Issue Date: 22 February 2018
Use Innovations To Make Better Use Of Resources
Any shortage in the labour market can have serious implications for the cleaning industry. By definition there will be fewer people to do the available work which among other things will make it harder for service providers to recruit. Even when it is possible to find staff the costs – in terms of wages – could rise. This is simply the law of supply and demand in action. It makes sense for the industry to plan for such eventualities.
Cleaning service providers want to make the best possible use of available resources. In particular they need to find ways of improving productivity and efficiency to ensure overall contract costs remain under control. This could include adopting innovative new processes, working smarter and using more automation. In fact, cleaning service providers recognise that they need to innovate and improve performance to remain competitive.
One of the biggest trends across all industries, including the cleaning sector, is automation. The TASKI Intellibot, the UK’s first fully-automated commercial floor cleaning machine, is a good example.
Early users of the TASKI Intellibot machines have identified specific application benefits such as improving productivity and reducing overall costs. At the simplest level, by working autonomously, robotic cleaners liberate an operative who would previously have spent a large part, if not all, of their working day walking behind or riding on a cleaning machine. That person can now focus on additional duties while the robot works on its own. In effect, that operative is now doing the work of two people. Given that labour represents the largest cost component of any cleaning activity it is not hard for service providers to make a business case for robotic cleaning. The more the machine is used, the easier the case is made.
Technology is improving performance of cleaning operations in other ways. Remote tracking and monitoring systems such as Diversey’s IntelliTrail are available for medium to large sized floorcare machines. As part of the Internet of Clean, the information these systems provide allows operators to analyse fleet utilisation in real-time so they can optimise the deployment and performance of valuable assets. The systems’ diagnostic and alerting capabilities maintenance issues are dealt with before they impact on the machine’s operations, often eliminating the need for unscheduled engineering calls. Overall this reduces costs, improves service levels and increases productivity.
Elsewhere the combination of smart devices and Internet of Clean applications is enabling service providers to monitor and audit the performance of their cleaning teams in real-time. Diversey’s SmartView, for example, is a unique mobile communication platform that incorporates a range of real-time management, quality control and reporting features. These are accessible anywhere, at any time, from any computer, tablet or smartphone. Users can choose what they want to audit and focus on critical tasks. The system accumulates data about the cleaning operation, including areas visited, time spent cleaning, tasks completed, and so on. This is available in reports that managers can use to analyse and improve performance and share with clients on any smart device.
Another area where technology is driving innovation in the cleaning industry is augmented reality. Applications such as those developed by Diversey as part of the Internet of Clean provide users with a wide range of detailed, interactive information that is accessed by simply pointing a smart device at an object. Information automatically appears on screen, overlaying the real-world images, to provide customer support, training and diagnostics. In this way these applications supplement or replace traditional processes while saving time, reducing costs, improving outcomes and increasing overall productivity.
There is no doubt that these and other technologies will have a major impact on the cleaning industry in the coming years. Nevertheless, adopting such innovations now could be one way that cleaning service providers can limit their exposure to fluctuations in the labour market.