For most of human existence, the world in which you died looked quite similar to the one in which you were born. That is clearly no longer the case and the doubling of computer processing speed every 18 months, known as Moore’s Law, is just one example of the trend that all technological change occurs at an exponential rate. Robots, the Internet of Things (IoT) and more environmentally friendly chemicals have already significantly impacted our daily lives and their application in commercial cleaning is helping us to do a better job for our customers by improving standards and often reducing costs.
IoT is bringing numerous opportunities in commercial cleaning. Cleaners using state of the art mobile devices to record the areas cleaned, by scanning QR codes or tags, are already commonplace. Not only is instant management overview of the completion of the cleaning schedule available via the cloud based systems, but building defects or other issues can be immediately reported, and addressed to the appropriate service team for rectification. Audit data can be collected in a similar way, ensuring quality standards are maintained, particularly in sensitive locations, and providing transparent reporting building by building and floor by floor. A technology-led strategy also empowers the workforce by generating accurate data to identify areas for potential improvement and to inform decision making.
The IoT can also be used with sensor or beacon technology to provide footfall monitoring, facilitating the change to demand led cleaning. Areas of low occupancy or usage often require a reduced cleaning schedule, which may allow specific periodic tasks to be completed within the existing schedule. This in turn allows us to provide a better service to our customers and to enhance the workplace experience for their employees and visitors.
Preventative maintenance required on pieces of equipment can be tracked, and empty/refill times on washroom and other dispensers monitored via IoT, meaning that staff no longer need to check these items as often as previously. This frees up some of their time for other tasks and a more efficient operation results.
Robots and robotic technology are changing the cleaning market and the rate of change is expected to increase. The European Cleaning Journal predicts that by 2020 the overall value of the robotic cleaning market will reach £2 billion. Used as a supplement to human employees, cleaning robots eliminate the need for workers to perform many simple and repetitive tasks and allows them to focus more on complex, thought intensive tasks that robots cannot perform (at least, not yet).
Floor cleaning robots are already in use, particularly for large areas such as airports, shopping centres and hospitals, using sensors and scanners to identify obstacles and manoeuvre around them. One component of the increased use of cleaning robots in the future will involve the design community and facilities managers working together to create facilities that accommodate robotic cleaning. Window cleaning robots are already available for many tasks, and as technology develops their use will become more widespread.
Environmentally Friendly Chemicals
The focus on cleaning chemicals is centred on improving wellbeing in the workplace. New workplace frameworks from organisations such as BREEAM and the International WELL Building Institute™ require new cleaning procedures, specific training and the recording of information in appropriate cleaning logs. Eco-labelled products will be required to avoid chemicals which may adversely affect indoor air quality and cause eye, nose or throat irritation, while fragrance free soap should be available at all hand-wash locations.
Chemical-free cleaning, using ionised water systems, is not new but improvements in the technology and a reduction in the size of the equipment needed has now made it feasible for most facilities. Tap water is converted into the world’s most effective chemical-free cleaner by infusing it with ozone through an electrolysis process. The stabilised aqueous ozone leaves the dispenser to fill all cleaning equipment from auto scrubbers and buckets to trigger sprays, and remains effective as a cleaning agent for 24 hours.
At NJC, technology is a key element of our strategy and we are focused on using the new tools and techniques that our available to our advantage, to deliver the best service to our customers and the highest quality standards. As we have said before, it’s Not Just Cleaning!