Business efficiency in the spotlight at British Cleaning Council conference

13th of November 2012
Business efficiency in the spotlight at British Cleaning Council conference

Andrew Neil, former editor of UK national newspaper The Sunday Times, was the keynote speaker addressing 200 delegates from the cleaning industry at the BCC conference in London recently, which focused on business efficiency and innovation.

Opening the conference, chairman Doug Cooke and secretary general Andrew Large set the tone for the day, indicating there would be a strong focus on new developments and innovation from both inside and outside the cleaning industry.

Andrew Neil spoke about the political and economic environment which businesses are currently operating under. He added that living standards should improve due to an expected slight growth in the economy, which was confirmed by the Office of National Statistics two days after the conference.

He also predicted businesses will start to invest again, in part due to the European Stability Mechanism, a new European Union agency designed to safeguard financial stability in Europe - reducing fears of ‘Eurogeddon.'

Excessive boardroom and banker remuneration has to end, was the message from former Greggs ceo Sir Michael Darrington who is the founder of Pro Business Against Greed. Sharing his business success at Greggs he said ‘planning is everything, but the plan is nothing' as it's the process of planning, rather than the plan itself which makes you do the right things. The written plan quickly becomes out of date.

Darrington said businesses will go wrong if they start off with a plan just to make money - pride in products, staff engagement, good service and strong business values and culture are the essence of success. Shadow minster for innovation and ccience Chi Onwurah MP emphasised that to keep the UK competitive globally, there has to be the right levers in government to support innovative and productive businesses.

A practical example of innovation was described by Professor M Sohail (Khan) from Loughborough University which has won prestigious funding from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reinvent the toilet. He said: "One of the biggest problems in the world is sanitation, with around three billion people who don't have proper toilets."

The brief was to create a prototype which is clean, safe, durable and affordable, without the need for connection to electricity or a sewer. Loughborough's design uses a process called continuous thermal hydrocarbonisation. This converts human waste into carbonised material to provide heat, minerals for soil conditioning and water for flushing.

Reviewing chemical legislation Dr Stephen Dalton, vice president of technology and innovation at Diversey shared his assessment of the impact and potential impact of the Global Harmonisation System. He said that, whilst this United Nations project had good intentions to harmonise packaging labels and improve worker comprehension, the challenge is the re-evaluation and reclassification of virtually all product lines.

This could result in more products being classified as hazardous than under the current system, which will also lead to challenges about how to communicate risk. Although the European Union transition to the system is not due to take place until 2015, countries including New Zealand have already adopted the system, with others countries like China and Japan in part transition.

Slips and trips are a key issue in the cleaning industry and the BCC is currently funding best practice to address this. Christian Harris, director of Bonasystems shared an early preview of the research being undertaken by experts from within the insurance and cleaning industries.

He posed the question - is it fair that the cleaning provider gets the blame? Floors can be inherently unsafe, but may also be made worse by bad cleaning. The report findings will be in depth and designed for a cleaning audience and will be reviewed by Dr Steve Thorpe, Pedestrian Safety Section Head at Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL).





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