Resolve to save with smarter cleaning 1 Jan, 2015
After last month’s office party survival guide, Natalie Dowse, Marketing and Product Manager for Truvox International Ltd, turns to the gritty matter of New Year resolutions for more cost-effective, whole-life floor cleaning.
A new year is a time for fresh hope, plans and, of course, resolutions that, in many cases, will be broken before January is out. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Not, at least, in your working life.
Hopefully the economic upturn will continue through 2015, but I wouldn’t expect the emphasis in business on controlling costs to lessen. So the first new year pledge for the facilities manager or cleaning contractor I’d propose is that you gather the information that will help you deliver a more cost-effective service over the coming year.
When it comes to floor cleaning, if you haven’t already, then measure up the floor space that needs to be maintained in your building or on your contract(s). Calculate the total area for each floor type – carpet, tiles, wood, etc. How many staff are involved in cleaning and how many hours do they spend-? The more complete the picture you can capture the better, so include the cost of cleaning products and materials as well; (and start recording what’s consumed if these are not currently itemised).
Armed with this data, it’s possible to make more informed decisions about the efficiency of the cleaning operation, and to determine the right methods for your particular needs. This may mean automation. For instance, if cleaning staff are spending hours mopping large floors manually, an automatic scrubber dryer could pay for itself in reduced labour costs, not to mention higher cleaning standards. The important thing is that you have the essential evidence on which to base your investment decision.
That decision should also factor in the versatility of the machine – its suitability to different flooring types – its running costs and its expected working life. And as managers we need to take this same whole-life approach to every asset we manage. That includes the flooring itself, which is part of the fabric of a building and shouldn’t be overlooked – which brings me to our second resolution.
The method and frequency of cleaning will have a major bearing on the service life of any type of flooring as well as its appearance. So consider the effect of your cleaning regime on the flooring surface.
In the case of wooden floors, these need regular sanding down. The intervals between sanding will be affected by cleaning equipment and products as well as foot and other traffic. Modern floor-wash machines can reduce floor maintenance costs by increasing these intervals while keeping floors clean of grit and other dirt and contaminants.
Similarly, it is worth resolving to check that you are protecting the flooring asset from an expensive failure. The right sealant and protective finishes are crucial for hard floors. Sealants and finishes will limit the penetration of moisture and contaminants under the surface of the floor. Select floor cleaning equipment that uses less water and minimises or avoids potentially harmful chemicals. And remember that refinishing floors not only protects against failures, it makes them easier to maintain, saving money in the long run.
With carpeting, a planned cleaning schedule will protect what can be a hefty investment – so let the New Year be your impetus to re-examine your annual cleaning plan (or make one, if your cleaning is still ad hoc). As well as daily vacuuming, an annual schedule should involve interim maintenance cleaning every week or fortnight, and deep restorative cleaning, probably quarterly. Interim cleaning involves ‘washing’ methods such as absorbent pads, dry foam shampoo or a dry powder cleaner. A deep clean will remove any residue from these activities along with embedded soil, and refresh the texture of the carpet. The most effective way to deep clean is to use a scrubbing machine and apply a polymeric carpet cleaning solution to encapsulate the soil. This is then removed by vacuuming.
So the final resolution I’d suggest is drawing up an annual maintenance plan, if you haven’t already, and make sure it includes refinishing and deep cleaning to make the most of your flooring assets.
You should find these resolutions easier than kicking that expensive smoking habit or nightly tipple, and you will at least have the satisfaction of benefiting your organisation’s bottom line.