Analyzing new products is a great way to get a pulse on what’s happening today in the cleaning industry. In June, I had the opportunity to get a global perspective of the industry by attending Pulire in Verona, Italy, as a member of a U.S. Delegation put together by Afidamp Servizi.

The recent H1N1 pandemic certainly was top of mind for many exhibitors. A number of products — from mopping carts to touch-free door handles — were showcasing how they reduce the potential for cross-contamination.

The economy was clearly influencing product development as well. Many manufacturers were offering solutions that would help end users improve their cleaning efficiencies. Some products that stood out — and all Innovation Award winners — were an automatic scrubber that records an employee’s productivity, a robotic window washer and a chemical packet vending machine to help prevent product overuse. (For more information on the Pulire show, see In the News).

Despite the global recession, one thing I heard at the show was that Italian manufacturers were not compromising product quality and craftsmanship in favor of lower prices. This sentiment was familiar to me because we reported similar feelings from American distributors in our June cover story, “Preserving the Bottom Line.” As the story reported, some customers want cheaper, inferior products to save money, but many distributors refuse to switch over their product stock. These distributors continue to push quality, though more expensive, products because they believe it’s the better solution in the long run. Quality products are used less, last longer and, over time, help customers save money, distributors say.

To see some of these new foreign product innovations firsthand, check out the International Pavilion at the ISSA/INTERCLEAN® North America trade show held in Chicago this October. A number of European and Asian manufacturers will be showcasing their countries’ products alongside the 500-plus U.S. companies. For a preview of the upcoming show, check out our article here.