Wipes & cloths - it's all about placement

13th of July 2022
Wipes & cloths - it's all about placement
Wipes & cloths - it's all about placement

Businesses will run more efficiently when staff members have the ‘tools’ they need close to hand. And this includes wipes and cloths. ECJ finds out how the placement of wiping products can dramatically improve productivity.

PICTURE THE SCENE. You are hard at work on a production line, in an industrial workshop or in a commercial kitchen. Suddenly there is a critical spill of oil, grease, water, solvent – even gravy. And whatever is creating that mess, it will need to be wiped up quickly because a puddle of liquid on a surface could contaminate the end product while a floor spillage could represent a slip hazard.

But where is the relevant wiper for the task? If the wiping source is located some distance away, operatives will be obliged to spend valuable time searching for something with which to mop up the spill.

This may seem a trivial issue, but if such an occurrence were to take place several times a day, the wasted minutes would soon add up to hours and productivity would suffer. Companies are increasingly understanding the importance of optimising workflow and ensuring all tools and equipment are located in the right place. As a result, many are now incorporating Lean, Six Sigma or Five S methodologies into their operations – all of which are designed to streamline processes by ensuring everything is situated where it needs to be and that all interruptions and delays are kept to a minimum.

Cloths and wipers are essential in any environment where operatives’ hands need to be clean and where messes are made. So these are among the ‘tools’ that need to be factored into workflow methodologies, according to Essity’s product management director Gilles Betourne.

“Productivity will definitely be compromised if operators are forced to take time fetching wipers that are situated a long way away from the task in hand,” he said. “And production defects are liable to occur when wipers are not supplied close to where they are needed because any preventive maintenance schedules might not be followed. And if the wrong wiper is used for the task in question it could lead to variable results.”

Optimum wiper placement is just as important in commercial kitchens as in industrial environments, he says. “Well-positioned wiping products make a vital contribution to overcoming the daily challenges of any restaurant kitchen,” said Betourne. “If these products are located in strategic positions it will facilitate the task of cleaning, both during food service periods and afterwards. And well-placed products will ensure that staff members won’t forget to clean their hands or wipe down surfaces.”

He says a general rise in costs has put manufacturers under increasing pressure to find new operational efficiencies. “They need to improve their productivity and meet sustainability goals while maintaining rigorous performance levels,” he said. “And over the past few years they have been required to change their working practices and secure new hygiene standards across their sites.

Process efficiency

“However, businesses do not always think about better cleaning efficiency when formulating their lean or Five S approaches.”

Essity’s wipers and cleaning cloths are housed in Tork Performance dispensers which come in a range of formats and mounting options. The units are said to be eye-catching to make them easy to spot and include wall-mounted formats, floorstands and portable units which may be placed within easy reach of the operator. Latest products in the range include Tork Heavy-Duty Cleaning Cloth 99% Biobased for wiping up oil, grease and water spills.

The placement of cloths and wipers is crucial to improving process efficiency on the shop floor, kitchen or workbench according to Vileda Professional’s global application manager Paul Harleman. “It is highly important to minimise the physical distance between the source of the wipes and the area where the wipe is to be used,” he said.

“Cloths and wipers should be available within easy reach – such as on the cleaning operator’s trolley or in a dispenser attached to the wall close to where they are required. And any spillages need to be removed quickly to avoid causing danger, since they could make surfaces slippery or potentially be infectious if bodily fluids are involved. The employees responsible for cleaning should not be obliged to have to search for a wiper to do this.”

Vileda offers microfibre wipers in various formats for various sectors including offices, healthcare and cleanrooms.

A kitchen or production line will be run more efficiently where the wiping dispensers are placed where spillages are likely to occur, says Harleman. “The ideal scenario is where the operator doesn’t have to search for cloths and where dispensers are always kept filled,” he said. “Digital technology will allow you to scan and communicate the dispenser’s fill level to ensure there is always a sufficient supply. Manufacturers of sanitary supplies are in the front row of this digitalisation process, but other industries will follow.”

Minimal delays

He says Vileda’s SafePlus dispenser system makes it easy for the user to access wipers wherever they need them, describing it as an easy to use and hygienically safe solution.

According to Harleman, the characteristics of the cloth and the way it is used can also have an impact on efficiency and productivity. “For example, we train cleaning operators to use a cloth as efficiently as possible by folding it two or three times and turning it to a clean side regularly,” he said. “This ensures the cloth closely touches the surface and optimises the use of the entire surface of the cloth, front and back.”

Among the company’s latest products is the r-range of microfibre cloths made partly from recycled PET bottles.

One of the chief problems with poor wiper placement is that operatives might not take the time or trouble to choose the right product, says Chicopee’s junior marketing associate Marie Dobravc.
“Staff members need to have easy access to cloths and wipers when they are needed, but from a productivity viewpoint it is equally important that these products should be of an appropriate quality,” she said. “Poor quality or low weight wipes will lead to the waste of valuable time if these prove to be inadequate for the job or if they tear or leave specks of lint behind on the surface.”

She says many wipes used in the food industry are not food contact approved. “Selecting FCC wipes in a food environment will minimise the cross-contamination risks,” she said. “This is one of the top causes of food poisoning and occurs when kitchen tools have not been thoroughly cleaned and when bacteria come into contact with the food.”

Chicopee makes products for the building care, industrial, healthcare and automotive industries as well as for the food service sector.

Easy to use dispensing

According to Dobravc there are other ways in which wipers can improve flow and efficiency besides being situated in the right place. “For example, the use of pre-cut sheets and easy-to-use dispensing systems will help to facilitate delivery while good quality wipes will provide a reliable and consistent performance,” she said.

“Products that are solvent-resistant, usable with all cleaning agents and fully compatible with customers’ own solvents will also make the task easier to carry out. And flexible wipers that are suitable for use on most surfaces will help to improve productivity.” She says the company’s three I-Tack variants are compatible with water-based products and high solid paints.

“There is a global trend to focus on Lean and 6 Sigma methodology, and by implementing disposable wipes in the correct packaging in the right workspace we have seen customers achieve great productivity improvements,” she said.

GOJO’s UK and Ireland managing director Chris Wakefield agrees that wipes should be positioned close to their point of use. “Placing smart, effective and versatile solutions within easy reach of where they’re needed will go a long way towards influencing hygienic behaviour, and this will help keep spaces clean and hygienic and reduce the risk of contamination,” he explained.

The longer it takes for a worker to hunt down a wipe when it is needed, the greater the opportunity for germs to infect large numbers of people, he says. “There is then a risk these micro-organisms will contaminate not only the building itself, but also the wider environment,” he said. “And any spills that are not cleaned up immediately may pose the risk of slips and falls.”

GOJO’s Purell surface sanitising wipes are housed in easy-to-use canisters in various sizes that can be placed on desks and on worktops as required. Designed for use in healthcare, leisure, education, hotels and offices are new Purell hand and surface antimicrobial wipes for use on hands and surfaces.

Operatives need to take a proactive approach to cleaning - particularly in food environments, according to Wakefield. “It is not just the dirt you can see that needs sanitising immediately,” he says. “And there can be serious repercussions if the correct procedures are not followed. An outbreak of food poisoning or a poor assessment from the relevant food hygiene authority could seriously damage a company’s business. As well as fines and compensation for those affected, a business could even be forced to close in a worst case scenario.”

And he claims optimum wiper placement is crucial for efficiency, productivity and health and safety. “Quite simply, a sanitising solution situated conveniently close to hand is more likely to be used,”
he concluded.


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