ECJ looks back on 20 years - Peter Ankerstjerne, ISS

21st of March 2013
ECJ looks back on 20 years - Peter Ankerstjerne, ISS

ECJ celebrates its 20th birthday this month. To celebrate our birthday we look back at the key trends affecting the industry over the last 20 years, with the help of some of the best-known names in the industry. Today, Peter Ankerstjerne of ISS.

Over the past 20 years the cleaning industry has become more professionalised while new technologies, regulations and customer requirements have reshaped the business.

Contracts have been consolidated into global, regional and national deals and moving towards bundling of services. General awareness of the need for sustainability has been accelerating and is becoming more important, and will continue to be so in the next decade. Sustainability challenges include energy usage, water and waste management and indoor ecology.

The continued increase in the delivery of integrated facility services has become increasingly demanded by customers across the globe. Cleaning services is an important part of the Integrated facility services delivery and a key platform for integration with our other services.

Improved training, development and career opportunities for management and operatives and improved engagement with employees generating motivation and retention has also been a step forward.

Customers have become smarter about sustainability and look more actively for sustainable solutions. They will continue to become more interested in how the products and the services they buy are produced and delivered. It has become a key factor that the services are delivered in a responsible way.

More research done within greener cleaning has led to positive changes in the cleaning industry. For instance, by using more innovative cleaning machines, technologies such as microfibres and by use of environmentally friendly cleaning products, it is now possible to make sizeable reductions in the amount of water and cleaning chemicals consumption.

In addition, through more effective equipment and materials, the level of efficiency is much higher than some years ago.

Innovation plays a key role for example within ergonomic cleaning equipment which helps to ensure employees’ health and their well-being.

Another important positive change has been the shift from night time to day time cleaning which has benefitted from reduction of use of lights and heat which reduce energy consumption and emissions.

The industry has needed to improve its standards of professionalism and adjust to a much more competitive environment. In addition, the industry has been lacking cross border cooperation in terms of innovation and training and education of management and front line workers.

Fortunately, there is an increase in the prevalence of training. This has helped to improve engagement and lead to ‘sense of purpose’. People are beginning to see the possibilities of cleaning as a career instead of just a job.  There will be a reinforcement of the awareness that people are key in cleaning services and processes.

I would like to see the industry continuing to bring cleaning and green cleaning on the agenda. Moreover, I would like to see that the industry continues to move forward in producing innovative certified and environmentally friendly products, as well as ergonomically friendly equipment. Such equipment supports better working methods, health and the well-being of employees and it can also have a positive effect in enabling elderly employees to stay even longer in their job.

No doubt that the cleaning industry will evolve over the coming decade. The sustainability challenge is a moving target and includes new challenges for which we are currently unaware. It has become a key factor that services are delivered in a responsible way. Quality and decency is critical in our business, even more so than price and efficiency. It is essential for the cleaning industry to consider keywords like image, resource consumption and health and safety. All of them have a positive effect on the bottom line.

One of the major trends for the future will be a greater use of IT-based systems to optimise cleaning especially to communicate with staff and enable more ‘self-service’ and interaction. I think we should expect to see more widespread use of robotic equipment over the next 20 years. I also think that chemical technology will be improved in terms of their effectiveness and impact to the environment and also new types of chemicals within bio- and nano technology is still in its early days and in time could lead to improvements.


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