The Newlife Cleaning Systems Cleaning Blog
These difficult financial times, businesses are accounting for every penny they spend. They are also looking for new and improved ways to cut their overall expenditure and save some of their much-needed funds.
At Newlife Cleaning Systems, we have found that one effective way to do this is through implementing a vehicle tracking system. As a nationally-operating contract cleaning company, we have many vehicles on our books which are used by members of staff to allow them to service jobs all over the country. We made the decision to install tracking systems into our vehicles, to ensure that they are only used for the appropriate jobs, at the appropriate times. Since doing this, we have received countless benefits from installing these systems, and believe that they could be just as effective for any organisation that owns vehicles and equipment.
There are many vehicle tracking systems available, but we have installed Skyline systems into in our vehicles. When in place we have a full 24-hour surveillance, which allows us to monitor our vehicles online at any time we want. We can also receive email updates in a variety of formats; making the system extremely convenient. We have access to a full report for each vehicle in our fleet, which logs in the dates, times, and durations it has been used; we can see the exact times the engine is turned on and off. It also shows us any irregularities in the driving style, such as excessive acceleration and harsh steering, as the system is so finely-tuned.
As well as being informed of when the car has been started, driven and stopped again, the Skyline vehicle tracking system also records the car’s exact location. When we log onto our account, we can look at a Google Maps view of each journey a vehicle makes, and we can view the route through satellite images if we wish. This allows us to thoroughly and comprehensively ensure that our vehicles are being used for the right reasons, and not being used for private journeys. As we pay some members of staff for the amount of time they work on a job, not for whole days, the vehicle tracking system allows us to make savings on our wages too.
As we have recently discovered, one of the biggest advantages of installing the Skyline vehicle tracking system is that it heightens the security. Last week, one of our vans was stolen outside the home of one of our members of staff in the middle of the night. When the van was discovered missing the next morning, we logged on to Skyline to see what had happened to the vehicle; it took us just 20 minutes to discover its exact position. We could see the time the engine was switched on, the exact route it travelled and at what speed, the eratic way the car was driven and where it was eventually abandoned. We can place the tracking devices on our road fleet as well as our plant equipment, which doubles the security benefits.
We cannot emphasise enough that there are some excellent benefits of the Skyline, and other vehicle tracking systems. They save the business finances on wages and increase the security of our vehicles, so we can immediately see a return on our investment.
For more information on the Skyline web-tracking system, visit www.enigmavehicle.co.uk/skyline
In February, Daily Telegraph journalist Rupert Neate reported a clash between two think tanks on the always controversial topic of the minimum wage.
Neate’s article stated that Steve Coulter, of the Social Market Foundation, had made the suggestion that the Government should raise the minimum wage. Coulter, who is the economics analyst for BBC News, said that the increase would encourage employers to acquire employees with more refined skills and qualifications. He assured that a skilled and better-paid workforce would also result in an increase in productivity in the workplace.
This was refuted by Sam Bowman, head of research at the Adam Smith Institute, who argued that if the Government increased the minimum wage it would create even more unemployment. He argued that workers are paid in proportion to the value of their labour, and that some jobs are not worth a higher paid rate. For example, in the cleaning industry people do not pay very much for cleaning, so it is very common for most daily cleaners to be paid minimum wage.
It is attitudes like Bowman’s that puts cleaning contractors such as ourselves in a very difficult position. If we accepted this theory, we would never be able to pay our daily cleaners a substantial wage, otherwise we would be in fear of losing money overall.
We are however, fully aware that the minimum wage completely undervalues how hard our cleaning staff work, and therefore pay our cleaners as much over the minimum wage as we are able to. As already stated in previous blogs, the minimum wage is not a living wage; you couldn’t pay rent, a mortgage, bills, give your children everything they need and put food on the table on that alone. No-one deserves to be working on a minimum amount, and this include cleaners who work extremely hard, undertaking unpleasant tasks that for a wage many would deem unacceptable. At Newlife Cleaning Systems, we believe that cleaners deserve more for what they do.
