ICS Magazine

Sizing Up the Service Area

March 2, 2007

Many times I have found myself in the precarious position of being pressed by the clock. Small, medium or large jobs, it doesn’t matter; there are time constraints that can hobble your productivity and ultimately cause the inevitable problem of not completing a task before the facility is open to the public.

This can be due to poor planning or unforeseen circumstances, but there is nothing to compare with the anxiety and chaos of a job behind schedule. Rush jobs or behind-schedule jobs are going to happen, but there are things that can be done to reduce or eliminate the probability.

Planning hard-floor maintenance can be complex; there are many things that have to be taken into consideration. The environment of the facility, security issues, service procedures being performed, chemicals, equipment and skill level of the technicians all impact time on the job, but the primary thing is the size of the area.

While the actual work may not take as much time when working on a smaller are, there is just as much time spent loading and unloading the vehicle, hauling the equipment to the work area, performing the service procedural steps, drying time, cleaning the equipment and loading it up again as on a medium or large job. Taking these items into consideration before you get to the job helps you get an accurate service time.

When working on medium and large areas, analyze the service area to determine the flow of the work – the direction in which the service procedure will be performed. The starting area will usually be the furthest point away from the water source, and the flow works in segments toward the water and dumping source. This ensures you will not be dragging contaminated equipment through the clean area; it will always be in the area you are about to clean.

Perform the service procedures in manageable segments – areas in which a complete series of service functions will be performed before moving to the next segment. The segment area size will vary depending on the service procedure being performed. Chemicals and equipment used and the skill level of the technicians performing the service will also impact the size of the segments. Each company, crew and technician should have a pretty good idea of the productivity rates they can achieve, and develop manageable segments accordingly.

Complete each segment. The floor maintenance crew cannot just stop and take a break leaving cleaning solution on the floor; each segment should be dry or in the drying stage before breaks are taken. Keep your eye on the clock at all times during the shift and set timelines for achieving goals. If you are applying finish, make sure you leave adequate drying time. There is a huge liability when floor finish is not dry when the facility opens.

Determine cutoff lines. When servicing large areas, there may be a need to perform the service procedure over multiple days. This creates a need for cutoff lines – the area between completed work and incomplete work. This is most apparent when performing restorative service procedures. The objective is to have a cutoff line that will not be very noticeable. When performing services to a series of rooms, the cutoff lines will usually be the threshold of the door. When doing large areas such as hallways, the cut off lines might be at intersections of other halls. In large, wide-open areas such as retail environments, aisles may be used, or else just clean, straight lines if the space is empty. Clean up the cutoff line as much as possible. There will always be transitional difference between what has been done and what has not, but you can make them less noticeable.

Special attention to service areas is needed when working in facilities that have personnel working all the time. Large areas such as halls may have to be divided in half to allow foot traffic down one side while the service procedure is being performed. Once one half is completed, move to the other half. Setting safety perimeters and solution control is crucial when performing services in environments of this nature. Plan for additional time to ensure the areas are done safely and completely.

It is always best to work with the customer when planning, scheduling and performing hard-floor maintenance. Establish the best time to perform the services. Present them with a work plan and explain what you are doing and when you anticipate doing it. Keep them in the loop and let them know of changes that may occur in the process of completing the job. Let them know what to expect. The customer is much more willing to work with you if they know what is going on.

The size of the area and the amount of time allowed to get the job done in can sometimes create challenging circumstances. Planning your work and working your plan can reduce the potential of finding yourself in that uncomfortable position of the facility opening before you are done.