Touchless… Automated… Sustainable…Biodegradable… Water-saving… Time-saving…Cost-effective… Durable… Precise… Customised…
These terms are snapshots of the trends that emerged from an analysis of the solutions on offer at the Clean India Show.
Exhibitors have spared no effort to design products that meet both performance and economic expectations. Even the futuristic solutions are inarguably affordable, especially when the life cycle cost is calculated. Each product range has more models within it to cater to each buyer’s set of requirements; off-the-shelf is approaching customisation.
It should come as no surprise that the maximum demand – across product categories – comes from sectors that are people-facing, especially those that see high traffic in short intervals of time, or need to ensure and project facility user safety to safeguard and grow their businesses.
What follows is glimpses and slices of what Clean India Journal saw, heard and deduced from stalls, conversations and literature at the Clean India Expo. This is the present and future of India’s cleaning market.
Brand new technology
The Expo witnessed the debut of some innovative solutions that either didn’t exist in India before the pandemic, or were not widely known or accessible earlier. One such attraction was Accelerated Cleaning Systems’ device that uses water, air and electricity and harnesses the power of Aqueous Ozone to produce disinfectant on demand. Drawing attention especially from educational institutions and people who want to become distributors, the lure of cleaning without chemicals was irresistible to those looking for sustainable, carbon-neutral solutions that can help them on their ESG journey. Harish Anantharaman, Managing Director, Accelerated Cleaning Systems said, “The return on investment is within just 7-8 months. Since fossil fuels play no role in our solution, facilities seeking LEED certification will find it attractive.”
Cleaning without chemicals was also the motto of Spraying Systems, which demonstrated a machine that generates disinfectant whose active ingredient is Free Active Chlorine. The pandemic has forced housekeepers to use more chemicals more frequently, affecting both facility users and the material on which the chemicals are applied. This new solution, on the other hand, requires no PPE to be worn by housekeeping staff, who will be thrilled with the combined cleaning-cum-disinfecting action of the product. Mohan Kumar, Assistant Manager – Projects, Spraying Systems India Pvt. Ltd said, “We don’t sell the machine; we rent it out. Clients pay only for the amount of disinfectant they generate (maximum of 300 litres/day). As the volume increases, the price per unit decreases.” Along with schools, food processing is his target market.
Far UVC is another technology that has gained ground over the past few years. Safe to use around humans, its core components have now been adapted for different applications: hand sanitising, mobile disinfection, PoS machine disinfection etc. Dilip Patil, Managing Partner, Trivector Biomed LLP shared: “Recently, new standards have been set for the effective dosage of Far UVC; one-fifth of the previous dosage has been tested and validated as effective.”
Zoono India exhibited a novel product, which, in the words of Rahul Gandhi, Partner, “Works on nano-technology. Compared to traditional disinfectants that are alcohol-based and rely on chemical killing, ours works through a physical kill technique.” Demand comes from many sectors, including the poultry sector.
Dispensers in demand
The hunger for dispensers, especially touchless dispensers, has shot through the roof, even from segments that were earlier content with filling any old bottle with soap and placing it on a wash basin. The demand for wall-mounted, automated dispensers now comes from everywhere, not just premium facilities.
“Clients like corporates and spas,” said Rajeev K, Partner, Eclectic Bay, “which are waging a war on waste, want to control the volume dispensed per use. There is also a shift from chemical-based air fresheners to aroma oil dispensers. IoT based dispensers will come in the future”.
However, manual dispensers are still very much in vogue. Hotels are replacing the old soap bottle with manual dispensers in each guest bathroom, which are disinfected once the guest checks out. The public sector has jumped aboard the dispenser bandwagon, with Indian Railways incorporating manual dispensers in their new and improved train toilets.
Apart from these, Eclectic Bay noted a sharp rise in enquiries from manufacturing units for air curtains.
R Elansundar, MD, Elan Hygiene of Elan Hygiene confirmed the dispenser trend, sharing that clients opt for plug-and-play models that are easy to install, and can be taken off the wall even by an untrained person. He reiterated the USP of automated dispensers; unlike others, which dispense 4-5ml of liquid per push, these dispense only the WHO-recommended dosage every single time. This is appealing to high-traffic areas like airports and cinema halls, where many people need to use the washroom in a small interval of time.
Underlining the durability of his dispensers, he revealed: “We don’t have a separate service team, because we don’t need one. Any minor issues, if at all they crop up, can be handled by the sales people of our channel partners.”
