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Technology Steals the Show – ISSA INTERCLEAN – Amsterdam 2016

The world’s largest cleaning show was held last week in Amsterdam, NL. In case you missed it, here’s a review of some of the highlights.

ISSA INTERCLEAN – Amsterdam is truly an international show with 28,000 plus attendees, from over 80 countries visiting 800 booths over the four day event. The booths and aisles that are spread out over 11 different display halls at the RAI Exhibition Center were busy from opening to close on the first three days of the show. Even a cleaning freak like me can only look at so much cleaning equipment in one week without going into overload mode. I skipped the last day of the show as both my head and my feet were sore and I needed a break.

The Amsterdam show takes place every two years and is a regular event on my schedule because this is where new cleaning products are introduced that will show up in distributor warehouses and janitor closets around the world over the next 3 – 5 years. I don’t know why Europe leads the way in cleaning technology, but this is a definite trend that I have noticed over the last 20 years. I attend the ISSA INTERCLEAN Show to gain a better understanding of where the cleaning industry is headed and this year was a real eye opener. Amsterdam is one of my favorite places to visit with friendly people, great food and weather and something to do for everyone.

Technology Was Everywhere

From the innovation awards to the booths on the show floor, the impact of emerging technologies were present everywhere you looked.

Let me give you a peak into the future of cleaning beyond 2016.

  • Connectivity, sensors, beacons and access to information is where the industry is headed. Imagine getting real time reports on your smart phone telling you which trash cans need dumping and which rooms, offices or toilets were not used today, so they don’t need cleaning. Take it step further to include soap, TP and towel dispensers that let you know when they are running low on supplies, soiled or not operating properly. The next jump is knowing when a cleaner enters and leaves each room, as well as how long they were in the room and what surfaces or areas of the room were cleaned. How about equipment tracking that tells you where every piece of equipment is located in a building, where it cleaned and for how long as well as what service or repairs are needed. Imagine carpet and hard floor coverings that record and report on when they were mopped, vacuumed, scrubber or wet extraction cleaned.
  • Robots for vacuuming, scrubbing, sweeping and disinfecting were on display and operational. In the Robot Center four different manufacturers had cleaning robots operating every day of the show. On the show floor I found at least four other robotic cleaning machines that were not in the robot center but planned to be there next year.

Now for the real shocker, this is not science fiction and I haven’t been eating brownies. Nearly all of the technology outlined above already exists and will be entering the workplace over the next 3 -5 years or less.

The Next Era of Cleaning

What we are seeing in an evolution into the next era of professional cleaning. Some say there will always be a need for people to do cleaning. That may be the case, but one thing’s for sure; they won’t be doing it like it’s done in the past. We are already seeing signs that buildings and surfaces are being designed and built to reduce the need for cleaning and the partial phasing out of the human worker. Don’t think so, have you heard about self-cleaning surfaces, no finish flooring, stain free carpet, nano treatments, negative and positive air pressure, cleanroom environments and HEPA filters? A quick Google search will open your eyes.

Today no one dreams of becoming a janitor or goes to college with the goal of entering the cleaning industry. Labor costs in many US cities have skyrocketed to over $15.00 per hour and in some cases as much as $45.00 per hour, and we still can’t find and keep qualified employees, let alone supervisors or managers. If you look at what’s going on in the cleaning industry with an open mind, you can see the hand writing on the wall and where this is headed.

The Speed of Change

One of the most shocking things about this year’s show wasn’t a product at all, but the speed with which these new technologies are coming into cleaning industry. Two years ago several equipment manufacture’s, introduced a concept known as “Fleet Management”, which related to the tracking of their equipment, in less than two years this concept of sensors, beacons, tracking and robotics basically took over the entire show.

Want to Know More?

This year’s show included ongoing seminars in the “Innovation Lab” each day. Most were presentation by exhibitors pitching their products, but one presenter caught my eye. Vincent Everts is a Futurist and local newscaster who took the time to walk the show floor and comment on the new technology he came across. His presentation was challenging, thought provoking and right on the money. Below is a link to his one hour presentation at this year’s ISSA INTERCLEAN Show. I hope you’ll take the time to watch his presentation, it’s not like being there, but it’s a lot more comfortable than a 10 hour plane ride and provides a great overview of what you missed by not attending this year’s ISSA INTERCLEAN Show in Amsterdam.

An interview with yours truly, and other show interviews by Vincent Everts.

Don’t miss the ISSA INTERCLEAN Show North America, in Chicago, Oct 23 – 26, 2016. It’s not Amsterdam, but it’s as close as you are going to get without that 10 hour plane ride. Hope to see you there.