Article 19 March 2021

Meet Svetoslav ‘Stan’ Nikolov, Duty Manager at Heathrow Airport

On Wednesday, colleagues based at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 were featured on the ITV documentary series, Britain’s Busiest Airport. The episode followed Svetoslav ‘Stan’ Nikolov, a Duty Manager who oversees the T5 cleaning team, as well as the terminal’s new ultraviolet (UV) robots, ‘Victoria’ and ‘Kelly’. We caught up with Stan to ask him about what it’s like to work with Victoria. Here’s what he had to say:

What’s in been like working at Heathrow during the pandemic?

At the beginning of the pandemic we started to increase our intelligent cleaning technology, including new machines like UV robots, which allows us to maintain a high level of hygiene in the airport. We also started to use new kinds of chemicals, which reduce levels of bacteria on surfaces. The pandemic has provided the cleaning team with new challenges, such as the increased frequency of cleaning, because standards need to be even higher than they were before.

How has Victoria changed the way you work every day?

Victoria is a new piece technology that’s increased standards of cleaning, especially in the toilets where the robot is primarily used. Robots Victoria and Kelly do a great job, because after exposure to the UV light, the sanitation level on the surfaces, especially in the toilet cubicles, is close to hospital standard.

How did your team feel about the robot?

They were so excited, especially the operators. They had never seen a robot like this one, so they were curious to see how it would clean, how long it would take, and what the cleaning standard would be. They were also excited to see how the machine parks itself on the charging dock at the end of the process.

Was it difficult to learn how to use the robot?

You need to have some knowledge of technology and understand how the machine works. Because the robot is autonomous, before you start to use the machine, it needs to be mapped to the area it will clean, which is the difficult bit.

What was it like filming for ITV, and what was the process like?

I was excited, but it was my first time in front of the cameras, so I was a little bit nervous – I’m not going to hide that feeling! We started with an explanation of how the machine works and walked through the process. As the machine started sanitising the toilets, we showed how the machine sends information to the operator during the cleaning process, and lets the operator know the cleaning has finished via a tablet. After cleaning we checked the level of hygiene with an ATP rapid tester.

How long did it take to film?

We started at 10pm and finished at 3am in the morning. My schedule is normally during the day, but I came to help during filming to give a proper explanation about how the machine works. We have other operators that operate the machine during the night, because during the night the terminal is closed and the toilets can be properly cleaned.

Catch the latest episode of Britain’s Busiest Airport on the ITV Hub now.