Contrary to the perception that only the private sector will invest in high-end dispensers, he shared that Chennai’s Perambur Loco Works, the country’s biggest rail locomotive manufacturers, has installed his dispensers too.
High-five to hand dryers
Many exhibitors spoke of how paper towel dispensers have taken a back seat lately. Facilities such as malls, which see tremendous footfall, also see tremendous waste of paper towels. Someone needs to constantly be on hand to replace the towels in the dispenser every now and then. For drying patrons’ hands after washing, many facilities are upgrading to hand dryers in every washroom.
Currently, the trend in this segment is to purchase the most affordable model. However, there is a tradeoff to be made. Lower cost products may take 50 seconds to a minute to dry the hand, consuming five times as much electricity as a more expensive dryer which takes only 10 seconds to work. However, higher speed dryers are also noisier; facilities need to weigh all these factors before making a choice.
Automated hand hygiene
Taking dispensers one step further, Microgo LLP’s IoT-enabled, automated hand hygiene solution ensures 20 seconds of hand hygiene compliance with every user. Dr Rachna Dave, CEO & Founder, Microgo LLP said, “The maximum demand has come from food industry partners. Many people who were in the single-use plastics business are also interested in partnering with us.” The company’s prowess in R&D attracted some unusual enquiries, like one business that wants help in avoiding the colonisation of its wooden logs by fungi!
By converting existing urinals to waterless and odourless urinals – without any CAPEX investment, infrastructural change or retrofitting – Rutu Biosystems has ridden the wave of green products to herald a sustainable future for washroom hygiene. “From FM companies to IT, educational institutions to the manufacturing sector, everyone wants such a solution”, said Kedar Kulkarni, Director.
Reiterating the shift from sanitiser dispensers to gel dispensers that is prevalent in the hospitality and corporate sectors, Ruchit Desai, Partner, Purec Hygiene also demonstrated the workings of an automatic toilet seat dispenser. From offering the product free of cost to restaurants, to having it adopted by the Railways and installed in the toilets of First AC coaches of Rajdhani and Duronto trains, he has come a long way.
Coatings for cleaning
Dynachem Deep India’s coating, which has a residual disinfectant effect for upto three months after application, was a hit with industries as diverse as healthcare, housekeeping, kitchen hygiene, laundries and water treatment plants.
3P Nanopac showcased a coating for solar panels, glass facades, kitchen hobs, shower enclosures etc., that reduces the need for cleaning and also makes cleaning easier. It also reduces the need for water and manpower, and in the case of solar panels, maintains power generation efficiency. It can also be used to coat glass, the consumption of which has doubled in the past few years. “It is applied in the form of a mist spray; the surface is then buffed and allowed half an hour of curing time”, said Sachin Tyagi, Regional Manager (North & East India), 3P Nanopac Pvt. Ltd. “We are seeing a lot of demand from the construction sector, and do not expect the market to be saturated for years to come.”
Air care array
Air purifiers have become sleeker and more space conscious, and their design has been modified for application in various areas, depending upon the area to be serviced, and the strength of the fan and UVC light in the device. Explaining their use in washrooms, Tanay Somani, Head Marketing & Business Development, Fraser Technologies explained: “Unlike HEPA filters which only trap bacteria but don’t kill them, our filters kill bacteria from the air and don’t allow them to replicate, thus preventing odour formation.” His clients include project management consultants and architects who incorporate the product at the design stage itself.
These remain the backbone of the organised housekeeping industry. Charnock Equipments introduced two new products: a battery-operated ride-on sweeper with the dimensions of a diesel-fuelled machine, and a battery-operated micro scrubber-drier for cleaning extremely small and compact spaces. Vedant Matta, Director Sales, Charnock Equipments said, “Right from facility management companies, hotels, hospitals and factories to a lot of government contractors and government ministries, many have come looking for cleaning and hygiene equipment, especially for high-traffic sectors such as malls, railway stations, warehousing and airports.”
Nilfisk India showcased a stand-on machine which is easily maneuverable in tight corners. Explaining the benefits of a stand-on machine, Rajiv Bhatia, Country Manager & Director, stated: “With a stand-on, you’re doing work faster, your productivity is better and with a shorter turnaround time, you can clean spaces faster and come out”.
