Home' Inclean : INCLEAN Spt-Oct 2015 Contents 52 INCLEAN September/October 2015
By Ahmed Abbas*
Consider the complexities of having to
track the quality controls in a commercial
cleaning environment. A group of cleaners
may have to coordinate and track the
consumption or usage of their cleaning
products. Additionally it may be important
that the right product is used at the right
place, at the right time and in the right
ways. Now consider supply chains via the
distributor and all the way back to the
manufacturer. Imagine a world where the cleaning products and
accessories themselves trigger the ordering process, all the way up the
supply chain -- based on the habits or needs of the cleaner.
As the cleaner cleans a particular area, the distributor is immediately
alerted that they will require more of a particular product. The
distributor will be better equipped for the demand. They would need
to carry less stock and will know what is available to them from the
manufacturer. They could grow their business with an assured ﬂow of
orders and maximise profts. The effects of this would then carry on
to the manufacturer, who would better understand the demand and
gather data required for product innovation.
Fortunately for the cleaning industry an abundant number of
technologies have come onto the market over the last few years that
could further help with systemising the cleaning supply chain.
A hospital, as an example, will have products and assets distributed
across various large areas. All areas would be zoned according to
particular controls. Cleaners will have both proactive and reactive
processes to tend to the cleaning requirements. Keeping track of
trolleys and carts that carry cleaning and sanitation inventories would
be important, in addition to the regular inventory control that would
be required for stores. There are various technologies that could be
used in this space with new innovations on the rise in this space.
Indoor Positioning Systems (IPS)
These technologies vary, however the concept is quite the same.
You would track the precise position of assets and inventories using
wireless or visual technologies. In a sense, this is similar to a GPS
system for inside or around a building. There are various ways this can
be done and as every year passes, we are likely to see more and more
variations of such IPS systems appear on the market.
These generally range from Wif, to Bluetooth, to ultrasonic sound
devices that operate like sonars so that they do not interfere with
sensitive equipment. Some of these devices can also be carried on a
person's key chain or necklace or even alongside other devices such as
inventory tracking scanners and computers.
Wireless Inventory Tracking and
Most of us are familiar with these. They are typically used in
warehouses though have a host of other applications, and this being
one. They are those wireless little barcode scanners or RFID (wireless
tag) scanners that you can carry around. These days they are available
in both smart and connected formats. They offer the ability to operate
independently of a master system or be connected continuously at all
times in a dependant way.
If you're really ambitious you could even try using mobile phone
Apps that come with specialised peripherals. The computers or
smart devices attached to these devices could potentially be used
to track and analyse particular cleaning situations such as spills or
Inventory Management Systems
Most of us are familiar with these too, though we'd all struggle to keep
track of developments in this space. There are many variations of
these. Some will promise to integrate with your existing systems such
as your ERP or accounting software. Some will be independent of all
other software that you have available. Some will be online; others will
allow you operate your own secure network. It is quite a complex area
and is best kept at the advice of the technology professionals.
As these software systems mature and become more robust, they are
integrating, not only the inventory tracking but also the asset tracking
-- side by side. Some of these software systems come alongside task
or process management systems, though there exists a variety of
cleaning management software solutions out there to integrate based
Cleaning Management Software
This area is still highly experimental and is the last technology in the
chain that remains to be perfected. These software systems generally
look after everything required in commercial cleaning or facilities
management. From quality controls, to capability assessment, to task
assignment, to project quotation, even to inventory utilisation.
There are many solutions out there. Some offer ability to integrate
into other systems, others do not. It is important to mention that, as
these systems mature in the coming years, we're likely to see increased
integration into the abovementioned other technologies.
Putting this all together
Systemising the cleaning supply chain through technology is an
interesting and growing space. It is a very expensive concept, so it is
still confned to specialised areas such as health, where it is needed
most. Similar technologies are being used overseas already to track
and regulate the availability of important staff members such as
nurses and surgeons.
The systems and concepts are not entirely new, however it's starting
to become less expensive and less diffcult to implement. Now, more
than ever, we have technologies that are readily available to allow
our inventories to speak for themselves. The software can control the
cleaning tasks and the inventories could be tracked based on usage.
The information would then automatically ﬂow back to distributor
and then the manufacturer. No doubt an important beneft will be the
strengthened relationship between distributor and manufacturer.
*Ahmed Abbas is chief technical ofﬁcer at Pall Mall, www.pallmall.com.au
Systemising cleaning supply chain will
strengthen manufacturer-distributor relationship
To discuss editorial,
talk to INCLEAN's
editor Kim Taranto on
02 8586 6140 or email
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