Earlier this year, I attended ISSA/INTERCLEAN Amsterdam for the first time. It’s true what they say: the European market is more progressive than the U.S. market. As a result, most new product innovations tend to be displayed at the Amsterdam show prior to being available in the United States. While walking the show floor, I was blown away by the amount of innovation currently in development in the cleaning industry. I truly felt I was getting a glimpse of the industry’s future. I’m curious to see how many of these products and trends will carry over to this year’s North America show in Chicago.
Specifically, I will be checking how far the Internet of Things (IoT) has spread in the United States. After last year’s ISSA/INTERCLEAN in Las Vegas and looking over the 2016 ISSA Innovation Award nominees, it is clear that IoT is most prevalent in restroom dispensers and autoscrubbers. In Amsterdam, manufacturers were also applying this smart technology to hand dryers, chemical proportioners and even janitors’ tasklists. I’m anxious to see how close we are to tracking and analyzing all aspects of the cleaning process. Speaking of productivity, there are several recurring themes among the Innovation Award nominees that I also noticed in Amsterdam. Floor equipment continues to shrink in size, allowing operators to automate cleaning in tight spaces. Battery backpack vacuums let janitors cover more ground in less time by untethering janitors from the walls. And, new carpet cleaning technology allows users to extract carpets while walking forward, rather than reverse, which can improve productivity by as much as 60 percent.
Another rapidly growing trend that impacts productivity is robotics. This was such a popular product in Amsterdam that the show featured a “Robot Arena” for continuous demonstration of robotic equipment. A handful of manufacturers already have this technology, but many others were assuring me that their own robots were in development. Floor-cleaning robots are the fastest-growing robot category, forecasted to be a $600 million industry by 2020. Since North America is predicted to account for 55 percent of the market share, I fully expect to see several autonomous cleaning machines while walking the show floor this year.
Amsterdam definitely showcased the future of the cleaning industry. However, it’s exciting to see that some of these trends are also landing in the United States. As the industry becomes even more global, distributors and end users benefit from greater access to worldwide innovations.
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