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How jolly is your cleaning trolley?5th of December 2012
How important is a cleaning trolley’s appearance in today’s image-conscious society? Do customers really care about how attractive their trolleys look, or are they more concerned about other factors such as practicality and price? Ann Laffeaty finds out.
As we all know, the main point of a cleaning trolley is to transport equipment, materials and hygiene products to their point of use. But in areas where daytime cleaning is carried out, trolleys are on constant show to the public. And a trolley laden with buckets, mops and other cleaning equipment – and maybe piled high with boxes, cloths and trigger sprays – can be an unsightly mess.
After several hours’ use, too, a typical trolley is likely to house various other insalubrious items such as used mop heads, soiled cleaning cloths, dirty water and waste.
Trolley manufacturers work hard to provide products that are practical, compact, lightweight, easy to load and easy to push. But how much emphasis do they place on the appearance of their trolleys? With an increased focus on daytime cleaning and corporate image, are aesthetics beginning to matter more? Or do customers simply not care how their trolleys look?
Kärcher ensures that its trolleys have an attractive appearance to complement the company’s corporate image according to environmental matters public relations officer Annette Ostertag. “All used mop pads and cloths are collected in a separate laundry net in the trolley, and this has an additional lid to shield it from view and prevent any contact with the user,” she said. “When the job has been completed the entire net and contents are then simply removed and washed in a washing machine.
“Pre-conditioned mop pads that have been saturated with detergent or disinfectant are also stored in a closed compartment in order to avoid direct contact with skin.”
However, she says aesthetics are not usually the customer’s first concern when choosing a trolley. “Naturally the appearance of cleaning equipment is important, above all when it is used during public opening hours,” she said. “Nonetheless customers place far greater emphasis on a trolley that is ergonomically designed and easy to operate. They look for features like convenient handling, high quality materials, durability and price."
She says customers are increasingly seeking modular systems that allow the trolley to be adapted as precisely as possible to their own requirements. “This has a beneficial effect on the price as well,” she says. “Customised solutions manufactured for a single customer are seldom necessary now.”
Kärcher’s latest trolley systems include the First Liner, Clean Liner and Clean Liner Classic trolley versions of the company’s Eco!Cleaning System.
Managing director of Hygienteknik Stefan Johansson says his company also strives to make its trolleys as easy on the eye as possible. “We have accessories that shield the used cloths and mops from view, for example,” he said. “We also offer private brand trolleys for our partner customers. These might incorporate printed washing bags and attractive stickers, and they will also have plenty of space for the customer’s daily cleaning needs to avoid the trolley appearing too overcrowded.”
He says the company uses a combination of metal and plastic parts to complement each other. “Blue and red are popular trolley colours, but we notice that some companies may use two or three different shades of blue or red on one trolley,” he said. “Instead of trying to match blues and reds, we substitute these with anthracite grey sections that are marked with colour-coded symbols.”
He says attractive trolleys are of particular importance to Hygienteknik’s northern European customers. “In Scandinavia we are able to sell more products on design and durability than in southern Europe, for example, where cost is the main focus,” he said.
Among the company’s latest products is the Activa Method Control System which incorporates a micro-computer that allows the operator to choose how much liquid to use with the mop.
According to Johansson, customers often ask for bespoke trolleys adapted to their specific requirements. “Our philosophy is that the customer should be able to build the trolley they want,” he said. “Other customer requirements include compact design, a long life cycle and an article number for every component to allow them to easily order replacement parts.”
Marketing manager of Tecno Trolley System (TTS) Paola Zorzo says his company has observed an increasing interest in attractive trolleys across all customer segments. “Nowadays everyone is looking for more attractive products since image is important for cleaning contractors and their customers, whether these are hotels, hospitals, schools or shopping centres,” he said. “Think about how a patient may feel when walking along a hospital corridor and seeing an ugly trolley, and than a smart one. The same applies to guests in a hotel or shoppers.”
The company uses colour, design and attention to detail to increase the attractiveness of its trolleys, says Zorzo. Lids and compartments are used to mask smells and unsightly contents. “With a growing emphasis on daytime cleaning, customers are increasingly demanding trolleys that look good – but they also want trolleys that are ergonomic, safe, hygienic, modular, durable, recyclable, easy to use, easy to keep clean, efficient and cost-saving."
TTS’ Magic trolley is claimed to be the first multipurpose line of trolleys to be made completely of polypropylene. “This has a smart design and harmonious lines, and we can print with a four-colour process directly on the doors and sides of the trolley,” said Zorzo.
Aesthetics are also important to Crisp Clean Services customers according to international sales manager Judy Toes. “We have always understood the need for trolleys to be aesthetically pleasing, and along with the functionality and ergonomics of the trolley we have made aesthetics a key considerations during the design process,” she said.
Customers appreciate the provision of part or fully-enclosed storage, says Toes. “Over recent years the need for enclosed systems has increased, and our new Nipper Plus system offers secure storage and detachable enclosed units,” she said. Lids and heavy-duty plastic-coated waste sacks are also available for buckets in order to shield waste.
According to Toes many customers are seeking bespoke trolleys in order to be able to offer a unique system to their end customers. “Tailoring systems can be as simple as adding accessories or components to a standard trolley base, or as extensive as manufacturing a completely different system based on the customer's individual requirements,” she said.
Crisp Clean Services offers a range of systems from simple single-bucket flat mopping systems to multifunction hygiene dosing trolleys that can carry many mops and segregate three different forms of waste.
According to Vermop product manager Petra Schmitt, an attractive design can be a key selling point for customers. “Professional equipment helps to build respect for the cleaner’s work and instil public confidence in a hygienic result,” she said. “It also helps our customers to build a professional image with their own clients.”
Among the latest trolleys from Vermop is the compact, modular Shopster which incorporates closed compartments for housing cleaning chemicals and textiles. Lids are available for most trolleys and buckets in the Vermop range. Schmitt says there are many other criteria that are of major importance to customers - priorities change not only from customer to customer, but also from engagement to engagement.
“Cost is often more important than design where short-term contracts are concerned,” says Schmitt. “Hygiene is crucial in hospitals and nursing homes, and here the customer will also require closed compartments and lockable functions to shield passers-by from chemicals and textiles. Compact design has always been important in more restricted environments where there are no cleaning cupboards, or where the trolley needs to be transported by lift.
“And sufficient space on a trolley is a major requirement in environments where large items of cleaning equipment plus supplies such as tissues, soap etc need to be accommodated.”
But she adds that the importance of aesthetics should not be under-estimated. “Design is one of our all-time goals,” she said. “A well-designed trolley immediately makes the cleaning staff appear more professional. And many contract cleaners find that they can win contracts with an attractive cleaning system.”