Industry Leaders Forum: Tony Antonious, Polivac International

How was 2021 for Polivac? What were the highlights? What were the challenges?

At Polivac, we saw a sharp increase in demand for commercial cleaning machines during 2021.

One of the major highlights for us was that we were able to diversify our product range and introduce new machines because of the changing requirements in the market. As a result, we could capitalise on the opportunities.

As an Australian manufacturer, we could showcase our potential and extend support to our local market and economy during the crisis and recovery stage.

One of the significant challenges was the burden on our suppliers and employees to meet the rising demand, and we had to adapt to a new supply and production strategy that assisted us in creating a steady supply.

We received enormous support from our supply and distribution partners, who maintained the accessibility and support for the Polivac range during these challenging times.

Is there an achievement that you’re particularly proud of from the past 12 months?

We are most proud of our employees who have worked hard and shown resilience in the face of adversity.

Because of their commitment and determination, we have been able to deliver quality machines on time without any delays and have supported the Australian cleaning industry to recover faster from these unprecedented times.

In addition, we trained existing and new employees on multiple processes, which helped them improve productivity.

What will be the immediate focus for Polivac in 2022?

One of Polivac’s primary focuses is to deliver safe and quality commercial cleaning machines, which will not change in 2022.

Our immediate focus this year will be to expand our manufacturing line to increase production capacity.

At Polivac, we will aim to install automated processes to speed up operations and maintain high-quality standards.

We will also actively curate customised training programs for our staff to accommodate new techniques and procedures. Secondly, our focus will be to re-design and upgrade our machines with unique features that add value to the existing range of machines.

What challenges and opportunities do you see for the cleaning industry in 2022?

One of the major challenges in the industry is the competition among cleaning companies has escalated, especially after the pandemic. Every company must maintain and deliver high quality service to survive.

To address these challenges, they need to focus on using machines incorporated with advanced technology and provide employees with continuous training to provide top-quality results and help save time, energy, and money.

As Australia opens its borders and makes its way back to pre-COVID times, this presents an opportunity for the cleaning industry to address the issue of labour shortage.

I see the potential for growth for small cleaning companies as more offices and venues re-open, and cleaning standards and frequency continue to increase.

We’re also witnessing more companies investing in R&D to manufacture intelligent technologies for the industry, which will further help support growth.

What will be the big floorcare trends of 2022?

Robotic machines will be the biggest trend in the year 2022. The new technology can take on redundant, tedious tasks and can save operator’s time, energy. Along with advantages this new trend will have its disadvantages.

For example, some robotic machines require large areas for operations, companies should determine if their work location is favourable for robotics. In addition, do the companies have the resources to adapt to these new machines?

What is one issue in the cleaning industry that you would like to see addressed?

Cleaning companies should avoid purchasing cheap and low-cost machines. I understand that cutting costs is essential but buying low-quality, throwaway machines can impact business operations and reduce the chance of surviving in the current competitive market.

Low-quality machines also have a negative impact on the environment, contributing to landfills. Furthermore, the cleaning standards have increased, especially after the pandemic, hence using high-quality machines is imperative to keep up with the high standards.

What advice would you give to fellow leaders in the cleaning industry?

Firstly, build and nurture your relationships with your suppliers and customers. They are going to be the supporting pillars during your journey.

Secondly, manufacturers need to focus on innovation. Innovation is the key to surviving and succeeding. So, invest time and money in research and development, and remember it is a continuous process.

Thirdly, invest in automated manufacturing processes this would help in increasing workplace safety, reduce manufacturing lead time, increase labour productivity, and reduce labour costs especially in the long run.

Lastly, cleaning machine manufacturers should focus on building safe, operator-friendly, environmentally friendly, and recyclable machines.

This article first appeared in the January/February issue of INCLEAN magazine. 

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