Outsourced services provider Servest Group was appointed by the National Contract Cleaners Association (NCCA) last month as one of the parties who will conduct yearly compliance audits for NCCA member companies over the next two years.
The appointment means that Servest Group now forms an integral part of an improved, value-adding service offered to the industry by the NCCA, as a means for member companies to maintain their professionalism, integrity and credibility, says Servest Group national sales and marketing director Dees Maharaj.
He says Servest Group will be responsible for undertaking compliance audits, in line with the cleaning industry’s best practices, the association’s code of ethics and all legislative requirements applicable to the cleaning industry.
The audit, which is similar to the internal audits performed at large corporations to ensure that NCCA members are compliant, will entail companies being audited on the same basic requirements as any other opera- tional company.
Statutory requirements to be adhered to by an NCCA member include the payment of all relevant taxes and wages, a contribution to the South African contract cleaning industry’s provident fund and the Unemployment Insurance Fund, as well as proof that the member’s books balance.
Once proved compliant, a certificate to that effect will be issued to the NCCA member company and will remain valid for one year.
A member company that is found to be noncompliant may request a second audit when errors and/or omissions have been corrected or introduced. This audit may be conducted only two months or more after the first audit and will be for the member company’s account.
Other independent auditors that undertake part-time compliance audits include business consultant and former CEO of the South African Property Owners Association Brian Kirchmann, cleaning and security industry consultant and former regional and national chairperson of the NCCA John Hammill and retired Services Sector Education and Training Authority cleaning chamber manager Richard Gordon-Brown, who is also a former NCCA illegal practices and skills development committee member.
Maharaj notes that given the competitiveness within the industrial sector in South Africa, industrial manufacturers are becoming more dependent on specialised industrial cleaning companies to undertake the noncore activities of the business, ensuring that the manufacturer can focus on its core business.
As a result, larger manufacturers are turning to outside specialists who can provide sustainable cleaning and sanitation services, in line with standards that will not only satisfy domestic and regional markets but will also conform to international standards.
South Africa’s position as a market leader in Africa in terms of light, medium and heavy industrial manufacturing, has necessitated that its manufacturing systems, procedures and methods conform not only to international best practice protocols but also to housekeeping and sanitisation best practices.
As industrial cleaning has become an inte- gral part of the industrial process and as the profession becomes aligned to the best industrial and manufacturing methods, the cleaning sector has employed sector-specific staff from the industrial sector to manage cleaning as part of the manufacturing or industrial process, notes Maharaj.
The cleaning industry is also moving towards adopting automated cleaning systems to accelerate efficiencies and reduce costs.
“Specialised high- and low-pressure air cleaning systems, with reduced carbon dioxide emissions, are becoming more prevalent in the industrial sector, given that this sector is the biggest contributor of greenhouse gases and pollutants,” he highlights.
Further, cleaning companies are using green cleaning chemicals such as biodegrad- able enzyme-based products, as opposed to traditional synthetic products.
The major challenge influencing the industrial cleaning sector in South Africa is the unpredictable economic situation, notes Maharaj.
“The economic situation has meant that the industrial and manufacturing sectors are focusing on their core activities as a means to remain economically and financially competitive, instead of their noncore acti- vities, such as cleaning, which are continually being reduced and scaled down,” he says.
Maharaj stresses that this is often a short-sighted approach that ultimately results in higher costs for the company in the long term.
“To comply with and satisfy best operating-practice methods, the daily cleaning and maintenance of an industrial environment is crucial,” he says.
The costs of providing specialised cleaning have also become challenging. To remain aligned with premium best practices, cleaning companies have had to introduce expensive advanced cleaning systems and technologies, as opposed to manual cleaning systems, explains Maharaj.
Further, labour disputes and instability in the industrial and manufacturing industries have often led to financial cutbacks, which affect busi- nesses’ noncore activities.
Servest Group’s industrial cleaning services division contributes about 40% to the company’s overall income. Its service offering includes escalator cleaning, high-access cleaning, site cleaning on existing and new developments, high- pressure cleaning and operational-production-line cleaning, as well as warehouse and distribution centre cleaning, concludes Maharaj.