Category Archives: cleaning consultant

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Green Checklist for Cleaning Management

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By Brian Clark CEO FM Contract Solutions

Building & Facility Managers are being asked to develop and implement programmed cleaning services within a green framework. While this might look simple, it can be reasonably complex as it guides every decision that you will make on chemical, equipment, product, process, suppliers and personnel. Here is a short, but by no means complete, checklist for going green with your cleaning operations.

  • Clean during the day. Think about it. Many cleaning processes can be done during the day such as public area maintenance, restroom cleaning, spill management, waste removal and so on.  Day cleaning brings the environmental services staff into direct contact with the building community. It humanises and empowers staff, your green program becomes a visible initiative, your building standards are consistent during working hours and it will have a massive impact on energy usage as cleaning time at night will be minimised.
  • Chemical. If you think that green is simply changing chemicals, think again, as chemical plays a very small part of a green cleaning program. However, chemical management is important in three ways. Firstly, the selection of chemicals that clean effectively and break down quickly in the environment is critical. This does not mean replacing cleaning solutions with vinegar and baking soda.  Many ‘natural’ products require the use of much more water and energy to remove soil while poor cleaning outcomes will reduce the life cycle of furnishings, fixtures and coatings, all of which puts pressure on non-sustainable resources. Secondly, chemical management systems such as dispensing centres combined with appropriate staff training are required to minimise usage of & human contact with cleaning solutions. Thirdly, selection of products should focus on those that are manufactured from sustainable ingredients rather than oil-based ingredients.
  • Equipment Selection: The decisions that cleaning management makes on equipment and products will be influenced by factors such as durability, reliability, recyclability, water efficiency and energy usage, rather than initial capital outlay. Energy usage is defined not so much by how much power the equipment or the process uses but by the energy it saves in lighting and ventilation in the day to day cleaning processes, by cleaning faster and/or by allowing the cleaning to be done in daylight hours. Poor quality equipment or equipment that is inadequate for the needs of the facility may cost a little less but will impact on the lifecycle of floor coverings and fixtures, water and energy usage and human health and wellbeing – for both building users and workers.  Older equipment can be recycled rather than sending it to landfill. Cleaning machinery can contain significant quantities of aluminium, copper, steel, brass, polyethylene and other recyclable plastics and manufacturers are beginning to design with recyclability in mind. Encourage suppliers to take back redundant equipment for a small fee to pull it down for recycling and/or for parts and request a certificate certifying the percentage that was recycled.
  • Water Usage: Water is the most valuable raw material for cleaning and in Australia and many parts of the world it is becoming a precious commodity. Therefore water efficiency guidelines are one of the key platforms of a green greening program. These guidelines will affect the way in which water used in cleaning processes is sourced dispensed, mixed and disposed of. Water efficiency will also have a major bearing on equipment and processes that you use to maintain your facility to a high, healthy standard.
  • Waste Water Generation:   Waste water from building cleaning operations contain chemical, biological, oils and greases, plastic and similar synthetic fibres and suspended particulate matter. It is critical that cleaning operations are conducted using equipment, materials and processes that minimise, filter and control waste water volume and contaminates in waste water. Cleaning management should work with clients, employees, suppliers and sub-contractors to select processes to minimise waste water generation and contaminants to the external environment. Cleaning managers must provide regular training of employees to create awareness of and understand the types and risks associated with wastewater and strategies to reduce emissions.
  • Sustainability: The key to sustainability is to minimise the quantities of materials that are used in cleaning the facility and, wherever possible, chose products, packaging and equipment that are manufactured with a low carbon footprint and that are, in turn, manufactured from raw materials that are renewable, rather than finite. For instance, many chemicals and plastics are manufactured from oil-based raw materials. However, there are an increasing number of products that are based on plant and mineral based extracts. Packaging needs to be kept to a minimum and all packaging needs to be recyclable and actually recycled. Solid waste from the building needs to be separated and recycled where feasible to minimise material going to land fill and consider treatment of grey water which can be utilised for grounds maintenance.
  • Processes: The selection of cleaning process is critical in a green program. For instance, augmenting water extraction with Encapsulation in carpet maintenance will provide far better outcomes and has the ability to reduce water usage, energy requirements and generation of wastewater by more than half. However, sometimes the green benefits of a new cleaning process may actually be grey. It is important to check out the supply chain and manufacturing processes and trial new ideas and audit the outcomes before implementation of a new product or process.
  • Dust Management: Green is about protecting the health of building users.  People spend approximately 90% of their time indoors[1].  Dust is a pollutant and the indoor environment may be the major source of exposure for building users. Surface dust in buildings consists of organic particles such as human skin cell, hair and food residues plus inorganic particles including building material, fibres and plastics and gram negative bacteria.[2]  Cleaning process should focus on dust containment and dust removal e.g. Hepa filtered vacuums and damp dusting with microfibre rather than dust disturbance.  Feather dusters have no place in the green cleaning environment.
  • Training: All building staff and occupants are an integral part of a green cleaning program. Its success depends on their support and understanding of green cleaning processes and practices. Careful change management is integral to successful implementation of green cleaning practice. The goal is to implement cultural change. Cultural change incorporates a holistic change in attitude, beliefs, practice and thinking by all members of the building community, not just the cleaning staff. Integral with green is comprehensive education, training and involvement of staff in the program as well as internal marketing and communication to the owners, guests and users of the building to ensure understanding of, and full commitment to, the green cleaning program.
  • Planning and evaluation: Green cleaning is a holistic program of evaluation, planned implementation and continuous improvement and needs to be continually monitored and audited to ensure that the desired outcomes are achievable. A green program consolidates products, procedures and training combined with ongoing assessment of the immediate and cumulative effect of the cleaning program on people, the building life cycle, the environment and sustainable resources. The outcomes of a green cleaning program have to be demonstrable, measurable and consistent with the environmental objectives of the building owners, building users and the community.
  • Supplier Selection: With green, your supplier becomes a partner and every aspect of the supplier’s operation, product utilisation and supply cycle have to be taken into account in supplier selection. The credibility and commitment of the supplier to designing, manufacturing and serious commitment for sustainability are critical in selection of equipment and products. Factors such as their distance from the facility, manufacturing practises, their environmental footprint and the source of their products will have a major impact on carbon emission reduction and sustainable resources.

