A clean touch

fmME checks out the cleaning services FM companies provide

ANALYSIS, Facilities Management, FM companies

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If there is one aspect of facilities management that can be said to be linked with every other kind of industry, then that would probably have to be cleaning.

Regardless of the type of facility, be it a commercial office building or a sprawling shopping mall, there is no question that all such spaces need to be kept tidy and well-maintained at all times, because if not, there will almost certainly be a negative impact seen on the operations of that particular establishment.

But while it is true that all facilities need to be cleaned, that doesn’t mean that the cleaning function is a “one-size-fits-all” kind of operation either. On the contrary, the cleaning function needs to be defined in terms of a facility’s specific requirements and parameters governing its use.

FM service providers therefore need to first sit with their clients and understand how they work in their facilities, so as to deliver a cleaning operation that meets all of their particular needs, as well as the highest possible hygiene standards.

fmME went around looking at the cleaning operations at different kinds of facilities, and listed in the next few pages are those that were particularly exemplary, in the sense that they could very well serve as cleaning case studies for the FM industry at large.

As different as the sites were from each other, it was quite interesting to note that the common thread linking the cleaning operations at each of them was, quite simply, a dedication to quality service that focused on the satisfaction of not just the client, but of all the users of the facility in question.

Cleaning case studies: Tanzifco
Industry sector: Healthcare

At the Mafraq Hospital in Abu Dhabi, Tanzifco’s cleaning team relies on what they call an “absolute professional approach” when going about their daily tasks at this facility. Given the challenging requirements to maintain cleanliness and hygiene, as well as the disinfection and sterilization standards required at a hospital, Tanzifco makes sure that the staff they allocate at Mafraq Hospital are prepared for the job at hand by making them first go through a training regimen at their in-house training centre.

“Providing professional FM services much to the client’s satisfaction is no mean feat,” says Ali Deryan, general manager, Tanzifco. “We take pride in being specialists in hospital cleaning. However, Tanzifco strives for the same at all times based on stringent parameters such as ISO audits, strict QHSE touchstones and rigorous internal procedures and follow-up mechanisms.”

“What differentiates Tanzifco from other competitors in the market is the Tanzifco Training Centre (TTC), which is a British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) certified assessment centre,” Deryan says. “The staff allocated at the hospital need to undergo mandatory hospital training at the TTC before they are allocated to any area.”

During the training, Tanzifco’s cleaning team is taken through the hospital’s cleaning procedures as per the company’s own cleaning manual. Refresher training on the same is conducted every month, and in addition, daily toolbox training makes sure that the staff’s performance at Mafraq Hospital is maintained at a very high proficient level.

“Moreover, we provide BICSc training modules and health and safety training to make sure that they provide a safe and hygienic environment to patients, client and other employees,” Deryan adds.

“We educate them to make them understand why it is all the more important to create a safe and clean environment in a hospital project, reiterating the sensitive issues involved.”

Tanzifco’s emphasis on quality and standards perhaps explains why the company was awarded the Mafraq Hospital project after a tough competitive bidding contest in 2009. More than five years later, Tanzifco continues to provide its brand of FM services at the hospital, with a staff of more than 350 people making sure that the facility is being run in a smooth and professional manner.

In addition, Tanzifco today also boasts of other clients in the healthcare sector, which include Al Noor Hospital in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa General Hospital in Umm Al Quwain, National Rehabilitation Centre in Abu Dhabi and others.

Cleaning case studies: Chicago
Industry sector: Education

As the provider of FM services at all of GEMS educational facilities in the UAE, Chicago is one FM company that can be seen as an authority of sorts when it comes to tackling the challenges involved in ensuring a school remains clean and tidy.

Taking the example of the GEMS World Academy in Dubai, Craig Campbell, operations manager - soft services, Chicago, explained that the role of the cleaning function at a school is more than just about maintaining the upkeep of the facility.

