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The role of service providers in heavy industries

Bhupendra Tomar, Group Head – Administration & Facilities, Arvind Limited

In a far reaching conversation, Bhupendra Tomar, Group Head – Administration & Facilities, Arvind Limited drew out the length and breadth of the housekeeping support required in heavy industries like textiles and more.

What government norms for cleaning and hygiene, if any, are required to be implemented at the plant?

These are prescribed in the Factories Act of 1948, specifically sections like 11, 12 & 14 which come under the heading of health and safety provisions. For cleaning and hygiene in manufacturing facilities, ISO 9001, 14001 or 18001 are applicable.

What cleaning challenges do you face at your manufacturing facility?

A manufacturing facility consists of various areas such as shop floors, warehouses, common facilities like canteens and cafeteria, break out areas, rest rooms, occupational health centers, long roads and pavements, parking zones etc…other than the office areas. We need to cater to various areas, each of which would have a different cleaning need and hence would require a specific solution.

One size fits all may not work here. Depending upon the area and operations, the appropriate solutions need to be deployed.

High footfall is a major challenge. A mixed workforce consisting of white collar, blue collar and contractual workers, all of whom have different attitudes towards their contribution in maintaining cleanliness and hygiene, presents a challenge.

Various factors will contribute to the designing of a housekeeping plan. For some areas, a higher concentration of chemicals is required. In textiles and heavy engineering, grease is a problem in certain areas like the maintenance area of the shop floor.

The plan will have green, yellow and red areas, which reflects the criticality of cleaning. A red zone means additional and specialised cleaning will be required, with the requisite tools and machines. Manpower also needs to be trained to cater specifically to each area.

How do you overcome these challenges?

By designing an intelligent, custom-made plan specific to each area and the nature of operations being carried out there. This is a very healthy mix of man, machine and chemicals, and will also depend upon the footfall of a particular area. The cleaning frequency will be decided accordingly.

What cleaning machines, tools and chemicals do you use to do this?

In a manufacturing facility, we can use a huge array of machines, chemicals and tools. We use different types of scrubbers like single disc, walk behind and ride on, with different capacities based on location; wet and dry vacuum cleaners, dry foam generators for cleaning carpets and fabrics.

We use specific tools for facades like glass cleaning kits. For the high ceilings of the shop floor area, we use telescopic ropes for the cleaning of cobwebs. For roads and pavements, road sweeper machines work very well, and help reduce the need for manual labour.

In the textile sector, there are a lot of dyes and colours being used; high pressure jetting machines are especially relevant. When it comes to chemicals, we want a recognised brand that is both efficacious and also meets sustainability norms.

What solutions do you use for dealing with chemical spills and stains?

When these situations arise, absorbent material is used to soak the spilled chemical. This is the first response, followed by application of a high concentration of cleaning chemicals that we have validated. We may consider using something to detect and display the extent of the spill as well.

What solutions have you chosen to treat effluents before discharge?

You’ll be happy to know all our facilities fall in the category of zero liquid discharge, because we have an in-house effluent treatment plant. The textile sector needs a lot of water for its processes; I am happy to share that we don’t use groundwater at all for any of our processes. We take sewage from the municipal corporation of the city, treat it and utilise it for our purposes, after which it is treated again. We use very advanced solutions at all our facilities.

We actually pay the municipal corporation for the sewage water we take from them.

What role do third-party service providers play in housekeeping and overall facility management?

Third party service providers play a big role. A lot depends upon the facility management plan. A healthy combination of man and machine with the right kind of technology enables real-time monitoring and creates a framework for governance. This is key to a successful plan.

We are living in an age where manpower contracts are replacing service level contracts. In my opinion, a well drafted service level agreement with sharply delineated key performance indicators would be the key differentiator.

The onus of implementing your plan lies with the facility management service provider; the capability of this service provider is a crucial factor in fulfilling statutory compliances and for availability of skilled manpower.

In this industry, attrition is very high. Someone who has reserve manpower is more likely to meet their KPIs consistently. Well-defined cleaning programs and Rewards and Recognition (R&R) programs help retain a motivated workforce in what is otherwise a monotonous, repetitive job. What is a thrice-a-day task for a housekeeping employee is a critical, unmissable task for us.

A program which identifies star performers and rewards them suitably will motivate them to perform even better and encourage other people to take their game to the next level. Instilling the feeling that their work is really important and their contribution and presence is valued, is mandatory. Third party service providers need to ensure all this; if they do, they will be able to extend great help in overall facility management.

Another key area for service providers is their understanding of newly emerging solutions for every evolving need. It would be an added advantage and can give an extra edge to the FM plan deployed at any manufacturing facility.

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