For many years, floor care machinery and cleaning chemicals have been complementary goods, together dealing with cleaning issues and adding value for end users. However, some suppliers have introduced new machinery that do not require chemicals to effectively perform cleaning tasks. To understand this market trend and find out whether it represents a threat to cleaning chemicals suppliers, we interviewed Laura Mahecha, Kline’s Manager of Industrial & Institutional (I&I) Cleaning Products Practice.
Is there a shift from chemicals to machines in the cleaning industry?
Over the past 40 years, Kline has conducted many research studies for the I&I cleaning industry. We have observed disrupting product formulations and packaging, industry consolidation through mergers and acquisitions, and changes in cleaning routines and maintenance methods. As new technologies emerge, businesses need to change and adapt with new innovative solutions. As more end users clean floors with steam cleaners, chemical-free strippers, or orbital scrubbers, chemical suppliers need to adapt to these changes in the mature market for cleaning products in the United States and Europe. Changes in floor care surfaces have also altered floor care maintenance methods.
Which product category is affected the most by this trend and why?
Floor care is obviously the most affected market segment. Cutbacks and changes in floor care programs continue to reduce the number of chemical purchases. Tight budgets and a focus on margins often lead to less frequent stripping and finishing of floors by end users. As a result, end users are searching for the most effective and best priced solutions that allow them to maintain clean floors longer. Machinery suppliers consider this market trend an opportunity to penetrate the market through technological advancements.
What kind of benefits can chemical-free machines offer to end-users?
Chemical-free machines can decrease users’ dependency on price changes for cleaning products. As new machines increase mechanical actions, the amount of chemicals required to perform the same task decreases or is eliminated completely. Machines also allow end users to perform floor cleaning at higher speeds, reducing labor costs. Machines with cylindrical brushes have a higher pressure on the floor, allowing them to perform more efficient cleaning with longer-lasting effects. The replacement of chemicals with water is safer for employees and also helps end users be more environmentally friendly.
What are the most interesting products and suppliers on the marketplace for floor care machinery?
There are a few machinery suppliers trying to build a competitive advantage on being chemical-free. For instance, Tennant, the largest supplier on the floor care machinery market, has a range of T3 and T5 Walk-Behind Floor Scrubbers available in various sizes, featuring the echo cleaning technology, which electrifies water and uses it as a detergent without any cleaning chemicals needed.
Another example is German-based Kärcher, which produces chemical-free stripping rollers that can be used in select versions of their machines. The company claims that the pad can strip up to 5,000 square feet and will remove up to one coat per pass.
Innovation is the driving force for the mature market for cleaning products in developed economies. To better cope with this market situation, we need to gather a better understanding of the machinery sector of the commercial cleaning market as it gains popularity among consumers with its new technology-driven solutions.
To answer these and other critical questions regarding the usage trends, supplier landscape, and the impacts of machinery and equipment on sales of floor care chemicals, Kline introduces the first edition of its Floor Care Machinery and Equipment: U.S. Market Analysis and Opportunities report. Covering over 10 product categories used in more than 16 end-use applications, and profiling 14 leading and niche suppliers, this report will provide a complete market analysis for your long-term strategic business plans. Contact us for more details.