Australia’s cleaning industry has remained relatively safe from massive disruption, but that’s soon about to change and businesses need to be ready, writes Kärcher Australia’s Lucas Paris.
The term digitisation has been thrown around the cleaning industry for some time now. From the launch of robotic cleaning equipment to the development of smart buildings in many cities around the world.
But how much of this will actually land in Australia? And, what do we need to do as stakeholders in the industry to prepare (if we haven’t already) of the increased adoption of new technologies in our market place?
Our industry is often perceived as old, stuck in the past and resistant to change. However, whether we like it or not, technology and integrated services in our sector will soon become standard practice. We will be forced to cater to our customer’s ever growing thirst for transparency – whether it be through real time tracking of our machines or live video streaming, enabling us to audit cleaning services being conducted in our facilities through any device.
We are always going to be challenged by the expectation that it can always be done cheaper, sometimes ignorant to the fact that the greatest cost of any contract is time rather than hardware. So is greater visibility, increased focus and more transparency on time allocation a bad thing?
Digitisation, connected cleaning and robotics, whether we are ready or not, is coming in a major way. We should be leading the world rather than chasing it.
Our market is filled with customers that have hundreds of different requirements – customers who demand the highest level of care when cleaning their facilities. Take hospitals for example, where the slightest shortcut of a cleaning process can have catastrophic ramifications.
To those who just need to get the job done and don’t need the same level of disinfection as that of a healthcare provider. If we can educate our end users on the importance of investing in the right machine/process to do the job effectively rather than investing in the cheapest option via the assistance of a digital medium then we absolutely should.
The industry has seen sporadic adoption of connected cleaning mediums over the years, from robotic scrubbers that have promised the world of efficiency but haven’t quite delivered to the level we hoped. Fleet management systems, which although theoretically brilliant, haven’t had the level of data or connectivity that our market demands or add the value necessary to force people to adopt.
These technologies and products will improve a lot though sooner than we might think. We are still a long way from the cyborg that will follow each of us around with a dustpan and brush catering to our every cleaning need but no doubt it will present itself soon enough in some form.
The jury is still out as to how quick we will see this technology as standard business practice in our industry. However one thing is certain; the kinks will get ironed out, the technology will become cheaper, younger more tech savvy people will be in the market making the decisions and the ever growing importance on the word efficiency in our space will drive more of us to have suitable, sustainable and compatible connected cleaning options in our portfolios.
So what can we do to embrace these advances and make the cleaning industry digital in way that adds value and not just go digital for digitals sake? One thing for consideration is if these platforms are built by our IT departments and engineers we are doomed to fail they need to be built by our contract holders, team members and human resource teams. The people that drive our industry know what will add value to them and ultimately what should be the minimum requirement and foundation for any connected cleaning platform.
We are all guilty of judging a book by its cover, being too quick to shoot down an idea without paying it the time and input it truly deserves. It’s all too easy to say “it won’t work” and even easier to say “they should done this” or “I would have done that”. We are in the lucky position that we can start to build what these platform look like, what they offer, what is useful and what is not.
We need to ensure that as an industry we share our knowledge, insights and experience so we make sure any innovation in this space is truly adding value not being done for the sake of innovation.
We are lucky to be in an industry that is relatively safe from massive disruption but we will have it come soon and we need to be ready for it. Digitisation, connected cleaning and robotics, whether we are ready or not, is coming in a major way. We should be leading the world rather than chasing it.
*Lucas Paris is business manager – professional channels, Kärcher Australia
This first appeared in the January/February issue of INCLEAN magazine. To subscribe, click here.