The Digital World – Changing The Face Of The Cleaning Industry
Date: 02-08-2017

Keeping up pace with rapidly changing technology is not an easy task. Tatjana Ahmed, Housekeeping Manager, Grand Hyatt Dubai explores the new skills required today.

As the cleaning industry becomes increasingly automated and digitalized, what skills are required of a cleaner today? And what new skills will we need in the future? The accelerations in technology and digital globalisation have created a world where every decent job demands more skill, and now, also lifelong learning. The Internet of Things is only a small part of the entire technology revolution.

And if you think that machines are smart today, just wait a few more years. New Nanometer chips will shrink the brain of a self-driven cleaning machine from something that fills a tank into a small box, so these machines can scale. Soap dispensers are already linked through the Internet and let you know their status by sending a signal to your i-pad. The cleaner’s role is certainly undergoing a fundamental change.

The changing scenario

The demand for increased efficiency and added value has led to the introduction of systems such as automated dispensing, Wi-Fi, mobile devices and robotics. At the same time, the cleaner’s activity is being monitored more closely via the introduction of telematics, especially on large cleaning equipment such as scrubber dryers. This is usually put in place to assess the added value that investment in larger pieces of equipment brings and to find out when it was switched on, for how long, how many square meters have been completed and how much water was used.

The introduction of technology enables cleaners to work more efficiently - even before they begin the actual task of cleaning. For example, automated dispensing allows them to accurately measure the quantities of cleaning products required to precisely manage stock control. This leads to reduced chemical use, fewer deliveries and a reduced need for storage space together with a lower carbon footprint.

New technology

Having created so much processing power, we are now in a world in which we spend our time analyzing and optimizing our workforce and the actual output of what was achieved. Techno savvy is one of the new skills needed. When a clever cleaner in the past was able to repair the broken down walk-behind scrubber dryer, he now should be a repair man for a computer with a water tank and wheels.

Newly acquired knowledge does not set one up anymore for the next 25 years. If you want to stay on top of your game, you have to be a life-long learner. That also means that selfmotivation to learn and keep learning becomes the most important skill. How do companies introduce their workforce to the new skills they need? From traditional ways of working to the use of technology such as smartphones and PDAs can be a difficult transition for some cleaners. Some companies operate a ‘buddy system’ through which cleaners who have challenges to change receive training and support from colleagues who already embrace new ways of working.

Being entrusted with tablets and other digital equipment makes cleaners feel more valued. They also say to experience greater job satisfaction because the digital system enables them to provide a better quality service and focus on what is needed most.