How was 2020 for Tennant Australia? What were the highlights? What were the challenges?
There are numerous internet memes with the highlight, “My plans…2020.” I think every business has experienced that to some extent. 2020 has been different than what our plans were heading out of a strong 2019, but when I compare our results to our peers across the globe, we had a very positive year.
We’ve launched numerous new products, like our autonomous robotic scrubbers and HEPA rated industrial sweepers. These new technologies have allowed us to help customer in new areas that are even more critical today, like re-deploying labour and minimising airborne silica dust. We also re-launched our IPC brand, which has allowed us to help a broader base of customer with keeping their facilities clean.
The biggest highlight by far was seeing how our Tennant ANZ team members came together to navigate the challenges of 2020. They found a way to work safer and smarter, but they kept showing up to work each day to help our customers and keep our business moving forward.
How did Tennant adjust to the impact of the pandemic?
We built a strong team across ANZ in 2019, which allowed us to have local leadership at the ground level.
This allowed us to understand the different laws, restrictions, and guidelines and adapt quicker. Throughout 2020 our direct service team found ways to adapt and keep helping our customers.
They changed their procedures to keep themselves and our customers safe, but still managed to help our customers with up-time.
Our sales and marketing team looked into new technologies with LinkedIn as a way to stay active with their new customer goals, which was critical in a year where all tradeshows were postponed.
Our operations team reacted quickly by placing orders for inventory in April/May, which has allowed us to keep up our local stock on hand in October/November.
One of our team’s core values is adaptability and I am extremely proud of how the team adapted throughout 2020.
Did you notice any changes in customer behaviour in 2020? How did Tennant respond to these changes?
Rental became a preferable option with some customers who typically buy outright. We already support customers with this option, so it was not a difficult transition for us to make.
Re-deploying labour became a bigger focus compared to prior years with the importance of sanitising/disinfecting. We launched our autonomous robotics scrubbers in 2020 to support this.
What will be the immediate focus for Tennant in 2021?
We have the next sizes in our robotics scrubber line coming in 2021. We have our smaller T380AMR, which is more manoeuvrable and is designed to help customers that want autonomy in spaces that are more confined.
We also have the larger T16AMR coming, which gives a more productive solution to customers in warehousing, logistics, and food and beverage.
We will also be launching more HEPA sweepers, including our new S16, which has a carpet care/HEPA package. It’s also more manoeuvrable than our S30, so it gives customers with a smaller warehouse space a HEPA option to reduce airborne silica dust.
IPC will continue to be a big focus as we come out with the next phase of products to help our distributors and customers in this range.
What challenges and opportunities do you see for the industry over the next 12 months?
I think most people felt once we get to 2021 things would be more “normal,” but this is not going to be the case.
ANZ has done exceptionally well with COVID-19, but the rest of the world is largely still struggling. This not only impacts supply chains into ANZ, but also tourism and economic investment into ANZ.
This will create additional opportunities for teams and companies to look at initiatives they otherwise would not in a traditional year. It’s an opportunity to look at new vertical markets and customers that are doing well through the pandemic.
It’s also an opportunity to bring new technologies to customers that need to adapt. It’s an opportunity to look at where money is traditionally spent and look at creative ways to grow in a year where travel and tradeshows will continue to be limited.
Do you think the pandemic will fast track the use of technology such as robotics and autonomous machines?
In some cases. We’ve certainly seen some customers reach out and talk about the importance of re-deploying labour. In these cases we have seen customers get the resources they need to purchase or rent a robotics machine.
However, the challenge for some customers is that they have already gone down a path with a conventional machine (in 2018, 2019, or early 2020), so in order to change to robotics it would require removing the machine they previously purchased.
In some cases the change can be more drastic if the end-user has an outside contractor and there is an agreement in place.
We try to do all we can to work with our customers that have older Tennant machines. We take trade-ins and can use the older machines for our reconditioned business. It allows some customers to have an option to move quicker with robotics.
Are there any new products to be launched in 2021?
We have two new robotic scrubbers coming out in 2021. One to help customers with a smaller space, and the larger T16AMR, which is a solution for customers in warehousing/logistics. It will be the largest robotic scrubber on the market.
More HEPA rated sweepers, with some being geared towards industrial spaces with home-building products, and other options for customers that want a HEPA rated rider vacuum/sweeper.
What do you expect will be the big product trends of 2021?
We certainly believe robotics will continue to be important. Autonomous machines are a tool that customers that can use to unlock a variety of benefits, from re-deploying labour, to ensuring their facility is cleaned the right way.
One of the common pieces of feedback we receive after a robotics trial is that the floor seems cleaner. This is because a robot will take the same methodical approach every time, going at the right speed to make sure the floor is scrubbed correctly, which delivers a higher and more consistent level of clean.
Additionally, the employee that was previously sitting on the scrubber can be used to do more detail cleaning (sanitsing/disinfecting).I think having more choice for customers will continue to be important.
With economic uncertainty it’s important to give customers different options, from multiple brands, to rental options, and even the ability to have a strong service team that can help them with a repair, which may allow a customer to delay a capital equipment purchase for another year.
What additional advice or guidance do you have for the cleaning community now and after the pandemic?
As challenging as 2020 has been, it has put cleaning at the forefront. More people are paying attention to how their facilities are cleaned and they understand the importance of using high quality products that deliver the results they require.
We could focus on what 2020 has taken away, but it has also given the industry many opportunities. It has put cleaning and hygiene at the forefront more so than any other time in recent history.
There is no doubt 2021 will likely be a “bridge year” to get us back to a more normal economy in 2022, but 2021 has a lot of opportunities in it. Focus on the opportunities we now have because of COVID and use 2021 to gain momentum heading into 2022.
This article first appeared in the January/February issue of INCLEAN magazine.
Read the original article here.
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