BSCs’ increased efficiency will be based on data insights

INCLEAN's consulting editor Alan Hardcastle interviewed Karcher's deputy chairman, Markus Asch, and executive VP product management for professional products, Ulrich Engenhardt, at CMS Berlin 2015.
Ulrich Engenhardt (left) and Markus Asch
Ulrich Engenhardt (left) and Markus Asch

Fleet management systems proving their value…

INCLEAN’s consulting editor Alan Hardcastle interviewed Karcher’s deputy chairman, Markus Asch, and executive VP product management for professional products, Ulrich Engenhardt, at CMS Berlin 2015.

Building service contractors (BSCs) have built their businesses by delivering services that have allowed clients to focus on their core activities. Now, cleaning machine/equipment suppliers are able to, in turn, relieve BSCs of having to manage their non-core activities, points out Karcher’s Markus Asch.

“BSCs’ businesses are all about labour management, that’s their core business. Suppliers can free them up from being pre-occupied with machine purchasing, management and operation,” Asch extolled.

Not only a strategic thinker and planner for his own company, Asch gives freely of his time to support a number of industry bodies and activities including president of the European Federation of Cleaning Industries (EUnited), the German Association of Cleaning Equipment Manufacturers (VDMA) and as member of the supervisory board of CMS Berlin.

Thus, his insights and those of his management team are most valuable.

“I am totally convinced that doing more of the same will not do for the future, we have to look at the whole process of cleaning and how it can be optimised,” Asch opined.

Engenhardt  observed, “Some years ago we experienced larger leaps in technology development than we are today. Karcher has always had strong engineering credentials and resources, it had and has a technology bent.

“But even Karcher is seeing the rate at which technology improvements are evolving is now slowing.

“Hence the need to focus on new solutions beyond physical products – new solutions like fleet management. It was more than three years ago that Karcher set-up product management digital solutions – the link between machines and the digital world.”

Asch said that in recognising equipment and supplies can make-up as little as two to three percent of a site’s total cleaning costs means manufacturers have to take their offering a step further forward.

“We can tell our end-user customers to ‘let us understand your business. Let us help you to reduce waste (inefficiencies) in your cleaning and hygiene processes’.

“Fortunately, fleet management systems have quickly proved themselves most valuable in demonstrating how waste can be cut.

“Clients are often shocked at the results of our own Karcher Fleet management program’s data,” emphasised Asch.

In many instances clients had made the wrong assumptions about what was happening on their sites, both in terms of machine and labour activity and practices. There were machines not in use and in some cases machines actually missing.

Transparency leads to a predictive approach

Asch believes we are presently at an ‘intermediate’ stage and, in the near future, suppliers will be in a situation whereby based on site characteristics and machine usage data they can recommend the right solution and/or machine.

“In fact, we can implement a predictive approach from data derived from the knowledge bank,” explained Asch.

Engenhardt further expounded by stating, “benchmarking for clients shows them how to save money and labour.

“And, just as importantly, the level of cleaning quality standards will be raised… and if efficiency is increased then those dollars can be invested in better quality outcomes,” he enthused.

Why does a BSC or other service provider need to tell suppliers what he or she needs?  The data will demonstrate what is needed.

The documentation derived (in real time) from efficient management systems offers a truly transparent solution. For instance, machine manufacturers and their dealers can contact their user clients to inform them that their machine has not yet started on the job, or that time allocated to the cleaner to perform a task is excessive.

Moving to a more general industry observation, Engenhardt said that today the equipment sector focuses on operator safety and comfort, and equipment that’s easy to operate. “The KIK (Karcher Intelligent Key) colour code system introduced in 2011 has proved valuable and successful.

“Using RFID chip keys programmed to the operator and the site – and even different keys for different types of flooring – has delivered superior on-site operation of machines but we are now taking this a great deal further through fleet management.”

Both Asch and Engenhardt are most cognisant of the contracting industry’s ongoing issue of getting and keeping good people. “Finding capable people at all levels and in particular cleaners, is increasingly difficult – cleaner turnover still very high – and so that’s another reason to assist the BSCs in managing their processes on site so that BSCs can concentrate on their business instead,” stated Asch.

Constant design and manufacturing refinements

CMS was an appropriate venue at which to talk with Asch and Engenhardt as the event showed off the constant design and manufacturing refinements in our exciting industry.

“Highly mobile units, battery driven, deliver efficiency and productivity are our equipment sector’s salvation. Cords are productivity killer,” stressed Engenhardt.

Karcher’s impressive stand reflected this company’s constant innovation approach.

“Our commitment today is not simply engineering more efficient and safer machines, we are now very pre-occupied with giving BSCs and other end users true operational transparency and, increasingly, predictive machine purchase decision-making,” concluded Asch.

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