I often marvel at the technology that we use today to improve the sanitation and cleanliness of customer sites. Think about it for a moment...from backpack vacuums that our associates strap on and use to cover thousands of square feet of carpet per hour; to riding floor equipment which allows us to efficiently clean millions of square feet; to stores of chemicals that can be transported from job site to job site safely in someone’s back pocket and still be diluted anywhere water is available; to dehumidifying systems that not only can restore a flooded library’s floor coverings and structure, but also the books.

Then, there are the other 23 hours of my day when I wonder why many innovations remain so far from our grasp. Why can’t a cleaning equipment manufacturer produce a daily use, efficient and cost-effective vacuum system without cords? How about efficient, large-area, floor-scrubbing equipment that actually could be transported from site to site by just one worker? Why can’t chemical manufacturers invent floor coatings that we can maintain without having to continue pouring thousands of additional gallons down on the same floor? In these times of plastics and polymers, why do supply manufacturers continue to sell us cleaning products that break and rust so easily in everyday use?

For my friends in the chemical, equipment, and supply industry; don’t stop reading just yet. After all, it really is the “buyers” who ultimately always will dictate the technological path taken by manufacturers.

That’s us, folks. Look at us. How old do you think the broom is, and aren’t we the ones who won’t give it up? Have we really just accepted cleaning the way it is, forgetting to demand innovation and participate in its development?

Take a quick snapshot today at your operation. Then, one year from now, take another. What differences are you going to see? What difference are you going to make to further the industry? To develop the technology used in your business?

Let’s not accept the technologies being delivered today as good enough. Let’s demand more. Let’s begin speaking to our manufacturers and vendors directly to let them know that we are in this industry with them, that it is our future that they are working on, and we can help them move the industry forward.

Tech trends
Technology is good for me, for my company; right? Technology, just for the sake of technology is a neutral proposition. However, technology that can lower labor costs, increase operating efficiencies, and provide more effective outcomes is critical to our development as an industry.

Our vendor partners in the cleaning industry are continuously trying to develop new technologies in cleaning. The questions remain: Are they developing the technologies that will impact your company? Just how will they impact your company? And will that give your company any type of competitive edge in the marketplace?

This publication has brought you information on a few of the latest innovations in cleaning. But just what impact will these and other innovations have on our business, and what can we look forward to in the coming year? And beyond?

In the May Operations Log department, Contracting Profits highlighted two companies —Betco Corp. and Multi-Clean Chemicals — as having released floor products and systems that were innovative. Let’s look again at these innovations and try to answer the “what’s in it for me question.” Let’s also look at what we can do to work with vendors to further advance these technologies.

First, earlier this year, Toledo-based Betco Corp. came to the market with MMT/50, a floor finish that breaks the paradigm of “small floor polymer particles are better.” The manufacturer touts a finish that dries 50 percent faster, requires 50 percent fewer coats, and has a 50 percent thicker film than competitive products.

Likewise, Shoreview, Minn.-based Multi-Clean Chemical Corp. developed an ultraviolet floor-finishing system. This one-coat system is designed to cure instantly, eliminate stripping and reduce restoration costs.

With these technologies, I can spot an opportunity to slash labor costs. Listen carefully — I said “opportunity,” not “guarantee.” To wade through the opportunity, companies should educate themselves; establish tests in varied real-life situations, time-study results, measure effectiveness, and pre-determine the short and long term impact on operations.

What is in this for you? Show your customer you are willing to invest in new technologies and grow with them as they grow and their needs become more complex.

I applaud companies like these for thinking outside the box, and I encourage them and others to continue doing so. If the crystal ball is working properly, we also should see a few additional innovations coming to the market within the next 24 months. We should see new equipment ventures that will involve robotics, multi-tasking floor equipment, and inventive battery-operated vacuuming systems.

Chemical companies also should be aiding our efforts to provide more efficient and effective cleaning programs. Manufacturers are aligning their product mix to help solve the problems of a particular market, such as restaurant cleaning; and also aligning product mix to solve the problems of cleaning certain areas such as shower/locker rooms. All of these innovations will allow you the opportunity to enter new markets and better serve your present customers.

Joseph K. Fairley is an industry veteran and executive vice president of business development for Building One Service Solutions, an Encompass Services Corp. company.