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Better understanding of Sustainability,Equipment Efficiency and Manpower Training

Soon we will be entering a new decade. The time we have traversed becomes the most significant one in the global cleaning industry – we saw innovations and growing awareness about sustainability and green cleaning. The need to reduce costs and make available customer-centric maintenance solutions has become important.

Major players in the Indian Cleaning Industry feel that this trend will continue. However, they also feel that if the clients get more educated on sustainable practices, it would become a necessity to offer real ‘green cleaning’ in terms of chemicals used, efficiency of equipment used and the money saved.

Says Dr Ralf-Hendrik Steinkühler, Head of Marketing/Application Technology/Training of Hako Werke, “In the future, important developments will lie in the area of the improvement of economy; new technologies or the further development of those available will be aimed at further reducing the costs of cleaning and thus the machine life costs.

“Standards required for operation and acceptance of cleaning tasks is different today than it was in the past. Staff wants a machine which is as easy, safe and convenient as possible to use. Customers always want more performance. Added to that, our environment demands that its resources are used sparingly and considerably. The industrial sector has been increasingly concerned with the topics of environment and sustainability. Evidence of this can be seen in developments in sero-emission drives and alternative energies, systems which use less water and cleaning agents, filters which clean air to a high degree and numerous other features.”

Says Hartmut Jenner, CEO Alfred Kärcher GmbH & Co. KG, “Cleaning technology has enormous future potential, because even in the most industrialised countries many cleaning problems remain unsolved. Hardly any other area of human activity is dominated to such a degree by manual work. Moreover, in our modern networked world, cleanliness is not a luxury, but indispensable, as global epidemics such as SARS, bird ‘flu and swine’ flu have shown. This provides numerous opportunities for the cleaning equipment industry, especially, of course, for innovative companies that find ever-new solutions to the diverse challenges.”

According to International Executive Housekeepers Association that IEHA has witnessed and supported an increase in cleaning science in the industry and believes that their trend will and should continue into the future. “Simply stated, just because a facility looks clean, doesn’t necessarily mean it is clean. The cleaning programme started by IEHA supports the use of measurement devices, such as ATP metres, particle counters and more, to prove that facilities are clean,” says Laura M. DiGiulio, IEHA.

More awareness about sustainability

The biggest trend in our industry from the last decade was no doubt green cleaning. In the past few years, what many had written off as a fad became mainstream and a mainstay in cleaning. Following which the most significant trend for the coming years would be sustainability.

Making sure that cleaning products and processes didn’t harm the environment, cleaning staff or building occupants was just step one. Today, the building service contractors or the in-house housekeeping cleaning professionals and even building owners want to ascertain that the cleaning products used to clean the premises aren’t just green when they’re used, but also when they are made, delivered and disposed off.

Many building service contractors who embraced green cleaning are looking to take the next step as well. Not only are they reducing their own company’s impact on the environment, but they want their cleaning products to be more sustainable, too. From production to delivery to use to disposal, a product’s lifecycle matters to them.

Even though, there is a move towards sustainable products, there is no certification that qualifies the identify of a sustainable product. Most certifications only test how a product is during usage. However, the market is moving in this direction. Enzyme based eco-friendly cleaning chemicals, water- based cleaning solutions like the use of steam and high pressure washer to clean greasy surfaces, etc., have caught up in the market.

New developments like travelator cleaning machine takes cleaning to an entire new segment and makes cleaning of hard-to-reach large expanses of glass much easier.

Besides newer machines, newer technologies are being developed which enables self-cleaning processes. In a report at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), they described how a self-cleaning coating on the surface of the solar cells could increase the efficiency of producing electricity from sunlight and reduce maintenance costs for large-scale solar installations. “We think our self-cleaning panels used in areas of high dust and particulate pollutants concentrations will highly benefit the systems’ solar energy output,” study leader Malay M. Mazumder, said, “Our technology can be used in both small and large-scale photovoltaic systems. To our knowledge, this is the only technology for automatic dust cleaning that doesn’t require water or mechanical movement.”

More efficient equipment

“In the future, we will see a greater focus on improving efficiency of equipment. “In order to achieve maximum economy, the technical aspects of cleaning machines will be further complemented by additional services offered by a number of manufacturers. The explicit sale of cleaning machines has expanded to the sale of systems. Today, it is not sufficient to simply offer products, practical problem solutions must be provided,” says Dr Steinkühler.

“Amongst other things this entails comprehensive advise with computer supported economy calculations before a purchase is made, as well as finance and purchase alternatives such as short term hire to allow flexible machine usage. An increasingly important role will be played by after sales service, with which the cleaning machine operator can, for eg, completely outsource the repairs and maintenance, thus allowing him to concentrate on his core competences,” he adds.

Washroom hygiene market growth

The last decade has seen a spate of touch-free products for the washrooms in the market. The touch-free concept has caught on with the increasing understanding of the importance of the over-all set up of the washroom to ensure good hygiene. Greater concern about the risks of cross contamination by touching the surface of anything that has been touched by someone before in the washroom is being shown. The no-touch concept will become increasingly important in the future.

Washroom design is another trend that will remain a point of focus with people becoming more conscious and particular about what they use. Washrooms in restaurants and other establishments are increasingly being seen by customers as part of the overall experience. This trend will continue.

More training of manpower

There has also been an increase in the emphasis on training which has helped improve morale of the workers besides improving standards of performance. People are beginning to see the possibilities of cleaning as a career instead of just a job.

Many companies do a good job of training their employees regarding cleaning, supervision and management related subjects. At the international end, DMS Facility Services, Inc. in Monrovia, CA, has a vice president of training and development and offers IICRC certification courses and six sigma classes for its employees. Team Clean Inc. in Honolulu, HI, operates the Professional Cleaning Institute of Hawaii (PCIH) in cooperation with the International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA). Both these companies are also ISSA Cleaning Industry Management (CIMS) and CIMS-Green Building (GB) certified. Unfortunately, these companies are the exception, not the standard of practice.

An industry wide lack of emphasis on training, employee development and upward mobility is a major obstacle when it comes to promoting the cleaning industry as a career opportunity to the next generation, says William Griffin, President of Cleaning Consultant, Inc.

Most people come to the cleaning industry not because they want to, but because they have to. It’s generally because they don’t have the education to get what would be called a “good job with a future” that they join the cleaning job. No high school or college student nourishes the goal to work in the cleaning industry! “To survive and mature as an industry, we need to attract the next generation of workers, managers and owners with opportunities for personal growth and financial reward,” says Griffin.

In a nutshell, we will be seeing the cleaning industry moving towards energy efficient equipment, sustainable cleaning and giving emphasis on manpower training and retention.

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