Industrial cleaning in the warehouse

Cleaning of warehouses includes wet and dry cleaning and possibly the disposal of hazardous waste, used oil and waste. Outsourcing of services should be reviewed.

Industrial cleaning companies carry out the sometimes complex cleaning of factory halls, technical facilities, production machines, warehouses, traffic and open spaces and industrial glazing. Other tasks include the disposal of hazardous waste, used oil and other waste. It is important that production stoppages and damage are avoided, safety is ensured and the special technical requirements of the plants are met. Industrial cleaning or building cleaning can be subject to very different requirements depending on the industry. One thinks here, for example, of the automotive or food industries. 

Besonders im Lebensmittel-Bereich existieren viele Verordnungen, wie z. B. die Verordnungen (EG) Nr. 852/2004 (Lebensmittelhygiene) und (EG) Nr. 853/2004 (Hygienevorschriften für tierische Lebensmittel) und die Lebensmittel-Hygiene-Verordnung des Bundes (LMHV). Dementsprechend muss hier bei der Reinigung eine extrem hohe Sorgfalt walten. Je nach Lagerart, Lagerhaustyp, den gelagerten Lebensmitteln und den Lagertemperatures, different things must be taken into account when cleaning. For example, in a deep-freeze warehouse (min. -18°C, mostly -20 to -35°C), cleaning must not be done wet, but with a broom.

What tools are used?

Industrial cleaning uses a wide variety of cleaning vehicles, equipment, tools, aids and cleaning agents. These include scrubbing, sweeping and vacuum sweeping machines, wet and dry vacuum cleaners, high-pressure cleaners, magnetic brooms, maintenance cleaners, glass cleaners, basic cleaners, and many more. 

Basically, a distinction is made between wet and dry cleaning, whereby wet cleaning is more effective and sustainable. It is more time-consuming and is therefore usually carried out with a wet cleaning machine. There are very different technical designs here, all of which must offer sufficient mobility and manoeuvrability. Industrial cleaning produces dirty water that is sucked up by the machine and must later be disposed of properly. At the same time, the floor is dried to avoid the risk of accidents and high damage payments. A chemical cleaning fluid is usually used for cleaning. There are ride-on machines and walk-behind machines. Dry sweepers achieve good results in some areas of the warehouse. Rotating brooms or rollers pick up the dirt and dust particles and transport them into the machine. Dry sweepers must also be mobile and manoeuvrable and are also available in ride-on or walk-behind versions. In small warehouses, storage halls and workshops, cleaning is often also done with a broom. Sweeping chips are then used to bind dust and keep the warehouse clean. 
There are no general rules for the cleaning interval, as it depends on many general conditions such as causes of dirt, number of machines, etc. In many distribution warehouses, it has proven effective to clean the entire storage area once a week with a wet sweeper. If, in addition to dust, other dirt (packaging residues, small parts or similar) also accumulates regularly, daily cleaning, e.g. with dry sweeping machines, is necessary. 

What should be considered when cleaning bearings?

In almost all warehouses there is an increased development of dust and dirt. In addition to the usual environmental dust, there is also the abrasion from industrial truck tyres, dirt carried in, leftover cardboard boxes and other packaging materials, and much more. If the warehouse is located in the vicinity of production facilities, additional emissions are generated. A thick layer of dust can accumulate on the shelves, products, spare parts and materials over weeks and months, making it necessary to clean the shelves as well. Packaging should not only protect the product from damage but also from contamination. If goods are also stored in sales packaging for the retail trade, they should be stored in closed boxes. This can significantly reduce the soiling of these goods and save on cleaning. 

Already during construction, a warehouse should be designed in such a way that as little dust or dirt as possible occurs. This is possible, for example, by separating production facilities, closing building openings, low-abrasion and smooth floors and low-abrasion tyres on the industrial trucks. 
Depending on the general conditions and requirements of the stored goods, cleaning plans for a warehouse must be drawn up and adhered to. It is also essential that dust and dirt are bound and removed. Only then is it guaranteed that the goods and shelves do not become unnecessarily dirty. Order and cleanliness are an important criterion for error-free and high-quality work in the warehouse or for warehousing. This applies to both manual and automatic warehouses. In automatic warehouses, the situation is aggravated by the fact that sensors necessary for operation can become dirty and this can lead to avoidable malfunctions. 

Should industrial cleaning be outsourced?

Industrial cleaning can also be purchased as a service from specialised companies. If the building cleaning or industrial cleaning is outsourced, there is the advantage that no own machines, employees and other resources are necessary for the cleaning. However, the purchased services must be regularly checked so that the costs do not get out of hand. In the chemical industry, for example, industrial cleaning or building cleaning is heavily dependent on special equipment. The few available service providers have a strong market position, which leads to high costs. A strategic purchasing process and cooperation in partnership can help save a lot of money. If the quality of the cleaning is right, however, the company can confidently concentrate on its core business while industrial cleaning runs discreetly in the background. So there is no clear-cut answer here to the question of outsourcing and its advantages. Each company has to find a suitable model depending on its possibilities and boundary conditions. In general, the company's own employees should also take responsibility for order and cleanliness in the warehouse.

How do you find the right industrial cleaning company?

If the cleaning services are to be contracted out, a detailed specification and bill of quantities should be drawn up. The following procedure is recommended for the award procedure:  

  • Market research: Which cleaning companies offer the desired services in my area? 

  • Enquiry of the range of services and selection of companies for a call for tenders 

  • Invitation to tender for the desired services by sending the specifications and the service description 

  • Comparison of the offers 

  • Reference visits to other clients of the service provider 

  • Final negotiation and selection of the service provider 

  • Clear contract design with all rights and obligations 

  • Detailed briefing on site 

Orderliness and cleanliness in the warehouse and in warehousing not only have a direct influence on the quality of work, but also on the impression a customer gets of the respective company. In addition to the above-mentioned impairments, soiling in the warehouse can, for example, also affect the usability of the goods. 

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