Industry talks trends, technologies and preparing for the future

Industry experts weigh in on the future of the cleaning industry at Total Facilities.

Prepare for jobs that don’t exist yet and take a holistic approach to sustainability and technology, were among the key recommendations on how the cleaning industry can prepare for the future, according to the INCLEAN panel at this year’s Total Facilities.

Hosted by INCLEAN editor Claire Hibbit, the panel featured Lucas Paris, sales and marketing director – professional, Kärcher Australia; Sarah Sannen, operations and finance manager, GECA and Bridget Gardner, director, Fresh Green Clean, who discussed local and international market trends, emerging technologies and the how the industry can prepare for future.

According to Paris, Australia’s commercial cleaning industry is on the cusp of significant change and those that fail to adapt will be left behind.

“The key question for businesses today is: can you afford not to keep your eye on future trends? Cleaning is not the sexiest industry, but it’s an important industry. We need to stay ahead of the technology and we need to attract young people into this industry because they will be the ones that shape it in the next 10 years.

“I read a statistic not long ago that two of out three kids in primary school now will work in a job that doesn’t exist yet. My kids are going to work in an industry that doesn’t exist yet and that’s really exciting. That’s what we need to prepare ourselves for.”

Sannen said sustainability is at a “tipping point” around the world as industries begin to witness the legislative impact from the Modern Slavery Act, as well from social policies such as the ISO 20400 standard for sustainable procurement.

“I think we are getting to a point where sustainability – in terms of the economy, social and the environment – is taking off in different ways around the world. It’s going to get to a tipping point where everyone realises that sustainability includes all of those aspects, and we’re going to see a big push globally on all of them.”

Gardner urged the industry to focus its attention on emerging risks such as wage theft and sham contracting, as well as health issues including drug resistant bacteria.

“As infections and epidemics become nastier each year [building and facility managers] are going to have to have a pandemic strategy for their building, and part of that must be looking at the way cleaning is done.”

Discussing the role of technology, Gardner told delegates to identify the risks to be mitigated and to be clear on their goals before implementing new systems, while Paris said transparency and visibility should be top of mind for manufacturers.

“Buildings are getting smarter and we now have machines that connect to fleet-based platforms. The machines can show where it is, the brush pressure, water usage, detergents used and battery life. Visibility is key and for us as manufacturers it’s our job to create that visibility for our end users,” Paris said.

“We have to be prepared that [autonomous] technologies are not going to be here in 10 or 15 years, they’re going to be here in one to two years. And they will be expected by facilities because the most expensive part of cleaning is the person cleaning and using the machine –  especially when they’re being paid the right salary – which we should be doing in every single contract around the country.”

Sannen advised to take a broader approach to technology, encouraging the industry to look beyond developments in the cleaning sector.

“Technology is interdisciplinary and inter-industry. You can learn so much from what other industries are doing. Knowing what the trends are, not just for your organisation but across industries, and for your client is going to be pivotal in how your business moves forward.”

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