This is a dramatically different approach to traditional practises. One of the most positive outcomes of green cleaning, from an industry perspective, will be the increased standing of the cleaning service department within the building hierarchy, and the community as a whole.

In the 80’s, many professions were renamed or given new titles in a wave of political correctness. Repairmen became Maintenance Engineers, secretaries became Administrative Assistants and Computer nerds became I.T Technicians, but cleaners remained cleaners. However, some in healthcare and Hospitality industries took pity, and, perhaps, in an effort to define the true role of cleaning, renamed cleaning departments as ‘Environment Services & Management’. That title could not be more appropriate for cleaning services in the 21st century.

FM Contract Solutions are Commercial cleaning Consultants.   For assistance with you building cleaning issues please contact us.




[2] Gyntelberg, F. , Suadicani, P. , Nielsen, J. W., Skov, P. , Valbjørn, O. , Nielsen, P. A., Schneider, T. , Jørgensen, O. , Wolkoff, P. , Wilkins, C. K., Gravesen, S. and Norn, S. (1994), Dust and the Sick Building Syndrome. Indoor Air, 4: 223-238. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0668.1994.00003.x

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Government Cleaning Contracts not meeting Procurement Guidelines

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Photo Credit Alan Light at end of Tunnel Modified by logo addition

The Majority of Australian Federal, State and Local Government Cleaning Contracts do not adequately reflect Government Procurement guidelines.

Value-for-Money in Government Cleaning Contracts

In 2003 the Australian National Audit Office issued a report entitled ‘Property Management’[1].  The Audit examined the delivery of a selected number of property-related service contracts and Contract Performance Management in selected Government agencies, including a focus on Cleaning Contracts.  The report noted that ‘none of the organisations used Performance based contracts for the delivery of Property-Related Services’.

