How was 2019 for Whiteley? What were the highlights? What were the challenges?
This was another record year of growth. We had more sales, inventions and innovations, new patents, new staff and new horizons to conquer.
Our research has continued to yield outstanding results, and we published a number of new findings this past year. The most significant paper demonstrated the difficulty in wiping away a dry surface biofilm from a surface.
The results showed that even after 50 wipes, the biofilm was still very much intact and viable, with transmissible superbugs still present and thriving.
It underscores the need for the cleaning sector to shift from measuring production rates, to measuring the cleanliness outcomes of any particular cleaning process.
What will be the immediate focus for Whiteley in 2020?
We are bursting at the seams in Tomago, so we are planning our next major plant expansion. This will more than double our capacity and resources at the facility including warehousing, offices, a new Human Therapeutics Plant and a substantial Regulatory and Technical Centre. The planning is underway, but in a complex project such as this one, there is always more to do, and yesterday wasn’t soon enough!
What challenges and opportunities do you see for Whiteley looking ahead to 2020?
Without doubt two things will come into focus. The first will be the impact of superbugs across the community. With that will also come a renewed focus on the measurable outcomes of cleaning in terms of cleanliness improvements.
This will strike at the heart of cleaning costs where the current paradigm is singularly focused on production rates. The recognition more generally of the interactions of superbugs and biofilms in cleaning – particularly within health care and aged care – will drive innovation in both products and methods.
Secondly, we are working hard to provide a new way to measure cleaning outcomes in a quantitative mechanism that measures cleanliness as an output.
We are creating a new, portable and fully validated tool to work with cleanliness measurements to provide cleaning teams with a risk managed framework to understand cleaning performance across a building or an entire application network.
Finally, the cleaning industry will continue to evolve. From an industry perspective, we sincerely hope the new leadership coming through the sector will find their feet, maintain a moral compass, and energise the cleaning sector with new and vibrant thinking.
Cleaning is the cornerstone of infection prevention, and cleaning staff are the real heart of cleaning. It is the cleaners that are the most important people in the cleaning process. I hope that their value is rediscovered and respected, especially by their own management and entrepreneurial teams.
What do you expect will be the big trends of 2020?
Our expectation is further market changes. There will be increased use of robotics and AI in many parts of the industry.
The price pressures will continue to put focus onto the management of human resources, so we expect that moral leadership in the customer sector will continue to be fraught.
We also expect legislative changes into the arena, given the persistence on morally questionable staffing practices, which result in further statutory changes affecting tax and benefits evasion.
What is one issue you think the industry should urgently address in 2020?
Cleaners are the most important people in the sector. Can we make them number one and value them accordingly? Focusing on their role in removing unwanted soils and residues will mark a major change from the current focus on productivity isolated from actual cleaning.
How do you see the cleaning landscape evolving into 2020?
There will continue to be consolidation on the supplier side of the sector. Some of the larger businesses are running out of mid-sized targets, so it will be interesting to see how far down into the supply chain their reach extends. This will particularly apply to the equipment sector.
Is there one key message you would like to share with the industry?
We are all participants in a great section of the economy. Whilst we have our occasional difficulties, this is a terrifically robust industry in which to compete.
Not only is it global, but innovation thrives, and the cleaning sector worldwide retains its person to person aspect. Cleaning will always be a people driven passion.
The advent of robots and AI will not displace people; it will simply change the methodologies, but people will always stay at the heart of the cleaning industry.
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