How do we achieve that? Well in terms of the above think tank debate, I have already stated that I agree with raising the minimum wage. I also agree that it is important for employees to gain as many skills and qualifications as possible, to improve their chances of earning more than the minimum wage. Employees legally have the right to request appropriate and relevant training from their employers, and we support that. We therefore have training available for our cleaning staff, if they require it, to enable themselves to become more qualified in what they do so well.
As we have suggested before, another way to pay above the minimum wage, especially in the cleaning industry, could be to change the way each job is priced. The most common procedure is to price a job depending on how long it will take to complete, in which the hourly cost of labour is also taken into account. If instead, each job is priced depending on a promised result, rather than time it will take, you can incorporate a higher wage for the staff.
For us, the way forward with the minimum wage debate sees us placed firmly in Steve Coulter’s camp, as we think raising it is very important. However businesses can help it along, by providing as many training opportunities as possible and by pricing their work differently, so they can afford to reward their staff’s hard work.
For more information on doing this, visit www.newlifecleaning.com.
Original article can be found at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/8351143/Think-tanks-clash-on-minimum-wage.html
When you walk into any high-end hotel, restaurant, clothes shop or even supermarket, you enter with certain expectations. You hope to receive an excellent level of service from smartly dressed staff and you expect the environment to be spotless. These factors make places like this a pleasure for consumers to visit and makes them return time after time.
In the economy we are in, most business owners in industries such as these cannot afford to make drastic, all-encompassing changes to improve their standing; costs to refurbish are too high, and often staff turnover is so great that extensive staff development isn’t an option. One small, affordable change can be made, which will make a real difference to the overall appearance of their business; their floor polishing routine. This claim may sound dramatic, but when you’re next in a Marks & Spencer’s Food Store, or if you visit a five star hotel like the Hilton you will notice; the floors have a reflective shine that enhances the overall presentation of the room.
This shine can be achieved in several ways, although most business owners turn to contract cleaning companies, who take away the hassle in exchange for hefty invoices. An alternative, more environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to achieve this type of shine, is through the use of diamond polishing pads. Diamond polishing pads are specialist floor cleaning pads which contain minute diamonds. The hard diamonds in the pads effectively remove dirt and give a standard of polish that other polishing pads cannot; they can improve soiled and scratched floors beyond recognition.
Diamond polishing pads are a very economical way for businesses to make quick and drastic improvements to their flooring, because they do not require any change to the cleaning routines already in place. Existing equipment can be used as normal, as the pads can attach to most wet and dry scrubber driers, burnishers and high speed floor polishers. No new machinery is required to make the pads work, and the cleaning staff do not need any specialist training to use them; removing two substantial financial burdens from the business owner.
With diamond polishing pads, the business owner is only steps away from achieving an enviable floor shine equivalent to their top-end competitors. The pads come in a variety of textures, which when utilized correctly, give a deep-clean to scratched, dull and damaged surfaces, giving them a glossy shine. Once their floor has undergone one deep-clean, regular cleaning with the pads is enough to maintain the shine; the daily work time does not need to increase, so the inconvenience to the business owner, staff and public is also minimised.
The diamond polishing pads would be an investment into a business’s future, rather than a one-off purchase, because they are very adaptable. They can be used on several types of flooring; to maintain the surface of terrazzo, reverse scratches on stone and granite, and even polish concrete. This means they could be used one more than one surface and in different areas, maximising their output for the business. They are also constructed to be extremely durable, in order to withstand the friction caused by dry burnishers, so can be used several times; making even more out of the investment.
The business could also improve their green credentials by using diamond polishing pads, as they do not require the use of harsh, or dangerous chemicals; detergent and water can achieve an immaculate finish. This creates a safe, more pleasant place for staff and public to operate in, and is advantageous to the environment and the atmosphere.
A business’s decision to change the cleaning pads on their polishers and scrubbers to diamond polishing pads is small, but can have a big impact. Whilst their cleaning routine, staff, and time remains the same, the quality of shine is unquestionable; improving the overall appearance of the building and creating an environment that appeals to consumers.
For more information, visit: http://www.diamondpolishingpads.co.uk/
The last two months have seen the rapid spread of a deadly strain of E. coli throughout Europe. The number of people being diagnosed with E. coli has risen to over 3000, and the infection has claimed around 50 lives. Now, food hygiene specialists are suggesting that hygiene reforms must be made to prevent a disaster like this from happening again.
