CapitaMalls Asia uses technology to enhance the cleanliness of CapitaMalls' washrooms in an eco-conscious manner
CapitaMalls Asia uses technology to enhance the cleanliness of CapitaMalls' washrooms in an eco-conscious manner

Your shopping experience is of top priority to CapitaMalls Asia. No detail is too small, and this includes basic things that we have all come to take for granted – such as the cleanliness of the restrooms.

At the CapitaLand Green Reward 2012, the team that walked away with the Gold Reward for the Green Innovation category was the one that came up with an idea to enhance the cleanliness of CapitaMalls’ washrooms in an eco-conscious manner.

The CapitaLand Green Reward is an internal award that recognises outstanding Green achievements of CapitaLand Group staff. It has five categories: Green Innovation, Green Accolade, Top Green Building Rating, Listing on Sustainability Rating, and Above SBU Target Reduction in Water and Electricity Usage. The Green Innovation category is designed to encourage and reward ideas that help the company save time, money and resources even as the ideas reduce the impact on the environment. In addition, the ideas have to impress with their creativity and be scalable.

Clean and Green

This year’s Gold winner, iClean, fulfilled all the criteria. iClean is an automated notification system that alerts cleaning supervisors when restrooms at CapitaMalls in Singapore require cleaning and replenishment of hand soap and paper rolls.

The usual practice is to roster cleaners to regularly check the restrooms and clean them when the need arises. In some cases, dedicated cleaning staff are deployed to each restroom to monitor and attend to the situation.

But, malls vary in their shopper traffic. Even within the same mall, restrooms at different locations have different number of users. A standard system may be simple but not always efficient.

Technology is Key

“It is part of my job to see to the mechanical and electrical aspect of our mall operations. We try to understand the problems faced by the people on the ground.

So our team decided to use technology to solve this issue,” said Chow Chee Khang, Head of Engineering Design & Technical Services, CapitaMalls Asia.

Their inspiration, as it turned out, was a concept that is already in use in all malls.

“Every mall has a human traffic counter that tracks the number of people entering. We decided to adapt this concept and develop a counter for our restrooms,” said Chow.

The outcome is a counter that uses thermal images to track the number of people entering the restroom. When an optimal number is reached, the counter alerts the cleaning supervisor via iClean on his smartphone. A crew is then deployed to clean the restroom, refill the soap dispensers and put in new rolls of toilet paper.

With the system, restrooms will not be left dirty because the cleaning crew is not aware of the usage level. Yet, manpower is reduced because the cleaning crew is activated only when the need arises.

“We experimented with one mall first. It took us two months to adjust the optimal number of users set on the counters,” said Chow.

Eventually, they got the numbers just right. Then, the challenge was to adjust the figures for every mall. The system was further fine-tuned so that data on number of users; and peak and non-peak period usage could be collected and analysed.

As a result of iClean, CapitaMalls Asia has been able to cut down on cleaning manpower. The system will be introduced in CapitaMalls overseas.

When creative minds and modern technology come together, so much can be achieved. iClean is proof of that.