The 9th edition of Africa’s professional hygiene, cleaning & facility maintenance exhibition recorded 4 340 visitors from South African and many African countries.
As a guideline to the increasing development of the local cleaning industry the 9th edition of Africa’s professional hygiene, cleaning and facility maintenance exhibition, CleantexPulire 2013, recorded 4 340 visitors from the South African provinces and many African countries including Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Seychelles, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Trends at this year’s show included eco-friendly innovations, systems that consume less energy while performance continues to improve, modular design concepts that create avenues for new applications and continued machine development, making equipment even easier to operate.
Service providers showcased their proficiency in offering specialist cleaning, laundry, hygiene and pest control solutions to multiple industry sectors including commercial, hospitality, retail and healthcare facilities.
Manufacturers of sanitary tissue products are focusing increasingly on sustainable products made from recycled materials, at the same time dispensing with bleaching agents whilst subscribing to responsible forest management principles as prescribed by the Forest Stewardship Council.
CleantexPulire is a member of the International Cleaning Show Network, regarded as the most relevant trade shows for cleaning technology, equipment and services in the world.
The strategic alliance with this worldwide network contributed to increased international participation at this year’s event, with exhibitors from Austria, Germany, Italy, USA and the UK who introduced their products and equipment to the African market for the first time.
According to Pulire CEO Toni D’Andrea this has proved to be a hugely successful event and he is confident of bringing more than ten European exhibitors to the next CleantexPulire exhibition.
Commenting on another show trend, Exhibition Director Johann van Vuuren said, “This year’s visitor figures indicate a rapid increase in the number of new and emerging professional cleaning contractors, not only within South Africa but also those who came from African countries in order to source the latest technology for their cleaning operations.”
The increase in professional cleaning contractors points towards a growing industry but also highlights the fact that competition will become fiercer in future.
It can be regarded as a boon for the National Contract Cleaners Association (NCCA), the industry body that is seeking growth for the organisation well beyond South African borders. Also the annual Golden Service Awards competition should experience growth in the future as more and more contractors seek to benchmark their operations against industry peers.
During the exhibition, the Gauteng Branch of the NCCA held its Annual General Meeting. We spoke with Brian Tanner of the NCCA Secretariat for his views on the current state of the industry, and he said that the industry and the NCCA is currently going through exciting times.
“The NCCA will be applying to the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) to become recognised as a Professional Body, the aim being for this recognition to be given by December this year,” he said.
“A professional body is usually a non-profit organisation seeking to further a particular profession, the interests of individuals engaged in that profession, and the public interests and, by becoming a Professional Body, the Association will be responsible for all aspects of the industry’s education and training,” he said.
Brian said the criteria to become recognised are extensive and include protecting the interests and the professional status of its members; protecting the public’s interests in relation to services provided by practitioners and the associated risks; showing evidence of inherent social responsibility and advancing the objectives of the NQF.
“It must also be a legally constituted entity with the necessary human and financial resources to undertake its functions, governed either by a statute, charter or a constitution and compliant with and adhering to good corporate governance practices,” he said.
It must represent and, where applicable, also regulate a recognised community of expert practitioners, as well as apply peer judgement in decision making.
Brian says that the NCCA must comply with several other criteria in terms of its rules, legislation, and appointment/censuring of members, but there are exciting times ahead and the Association is confident of becoming a Professional Body by the end of this year.
Brian also enthused about the NCCA’s relationship with worldwide cleaning association ISSA, with whom it is an alliance partner.
“We have participated in the ISSA / Interclean exhibition held at the RAI Exhibition Centre, Amsterdam for the last six years,” he said. “This is the largest show of its kind and regarded as the most important event for cleaning professionals, with exhibitors from around the globe spread over eight halls.”
NCCA members attend this show in large numbers to ascertain hygiene and cleaning industry trends, to network with peers around the world, and to gain first-hand experience of the latest cleaning technology, all under one roof.
Towards the end of the recent show South Africans gathered at the NCCA stand for a cocktail party and were addressed by NCCA National Chairperson Clive Damonze, who stated, “It is the intention of this Alliance for the NCCA to be the ISSA representative in Southern Africa with a view to attract membership whether it be individual organisations or trade associations.”
The NCCA as an Employer association is registered with the Department of Labour to engage with employee parties (trade unions) with the objective of concluding agreements for wages and conditions of contract.
