Facade system has gone through evolution. The system has seen an up-surging demand in the recent time, but there are not too many firms that have kept their own for long, Cleanindia Group is one such firm. Cleanindia Group is India’s one of the largest Facade Access Solution and Maintenance Company. The Group not only provides the complete range of access equipment from BMU trolleys to Davits and jibs, but is also the only Plan Indian provider of facade cleaning and maintenance services. Headquartered in Mumbai, the Cleanindia Group has over the last 21 years has developed a reputation as a provider of comprehensive and professional service, with a strong emphasis on quality and safety. This reputation has enabled rapid expansion of its operations to seventeen cities all over the country.
In an exclusive interview with the Masterbuillder, Mr. Ashok Khemlani, Group Chairman, Clean India Group and founder of Cradle Runways (India), shared insights on the challenges facade industry as a whole and what makes them stand tall for so many years.
Here are few excerpts of the interview.
How has been the advancement in facade access systems over the period and especially for last 2-3 years?
Twenty-three years back when we signed our first contract, most of the architects and builders in India did not see the need of providing facade access systems. The general feel was that in India, we have heavy rains in most of the cities and the rains will clean the facade. Over the period necessity of facade cleaning system which is called BMU (Building n is understanding that they will need to replace the glass when it is broken.
In metallurgy, the other countries be-lieve in aluminium alloy but not India. Aluminium alloy is yet to get its deserved position. There is always a preference for stain-less steel. The specifiers and the consultants themselves are happy with stainless steel use.
With the technological advancement, what is the scope of automation in the systems in this sector?
In a country like India where there is abundant workforce and the government is encouraging ‘Make in India’, ‘Skill India’ to think of automation is really foolish. Our last 20 years, we are employing more than 1000 window cleaners and as the industry, there will be more than 2000 window cleaners across the country. There is no need to create automation in this unless it is a highly secretive building where at no stage window cleaner should go anywhere near the glass. Hundreds of hotels that we clean have not even asked for. Besides, the cost is prohibitive and other alternative technologies that we adopt are working fine. Fully automatic robotic cleaning machines in the world can be counted on fingers.
In some of the European countries, they even have manual cradle. But in India, from the word go, the cradles have been power operated.
Is the emergence of self-cleaning facade providing any specific challenge?
The self-cleaning facade that you have mentioned is actually a glass which does the bursting of dust particles. First of all, it’s expensive and besides it is not the kind of clean that is required in the country like India. We have bird droppings and the level of dust in an environment is very high. It would be fine if in some corner the facade access system is unable to reach then one can have this glass which does not allow dust to accumulate.
Safety is a big concern. In regard to this, what specific actions are being taken in the building maintenance units?
Safety is the biggest concern in high-level cleaning. This is because the operatives are working at the high level and lack of care can result in fatal accident. Similarly, malfunctioning any of the equipment can result in a fatal accident. It is rather sad that the safety is the big concern for some of the well-known multinationals but generally ignored by many other companies.
For the equipment, we use there is the highest level of safety in each of the sub-system. For eg., the cradles have many safeties. There is the trip bar at the bottom, there is a safety on the top, the cradles cannot tilt more than 14 degrees. If the cradle is tilted by 14 degrees, it will not move. Also, there is a safety rope and a safety brake. In the case of any problem, the safety rope will be braked. With the result, the cradle will not move. It has the emergency descender device and it has all the electrical safeties. The ropes have a safety factor of more than 14.
Roof equipment is designed to suit the European standards. Namely EN 1808 and we follow always the latest versions. Most of our equipment we have over designed keeping in mind the safety aspect and the Indian factor. Our cradles are suitable for more than 2 man capacity that we declare. This is because maybe sometimes the users will take the vertical moving up for granted. We also have our own cleaning company which is probably the largest in the world. We have printed out safety booklets which provide all the safety guidelines to window cleaning community. From our Cradle Runways, we also provide training to the clients so that they know how to operate safely.
How are the operatives trained for their services?
The operators are not required for operating the facade access system. They are very user-friendly and they are idiot proof. All over the world, there are no operators. You require the operators for other equipment like vertical platforms, aerial work platforms which are ground base systems that we supply. The operators are trained by an organization called International Power Access Federation. They are originally from UK and present in many countries. Recently, they have shown interest in India and we have 15/20 members and the training institutes are being proposed. Our operators, however, were trained by IPAF trainer from Dubai who came to India on our call to train.
Every region provides a unique and different challenge. How does the group address this regionally based designs?
The regions and the regionally based challenges are not much of a problem. We have offices in all regions and we have ongoing relations with many of our clients in various regions. The challenges emerge from the design of the building. We believe that the architects and the designers should be able to express whatever they want in the designs and we should be able to come up with systems for each and every type of the building. We have provided systems to unique buildings which include the inclined building, a perfect globe or even a pyramid or many other such variations.
What is the USP of this group that has enabled the group to sustain for so long?
We have multiple USPs. A complete range, higher safety factors, national and international presence providing post supply training and facade cleaning services, several international company representations, our own manufacturing plant of over 30,000 sq.ft, qualified and working since long engineering, installation and troubleshooting staff. Besides, the pioneers continuing to be at the helm of affairs of the company.
What has been the group’s policy in the manufacturing in regard to import and export?
Our import comprises of the ground base systems since we don’t manufacture and they are many a time part of the package for facade access. We also do not manufacture and hence we represent world’s largest manufacturer for multi-stage BMUs. There is very limited market for those and manufacturing locally would not be viable. As components, we import winches because the total volume that we consume does not make manufacture as viable. Everything else we manufacture in our plant near Mumbai.
We are exporting our products to various countries. There are facade access companies in other countries who are aware of some of our unique products, they ask for them and we sell them. However, there are other countries where the system has to be not only supplied but installed and maintained. We have supplied quite a few systems to Srilanka, Kenya, Oman, Singapore and other Middle East countries.