However, Bansal does feel it is a relative calculation. According to him, cleaning equipment are comparatively low priced. “If one evaluates between manual and low ticket cleaning equipment then spending on correct cleaning machines would look significant.”
While this may act like a quick-fix solution, it is needless to say a large warehouse would need more attention to maintain the quality of goods stored and for the long life of the entire infrastructure.
Cleaning industry offering innovative solutions
Warehousing cleaning is facing several impediments like lack of trained cleaning professionals and interest in cleaning itself. There is also absence of understanding of actual needs of warehouse cleaning, which according to Doshi, makes some warehouses end up buying equipment meant for commercial cleaning. He also stresses a major point, “Most of the companies dealing with warehouse cleaning equipment are import driven. Due to regular fluctuation in the value of Indian currency, it becomes difficult to fix a standard price for the warehouse cleaning equipment.”
Yet, things are getting better. Technological interventions and innovations are paving the way for helping warehouses cut down their costs in the long term. The cleaning industry suppliers are working towards introducing such solutions. Bansal shares an innovation his company has introduced which is a Tennant patented technology called ec-water. It eliminates the use of chemicals to clean floors by converting water into charged ions. This, while helping warehouses increase the life of their floors, also rids out buying and ensuring space to store chemicals. The returns will be easily visible in ‘less than two years’, informs Bansal.
Bansal opines, “The implementation of GST can be a big boost for warehouse segment as a whole. The average warehouses are currently 80K–1L sq feet. With GST, it should go up to average of 3-4L sq feet. Depending upon material handling equipment being used either these warehouses will go for multiple medium ride on scrubbers or couple of large ride on scrubbers.”
More takers for cleaning solutions
A typical warehouse is a big, high, very hot and dusty structure which cannot be cleaned with regular cleaning. Sophisticated, smart solutions and trained human resource are prerequisites for this kind of specialized cleaning. Doshi believes that warehouse cleaning industry in India is still in its early stages of development, considering the size and potential of the market and also taking into account that many warehouses and distribution centres still rely on manual cleaning methods. Yet, the situation is not all that bad. His company has sold over 60 bigger units in a duration of one year, mainly in Western and Southern India. He shares, “When you consider an average of 5 big cleaning units a month from a new comer in the cleaning industry, it just goes to show the need and demand for warehouse cleaning solutions and equipment.”
For Bansal’s company, warehouse as a segment contributes 20-25% of its annual sales revenue, while Kapoor of Nilfisk states that his company is at present doing a business of roughly 6% to 7% of its overall Floor Care business through sales of equipment to warehouses. According to Kapoor, “Modern warehouses are welcoming right mechanised cleaning solutions, particularly when it concerns handling of goods which are fine in nature and need to be preserved under hygiene conditions. Now we have to propagate the idea of mechanised cleaning for warehouse depending upon the type of warehouse and product category.” While the unorganized sector will continue to dominate, accounting for around 90% of the industry by 2015, of the organized sector, the industrial segment will constitute a higher share of warehousing demand, viz. engineering, pharmaceutical and electronics goods. With the government taking initiatives to pump in more money in the form of FDI, Make in India and Indian companies collaborating with their foreign counterparts, the cleaning industry too is evolving from a labour-led industry to a technology-led industry, opines Doshi.
The Indian e-commerce industry is also expected to create more warehouses for its growing business needs. The daily newspaper DNA India reported on October 30, 2015 that Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart will invest over $500 million on warehouses with investment on logistics going up in the next few years. It is planning to build a network of 80 to 100 fulfilment centres across all states with special focus on tier II and tier III cities. Flipkart has 17 warehouses in India, while its rival Amazon has 21 warehouse centres here and Snapdeal has 63 fulfilment centres in the country. Warehouse, fulfilment centre, distribution centre, call it what you will, the fact is cleaning industry is up for major overhaul.