Over the past five years the CCMA through its Johannesburg office has facilitated negotiations between the NCCA and seven unions. In each instance it has been able to encourage parties to reach agreements albeit that it has become increasingly difficult in recent years because of the different approaches and objectives evident amongst the seven unions involved and the reluctance of employers to consider changes to existing working patterns and arrangements.
“With the above in mind the CCMA will be hosting a summit in September 2013 with the view that the broader systemic issues evident in the cleaning sector will remain unchanged, and for that reason believe that parties would be better served through engaging and agreeing on frameworks by which they wish to structure and base their future relations,” Brian says.
It is intended for this to be a two-day summit to focus on labour relations problems in the sector taking into account both international and national “best practice” and explore possible ways of dealing with these.
At the sharp end!
To find out what some of the main suppliers and contract cleaning companies feel about the current situation within the industry, FLOORS in Africa contacted Johan le Roux, National Floorcare Specialist with Bidvest Prestige; Melissa Williams-Platt, Head of Commercial Sales & Strategy, SAFIC; Wayne Simpkins, Director, MilliCare; and Janine Botha, Sales & Marketing Manager, Numatic International.
How would you describe, in general terms, the current state of the cleaning industry?
Johan le Roux, Bidvest Prestige: Like most industries, the cleaning industry faced some difficult financial challenges during the last year, resulting in pricing becoming more and more of a selection criteria when prospective clients make a decision on selecting a service provider. In many instances this results in degradation in the quality of service delivery.
Melissa Williams-Platt, SAFIC: South African companies have certainly taken heed of international standards and I believe can hold their collective head high in terms of the overall health, hygiene and best practice that is displayed in terms of cleaning and maintenance protocol in this region.
This has been driven by the fact that South Africa has world-class buildings and spaces that are serviced and cleaned by professional cleaning companies that are supported by professional suppliers. Supply chain and committed supply relationships are key in ensuring consistency and quality support and service to the end user.
Wayne Simpkins, MilliCare: Seen through the eyes of a specialist ‘carpet care’ company as opposed to a general cleaning company, there are mainly genuine best-practice and first-world operators in the South African market, companies capable of assessing and analysing customers’ needs and then making appropriate recommendations which they are competent in implementing.
Sadly there is a growing number of smaller, poorly equipped ‘I can too’ businesses that in fact deceive and bring a degree of disrepute to our industry, which is probably a worldwide phenomenon.
Margins in our industry are under extreme pressure with the additional impacts of the weaker Rand on imported machinery and spares and consumables, as well as fuel price increases – and official CPI having absolutely no correlation with our industry’s real inflation. Labour, comprising 72% of direct operating costs, has run at almost 3% above CPI in the last 5 years.
Janine Botha, Numatic International: When considering the current economic environment in South Africa and the many political agendas influencing business and trade, the cleaning industry is somewhat resilient and remains an industry that continues to grow and provide employment.
There is always change and opportunity which in turn provides opportunities for business owners and suppliers. We are an industry that is closely linked to international trends and standards so we constantly need to be receptive to these changes – but it is exciting and without fail a challenge.
How do you cater for the latest in flooring trends such as polished concrete and luxury vinyl? Do you liaise with the floorcovering supplier or manufacturer; take instructions from the client; or make your own decisions?
Johan le Roux, Bidvest Prestige: As a company we are in constant contact with floorcovering suppliers as well as equipment suppliers nationally and internationally to ensure that we stay updated with technology as well as new innovations.
One of the standard questions posed to a client regards what type of floorcovering there is in the facility. From there the supplier/ manufacturer will be contacted and their recommendations will be provided and discussed with the client. No decisions will be made without the client’s consent.
Melissa Williams-Platt, SAFIC: Safic works closely with our sister company FloorworX, to ensure that their flooring warranties are protected through the correct application of our FloorworX maintenance products – so yes, Safic works very closely with both suppliers and manufacturers.
Wayne Simpkins, MilliCare: Again, seen through the eyes of a specialist carpet care company, we liaise with the carpet manufacturers in ensuring that their maintenance recommendations are implemented. This is crucial to the long-term performance of the carpet and its daily appearance, the health of the guests and inhabitants of the space as well as achieving the best ‘environmental stewardship’ result from the cleaning and care processes employed.
Janine Botha, Numatic International: We make sure we know about the latest trends in flooring and are continuously adding specialist applicators to our range to find solutions. Our basic approach to any floor type is to do our research and test-run solutions with the client and look for case examples.
Are there any new innovations in the cleaning industry to make mention of?
