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Management And Training

Introducing Integrated Cleaning And Measurement

September 19, 2010
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Integrated Cleaning and Measurement (ICM) is an open-source system in which best practices are defined by scientific measurement of cleaning.

The goal is to successfully connect measurable contaminant levels with measurable health outcomes and measurable fiscal impacts so that cleaning will be evaluated and purchased based on health outcomes and real business impact.

Today, end users are looking to provide proof of performance and need a resource for best practices.

ICM, supported by a growing consortium of interested organizations, scientists, manufacturers, and end users, will meet this demand.

Below are frequently asked questions and answers about ICM.

Who created the ICM concept?
ICM is the brainchild of a number of consultants and public health scientists inside and outside the cleaning industry, and its development is being funded by the private sector.

Why is measurement a main component of ICM?
The professionalism of the cleaning industry with resulting positive impacts on pay scales can best be achieved via measurement of specific results and outcomes.

While a clean facility appearance is the starting point, measurement enables tracking the removal of a growing list of unseen contaminants that can impact health and thus affect broader business, public welfare, and safety issues.

What types of measurement are now possible?
ATP, fungal enzyme, RODAC plate, Petrifilm, particle counter, airborne dust mass, infrared/moisture detection, and other device and measurement platforms are becoming increasingly available, portable and affordable.

Why is ICM significant?
ICM is a leadership system that embraces best practices as determined by scientific measurement of outcomes, and thus levels the playing field of cleaning product and process selection, using science as the main criterion for inclusion.

What do you mean by “open-source”?
ICM is open to product substitution.

That means best practice tools and processes are acceptable within the ICM system regardless of source, provided they can yield measurement data showing their effectiveness when compared to other methods.

Who will do the measurement?
Depending on the type of measurement required, persons measuring outcomes may range from custodians, to facilities managers, to public health scientists.

For example, handheld ATP devices are simple to use, and, with limited training, can be employed by an average cleaning worker.

Who will police or monitor the system?
Like other open-source systems, the development and “policing” of ICM will be driven by both the industry community and experts who will be looking at the data and outcomes, keeping the process — and players — honest and transparent.

What types of integration are part of ICM?
The foundational tenet of ICM is integration in all its forms.

The initial point of integration will be between appearance cleaning and health-oriented cleaning — that is, facilities must not only look clean and healthy, but ideally, they must actually be clean and healthy as evidenced by the proven and measured removal of visible and invisible (without magnification) unwanted matter.

However, it doesn’t stop there.

Effective systems integrate in a variety of ways and across a number of fronts when they are comprehensive and synergistic; thus ICM, over time, will by definition include integration of existing, successful systems of cleaning.

In short, ICM strives to create unification of elements, rather than separation or “silo thinking,” and to use measurement as the way to define and interpret success.

It is, however, a journey not a destination, and integration/unification/measurement can be developed and improved indefinitely.

Will ICM work with CIMS?
ICM is designed to work with CIMS.

In fact, it is recommended that before embarking on any ICM program, facilities management participate in CIMS training.

How will ICM affect the way the public views the cleaning industry, and how they buy cleaning services?
The goal — truly the “Holy Grail” of cleaning — is that we as an industry will be able to successfully connect measured cleaning outcomes with measured health outcomes and quantified bottom line impacts so that cleaning will be evaluated and purchased based as much on health and business impacts as it is now based on whether or not the facility looks and smells clean for the lowest price possible.

How will ICM affect the cleaning industry as a whole?
As we scrutinize and improve what we are actually doing, the resulting positive health and operational impacts — and publicizing of these successes — will raise the level of respect the public has for commercial cleaning.

At least, that is a long-term goal; one that we believe is achievable.

Who will be opposed to this approach?
Hopefully nobody will oppose a sensible, science-based approach.

However, products and processes that will not withstand scrutiny will be most sensitive and vulnerable.

Proponents of these less-effective methods have much to lose — or gain — by voluntarily paying attention and acting appropriately.

When will the system be ready?
ICM pilots are currently in development in several facilities across the country.

As results become available, they will be shared with the industry.

How will ICM work with CIRI?
The further development of the Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI) will increasingly highlight the importance of integrating cleaning with measurement for the betterment of public health and, in fact, the entire cleaning industry.

ICM will be fueled and driven by the efforts of CIRI and similar organizations.


Allen P. Rathey is president of InstructionLink/JanTrain Inc.
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