Dr Greg Whiteley* looks at a raft of new technologies changing the face of cleaning science and what this means for cleaning companies and their staff.
It seems to me that staff training in the cleaning industry is all but deceased. It does seem that most of the larger cleaning firms have apparently yielded to the pricing pressures of out-sourcing of their labour responsibilities (i.e. sub+sub+sub-contracting), and so with the dispensing of staff responsibilities comes a derivative freedom from overheads, of which staff training is one cost.
But what of the actual job of cleaning? Is it all just about visual appearance and odour control? Do actual hygiene standards get measured or monitored in more than a shambolic and tokenistic manner? What are the building managers measuring other than head counts and facility costs? Well, that’s where the future is coming to a door step near you.
Cleaning monitoring with fluorescent markers and ATP measurements are already changing the face of cleaning science. The progression of microbial genetics and rapid screening technologies for bacteria and other microbes, particularly for the identification of multi-drug resistant organisms (MRO) have already starting to hit the ground in key healthcare markets.
As the technology uptake continues there will be downward pressures on prices for monitoring technologies that will improve accessibility and widespread usage of these real-time measures for actual surface hygiene standards.
And then there is the continuing improvement in electronic monitoring systems. Has anyone introduced building entry cards with embedded micro-chips lately? Guess what, they too can be used to monitor and track movement throughout a smart building. It is a bit like on-site GPS.
So, did the toilet on level two really get cleaned? Well the smart card technology and data reader says that the cleaner spent seven minutes in the bathroom of the second floor, but the ATP measurement said that the surfaces remained highly contaminated (although apparently clean and polished – thus indicating the use of a dirty rag). And the FM spot was only removed from three of the six locations on high touch objects, indicating that only half of the important surfaces were actually subject to a real cleaning action. Is this sort of report just fantasy? No, it is available right now.
How will this cleaning problem be corrected? Will we just keep getting rid of the non-performers? The answer is no. Cleaning and cleaner training will be required. Like it should be conducted now, and has been conducted in the past. The future will see the cycle turn, and training uptake will be required, particularly once the monitoring moves from head counts to cleanliness performance.
I wonder who will be doing this training, after all the training firms have effectively ceased operations or gone broke whilst waiting for the cleaning companies to train their staff?
Smart companies that understand both the science and practice of cleaning will gain a huge advantage if they can work with their customers to improve the value proposition on attaining actual cleaning standards. I vote “yes please”, and can’t wait to see us all move back to the future.
*Greg Whiteley is director of Whiteley Corporation.
This first appeared in the July/August issue of INCLEAN magazine.