In a country where indigenous manufacturers of cleaning products are numbered, the consumer graphs have remained more inclined towards international brands. Making inroads into this market are international companies with distributor networks; companies that have joint ventures; companies that have a technology transfer agreement; direct manufacturers… vis-à-vis the locally manufacturing companies. The habit set over three decades of using quality branded cleaning products definitely cannot be shaken off in a few years of the Make in India wave.
Nonetheless, Clean India Journal interacted with few of the direct users, the facility management companies, to understand the extent of change that has come about in the purchasing pattern.
Foreign-made cleaning machines and chemicals for a very long time have been ruling the roost with their quality output. However, in the past two decades, Indian manufacturers have established a market by meeting cleaning standards set by international products. Now, on the one hand, Indian products are preferred by Indian customers for a variety of reasons, while on the other, there is still a reservation among clients to issue tenders for, or purchase products from a manufacturer who has several decades more experience, who is inevitably a foreign manufacturer.
What factors are weighed before deciding to select products– Indian or foreign-made?
Recently, one of the airport authorities confessed that the search has been for internationally-made sweepers for daily maintenance. Well, were the officers in charge dissatisfied with the Indiamade products or were these products not customised enough to suit the requirement of the airport? Or were there any other reasons? Possibly no single reason may have resulted in such a decision by the airport, however, the question remains how much have Indiamade products risen to meet international standards?
Some feel that products designed abroad have a technological edge over those made in India; even the technology that goes into designing each product is more advanced. European machines in particular enjoy a reputation of having a cutting-edge when it comes to state-of-the-art technology. Interestingly, Raghunandana Tangirala, Managing Director at Updater Services, suggests that “Indian manufacturers need to spend more time on sales!”
While Indian manufacturers have long been trying to catch-up with their international peers when it comes to introducing the most advanced techniques into the Indian market, the gap between the two is fast narrowing.
When it comes to technological advancements, especially in matters of energy efficiency, Indian cleaning equipment are provided with the latest components. However, Kunal Jasani, General Manager-Supply Chain at Dusters Total Solutions Services Pvt. Ltd, feels that while “the latest technologies are coming to foreign markets faster. It is not the same in India. Gel batteries are already available in Indian markets but Lithium ion batteries are yet to come here. Let’s hope Indian manufacturers catch up faster.”
Suitability for Indian conditions
Jasani is of the opinion that Indian products are more rugged, and better suited for the operating conditions at play in the country. He believes their longevity could be relied upon, and that these hardly give any trouble during their lifecycle.
Giving examples of certain brands, Rishikesh Dhodapkar of Forbes Facility says that these are known for their R&D, and they give tailormade solutions for each specific geography.
However, India is a huge lucrative market for foreign manufacturers; they are not willing to be left behind, and are investing time in researching Indian requirements, and customising their solutions accordingly.
FM heads also feel that in general, the appearance of machines designed abroad is more appealing than that of those designed domestically. Throwing light on how this influences the choice of machine, Jasani says: “In many instances, the client at whose facility we are deploying the machine also feels that the design of foreign made machines is superior.”
Thus, better visual design itself is enough of a plus point in favour of foreign devices. In India, the necessity of developing a product within a certain budget could be a deterrent in putting in more effort into design. Hence, design may not be given much importance here.
FM heads say that their choice of consumables is totally dependent on their clients’ choice. While the FM company decides on the machine to be used, the client directly or indirectly decides the choice of cleaning chemicals. This choice varies in different industries; healthcare and pharmaceutical companies prefer international brands to completely eliminate any chances of contamination or cross-contamination. Educational institutions too have the same preference for safety reasons. On the other hand, the manufacturing and automobile industries prefer Indian brands, since Made in India products are believed to be of good quality, yet much more economical.