Dutch railways NS and ProRail start data-driven cleaning

NS (Dutch railways) and ProRail (Railway infrastructure). began the “Smart Toilets” project over two years ago, which aims to improve the quality, hygiene, and cost of the cleaning process at train stations. The project is based on data-driven work and focuses on cleanliness, quality, and doing what is necessary. The ultimate goal is to gain more control over the cleaning process and improve customer experience.


Two years ago, facto.nl dedicated an article to the project. Here’s a small preview.

The project started after an evaluation of the traditional collaboration between NS, ProRail, and cleaning companies. They realized that the then-European tender had led to a traditional relationship with the selected cleaning companies: the cleaning company did their job, an external party periodically checked the technical cleaning quality, and the client evaluated the results to see if the performances met the requirements.

NS and ProRail, however, wanted to gain more control over the cleaning process as a whole – more towards the cleaning experience – and therefore decided to move away from technical measurements and work more with data.

Smart Toilets

To gain more control over the quality, hygiene (Covid-19), and costs of toilet cleaning based on data, a pilot was set up, namely Smart Toilets. “NS Stations and ProRail had already been working with sensors at stations for about four years, for example, in connection with crowd control at busy train stations”, Diks explains. It was not a big step to apply modern technology to the toilets, with the aim of obtaining a real-time image of important factors around a toilet, such as customer satisfaction, hygiene and cleanliness, the frequency and time of cleaning, and the number of users.

Satisfied or not?

As a trial, in collaboration with INPRC, a young technology company specializing in data systems, along with cleaning suppliers Asito and ICS and several data specialists, a system was introduced in 2019 to measure customer satisfaction in real-time.

After an initial pilot at five stations, customer feedback boxes have now been installed on the walls in 38 toilets at 26 locations. Each box is equipped with three coloured buttons: green, yellow, and red. By pressing one of those buttons, the toilet visitor immediately indicates their satisfaction.

Intervention or not?

The data is centrally collected and provides a total picture of the customer experience: if they meet the norm (a 7), then it is good. If the score drops below 6, the causes are examined, and which interventions are necessary.

Together with this data on customer satisfaction, other data is also collected using technology, such as the number of people who visit a toilet, the start and end time of the cleaner, whether an intermediate quality check has taken place, and so on. In this way, more and more insight is gained into the relationship between the cleaning moment and the cleaning experience, a fact that can be controlled.

“Axe to the root of traditional cleaning contracts”

According to Wilco van Unen, process coordinator for Cleanliness at NS Stations, the project has already achieved results. For example, the safety of cleaners has improved because their methods are better understood, and procedures could be adjusted to reduce safety risks. In addition, data technology provides the opportunity to organize toilet cleaning at stations “just-in-time.” Erik Diks, project leader at ProRail, is convinced that data-driven work is the axe to the root of traditional cleaning contracts.

Read full article (in Dutch): https://www.facto.nl/16247/datadriven-schoonmaak-stations