“One of the biggest challenges we face in a school is that we have a large number of young children located within a building,” Campbell says. “These children are susceptible to picking up illnesses and sickness from each other.
They also spend long periods of time of each day in a confined space. So, it falls upon us as the FM service provider to maintain hygiene levels within the facility at the highest level possible to prevent the spread of any illnesses.”

In addition, a school is an environment that sees numerous people go in and out of the facility each day—Chicago’s cleaning teams are therefore required to be on their toes almost constantly, ensuring that the floors remain spotless and any untoward incidents that occur are cleaned up at the earliest.

“The cleaning required at a school is always very diverse,” Campbell explains. “There is every floor type you can imagine, every surface you can imagine, and the GEMS schools that we manage range in age from 35 years to a year... So we have a number of challenges, and we have to tackle everything... It’s quite a dynamic environment to work in, where you really do put to test all of your cleaning knowledge and ability.”

At GEMS World Academy, Chicago has a team of about 42 people working in this facility, of which 26 are female. An interesting detail to note about the female members of the team is that besides being cleaners for the facility, they also act as conductors for the school’s buses, where they ensure the safety of the children as they travel on the buses to and from the school. “It’s a discipline that’s quite unique to working in an educational facility,” Campbell says.

Given the criticality of the work that they do at the schools, Chicago ensures that its cleaning teams are well-trained not just in cleaning methodologies, but also in being sensitive to the idea that they are working in an environment that has young children in it. As a result, this means that Chicago’s team have to be extra careful and vigilant in ensuring that the children at these facilities are kept safe and well-protected at all times.

“When we work at a school, we are not just managing the expectations of our clients,” Campbell says. “We also have to work together with the school management and staff to manage the expectations of the students’ parents as well. The children are the focal point for everything that we do—we want to make sure that they are in an environment that’s clean, hygienic and safe.”

Cleaning case studies: QBG Facilities Management
Industry sector: Hospitality

As a company that has been delivering quality FM services to several leading five-star hotel properties for over two decades, QBG Facilities Management today prides itself on being able to provide trained, professional housekeeping staff to meet all FM requirements of the hospitality sector.

In terms of the cleaning function specifically, QBG’s offering of services for hotels includes special amenities like carpet and sofa shampooing, chandelier cleaning, façade cleaning, marble restoration and more.

But while it may be a seasoned player in this business, that doesn’t mean that QBG is immune to challenges in this sector. According to Atul Sinha, director – business development, QBG, the rapidly changing nature of the hospitality market requires the company to be constantly on its toes and in tune with the changes happening around them. “As game changing initiatives are being launched, and with new competition entering the market, we cannot afford to be left behind,” says Sinha.

“Housekeeping department has one of the highest staff turnover rates in the industry,” he reveals. “QBG Facilities Management needs to tackle issues with staff retention, and the management has to make sure their teams are constantly motivated to perform.” Given that QBG’s housekeeping team consists of more than 400 employees including supervisors, room attendants and stewards, effective management and training of resources is key for the company to achieve all of its goals.

When working in a hotel, QBG’s housekeeping/cleaning services are required to be in close tandem with other departments at the site like front office, banqueting, F&B, etc. Not only do these services need to be done effectively, they also need to be done swiftly.

“There are standard times for a room to be made, which includes activities like making the bed, cleaning and placing the room amenities,” Sinha explains. “The standard time has to be reduced, so that we can hand over the rooms sooner for the guests who may be waiting.”

In addition, as they are working in the hospitality sector, the staff are also trained on how to interact with any guests they might meet at a hotel.

“Based on their work requirements, the staff is trained to respond to frequently asked questions,” Sinha explains. “For queries that they may not be aware of, they are encouraged to guide the guest to the respective staff member.”

Given the fast-paced environment they have to work in, there are several kinds of training that QBG’s staff have to go through. “We need to ensure the quality of work and standards of the hotel are maintained,” Sinha says. “So, QBG has to recruit staff that have the right attitude and experience. And they then undergo several in house trainings and specialised trainings with several hospitality institutes.”

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