The Key recommendation of the Report included the following statements ‘ANAO recommends that organisations develop formal processes that will enable the consistent and timely management of the performance of all contractors providing property-related services’ and recommends that ‘organisations regularly assess the performance of their property-related activity across a range of performance measures, incorporating both financial and non-financial dimensions.’

The Australian Government Procurement policy has a central tenet that ‘Value for money is the core principle underpinning Australian Government procurement[2].  Its procurement Guidelines state that Value for Money can be achieved and measured by a number of factors including accountability and transparency of contract activities.

The Qld Audit office in its Dec 2013 Report to Parliament[3] made the point that Queensland Government Departments have a legal obligation to obtain Value for Money for their contracts.  The review covered 62 goods and services contracts across 3 Departments and found that the audited departments ‘could not consistently demonstrate that they achieved value for money’ and showed a ‘lack of regard given to supplier performance at contract establishment and inconsistent performance monitoring throughout the life of the contract.

Procurement guidelines for all states and Territories echo the value for money mantra and the need for relevant KPIs and Performance Management in Contracts, but there is little evidence that this is applied to cleaning and related soft service contracts.

Government Cleaning Contract Procurement

As Procurement Consultants specialising in contract engineering and contract performance Management, we have examined many of the high value tenders for Government cleaning, waste and associated services issued by all levels of Australian Government over the last 5 years.  The  majority of tenders we examined for cleaning and related services issued by Government Agencies have used outdated and inadequate specifications, do not incorporate an adequate Performance Management framework and are generally not structured to ensure that Value for money, transparency and accountability of contractor activities can be measured and achieved.

The delivery of Cleaning and similar service contracts is primarily about labour management, with direct and indirect labour costs making up around 75% contract pricing.  The industry is adept at minimising labour to increase profits and less scrupulous operators cheat their clients and cut corners by withdrawing labour and flouting employment laws. Illegal sub-contracting arrangements are rife and contractors use these arrangements to underpay workers and circumvent state payroll taxes and Workers compensation requirements.  This can provide increased profit returns in excess of $10 per labour hour and exposes their clients to unacceptable levels of social, economic, corporate and legal risks.

As labour forms the highest cost component of these contracts it should be intrinsic in cleaning tenders to measure and benchmark labour and supervision allocations, contract on-costs and overheads as well as overall contract pricing to enable quantitative evaluation of tender submissions.  However, this essential metric is completely overlooked in many Government tenders.

The inability of Government agencies to measure and substantiate labour allocations makes Performance Management of these contracts virtually impossible.  This lack of transparency is compounded by inadequate specifications, poorly described outcomes and, in many cases, the contractor is responsible for measuring and reporting on their own service levels.  KPIs are generally related solely to the number of complaints and rather than the measure of service delivery, contract compliance and mitigation of risk.

The Private Sector has struggled with the lack of transparency of and the risks associated with the unregulated Cleaning Service industry.  This has given rise to the Cleaning Accountability Framework[4], and commercial property cleaning tenders are increasingly Outcome-based and are underwritten with detailed and prescriptive specifications coupled with cost and labour benchmarks to determine value for money and sustainability of offers.  Similarly, the contracts are structured in a Performance Management Framework with clear metrics and real time measurement of outcomes to enable consistent measurement of contract service standards and contract compliance and hence establish value for money.

Choosing the right Cleaning Consultant

These risks can be avoided by engaging Independent Contract Procurement Consultants.  An Independent procurement consultant can guide clients through the pitfalls of outsourcing services and provide a contract framework that enables transparency, accountability and measurement of service delivery.

A word of warning.  There are Companies operating in the procurement consultancy sphere that are owned, funded and/or managed by Facility Service providers that are advertising similar services for Facility Managers.   With these direct or indirect tie-ins to Service providers there is a potential conflict of interest, especially in the preparation and evaluation of Public or Private Sector Tenders.

