of the same.”

One of the most common and important tools used to monitor the cleaning schedule is the checklist. This helps prevent miscommunication and adds accountability to ensure that the job is done right. “Our checklist is based on the amount of traffic an area receives. An important part of an effective cleaning plan is to have an employee that is responsible for cleaning these high traffic areas at all times under able supervision. The CAFM system with its detailed cleaning schedule alongside procedures that establish how the cleaning will be carried out could be required as well,” adds Deryan.

To keep these areas clean at all times Tanzifco staff uses dust-control/push mops to clean the surface floors along with vacuum machines and other supporting machinery based on the size of the area. “Depending on the area and its criticality and whether it is a high risk area such as an OT in a hospital, we have to utilise the body spillage kit or depending on the size of the area, a scrubber-dryer or a wet and dry vacuum machine to enhance the standard of service and the quick turnaround time,” contributes Deryan. Other equipment like vacuum cleaners are required throughout the operating hours to remove any grit and dust quickly from the surface of the floor, and a flat mop system addresses spills as they occur. An effective All Purpose Cleaner (APC) can remove stains from the surface and more specific and premium brands are required only for hospitals.

An area cleaner and area supervisor are responsible for maintaining a high degree of cleanliness in the assigned areas. Deryan says that reliable and skilled personnel are required to bring out optimal results. The training programme for the personnel begins with general cleaning and moves on to specific training such as cleaning high risk areas (OT, labour room, etc.), segregating waste, ambulance cleaning, washroom cleaning, pantry and ward cleaning, large equipment training (ride-on scrubber dryer, air blower, pressure washer, dry vacumm, etc.) and so on. Special training programmes are designed for cleaners to handle high traffic areas at our training centres (TTC).

This is when they learn cleaning methods with minimum guest disturbance and how to achieve a spick and span area with a quick response time. "Our cleaners are trained to deal with foot-fall and on-going activities and schedule and master the techniques of swiftly turning around the area successfully,” concludes Deryan.

PUBLIC SECTOR Facility: Souq Al Jubail (SQAJ)

 Under the vision of HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah – SQAJ comprises three dedicated sections for fresh fish, meat, and fruits and vegetables within the building. Having opened in December 2015, one of the most striking features that continues to attract customers is the cleanliness of the Souq.

As part of Sharjah Asset Management Holding (SAMH) portfolio of developments, SQAJ is managed by a dedicated management operations team strongly supported by their service provider SANED FM – a Joint Venture between SAMH and multi-award winning International FM firm Apelona (formerly known as Bilfinger Facility Management and Building Services) who deliver world class total facilities management services.

Along with their stakeholders, the SQAJ operation team keenly supported by SANED FM ensures that the Souq is meticulously maintained from hard to soft services. The teams ensure the highest quality output and meet the stringent key performance indicators set by the SQAJ management. Saeed Al Suwaidi, Section Head - Facility Management, SAMH, outlines that, “Being a fresh produce Souq means there is opportunity for the building areas to become dirty by the constant movement of produce being delivered combined by the constant movement of our tenants, customers and tourists throughout the day and night. Cleanliness and hygiene standards are critical to us in such a public domain and together with our client SAMH and its stakeholders, we seek to achieve an optimum level in our standards including the safety of our customers and tenants.”

While cleaning is a continual process at the Souq, during busy days such as Fridays or during special events when the frequency of visitation increases significantly, there is a need to provide more attention to the Souq.

Consequently a strong focus is required on the high traffic areas such as the fish cleaning zones and walkways. “The complex design is such that it is lined with grills to ensure proper disposal of all mopped material; the drainage systems have also been installed across the market and all the traders have been equipped with cleaning and cutting tools by the operational team,” adds Al Suwaidi. Every two months, the Souq also undergoes a deep cleaning and pest control treatment during off peak evenings. Being a fish market, odour control management is also key for the market. They usually turn the ventilation to 100 per cent fresh air, especially during the fish auction timings, which assists to disperse the odour.

This practice has worked well and resulted in the Souq not smelling like other fish markets. Vendors too are well aware and are strictly instructed to ensure that their products are cleaned before they enter the Souq so that the stalls are hygienic. “We use all food safe products while cleaning those areas, and we change the ice every day in the fish area so that they remain fresh,” says Al Suwaidi.

RETAIL SECTOR Facility: Malls maintained by Meraas Development

When it comes to the retail sector, it’s all about the ‘customer experience’. Which is why, the maintenance of high traffic areas is an essential part of mall management. Paul Birkett, Vice President – Retail Management & Transactions, Meraas Development, says, "The days of someone just pushing around a dirty mop are long behind us; every single member of our teams has to understand the culture of the environment we work in as well as have the correct skills to do their job.”

Within large scale assets, such as shopping malls, not all areas are busy, so the usage profile has a direct correlation to the amount of resource which is allocated. “Within a mall environment, we now focus on an output-based specification, ensuring everything is clean, all the time. This allows us to have a much more dynamic approach to labour deployment than the traditional input-based systems, which can often see unproductive time.”

The main consideration is based around the traffic profile in each area. “Information is the key factor here, it’s all about ensuring the cleaning demands are met with the optimal amount of labour. We use many analytics to ensure we are very clear on the demands for each area and factors such as footfall (measured through people counting systems) allow us to heat map the usage levels within a mall and then align schedules to meet those demands. We even use the data provided by our WIFI access points to track how people move within a mall, this allows us to deploy our teams to follow similar flow patterns and thus optimize our resources.”

When it comes to using specific equipment for high traffic areas, Birkett says that one of their biggest aids for day-to-day activities are microfiber cleaning systems. “These allow us to clean quickly, minimise chemical and water usage and deliver clean and dry solutions in the shortest time. Similarly, at night, the use of a more intensive maintenance clean, using ride on equipment and mechanised processes where possible allows us to deliver better results in a quicker time with fewer people,” he adds.

While there is no specific training given for people monitoring only these areas, Birkett does point out that the person handling that nature of environment should possess skill and initiative. “We are trying to promote ownership, so we require a high caliber of staff who can think for themselves and not have to be supervised constantly. They need a degree of IT literacy as the CAFM system will guide them through tasks and support their work scheduling. We need staff who are multi-skilled. Every member of our cleaning team is the visible front end of our operation, and we encourage them to deal with customer questions and go the extra mile to enhance the customer experience,” Birkett concludes.