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 Special Report Specificationmatters

As ownermanager of Alpha Supplies and thenmanaging director of Bunzl UK, Mike Stubbs has worked in the cleaning and hygiene industry for 36 years. One of the driving forces behind the establishment of the CHSA’s Manufacturing Standards Accreditation Scheme, Stubbs has again become involved in the scheme, renewing its remit and helping to take it through its next phase of development. Here he explains why he saw the need to set up the scheme, and why he is involved again now.

In themid 1990s I was growing Bunzl into the largest cleaning and hygiene distributor in the UK. Whilst our performance was strong, again and again we found ourselves being challenged on price only to discover the competition was offering such great prices because their product didn’tmatch the specification. They were cheats, selling products as one thing when in reality they were something quite different. There were deficiencies in length, width and weight and the labeling rarely displayed ‘what was in the box’. The behaviour of these cheats was obviously bad for honest organisations like ours but it was also bad for buyers of soft tissue products and it was damaging the reputation of the whole industry. I was on the CHSA Council alongside

manufacturers, in particular Richard Chatham, who equally felt something needed to be done.We brought themanu- facturers together, fromthe largest in the

industry to smaller converters, and found they too were fighting against competition that was cutting corners and selling prod- ucts often with very large deficiencies. At the same time more and more converters were entering the market and so the prob- lem was only going to get bigger. After dis- cussion and debate, in 1997 we set up the Manufacturing Standards Accreditation Scheme for soft tissue products. From the outset our aim was to ‘beat the cheats’ and that is still true today. The scheme has been incredibly success-

Mike Stubbs.

ful. It has provably driven up standards in the industry, guaranteeing purchasers buy- ing from members that they get what they are paying for. As a result of its success, the CHSA established two other schemes, for plastic refuse sacks and industrial cot- ton mops. Each guarantees three things: • Consistency of supply: customers receive what they order;

Embracing technology without taking the heart out of cleaning

Doug Cooke, chairman of the British Cleaning Council, reports.

You can usually tell the exact year a film is made by the type of mobile phone the lead characters are using. Per- haps soon we’ll be able to tell how innovative a cleaning company is by which system it uses for management infor- mation, or whether it uses robots for certain cleaning tasks. The momentum of technological evolution is so great that we have come to expect technology to assist us in everything we do. Through the use of technology in cleaning, we - and our clients - expect far higher rates of productivity. The latest

floor cleaning machines, wide-headed vacuum cleaners and ride on sweepers have boosted output while the costs of staff have remained stable. We also require investment in technology to deliver greater efficiency with reduced energy usage, reducing our impact on the environments we work in - for example, allowing us to carry out tasks during the day so that office lights aren't kept on at night. Improved technology has seen the introduction of more effective cleaning materials and products, reducing chemical usage and improving levels of sanitation. We are cleaning using UV Light, ionised water and probiotics as alternatives to conventional cleaning regimes. It's already looking pretty futuristic as it is, although arguably the biggest change in technology in the cleaning sector is not the advent of window cleaning robots, it's coming from how we measure, monitor and report on our cleaning perform- ance and how this information is shared. Modern business management and, increasingly, technological procurement is driving how we demonstrate and

report on our performance. Our clients want to be able to log in to their smartphone app, swipe through and scan how well we're doing - and catch up with real time quality audits before they go into a meeting. The need for imme- diate and continuous communication is now the norm, and isn't just beneficial to our clients. It's easier and more effective to manage contracts by accessing site information, payroll and HR through the same smartphone tool we use to communicate performance to clients. Once an issue is logged to the help desk, we can assign tasks, report response times and confirm task completion - the data can then be used by us to support bids for new work, or identify areas for improvement. Advances in technology have been rapid with many software and hardware providers battling for a piece of the

‘management information’ pie. The alternative is to develop your management information system in-house and deliver these directly to the customer. This enables greater flexibility but it is reliant on customers embracing the technological solution and working with the system to ensure compatibility with their IT systems. It's a balancing act and you have to choose what suits you rather than updating constantly to stay ahead of the curve. Where this technology will take us tomorrow is yet to be seen. Technology is already being seen as a differentiator

in cleaning procurement. Training-wise, staff must know not only how to use smartphones and software, but to op- erate and supervise much more complex cleaning tools than before. In order to cope with this, training and devel- opment needs to change dramatically in tandem. For me, training has always been a priority - BCC members BICSc, WAMITAB, and the merged CSSA/Asset Skills are all meeting the needs of the industry in this sense. I have always said that the major asset that the cleaning industry has is its people. While it's reasonable to get ex-

cited about new technology, the heart of our industry is the cleaning operatives that make such a difference to the environment around us. People build reassurance and trust in a way that machines simply cannot - we must do all we can to ensure that this continues to set us apart from other sectors.

18 l C&M l JUNE 2014 l

• Accurate labelling: customers get what they pay for; • Fully auditedmanufacturers: our stan- dard, your guarantee. Their success stems fromtheir rigour. I

was the first chair of the scheme and from the beginning our focus was onmaking the processes underpinning it effective and ef- ficient with clear documentation address- ing all the practical aspects of the scheme. Membership grew rapidly for two reasons: reputablemanufacturers were keen to dis- tinguish themselves fromthe cheats, and distributors like Bunzl refused to do busi- ness with unaccredited companies. With the scheme proving effective and

newmanufacturers continually applying for membership I focusedmy attention on Bunzl.My role there was focused outside the UK. It was intense and demandedmy full attention so, with the scheme running well, I took a step back. In 2012 the scheme had been in opera-

tion for 15 years. The CHSA changed its secretariat at this time too and so it was a naturalmoment to review our achieve- ments and renew the scheme ready for the next phase of its evolution. The result is the scheme as it exists today with an auditing processmore rigorous than ever before and a clear and simple reporting procedure that is transparent tomembers and buyers alike. Today, every schememember is subject

to a detailed annual audit, which involves factory visits and spot sampling. As well as measuring length, width and weight, where applicable, of the product the labels are checked to ensure the correct information is clearly displayed and that the logo is ap- propriately used. There are different de- grees of non-conformance - for example a missing logo does not equate to a signifi- cant deficiency in length. In recognition of this we have introduced a new traffic light systemto accommodate these subtle dif- ferences and to provide a process of esca- lation for non-conformities that are not addressed in a timelymanner, the end of which is expulsion. No company can re- apply formembership until a year after their expulsion fromthe scheme. We have also improved our recording pro-

cedures. Now the panel responsible for governing the scheme, elected from amongst themember companies, can track a company’s performance year to year. Our intention here is to two fold. First we can clearly demonstrate to distributors and buyers where a company has consis- tently performed well over a prolonged timeframe. Second we can identify if there are any companies with repeated low- grade non conformances.With visibility of this, our professional auditors can work collaboratively with the quality teams within these companies to help themsustainably improve their processes. Our objective now is to increase further

the profile of the scheme and to reach a position where it is natural for buyers of soft tissue products, whether distributors, contract cleaners, facilitiesmanagers or end users such as local authorities, to au- tomatically specifymembership of the scheme. Distributors like Bunzl buying only fromaccreditedmembers underpinned the scheme’s expansion.With a refreshed au- diting process, a transparent traffic light systemand new reporting procedures we are now working to persuade others to specify the scheme and so support it’s next phase of expansion.

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