Brian Clark is the CEO of FM Contract Solutions .  FM Contract Solutions provides Independent Procurement consultancy services, contract engineering, contract Management and contract management Software for soft service tenders and contracts.

[1] Property Management. The Auditor-General Audit Report No.19  2003–04 Business Support Process Audit.

[2] Commonwealth Procurement Rules. Australian Government Department of Finance.

[3] Contract management: renewal and transition:. Report to Parliament 10:2013-14 Qld Audit Office

[4] Cleaning Accountability Framework

Some consultants are owned by
Contract Cleaners

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Alwayt choose an Independent Contract Procurement Consultant are owned by Contract Cleaners

Important Information regarding Contract Procurement Consultants

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FM Contract Solutions are an Independent Contract Procurement Consultant Company specialising in Contract Engineering, Contract Performance Management and Consultancy for Soft Service Contracts including Cleaning, Waste Services, Security, Laundry and Housekeeping.  Our team have been providing leading edge professional procurement consultancy in the Facility Management Industry for over 16 years.

There are Companies operating in the procurement consultancy sphere that are owned, funded and/or managed by Facility Service providers that are advertising similar services for Facility Managers.  With these direct or indirect tie-ins to Service providers there is a potential conflict of interest, especially in the preparation and evaluation of Public or Private Sector Tenders.

FM Contract Solutions recommends that prospective clients ask these questions of all procurement consultants before engaging consultants to provide these services.

  1. Is the prospective Supplier of Procurement Services owned or partly owned by a company providing contracted Cleaning, Waste, Security or Sanitary Services?
  2. Are any Consultants employed or engaged by the prospective consultancy provider current employees, owners, in a management role or major shareholders of companies that provide contracted Cleaning, Waste, Security or Sanitary Services?
  3. Are any of the investors, Directors, shareholders or partners in the prospective consultancy provider current employees, owners, in a management role or major shareholders of companies that provide contracted Cleaning, Waste, Security or Sanitary Services?
  4. Does the prospective consultancy provider receive a commission, incentive or payment of any sort for the handover of contract leads or recommendation of companies that provide contracted Cleaning, Waste, Security or Sanitary Services?

It is also recommended that customers seek independent confirmation of a consultant’s employment status and background experience in these industries through client references and Social Media such as LinkedIn to confirm the experience, business status and independence of a Contract Procurement Consultant and Partners Agencies prior to considering engagement.

For more information contact Brian Clark CEO FM contract Solutions using our Client Contact form.

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Cleaning Consultants tip – Laundering Microfibre Cleaning Cloths

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FM Contract Solutions team of expert cleaning consultants often encounter cleaning issues relating to poor maintenance or lack of maintenance of Microfibre cloth. Effective Laundering of Microfibre cleaning cloths is essestial to maintain cleaning standards and prevent cross contamination.

Microfibre is, by design, a superior cleaning agent that attracts and holds onto a variety of organic and inorganic soils. If these contaminants are not effectively removed by the laundering process there will be a rapid deterioration in cleaning efficacy and increased risk for staff and building occupants. Microfibre cloths can act as an ideal breeding ground for bacteria growth and cross contamination.

It is important that contractors and in-house cleaning managers look closely at the care and maintenance of microfibre mops and cloths, with a particular emphasis on effective laundering procedures and protocols to minimise cross contamination.

Many cleaning contractors ‘clean’ their microfibre by manual rinsing or dipping the cloth in disinfectant. This is very poor practice as it does not release the soil load and can lead to rapid deterioration of cloths and mops and loss of cleaning effectiveness. Common Quat-based disinfectants, for instance, reduce cleaning efficiency of microfibre and have limited effectiveness in lowering bacterial contamination unless the cloth is thoroughly cleaned beforehand. Consequently, contractors could find that they are increasing their workload and exposing their workers and clients to health risks by spreading dirt and contaminants onto surfaces, rather than removing them.

To read this article on the Australian Hospital and Healthcare Bulletin Click here..