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T1, T2, T3… Rising Challenges of Indian Cleaning Industry

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Inside the terminal

The most challenging aspect for the service providers is to maintain the terminals after the main cleaning job. “Keeping the high traffic areas – the main foyer, the outside veranda, forecourt, piers – departure and arrival, check-in areas, security hold area, bus lounges, baggage area, toilets, retail space, office area and the apron till the passenger boarding area at Terminal 1A, 1D and 1C – cleaning is a major task, especially when things are thrown around or left behind indifferently,” says Lovkesh Bajaj, GM-Operations of Impressions Services Pvt Ltd.

“Removing chewing gum off the floor is a tough job. It has to be identified and scarped out manually. Usually, clearing of paper litter or chewing gum involves manual cleaning.” Impressions has around 350 staff, including 28 supervisors, working in three shifts in T1 alone.

“Even though the quantum of work at T3, where Impressions is handling the departure area and the piers, is much higher, they are well prepared to handle the challenge. “We have training, briefing and one-to-one discussions with the staff which improve the workers’ understanding about hygiene and instils in them a sense of cleanliness.”

The staff also attends the training programme at the Diversey Knowledge Centre and receives briefing from the DIAL staff. “We have made small teams of seven to eight workers under a supervisor who shares both, professional and personal relationship with the workers. Understanding the ‘Why’ factor is most important.”

For Impressions, it has been a learning experience from 1B to 1D and now to T3 in the last three years. “We always experiment with various methods of cleaning to attain the best results. We have introduced at the airports Dulevo’s Technovap machine that are mostly used in hospitals. The chemicals used are from Diversey India; glass cleaning tools and corner brushes are from Unger; some tools are of Partek, Delhi, and the French made hydraulic ladder for cleaning surfaces at a height are supplied by Madras Tools at 1D. Similarly, we are using microfibre tools and latest equipment like scrubber-driers, vacuums, high speed burnishes, single discs, scooter mops, sweepers and walk-behinds. In T1, we are using around 50 machines which are mostly Dulevo and in T3 of the 45 machines around 30 machines are Taski.” Another critical and most visited area is the toilet. There are 27 toilets in 1D, eight in 1C and nine in 1A that are maintained by Impressions. Lovkesh Bajaj says, “Every washroom has an operative and in times of heavy usage there are two. Apart from cleaning up the toilet or sanitizing it after every use, it is equally tough to keep the vanity area clean and dry. Every minute people are walking in and out of the toilet. We use R1chemical and steam cleaning systems like Technovap or Osprey from Dynamic Cleaning, the UK. These systems generate steam at 195oC. Besides, we also have the foam-generating touch-free systems of Santoemma, Italy, supplied by Dulevo India.”

The experience of working with T3 is like giving an examination that one has to pass every day – three shifts per day for 365 days. It’s very tough property to maintain with auditing being done each day or rather each moment. Every passenger’s satisfaction matters, says Soni.

Facade cleaning

Classic atriums, long stretch of glass façade, glass corridors, glass roofing, glass curtain walls, the canyon area, high pillars… are all part of the T3 structure and needs regular maintenance. Any glass above 10m is maintained by Appletree Building Maintenance Pvt Ltd at T3.

Facade cleaning is a challenging job as it involves working at heights, says Sandra Malhotra, Head-Project (Team Façade), T3. “We use various equipment and trained operators; some of the equipment have been provided by GMR. The T3 façade is equipped with articulated cradle system for cleaning the outside glass curtains. We have dedicated equipment provided by GMR – Dino 180, a European machine supplied by Cradle Runways for cleaning the PTB. It’s an aerial platform used for cleaning the pillars or grids in the arrival area. We are also using our scissor lifts for cleaning other areas inside the terminal.” Machines like Falcon and associated systems like articulated cradle, the two-man cradle, gantry system, etc., are being used in this project. A well-designed structure, there are provisions made to access the outside of the building through the emergency routes to use the façade cleaning systems. All the air-conditioned areas like the ticketing islands or the canopy, are cleaned six times a year. “T3, being a vast and a regulated air-conditioned area, the dust levels are not high. Once we do a round of cleaning, we proceed to the domestic area and then come back to the international section. We work in a continuous cycle. It would take about 20 days to a month to do a pier with around seven boys on job. We have terminal manager taking rounds to ensure standards.”

There are areas that are testing when it comes to working at heights. “Like the glass corridor at the terminal. Some of the workers once up there get this feeling of being suspended as there is nothing below them. Hence, in façade cleaning, unlike other housekeeping task, it is important to take the likes and dislikes of the workers into consideration. We engage such workers who are comfortable working at that height. We have around 60 workers at T3 and a lot of them are new. Many of them, who joined enthusiastically at first, have found working at a certain height difficult and opted out. Hence, the turn over is much higher and we have engaged staff in excess.” Special operators work on the machines. Appletree has four trained operators and are planning to engage more. “Usually they learn on job and training is an on going process,” says Sandra.

Every season has its own demands. The summer months, when it is dusty and windy, are difficult. “It is tough for the workers to hang out in the sun, as it is very dehydrating.” Rains and winters are a little comfortable but when it is windy and drizzling, dust stains are left behind on the glass which needs to be cleaned. Besides regular cleaning, Appletree does a lot of spot cleaning using de-scalers and cleaning chemicals from Diversey. “The quality of water plays an important role in the cleaning of façade. We are using treated water in order to ensure no water stains or streaks are left behind. The window wiper tool absorbs water and chemicals like R3 or descalers and use the squeegee help to clean the glass surface and dry respectively. At times we use special scrapper which does not scratch the glass. Most of the tools are from Unger.”

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