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Keeping cleaning operations efficient in the ever-changing transport sector can be difficult, but here, Colin Marshall, Director of Mitie’s transport cleaning operations, discusses the use of ‘Lean Six Sigma’ methodologies in the sector, highlighting how they can increase efficiency while improving the passenger experience.

For the past 30 years, people have put their trust in Lean Six Sigma methodologies to improve efficiency, productivity and effectiveness. Although its roots were originally in manufacturing, Lean has now been widely adopted in the FM industry, proving its worth to both the client and the service provider.

WORKING WITH ‘LEAN’ Lean works on the principle that there is a best way to do everything and that way needs to be found, standardised and then communicated to the wider team.

The British Quality Foundation states the five underlying principles of Lean Six Sigma as:

• Understand the ‘critical to quality’ requirements (CTQs) of customers and stakeholders – what ‘adds value’ to their offering?

• Understand processes, ensuring they reflect these CTQs – what activities are needed to create that value?

• Manage by fact – use the information gathered to make business decisions.

• Involve and equip the people in the process – give people the right tools/ knowledge to complete the task.

46 | Tomorrow’s Cleaning January 2016

• Undertake improvement activity in a systematic way – installing the right bespoke process, followed by checking and reacting to any changes.


TRANSPORT SECTOR Everyone will come into contact with the transport sector at some point, whether travelling for business or pleasure and, when you consider that millions of journeys are made in the UK every day, it’s no surprise that experts are constantly seeking to simplify and streamline its processes.

Lean Six Sigma principles are used throughout the transport sector, from manufacturing parts to organising timetables and staff rotas, so it makes perfect sense that the management of their facilities should also look to Lean to improve performance.

But it’s not as easy as simply ‘being Lean’ when it comes to transport. As all who work in the transport sector (or who use transport each day!) know, it’s unlike any other industry due to one key factor – the moving element. When you’re cleaning an office, you can be reasonably sure that the objects will stay still. Desks, chairs and floors will all be there when the operatives arrive onsite and will stay there until they’re finished.

But if these floors, toilets and chairs are on a train, plane or bus then there are several unknown factors to take into account before they can be cleaned. If planes are delayed, will there be less time to clean them? If there is less time, will you need extra staff to provide the same service? Weather, technical problems and passenger issues can all affect how a vehicle can be cleaned.

The level and scope of a vehicle clean varies hugely across the year. In the winter months, wet and icy weather makes the platforms, terminals and vehicles treacherous for passengers and employees alike. In summer months, the warmer weather provides other concerns for passengers and employees on many trains and buses. These challenges require different tools, products and manpower to make sure that the passenger experience isn’t disrupted.

Taking into account these challenges, the question must be asked ‘how can you standardise practices in such an unpredictable world?’

Jon Lightowler, Business Excellence Director for Mitie, recognises that this isn’t an easy task: “Although Lean is rooted in science, with so many unknown factors we have to be flexible

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