Hygiene vital to human health

27th of June 2012

ECJ editor Michelle Marshall visits Dako in Denmark, a company specialising in tissue-based cancer diagnostics, to find out how ISS manages a wide range of  facility services there.

Dako’s mission is to fight cancer and from its base in Glostrup, Denmark it provides reagents, instruments and software that give fast and accurate answers for cancer patients. It occupies  387,500 square feet encompassing a number of buildings constructed at various times over the company’s history. In total 550 people work there.

In order to focus on its core business, Dako first outsourced all its service and support functions in 2009 – so cleaning; running the canteen, reception and meeting rooms; sorting waste; window cleaning; maintaining green areas; security; maintenance of production  equipment and installations; buildings; telephones; office supplies; utilities. Market-leading  facility services group ISS has been working at the plant since that time, with the first contract running from 2009 to 2011. The contract was renewed at the beginning of this year and will run for a further four years.

Henrik Branth, facility service manager for ISS at Dako explained: “We manage everything on this site that is not core to Dako’s business and there are between 40 and 45 employees working here at any time of day.

“For example, much of the highly specialised equipment is monitored 24 hours a day because of diagnostic fluids called reagents being stored in refrigerated containers,” Branth continued. “If the temperature of those fluids rises too much, they are ruined and must be destroyed. If temperatures fall below a certain level in those crucial areas, an alarm sounds that is linked to an ISS technician. There is a member of the team on duty round the clock – that’s the level of service we must provide.”

In the cleaning team there are nine operatives, with the first shift starting at 6.00 am. “We do have daytime cleaning in some of the office areas,” explained Branth, “but cleaners cannot access the production areas in the morning so another shift starts there at 3.00 pm and continues until 11.00 pm.”

Strict protocols

In the areas where reagents are actually produced, strict hygiene protocols are in place which have to be followed by Dako staff, visitors and, of course, cleaners. When entering these zones of the building cleaners must wear white laboratory coats and specific shoes – it is forbidden to wear the same clothes within that zone as outside.

“The cleaning methods and products used within those production areas also follow a strict specification and our cleaners must work in a very specific way”, Branth went on. “For example, vacuum cleaners cannot be used because of dust risk, so they can only use mops and cloths. They must also not move any objects when cleaning surfaces – they cannot even tidy papers so we rely on Dako staff tidying their work surfaces before we arrive - and they have to take extra care at all times.”

These requirements apply too in areas such as fluid bottling rooms and those where the bottles are put into boxes – also a series of laboratories. Each room must be cleaned exactly according to the specification and cleaning staff never touch the highly sensitive and expensive machinery. “ISS technical staff help with the cleaning of that,” explained Branth, “along with the Dako lab staff.”

Cleaning staff are also frequently entering temperature-controlled rooms containing large containers of reagents and they are under strict instruction not to touch those. “Damage to containers could result in damage costing  thousands of Danish kroner.”

One of the most specialised areas for the cleaning team is the laboratory wash. Here, tools such as glass beakers, cylinders and other objects used in the production of reagents are placed in a highly technical, and costly, washing machine. Once washed, the operative unloads the machine and is responsible for returning each object to the right place. “This task requires much more skill than the other cleaning jobs so we have two specially trained operatives carrying out that role,” Branth pointed out.

Among the nine cleaning staff on the site there is very low turnover and many of them have been at Dako since the ISS contract began. “Overall it’s a very good place for the cleaners to work,” explained Branth. “The basic salary is good, and there are additional benefits such as pension, holiday pay and health insurance.

“As well as that, each operative knows exactly what is expected of them when they arrive at work every day, and they are all appreciated and respected by Dako. The relationship between Dako and ISS staff is open and friendly – for example, ISS staff are always invited to the Dako Christmas and summer parties.”

Environmental concerns are high on Dako’s list of priorities, added Branth, and he explained the environmental department must be consulted by ISS if the company wants to change any product it is using in cleaning operations. “All the products we use must comply with Dako standards. For example we changed our paper supplier for the washrooms and Dako specified no bleaching agent must be used in the paper production.”

Naturally the nine cleaning operatives at the Dako site enjoy the benefits of being part of the global ISS organisation – one of the most important of them being training. All ISS employees work through the company’s own training modules, which takes place on site at Dako. The service manager decides what level of training each new employee requires, starting from basic cleaning.

Cleaners have also benefited from the ISS Centre for Competence – based at the company’s headquarters in Copenhagen. “Two trainers from the Competence Centre visited the Dako site and assessed the cleaners’ work for two days, monitoring how they carried out each process,” explained Branth. “Having done that they formulated a plan and returned in order to train our cleaners how to work differently. We describe this as ‘lean cleaning’, the smartest way to clean, and we are definitely working more efficiently as a result of that knowledge.”

An added benefit from Branth’s point of view is that the cleaners have learned a new way of doing things, and this goes a long way towards reassuring them that ISS is keen to enable them to progress, and to invest in that progression and development. “Every year there is a satisfaction survey among ISS cleaners so we’re hoping this initiative will rate positively.”

Kim Christophersen is director and facility service manager  for Dako and he explained why the company decided to outsource so many functions to ISS in 2009 having handled a number of them in-house until then. “We wanted to focus on our core business and decided to employ a company that had FM as its core business so we could improve our own functions. We did make savings as a result of outsourcing, but that was not the primary goal.”

Many areas of expertise

What does he feel are ISS’ key strengths as a company? “Its main advantage for us is that it can handle so many different  facility services, it is not just a cleaning company. It has developed many areas of expertise that we have benefited from – waste handling for example.

“We have also implemented an ISS computer system that enables us to manage control of all Dako equipment. As a company we must comply with so many legal requirements and this software helps us to succeed.”

For Christophersen precision and accuracy are crucial in the running of the Dako business, and he expects those same exacting standards from his facilities management contractor. “There must be no cross-contamination in our washing-up unit for example,” he emphasised, “because the worst scenario could be that a patient gets an incorrect cancer diagnosis. Everything critical to our operation must be monitored and measured including our washing-up unit".

“I would characterise our relationship with ISS as a partnership,” concluded Christophersen. “We both work to the same high standards, however we also both appreciate there must be an element of flexibility and continuous dialogue in working together.”



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