The company also introduced sustainable solutions that will reduce water consumption by 75% and chemical usage by 60% as compared to a conventional scrubber, which it expects to be taken up by hospitals, schools and malls.
Also pitching to schools and any facility with large spaces was Triangle Innovations Pvt. Ltd, with an Indian-made manual sweeper which halves the effort required for cleaning, and can pick up debris like water bottles too. Prakash Hosadurga, Director, said, “We have had visitors from the government sector, municipal corporations, facility management companies, industries, as well as Rotary and CSR teams which would like to use our products in rural areas.”
Making their presence felt were robots from Indo Gulf Cleaning Solutions which can be used for HVAC duct cleaning and kitchen grease duct cleaning. According to Madhav Thakur, Director, demand came from two main sectors: “Hotels which are at risk of becoming sick buildings because of their poor ventilation and large laundries, which have fire hazards.”
A unique stall that was mobbed by exhibitors from other stalls was that of Amer NSM-India, which supplies components of cleaning machines like motor wheels, trans axles and electric line actuators for ride-on and walk-behind scrubbers, and especially for automated machines. The shift from manual steering to automated electric steering systems signals the rise of automated machines. Sandeep Thatte, Head-New Business Development, expects growth to be fuelled by the many new companies which have entered the Make-in-India cleaning equipment sector, especially those producing automated solutions. The company has a service network to supply its components to end-users all over India, and also channels its products through manufacturers’ service teams.
The hardy old allies of every housekeeper saw no slowdown in demand. Humg Enterprises Pvt Ltd introduced a line of wooden products, including brushes. “From multiplex chains and retail stores to government institutions and wholesalers, all institutional visitors have come”, said Upshi Bhardwaj, Managing Director. “So have those who want products with their own brand and their own compositions”.
Impressive9 LLP introduced customised wringer trolleys, which customers can operate as per their convenience. Apart from FM service providers and corporate clients, Jitendra Raulwar, Director West, customers included wholesalers who are supplying to a far larger market.
Many companies that exhibited tools showcased a wide range of them, sourced from different manufacturers, and if manufactured in-house, were eager to tie up with many more distributors.
And then there were exhibitors like the Poona Brush Company, which caters to a specific clientele. In their case, it is the steel and automotive industries. Rajkamal Khatod, Partner shared that they are supplying brushes for bus cleaning stations to state transport bodies across the country, especially in the southern states, where they are usable for upto 40,000 washes. The Railways too are an important client. Future demand is expected from sectors that will embrace automation, as well as the fast-expanding food processing industry, where brushes are required for cleaning, washing and polishing raw materials.
Distinguishing itself from the crowd was Alpha Products’ carbon black remover, developed specifically for a leading tyre manufacturing company, and its glass cleaner, whose anti-static properties, said Yugesh Naik, Founder and Chief Strategist help it resist the buildup of dust for 7-8 days.
Eco-friendly options ruled the roost, with Sanosil Biotech’s Virosil appealing to not just pharma but pest control, F & B, hospitals, airports, gyms and any facility where there are SOPs for disinfection, according to Dev Gupta, CEO.
Cross-pollination occurred in the case of Fresno and Bakersfield Ltd, which, apart from a biodegradable dishwashing gel, also showcased a liquid laundry detergent. Chirag Trivedi, Managing Director said, “A lot of people from the laundry sector, and agents who sell to the hospital and hospitality sector, have made enquiries”.
Consumables are king
Grindwell Norton Ltd is India’s largest manufacturer of non-woven abrasives, which impart characteristic properties to floor pads. Its Gen 2.0 floor pads, said Roopesh Jose, Senior Product Engineering Janitorial & Consumer Product have an increased fibre thickness and tweaked formulation, improving both performance and durability, but cost no more than conventional floor pads. Colour-coded to indicate which type of floor they should be used on (black for concrete, green for epoxy), they are wanted both by manufacturers of cleaning machines as well as – mainly – service providers who use them as consumables.
Trusty old gloves will never go out of fashion. Chirag Dham, Director, Dhamsons Healthcare Pvt Ltd revealed that the mushrooming of new housekeeping companies in the wake of the pandemic has exponentially increased the demand for durable and comfortable gloves. Safety gloves for those working with heavy machinery and FDA-certified food-grade gloves for food handling and food processing also contribute to growth.
The Earth has traveled twice around the Sun since exhibitors and visitors last met, but the products at the Expo have traveled a much, much longer path to the present-day.