Leaders Forum: 3M

INCLEAN chats to Ranmalee de Silva, Application Engineering Specialist 3M Commercial Solutions Division, Cleaning & Workplace Safety.

Did you notice any changes in customer behaviour in 2019?

We have noticed that our customers were more price-conscious in 2019 and looking for ways to become leaner when it comes to cleaning costs.

Customers are looking for either products or processes that assist them cut the costs of their cleaning operations. While customers are focused on price reduction, they still demand the same quality.

Over the last few years, 3M has responded to this emerging market trend and developed quality products that reduce the use of chemicals, labour, and equipment to address these needs.

Have you noticed any trends in 2019? Do you expect those trends to continue into 2020?

Robotics is a newer trend that is still in the early phases, but we may see this picking up more in 2020. First-generation robotic machines made their initial appearance approximately three years ago, but they are becoming more sophisticated.

They have been trialled at several sites, and we think there will be a greater uptake of automation in the industry as building and facility managers look to reduce labour costs.

Customers appear to be more focused on regulatory requirements, with multiple requests coming through in 2019 for certifications for products both in the food industry and the cleaning industry. Worker health and safety will continue to be an important driver in 2020.

What role will innovation play for 3M in 2020?

Innovation is in our DNA. Our vision as a company is that our technology advances every company, our product enhances every home, and our innovations improve every life.

When it comes to launching new products to the market, we always seek our customers insights to help us best innovate to suit their needs.

The industry is trying to do a lot with little money. Our cleaning budgets are extremely tight, yet our cleaning and presentation expectations of a facility are extremely high.

In order to fit into that, we are looking at products that will assist our customers improve the presentation of their facilities.

There are a number of products that we will be releasing in 2020 that will be targeted at the commercial cleaning industry and the food service industry.

Our products go through a lengthy voice of customer process to ensure they are the right fit for the marketplace so some of our key customers are scheduled to trial those products next year.

How do you see the cleaning landscape evolving into 2020?

In 2019, there were changes with a lot of large cleaning contracts in New Zealand, so there will be new contractors looking after new sites which will come with their own challenges.

Manufacturers and suppliers of cleaning products and equipment may need to spend more time in 2020 training and educating new site contractors on technology and innovations that they haven’t encountered previously.

Is there one key message that you would like to share with the industry?

The industry needs to re-evaluate what their expectations are versus their budgets. We’ve reached a critical point that we now need to ask, do our budgets reflect our expectations and our customers’ expectations?

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