While this sounds exciting, the cleaning and maintenance of airports becomes a major challenge. The high amount of traffic translates to increased inflow of germs and calls for some unique cleaning challenges for the airpor t cleaning staff. Let’s take a quick look at some popular Middle Eastern Airports, their challenges and the best practices adopted to overcome them!
The Dubai International Airport
Best cleaning and FM practices in conversation with Clean Middle East, Dorothee Stein, Head - Facility Care and Operations, Dubai Airports, says, “I would say that best practices in the cleaning industry overall are applicable for the airport as well.
- That your staff is well trained on standard operating procedures.
- The right combination of equipment, tools, materials, etc
- Clear cleaning schedules.
- Being aware of the passage of flows and peak and off-peak timing
- At an airport, security, procedures and restrictions are evident because it's a sensitive place so the cleaning schedule and procedure has to consider the security limitations as well.”
All the front line touch points are the key areas that need to be taken into consideration when you plan for your airport cleaning operations. The back of the house (store rooms, offices or any other planning rooms) comes second. The former includes critical places like washrooms (because they have a high influx of users, which makes the hygiene aspect challenging). Then the terminals, the entrance of the buildings, the gates - all have to be spotless and free of waste so that everyone has a comfortable environment because sometimes people have to spend a long stretch of time in between flights.
We outsource the cleaning services for all our facilities. In doing so, we choose only the best service providers in Dubai and expect them to use the latest models of equipment and tools that are available in the market and use gadgets like tablets to monitor and follow the cleaning schedules, check the gate allocations, check-in allocations, etc. We have worked closely with our Dubai Airports Business Technology Department to develop these kinds of applications. The service provider teams have access to this software, which facilitates a very efficient and effective cleaning operation,” says Dorothee.
It has also been found that robotic cleaning equipment doesn’t bring efficiency at the Dubai Airport. This is because it is operational for 24 hours and most of the areas always witness movement. Even in the off-peak hours, there are plenty of people and staff around preventing the safe use of such machines.
However, the airport authorities are looking forward to using software systems related to washrooms. For example, dispensers equipped with a software that would then be connected to a device with a cleaner prompting a refill request, etc.
Cleaning processes during peak hours “The good thing about our peak hours is that we know our pattern and pre-plan all our cleaning schedules. We don’t do any general cleaning in any areas during peak hours because we don’t want to disrupt the passenger’s experience. So during peak hours, we only do touch up cleaning and later, in off peak times, we close the areas and do the general cleaning. It’s more about having the data, using it to your advantage and communicating effectively to deliver the best service”, says Dorothee.
How Muscat International Airport overcomes its challenges
In an airport as crowded as Muscat Airport, one of the biggest challenges is the cleanliness of the bathrooms: passengers travel through the airport in a hurry, almost always out of time, and hoping to find the bathrooms always available, for the idea of closing a washroom for cleaning is totally inconceivable for them. This fact, coupled with the high standards of quality of service and cleaning essential in the philosophy of Muscat Airport, make cleaning the bathrooms a challenge.
To this end, Oman Airports and Acciona have come up with certain cleaning and hygiene techniques and protocols which ensure that every passenger finds the bathrooms always clean, guaranteeing the minimum waiting time. All this is achievable due to the deployment of permanent staff in each washroom, equipped with quality chemicals and tools, to ensure the cleaning of each cubicle after every use,” says Salim Ali Al-Harthy, GM Aviation Muscat International Airport.
The deep cleaning schedule requires a great coordination of the cleaning staff, supervisors, admin team and operations staff to coordinate and communicate about the distribution of flights in the different sectors of the airport in order to avoid any passenger finding a closed restroom.
“Another very challenging part of the daily operation is the cleaning of the boarding bridges. Since passengers are leaving Muscat, the boarding bridges will make their last impression. This activity not only requires a specialized team, high quality tools and machines, but also r equires a higher and closer coordination with the operations team and ground handling team to verify the fight schedules and the last minute changes for reallocation of the boarding gates. The key to success is excellent coordination and teamwork among all airports,” he concludes.
