When we think of cleaning industrial facilities we generally envision large heavy industries with big dirty machines and buildings, and this type of account remains a segment of the industrial market. Today an industrial customer can be a small to large, high tech manufacturer or assembler, 3D printer, nano or bio lab or an international aerospace or pharmaceutical giant with hundreds, thousands or even millions of square feet of production, lab, office, warehouse, high tech computer and or cleanroom space.
With over several hundred thousand manufacturing establishments with millions of employees accounting for roughly 8 percent of the U.S. workforce and billions in wages each year, industrial clients are a large and potentially profitable market with special cleaning needs.
Cleaning tasks start with the basics such as office, restroom and floor care and progress to more challenging areas that require the use of specialized chemicals, equipment and procedures found in controlled access and cleanroom environments.
Pricing and Production Rates
There are many factors that should be taken into consideration when bidding industrial locations. Pay and hourly billable and cost per sq. ft. rates will be slightly higher (15% – 30%) than rates charged for commercial office cleaning. It is impossible to give exact numbers as rates depending on the geographic location, industry served, specifications, contract terms, competition and other factors. A study of prevailing wage rates for specific types of cleaning workers in each county will give you an idea as to the high end of the wage rate for the area.
You can expect to pay $2.00 to $5.00 more per hour for those working in specialized or critical areas of industrial locations vs office buildings. Industrial cleaning requires special training, chemicals and equipment along with a higher hourly rate needed to attract and retain staff where the work is seen as specialized, dangerous or physically demanding. In larger cities and facilities, industrial facilities are often union operations. If a customer is paying higher hourly rates than you are, this may provide you with an opportunity to charge high rates and still be less costly than the rate previously paid to union workers. Providing services as a non-union contractor working in a union environment may result in friction, especially if your staff has replaced union workers. If you are a non-union contractor you may get pressure from the customer and or a union to encourage or force you to unionize your operation.
Equipment, Supplies, & Chemicals
Check the specifications and requirements closely to see if specific chemicals, supplies and equipment are required as these items can be far more expensive than what is normally used in commercial accounts. In some locations, no substitutions are allowed and 3rd party certification of products and equipment maybe required. This can relate to mops, cloths, safety equipment, chemicals, auto scrubbers, floor machines, pressure washers, hoists, and lifts. Check with a qualified supplier for accurate pricing information and get quotes and details in writing to avoid misunderstandings and costly surprises later when you place the actual order.
Knowing the what, when and where of cleaning is critical in manufacturing and industrial locations. Written schedules, procedures, checklists and testing to validate the work is getting done properly and on time are often required. Qualified staff, supervision and management are required to success and profit in these accounts.
Depending on the size of the location, when multiple workers are assigned, it is best to utilize separate staff members or crews for critical vs non-critical area cleaning. Offices, lunch rooms, common areas and warehouse space would be considered non-critical and normal production rates and pricing may apply, Critical areas would include labs, research, production and manufacturing areas where the work is specialized and requires more training and closer supervision. In these areas premium rates and pricing would apply. Most locations will require some level of employee screening, bonding, certification and security clearance. Depending on the levels required, this can cost up to several hundred dollars per person and several months to obtain.
Safety is concern in all type of facilities, but takes on special meaning with industrial facilities. Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is required and must be worn in all production areas, this includes; safety glasses, gloves (cloth or liquid proof), hard hat, harnesses, vests, ear plugs, hard tip or anti slip footwear, knee pads and dust or fitted vapor respirator and other PPE. Such items must be provided by the employer, the cost of which needs to be considered when preparing a bid.