Be it an emerging market or a mature market, cleaning machines have to be modelled as per the requirement and demand. However, IPC is making them on a technological modular platform. Excerpt of a discussion…
Industrial cleaning machines are no more limited to the user-friendliness, cleaning quality and longevity, but the new generation of machines are equitably dependent on markets, application areas and hence aesthetics. Tony Chazhoor, Managing Director-IPC India opines “Broadly speaking, all cleaning applications can be contained in four categories of machine – sweepers, scrubbers, high pressure and vacuum cleaners. One may require a little more specialization when it comes to façade cleaning or municipal sweeping and others.”
There are emerging markets and there are mature markets too in the cleaning segment across the globe. The machines too, are to be categorized in accordance with their consumer behavior and spending. Speaking of mature markets, “two major trends are noticeable; one, efforts to raise productivity and two, to lower labour costs. The introduction of robotics in the mature market is a move in keeping with the trend. In the UK, for example, it has been stated that in the next four years there will be a law imposed to extend minimum wages to workers. Resultantly, workers, particularly contract cleaners, will be drawing higher wages and this is not encouraging as the contractor will be spending 95% of their cost on wages. This could be viewed as normal given the increasing pressure on productivity noticed in the last two years,” says Giulio Vernazza, Managing Director Machinery Division, IPC.
“Then we have the emerging markets and India is one of them. There are others like Brazil which are in the stop-and-go stage and facing a slowdown. It will probably take another year or more for them to pick up. Similarly, Russia is facing a political issue but there are many emerging markets like China, South Africa, Turkey and so on.”
India is in the initial stages of mechanization now. The demand for mechanized cleaning in India is more to meet with compliances. “Pharma or food processing require particular machine models to meet the cleaning standards. In the new phase, a lot of malls and multiplexes are taking up mechanized cleaning to improve productivity and reduce manpower. In the next four-five years, we will see general machines being sold along with the specialized and application based machines. Another five years down the line we would probably see India maturing into a developed market,” says Tony.
Affirming the same Giulio states, “One lesson that we have learnt is that each market is different and needs to be served differently. There are cultural differences, climatic and even economical. Take France for instance, previously the roads were made wet with a lot of water for cleaning. We have to go there and prove to them it was not necessary to wet the road. It was more a practice out of culture. This was peculiar to that particular market. IPC has tailor made machines required for each market. What we have done during the last 18 months along with Tony Chazhoor for India, cannot be replicated in another emerging market. It is important to understand the requirement, the segment being serviced and the type of product that can be provided before tackling the market. Those who have tried to standardize their approach have failed. This is our experience.
“India does not have a strong past of mechanized cleaning. It has either been no cleaning or manual cleaning. A big scrubber market would be a 40 to 50-litre category and then the small to medium ride on, which probably form the two major blocks. The more the market will go forward, the more different segments would be added. For example, in Europe, there is a complete segmentation. Hence, there is an evolution process whereby we start with the basic models, clean mechanically and go in to recovery. In probably five years’ time things will be different.”
The most common need across the world is energy, water and labour cost. Addressing the three, Federico De Angelis, CEO & Chairman, IPC avers, “Whether you approach the US or Russia, they demand energy efficient and lobour cost saving solutions. Everywhere the demand to meet these needs are recurring. We have now introduced machines that run 50 to 80% more than the former model using the same amount of energy and water. At the same time, it saves time because the machine requires far less maintenance than in the past.”
Speaking of IPC’s strategy in India, Giulio Vernazza elaborates “We have been investing a lot as we believe in this market. Though our presence was limited to Delhi and Mumbai, with a strong leader like Tony, we are expanding geographically across the country, opened new office and taking in new competent people. So drawing an organization to tackle what we believe will be a very important in the future and this is an ongoing process.
“We are concentrating on constructing machines on a technological modular platform and are able to address local needs and customize the product easily without having to make huge investment every time. One cannot afford to develop new chassis for each new machine. This trend is much prevalent in other industries, where there are several common modular platforms on which a number of models are built. We are doing the same.
“Reiterating what Vernazza mentioned earlier, India has a huge potential in the coming years compared to other countries in the eastern part of the world. The cleaning market is growing year on year and we have decided to build ourselves step by step in this country. We have now six offices, warehouses and will have more this year and next year. We are having aggressive plans and are looking at a long term sustainable and consistent growth. We do not believe in huge double growth without any kind of support in terms of after sales, reaction time, training and survey.
“In this fast pace of change globally, there is no use making five year plans. We are working on plans for this year and the next to keep the company very flexible, lean and to have a short decision process. We make proper analysis, try to understand local needs, the price factor, our right to win against the competitor, our weakness and take a quick decision. We develop solutions not just the product that is the base of our business,” concludes Giulio.