We adapted IoT in monitoring water supply, treatment and distribution online: Subbaraj

In conversation with BW HOTELIER, Natchimuthu Subbaraj, Chief Engineer, Conrad Bangaluru discusses the tightened budget, increasing role of technology in engineering, implementation of new protocols and much more.

The Covid19 pandemic has tightened the budget to a great extent, how are you going about ensuring the inclusion of new sanitation products for engineering in the hotel?

While the current times are tough, this pandemic has provided the opportunity for engineers to sharpen their skills and think ‘out of the box’ with innovative solutions to cater to the hotel’s requirement on a reduced budget. Our engineering team has further strengthened both skill and knowledge as the services and equipment at the hotel are maintained by in-house engineers. This facilitated a drop in costs such as annual maintenance contracts quite drastically. Through this, we have been able to manage the expense of heightened hygiene standards.

Hotels are moving towards technology adaptation, what is your take on the same with regard to engineering in the hotel and cost analysis? 

Conrad Bengaluru is a fairly new hotel, we’re just turning three in a couple of months. In that sense, we have been blessed with new age technology at the hotel. That said, we believe in staying relevant and up to date with the latest technological trends. At Conrad, we are adapting with the internet of things by monitoring water supply, treatment and distribution online. The online tools are also used for monitoring key parameters like chilled and hot water temperature, and a few critical pumps. The Greenvironment app allows for real time monitoring and sends an alert when parameters change.

What were some of the immediate cost cutting strategies adopted with the sudden announcement of lockdown from the hotel’s engineering point of view?

The hotel is designed such to operate major utilities zone wise, which helped us in a big way in these unprecedented times. We had grouped in-house guests and the team members who stayed back during a pandemic in one particular zone to reduce the energy consumption for common lights, AC and hot water system. All the individual kitchens were closed and operated one kitchen for all cooking. Most critical services and areas were maintained by the team who stayed back in the hotel for weeks, to mitigate the spread of the virus from daily transportation.

Please share the key learning takeaway that the pandemic entailed for the hospitality industry and especially for your department?

The importance of mental health and physical fitness has come in the forefront for all of us. The emphasis on both these aspects of life was unfortunately put on the back burner by many of us. A couple of months now into the pandemic, I believe many of us have reflected and have altered our lifestyles to include wellness aspects as a part of our daily routine.

What in your view are the necessary steps that must be taken care of for reopening the hotel in the new normal?

The general awareness on personal hygiene, implementation of guidelines like social distancing, washing hands, frequent sanitation of high touch areas. In fact, Conrad Bengaluru’s YouTube channel has a series of videos that showcases the contactless customer journey.

What are the new protocols included into training the staff for the post Covid19 functioning in the engineering department?

While hygiene has always been an integral part of the hotels’ standards, with the pandemic, we have heightened our hygiene practices that have been developed through guidelines received from the CDC, WHO and Hilton Global guidelines. The Hilton CleanStay program emphasises on 10 high touchpoints of the customer journey for disinfected and safer stays. Our hygiene manager has been on board with us since pre-opening and she has been conducting training on the effects, precautions and educating team members on the renewed guidelines. In engineering, we implemented the hand wash log sheet and installed new sensor taps with wash basin and soap solution in all key areas including the engineering workshop. A hygiene kit is issued to each team member that includes a face mask and hand sanitizer as part of the uniform and inspected regularly for their cleanliness

It is being said that more air handling units will be installed to maintain a set humidity level, how will ensure this with a tightening budget and increasing expenses?

We have enough ventilation systems already installed in the property. During this pandemic we let more fresh air and reduce the recirculation air for better dilution. We have also installed occupancy sensors for all common area lights and local switches for kitchen ventilation system which reduced electricity consumption to the great extent and we could compensate the expense incurred in ventilation system.

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Conrad Bengaluru Natchimuthu Subbaraj


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