Six Sigma was developed by Motorola (1986) for quality and process improvement, and has since helped many companies (famously, General Electric) move closer to consistent, defect-free product manufacturing.
The cleaning industry “manufactures” a product: clean, healthy, attractive and cost effective facilities, and Six Sigma principles can help cleaning operations standardize, and eliminate defects and variability in the cleaning process, to arrive at a consistently high quality product.
Among other techniques, Six Sigma uses a five-step problem-solving method, DMAIC:
- Define the context and goals for improvement.
- Measure baseline performance and capability of the current process.
- Analyze: Use information and tools to understand cause-and-effect issues.
- Improve: Take steps to improve and validate improvements to the system.
- Control: Establish a program to ensure system improvements are sustained.
Other Six Sigma concepts that can be applied to cleaning operations include:
- Improving cleaning outcomes by 70%.
- Achieving zero product-defects (or no more than 3.4 defects per million ‘product’ opportunities)
There are systems within the cleaning and facilities sector that can help users develop a high-quality, virtually zero-defect cleaning ‘product’ or program using Six Sigma principles. These include but are not limited to:
ISSA’s Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) and (CIMS-Green Building or GB) – CIMS is the basis for a solid management platform upon which a cleaning program can be built and enhanced using Six Sigma quality improvement principles. CIMS-GB “demonstrates an organization is prepared to deliver quality, customer-focused services and ensures an organization is capable of delivering a comprehensive green cleaning program based on LEED: EB O&M green-cleaning criteria” (ISSA).
ISSA’s Cleaning Industry Training Standard (CITS) – CITS provides a standardized framework for training, even when using a particular company’s proprietary products, although users are free to select whatever products best suit their chosen process. ISSA has realistically enabled companies to standardize training when using a particular brand or brands.
Team Cleaning – Also known as ‘specialist cleaning’ – or cleaning using a team of specialists – it creates a specialist team with simple, but complementary task-sets enabling higher-productivity and job quality, with simplified training, replacement, and retraining of workers (specialists each perform only two or three main functions, so training of replacements, or providing temporary replacements of absent workers using cross-trained team specialists, enables better, more consistent service.)
(OS1) – (OS1) was founded on Team Cleaning principles and enables standardization and continuous improvement via prescriptive products and a nonprofit support group. (OS1) has also developed a system of audits to ensure program compliance and better, consistent outcomes.
Green Guides for the Six Sigma Path
Healthy Schools Campaign’s (HSC) Quick and Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools is a helpful resource as is its recently launched Green Clean Schools Program.
HSC’s Green Clean Schools Program offers a Green Cleaning Program Assessment that will help mentor and build your green cleaning program.
The Ashkin Group’s Sustainability Dashboard enables defining and tracking key metrics of greenness and sustainability.
Green Cleaning University (GCU) enables a Green Cleaning Professional (GCP) credential. GCU’s courses apply to “manufacturers, distributors, service providers, building managers and owners, advocates, government officials, and others” (ISSA).
Measurement Programs for Six Sigma
Integrated Cleaning and Measurement (ICM) – ICM integrates cleaning with outcome measurement, using ATP (adenosine triphosphate) assessment devices, dust particle counters, and other data-driven tools for trackable, numerical improvements to cleaning.
ISSA’s The Clean Standard (TCS) – ISSA’s TCS (produced with the Cleaning Industry Research Institute or CIRI) has provided a huge service to the cleaning sector by effectively defining ATP as an important metric related to clean, and setting tough metrics as targets (perhaps too tough by some reckoning; but setting the bar high is useful).
Future articles in HFI’s How Six Sigma Can Help Your Cleaning series will elaborate on processes that can be part of your Six Sigma journey to better Cleaning Performance (CP).