It must be emphasised that in sectors where cleanliness and hygiene is critical to the business — such as pharma and healthcare — the quality of cleaning chemicals is thoroughly evaluated on international benchmarks, and foreign-made chemicals often emerge superior. The reason for this is that it is a niche market which Indian manufacturers do not wish to fill.
Providing insight into the decision-making process, he adds, “At the time of signing the facility management service agreement with a new client, we discuss the cost of chemicals and consumables, and we also enquire about any specific requirement of any specific brand. If the client wants to use any specific brand, we go ahead with that, customizing to the client requirements. If they are not ready to invest in a superior chemical, then we prefer good quality chemicals which give similar results.”
FM heads unanimously agree that this is the most important deciding factor in the procurement process. In recent years, there has not been much price difference between Indian, and say, Chinese or Italian made products. However, foreign-made products may enjoy a commercial edge since they have been around for longer, and can afford to keep their prices lower. Some Indian companies are losing out on big orders because they cannot match the prices of their foreign competitors.
Availability of spare parts and timely response to product breakdown by the after-sales service team are critical in an industry which works 24 x 7 x 365. Without a doubt, Indian brands are better equipped for after-sales service. Because the companies aren’t just selling products, they also working to make sure that their brand prospers.
The advantage Indian products enjoy is that spare parts are also made in India, and are hence more easily available. The training of technicians for Indian machines is also faster. Service centres for Indian products are mushrooming in every nook and cranny of the country, making the spare parts and expertise available easily, and at short notice – which FM companies find absolutely essential.
Finally, it is the FM company procurement heads who have the last word. Dhodapkar says, “When it comes to chemicals, we use about 65% of Indian brands. There are many reasons which appeal to us apart from cost, like availability, ecofriendliness and safety. Their quality is good and can be used at most places.”
To conclude, Jasani says, “I definitely see a lot of potential to shift towards Indian products; it is already happening. But competition is also becoming tough; Indian companies need to create a market share for themselves, and have a presence in multiple industries and sectors.”