Escherichia coli, known commonly as E. coli, is a bacteria found in the stomachs of humans and animals. The type that resides our gut is usually not harmful, however the rare O104 strain discovered in Germany in May, swept across Europe producing some terrifying symptoms:
The patient develops a gastrointestinal infection which causes diarrhoea. Their kidneys are also affected, as the bacteria release toxins which cause them damage. Some of the patients in Hamburg clinics also suffered epileptic fits and slurred speech a few days after falling ill. The characteristics of the strain allow it to stick to the gut very effectively, which means it can grow in the gut and remain in the system for longer. The World Health Organisation (WHO) remark that that the strain has been discovered in humans before, but there has never been an outbreak like this.
Since May, various agencies have made accusations about who is responsible for the outbreak. Infected cucumbers in Germany were identified as the cause, but their source was under question. Spanish produce did come under some scrutiny, as did some British, but the most up-to date investigations point to a bean sprout farm in Uelzen, Germany.
Although finding the source of the infection is of the highest importance, to prevent it from happening again we must know how the bacteria infected people. Any E. coli, not just the O104 strain, is associated with contaminated meat, as livestock can carry it in their gut. Vegetable products are affected when an infected cow’s manure is used to fertilise crops; the bacteria will rest on the vegetable surface if improperly washed.
This disaster has prompted experts in food hygiene and preparation industries to give advice, suggesting changes to be made to prevent a repeat occurrence. Patrick Wall, the former chairman of the European Food Safety Authority, argues that it takes a disaster like this to identify weaknesses in the system, and to prompt a response.
Patrick Wall names several causes of the spread of food-borne infections, such as E. coli. These include:
Lack of knowledge and training of staff:
If staff are unaware of legislative the hygiene regulations and procedures that will stop the spread of bacteria and infection, they will be unable to follow them. The appropriate training of the staff who prepare the food, and knowledgeable food factory cleaners, will reduce the likelihood of mistakes.
The surface of raw ingredients becomes contaminated if infected manure is used as a fertilizer. Bacteria can also reach ingredients if they are fed with infected water; the roots can draw up the bacteria, taking it within the plant. It is important to be aware of the ways in which E. coli and other food-borne illnesses can reach your ingredients, so you know how to prevent it. Wall suggests that you ensure that your irrigation water is clean, and that you heat your manure and compost to temperatures which kill bacteria, you can help to prevent your ingredients getting infected.
Inadequate food and hygiene facilities:
In the areas in which food is prepared, it is essential that every surface is immaculate; if bacteria remains on any surface it can contaminate ingredients and contaminate people. Hiring a food factory cleaning contractor to take care of cleaning issues may be one way to tackle this, as they are specially trained to treat this kind of environment and up to date on all legislations.
Cross-contamination of cooked products from infected raw products:
If raw ingredients which are infected come into contact with cooked ingredients, they will contaminate them too. Keeping cooked and raw products separate, including in packaging and transportation, is one way to prevent this. For example, in the spread of this E. coli strain, it would only take one contaminated cucumber to contaminate a whole box.
Inadequate cooking of the ingredients:
If a raw ingredient is contaminated, the bacteria can still be killed if it is cooked to above 70 degrees Celsius. Cooking the food at this temperature will destroy the bacteria present in the food. If the food is not cooked properly, the harmful bacteria could still remain on the food.
Storage and refrigeration facilities:
The alleged cause of the outbreak, a German bean sprout farm, used steam drums of 38 degrees Celcius to grow the bean sprouts. This is the ideal temperature at which bacteria breeds, experts argue. Therefore knowledge of storage temperatures is very important. Chilled food must be stored below five degrees Celsius, to make sure the bacteria is dormant and not being nurtured.
To consumers in Germany and the surrounding areas, the advice was to avoid eating salad products until the E. Coli source had been identified. Now that control has been established, consumers should prioritise washing their fruit and vegetables before eating. This may appear like obvious advice, but a simple rinse with cold water removes a large variety of bacteria from the surface.
For help with bacteria prevention and hygiene in your food factory, Newlife Cleaning Systems welcome your enquiries. Visit www.newlifecleaning.com or contact 0800 0189099 for more information.