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Indian Cleaning Industry optimistic amid setback

What will happen after lockdown is over? 

These testing times will also allow the survival of only the fittest. Tanmay Khare, Infrastructure, Facilities and Assets of Mahindra Finance predicts that only big players with good financial and compliance backgrounds will survive, while small or part-time players will be washed out.

As the pandemic curve flattens and then a semblance of return to normalcy begins to set in, Tony Chazhoor, Managing Director of IP Cleaning India Pvt. Ltd believes that the demand for cleaning workers shall see a surge from the industries currently under lock down, like retailers, restaurants, hotels, airlines and other companies that cater to the public — which is presently not allowed to step out.  

While trade around the world will be gradually restored and international travel curbs lifted, the firms which are into manufacturing sanitation and disinfection materials, and professional and industrial cleaning machinery are expected to double down on production to meet the pent-up demand. As the pandemic subsides when the lock down is relaxed, Sam Freeman, MD-India, Atalian Global Services knows that buildings and factories will need to be sterilized before people can return to them. This will mean that the industry will experience a bump in demand. He also believes that clients will move away from time-based cleaning schedules, and focus on delivered outcomes, which can be measured using technology such as ATP meters and swabs.

But what of the labour force who have been relegated to sit back and wait at home, waiting for this time to pass? Deshmukh is dreading the onerous task of reassembling them from wherever they have gone to tide over this misfortune, retrain them and settle them back into their jobs; this will require a tremendous amount of time and effort. The biggest change he expects to see in workers’ attitudes is more awareness about occupational health, and more insistent demand for PPE. This, along with many other factors, will necessitate a renegotiation in facility planning and service agreements.

Since most clients are expected to demand sanitisation as opposed to simple cleaning, the products used post-lockdown will be very different, at least in the near future. Neutralising products and use of steam will be more in demand; the boundaries between cleaning and sanitisation will become hazy. Rishikesh Dhodapkar, Business Head-Food Services of Forbes Facility Services Pvt. Ltd, expects two distinct phases of return to normalcy: 

Phase 1: Initial three months post-lockdown

  • Ensuring awareness and training are instituted by every organization about precautions and correct PPE usage.
  • Regulatory enforcements on periodically tracking health conditions of employees will have additional cost implications. 
  • Good opportunities for organizations to build up specialized cleaning verticals focusing on sanitisation frequency.

Phase 2: The first year

  • Only large professional cleaning organisations will continue to work, who would have adapted to a focused cleaning approach and which provide value-based solutions.
  • Regulatory enforcement of every organization declaring sanitisation frequency and tracking health records.
  • Cleaning Industry will be regulated as an essential service

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