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India needs ‘glocal’ solutions

Jayshri Salunkhe
Head of Cleaning Product Performance, ISS Facility Services India Pvt Ltd

India’s FM sector is hungry for more solutions, not all of which are available in the country. What are they? Why do service providers desire them so earnestly? How will they revolutionise FM in India? Jayshri Salunkhe, Head of Cleaning Product Performance, ISS Facility Services India Pvt Ltd, has all the answers.

What types of cleaning machines, tools and chemicals available abroad would you like to have available in India? What is unique about their features?

As the saying goes, ‘In order to provide the right solutions, first ensure you are not part of the problem’. This line embodies my wishlist for the kind of equipment we hope to see in the days to come. Equipment that is affordable, simple to use, modern and mindful of Indian conditions.

Modern India is increasingly adapting to high rise structures with fancy facades. FM companies are battling age-old manual and time-consuming methods of cleaning them; innovative, ergonomically designed solutions in this space are required to make the job simple, easy and risk-free.

Post-pandemic, the shift from manual to touch-free, mechanised cleaning methods is evident. I feel there will be great demand if we get two-in-one task performing equipment like ride-on sweeper cum scrubber. A combination machine at an affordable cost will be a good return on investment. Such equipment, if available with interchangeable batteries, will be in huge demand.

Smart cobotics equipment for larger spaces will eliminate the limitations of robotic solutions. Cobotics solutions are designed to work with humans and robots together. We would be happy to see more such solutions coming to India soon.

Equipment tracking mechanism is the need of the hour. Real-time tracking mechanisms are still not available in the country. This will be a game changer if it comes in a one-solution-fits-all format and we expect this to be made available in India in the days to come.

Please share examples of how cleaning outcomes can be improved with the use of some of these solutions.

My focus would be on equipment that is sustainable, easy to maintain, robust and with low Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Keeping the above in mind, I would recommend the following:

Equipment tracking mechanism: Service providers require technology-based solutions to track machine runtime, downtime and area covered to enhance efficiencies with uniform cleanliness and hygiene. The built-in trackers in these tech-based solutions can showcase real-time data analysis with various measurable parameters which will assist in tracking water and chemical consumption to attain sustainability goals, as well as analysing the life of the equipment.

Indoor and outdoor highrise cleaning equipment: New-age infrastructure requires innovative ways of upkeep and processes. There is a strong case to be made to simplify the cleaning of internal and external façades through automated solutions. Safety, sustainability, cost and efficiency will be the key drivers.

Ride on sweeper cum scrubber: There is a huge demand to have equipment with two-in-one functionality. Existing battery-operated equipment has limited runtime and higher charging time. A quick turn around by cleaning professionals is expected. Multipurpose/combo equipment with advanced detachable batteries will make this possible and will provide the cleaning professional with equipment that has 24/7 capability, hugely supporting FM companies in keeping sustainability and safety promises.

Cobotics cleaning equipment: This technology can automate various tasks through robot and human collaboration. Cleaning larger spaces with detailing is possible with automated AI-enabled equipment. This technology will automate most complex time-consuming tasks. Repetitive tasks can be done by the robots, and humans can address detailed tasks and areas unattended by the robots. This will make large space upkeep faster, cleaner, and greener.

When it comes to digital FM software, would you prefer to use solutions designed abroad, or homegrown ones? Why?

When it comes to the digital environment, I feel it should be ‘geography agnostic’. Especially in the current era where almost all tools are hosted on the cloud, it doesn’t matter if the tool is homegrown or of global evolution.

We are in an era where we have approached digital tools with apprehension, excitement, uncertainty and ingenuity as technology races forward at breakneck speed. Having said that, our bottom line in business is always client satisfaction, cost efficiency and data integrity.

Key takeaways from past experiences:

The main challenges facing FM software advancements are cost, security, adoption and being overburdened by unrealistic customer expectations. The key FM trends involve customer experience, data and forming a community focused on the future. There are nine billion mobile connections worldwide; that’s over one billion more phones than people on Earth. FM systems will increase their ability to integrate with other types of software with the influx and influence of IoT as well as AI. With the rollout of 5G, the gap of global and local will lead to the ‘Glocal’ way.

Lastly, in what ways should these solutions be customized before being used in Indian facilities?

The partial answer is “Yes”. Facility management is an overwhelming load of work for a modern company. Today’s facility managers have a lot on their plates, especially when they’re working in a growing company while the economy changes and the technology advances. Almost every facility manager is expected to get the most out of the least resource in the shortest time possible. And they are expected to do it every day.

Sourcing vendors, reviewing their work and managing them continuously are some of the biggest challenges of a modern facility manager. And then, there are highest-priority tasks a facility manager needs to devote all their time and attention to!! In short, every client / every MSA is unique in nature and thus customization plays an USP. While by and large the data collected by any IFM tools remains the same, It’s the customization in reporting formats and driving actionable inputs is todays “Achilles heel”. Some amount of location customization could solve the issue, but the larger focus should be on deriving correct MIS and actionable based on these tools. It’s not about the tool, It’s about the user who knows how to leverage these tools.

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