Although the average footfall of passengers at an airport is higher than any other facility, the best practices help to achieve optimum levels of hygiene. Be it washrooms, arrivals or departures, each aspect of airport cleanliness is critical and evolving everyday.
How Farnek Caters to The Dubai Airport
The high amount of traffic in airports is one of the major differences compared to most other facilities like malls, leisure parks or similarly large facilities which usually close overnight. This creates some unique cleaning challenges with timing and planning crucial,” says Julian Khalil Director - Soft Services Farnek Services. The cleaning regime is timed daily based on the flight schedules in different terminals and according to peak and off-peak hours. Deep cleaning activities are conducted quickly with minimal closur e time of washrooms and other facilities in the passenger areas. Airport cleaning staff deal with very large areas that see thousands of people pass through each day.
The best practices followed
The daily cleaning regime at the Dubai Airport must cover the largest area in the least amount of time. Farnek’s self-developed smart watch technology is a key factor which allows Farnek staff members to communicate effectively and increase productivity by aligning tasks and jobs closest to where they’re required. The smart watch technology works by utilising Internet of Things (IoT) cloud-based solution is integrated with existing technology platforms to monitor, receive and communicate real-time data and access.
“Sustainability is one of our core principals in everything we do as a company and especially in cleaning as we are the market leader in sustainable and green cleaning. Being the only CIMS GB certified FM Company with a fully approved and audited green cleaning regime and policy, we not only use environmental friendly chemicals, but are also committed to ensuring that more than 60% of our purchase value of materials goes to eco-friendly products including, chemicals, garbage bags, machinery and hygiene products such as toilet paper.
We have implemented a green cleaning policy, resource conservation plans, environmental impact analysis of our operating procedures and enhanced staff training programs for green cleaning. All staff go through our green cleaning training enabling them to understand and assess the environmental impact of each SOP and giving them the flexibility to use SOPs with less environmental impact in the cleaning process,” says Julian. Major challenges faced in the cleaning of the airport The major challenges relate to the huge area covered in airports year round, as well as the high footfall of passengers.
This requires every aspect of the operation from logistics, staff management and allocation, supply chain and of course quality, to work hand in hand to deliver continuously high standards. Hand towel dispensers, for instance, should never be empty. To achieve this, Farnek ensures deliveries are distributed several times a day in all janitor stores across all terminals.
This is managed and controlled over the CAFM system and material issue in support of their smart watches which enables team members to inform stores and supervisors directly in case of challenges. Additionally, Farnek is focusing on continuous staff development and training. Their full-time trainers support the teams in developing further skills as well as reassess current practices against new innovative processes and techniques to tackle the daily challenges.
The cleaning processes involved
High footfall in the washrooms and minimal closure time for deep cleaning requires Farnek to work efficiently during deep cleaning times. This has led to the implementation of specialised multipurpose steam cleaning machines which remove dirt and bacteria effectively as well as reduce chemical consumption. In general, deep cleaning activities are scheduled during off peak hours with minimal operational impact on the airport.
Health & Safety is absolutely crucial due to the number of passengers and staff within the vicinity. All cleaning tasks require the teams to adhere to risk assessments and safety precautions ensuring no stakeholder is at risk. This is being achieved through a strong onsite HSE team as well as a “don’t walk by” process which enables team members to report observations, concerns and suggestions.
Monitoring the cleanliness
Farnek, as a company conducts continuous audits of its operations. This is monitored through CAFM as well as stakeholder feedback of different areas of the airport.
“In addition, we are also audited by Dubai Airports where we work together to ensure maximum levels of cleanliness. As an example, in one terminal alone, we have close to 200 audits a month. These audits are done across all areas, at any point of time, and are conducted by different supervisors and managers,” concludes Julian.