Before Hotel ibis Styles at Macpherson opened its doors earlier in April this year, its management identified potential challenges the property was likely to face. To tackle the hotel industry’s labour shortage, the hotel decided to adopt automation and simple ideas to improve productivity and make processes more manpower lean.
The management engaged e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) to tap on the Inclusive Growth Programme (IGP) and through it, the hotel implemented productivity initiatives such as the Pool Cleaning Robot and customised beds.
Pool Cleaning Robot
It is common practice in the hotel industry for workers to be tasked to clean swimming pools, on top of doing general cleaning. This task can take anywhere from three to four hours each night during the pool’s closing hours.
“Running hotels with pools, you need to task workers to clean the pools every night and this can be really labour intensive,” said ibis Styles General Manager Shamila Rolfe, who has more than 25 years of experience in running hotels.
With the pool cleaning robot, a worker only needs to plug the robot in and place it in the pool. The robot then does the job of cleaning the pool without any human supervision.
As it is equipped with an enhanced cleaning technology, the robot sizes the pool up and then chooses a suitable cleaning cycle for maximum efficiency. With this, the hotel saves about 112 man-hours a month.
“On top of that, any hotel would require two staff members to be at the pool to ensure safety. With the robot, we don’t have to worry about the staff who are working at night. It saves time and cost. This benefits both the hotel and the workers under our employment,” added Ms Rolfe.
To help its mature workers in the housekeeping department, the hotel also customised its beds for its 293 rooms so that bedsheets can be changed without any heavy lifting.
An additional thin layer of mattress, called topper, is placed on top of the normal heavy mattress. The room attendant now only needs to lift the topper and tuck the excess bed sheet cloth underneath it.
Without the topper, the average room attendant needs an estimate of two hours of lifting heavy mattresses each day. This labour intensive work also increases the risk of back injuries.
One room attendant who has benefitted from this initiative is 59-year-old room attendant Wang Sow Hwa.
“Without this topper, of course I would take a longer time. I think we would even need two people to do the bed changing as the mattresses can be quite heavy to lift. The initiative is better for older workers like myself. I can finish doing up the beds on my own and even cut the time it takes to make up the room,” said Mr Wang.
This article was featured on 31 July 2016 in NTUC This Week. Click here to find out more about e2i’s Inclusive Growth Programme.