Johan le Roux, Bidvest Prestige: The introduction and availability of ride-on vacuum cleaning machines, ride-on burnishers and the encapsulation method of carpet cleaning are worth mentioning. Although not entirely new internationally, they are becoming more readily available in South Africa.
Melissa Williams-Platt, SAFIC: This is truly difficult to say, since the industry is continuously evolving, and new sustainable cleaning solutions together with better equipment and cleaning product solutions are constantly being introduced and trialled with the whole aim being to improve efficiencies and overall time and motion.
For example, our new Cleanfix floor machinery range, relatively new to South Africa but not to the world, offers many fantastic equipment solutions that the market is very excited about in terms of long-term floor maintenance, together with daily maintenance solutions.
We have also introduced biological cleaning solutions that replace traditional solvents and these are also being very well met in the market where “green” sustainability is all-important.
Wayne Simpkins, MilliCare: Certainly the ongoing research and development efforts of our principals have kept raising the bar. Our recent visit to the USA has revealed some exciting innovations both in chemistry and machinery. We have another carpet care chemistry that no longer involves shipping ‘water’ around the world but a 25-litre tub is now replaced with a ‘tablet’ half the size of a matchbox, dilutable locally into 25 litres of water. Imagine the reduction in carbon fuels shipping a tablet as opposed to a 25-litre tub!
Janine Botha, Numatic International: As a machine supplier we can make mention of our latest cordless vacuum cleaner solutions and disposable mop sleeve systems which in turn can bring a new dimension and approach for cleaning contractors in the market place. Our developments will always provide innovative ways for the cleaning industry to improve their skill and processes. We have a responsibility to the cleaning industry to be continually innovative and develop further.
Do you offer client staff training on your products, systems or equipment?
Johan le Roux, Bidvest Prestige: Normally staff will be informed about new products, systems or equipment, enabling them to understand their benefits. Since we supply cleaning staff with the equipment, client staff will not be required to use it.
Melissa Williams-Platt, SAFIC: Yes, at no charge. It is important to note that training is ongoing – there needs to be initial training and thereafter refresher training is also essential.
Wayne Simpkins, MilliCare: Rather than training our clients, it is a case of keeping them advised on the progress that we have made, especially in terms of environmental stewardship – the carpet appearance and protection/extension of the life of the asset is a given.
Janine Botha, Numatic International: Yes we do. We offer in-house or on-site training on equipment, usage and application.
What line of action do you take if you feel the floor needs attention or repair before cleaning takes place?
Johan le Roux, Bidvest Prestige: Before cleaning takes place the floors will be assessed and a report provided to the client, stating current condition, what different options are available to improve the appearance, and what the expected result will be. In most cases we will do a demonstration on the floor so the client can see the results and thus be able to make a decision that will meet their expectations.
Melissa Williams-Platt, SAFIC: We report it to the contractor/client and/or architect. I would like to add that we should be proudly South African in our approach – our buildings, shopping centres and office parks are truly world-class and as such we can be proud that our cleaning products and technologies can stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the world.
South Africa and Africa is the gateway for development and innovation and this industry is certainly taking shape right here on our doorstep – it is competitive, but challenging, and companies that are committed to external audit processes such as ISO 9001/ ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 and to constant innovation and product development which promote sustainable solutions should really be proud of the contribution they are making.
Wayne Simpkins, MilliCare: Without exception such advice is always offered before we clean. Most often, a test area is identified and worked on to either demonstrate or establish the anticipated outcome.
I would also like to add that we would encourage all in our industry to ‘check it out’ before going to market. If you are not sure, rather do some investigation and analysis before making promises to your prospective client.
Janine Botha, Numatic International: To be upfront with the client that the floor requires repair work, and if we have a process to do so, or if it requires replacement. It is of vital importance to advise the customer of all possible scenarios to ensure they understand the outcome of work undertaken and we always conduct a site visit before giving any advice.
In addition, I would like to say that the general public is unaware of the quality of floorcoverings, so it is our responsibility to give best-practice advice and be aware of cheaper, low-quality floorcoverings. It also helps to advise that daily cleaning and correct dirt-trap matting will prolong the life of any floorcovering. Building owners, developers and flooring suppliers and manufacturers should be advising their buyers of how to maintain the floor from the outset.
Acknowledgement and thanks are given to the following for information used in the compilation of this article: Johann van Vuuren, CleantexPulire; Brian Tanner, NCCA (Gauteng); Melissa Williams-Platt, SAFIC; Janine Botha, Numatic International; Johan le Roux, Bidvest Prestige; Wayne Simpkins, MilliCare.