• Cleaning • Waste • Linen care • Vehicle care
The prominent shift in consumer preferences made by visitors is evident in the intelligent purchases made during the recently concluded Clean India Technology Week in February. Special Corespondent Mrigank Warrier, captured some very interesting trends compared to what was noticed last year. Some of the trends have moved up the scale in terms of preferences, brands, technology, effectiveness, IoT, water consumption, dispensing systems, availability and soon. Excerpts:
The industry is rapidly moving towards a machine-dominated cleaning model, replacing the decades of manual labour-dependant cleaning regime. This is in keeping with the dearth of quality and skilled workers. Sadly, “worldwide, over 70% of all cleaning is done by hand,” said Dariusz Mikolajczyk, Ambassador of i-team Polska. “We want to replace at least 50% of it with machine cleaning, making the process quicker, simpler, cheaper and better.” Samir Sabu of Soma Specialities Pvt Ltd agreed, adding that acceptance of cleaning machines in India is growing. This recurring theme of substituting manual with mechanical techniques has influenced the design and choice of products manufactured.
Technology A similar trend in the linen care segment was noticed with service providers sourcing automised dry-cleaning machines. This simplifies the process with in-built wash cycle and dosing systems. Cloud-based systems, which allow remote monitoring and provide real-time data on the chemical usage and detergent consumption; time taken; wash cycle; etc., created waves at the Expo. Intercare Cleaning and Hygiene Systems displayed a wifi-enabled paper towel dispenser that can provide real-time updates of the number of cartridges left in each dispenser as well the total footfall in the washroom, viewable on your mobile phone. Efficiency has become the new mantra of cleaning plans everywhere.
The second major trend noticed by exhibitors was that the age-old model of facility owners hiring their own cleaning staff, purchasing their own cleaning products and managing their cleaning regimens themselves, is rapidly getting outdated. For example, no more does the owner of a multiplex chain want to devote a large chunk of his own day making sure there is no popcorn under the seats. “Every industry segment is outsourcing cleaning to the facility management (FM) industry; these players buy the most from manufacturers like us,” said Vivek Mata, MD-Charnock Cleaning Equipment.
Manufacturers now deal mostly with FM companies rather than facility owners, he added. This shift of clientele from owners to managers has inducted advanced technology as a component of many cleaning products for better management. However, on a cautionary note, some of the FM heads of facilities were sourcing latest technology and calling for demos to ascertain quality of the product.
As more and more foreign companies invest in or set up base in India, the size of their facilities is ever increasing.
To keep up with the cleaning of these giant buildings, “Companies have started making products where each machine can cater to a massive number of people,” said Catarina Wickstrom, Customer Marketing Director of Essity Hygiene and Health (Tork). Facilities like airports, multiplexes and exhibition halls have a large number of people going to the washroom at any given time; many of the popular products at the expo were designed to cater to such large numbers. Hence, the customer needs to hire fewer operators because fewer machines are required to clean the same area.
A by-product of this demand for high-volume machines is that product designers now ensure that they minimise the amount of touch and manual operation required by each machine. The lesser the human manipulation, the lesser is the time required to clean each unit area. Consequently, products which require few man-hours to operate are most in vogue. A positive offshoot of this trend is that the machine operator does not have to bend, go on his knees and use his hands to scrub inaccessible parts of the facility; the machine does that for him, and the dignity of the operator is protected.
Durability What is the point of a machine which harnesses the finest technology but breaks down every second day? For a product to beat its competitors, it needs to have a long, problem-free working life. “Customers want machines that are durable, which require only minimal repair,” said Felix Ruesch, Exports Sales Manager – Cleanfix which has partnered with Schevaran. Machines that last for a long time without needing replacement of any part are cost-savers in the long run, and popular with customers, as well as the staff that will actually operate them. In fact, this trend used to be observed several decades back both in the cleaning and laundry segment. Some of the older service providers have more than 25-yearold laundry/dry-cleaning machines which are still operational. Many manufacturers, even upgrade such machines by replacing a few parts. This has created brand influencers in the market.
Big vs Small
Speaking about the different expectations from different sizes of machines, Jason, Marketing Manager, Kingsun Cleaning Equipment (Suzhou) commented that smaller machines need to be portable and flexible, while bigger ones need to be easily manouevrable. He added that as developing countries like India and China become home to more and more commercial spaces and factories, the market, for both types of cleaning machines, is set to grow exponentially.
“Customers are looking for power efficiency in products,” said Ankit Shah, Director-Marketing and Sales, Askon Hygiene Products Pvt. Ltd. Demonstrating a hand-dryer that uses just air to ‘scrape’ water off your hands instead of drying it with heat, he added that such products help save on a significant fraction of operating costs. Tony Chazhoor, MD of IP Cleaning India, added that while earlier, machines powered by electric cable were popular, batteryoperated machines are now in demand, since they are more easily manouevrable. No longer is a machine operator restricted by the length of the electric cable, nor does he need to keep looking for the nearest power source; he can now ride on and walk his machine for hours without a break.