Trending on your trolley

12th of January 2022
Trending on your trolley
Trending on your trolley

What do customers want most from their cleaning trolley? And how far have their requirements changed over recent years? Ann Laffeaty asks manufacturers about the trolley trends driving the industry and finds out what lies behind them.

Cleaning trolleys - just like everything else - are subject to fluctuations in fashion. And it is usually societal changes that determine what customers are likely to want most from their trolley.

For example, factors such as low cost and high levels of productivity become particularly important during an economic crisis. When environmental issues start to hit the headlines there is often an uptick in demand for sustainable products that are made from recyclable materials or that make life easier for the cleaner.

And upmarket and aesthetically-pleasing trolleys tend to become particularly sought-after during times of prosperity. So, what influences are shaping the trolley market today?

Unsurprisingly, the issues of health and safety have come to the fore in the wake of the global pandemic, according to IPC’s content marketing and social media manager Chiara Molardi. “The
chief aim of manufacturers now is to prevent the spread of germs and cross-contamination,” she said. “This means safety and hygiene have become key requirements both for the operator and for the wider public.”

She adds that sustainability and ergonomics are also important – but that these can go hand in hand with health and safety. “Ergonomic trolleys will help to reduce operator effort while also ensuring maximum efficiency,” she said. “We also need to respect the environment by coming up with sustainable solutions that promote the use of recycled materials.”

She has also noted a growing trend for compact and manoeuvrable trolleys, although customer requirements can vary from facility to facility. “A compact design will aid easy movement in smaller facilities, for example, whereas in environments such as hotels it is useful to have a trolley with closed compartments to keep the spare linen clean and fresh,” she said. “And where frequent sanitisation is required it is often useful to incorporate a pre-impregnation system.”

Practicality and functionality are key requirements of any product, she says. “A trolley needs to be able to incorporate all the necessary equipment for daily cleaning to maximise labour time,” said Molardi. “Trolleys play a fundamental role in cleaning and need to be lightweight, versatile, ergonomic and easy to use. In fact we find the term ‘trolley’ a bit reductive because we consider these products as 360° mobile workstations that are both easily accessible and customisable.”

Ergonomics are IPC’s main focus during the product creation stage, says Molardi. “A modular design is also important because it allows the trolley to be adapted in flexible ways to meet the customer’s needs,” she says. “And a trolley should be both easy to use and quick to assemble.”

Modular design

The company has observed a growing interest in connectivity, she adds. “Some manufacturers are thinking about smart solutions, and we ourselves have received a number of requests for trolleys that can be integrated with electronic devices such as tablets and smartphones,” said Molardi.“However in our opinion the timing is a little premature.”

Made from recycled plastics, IPC’s new Pre-Treated trolleys come equipped with holders to accommodate sanitiser gel bottles, gloves, masks and the operator’s own work plan. The units are available in tailor-made configurations and can include a waste bag, extra buckets or drawers plus pre-impregnated microfibre mops.

Kärcher’s senior manual tools director Michele Redi agrees with Molardi that the pandemic has impacted on customers’ trolley requirements. “In fact, people are changing their attitudes towards cleaners in general,” he said.

“Cleaning team members are now being seen as hygiene operators whose role it is to guarantee the cleanliness levels of facilities. And trolleys have become an important tool in their armoury because they allow the operator to perform tasks efficiently and effectively, with increased frequency and to higher standards than they did before Covid-19.”

Ease of use

Specific customer requirements depend on the area to be cleaned, he adds. “But in general most customers demand ease of use, a high level of cleaning efficiency and ergonomics,” says Redi. “Sustainable features - such as the use of recycled plastic – are also important in order to meet customers’ ‘green’ requirements. And people are increasingly seeking an attractive design that takes the trolley to the next level.”

He says modularity is another crucial requirement. “The customer should be able to customise their trolley to meet their own needs, and have the option to re-configure it if the tender changes simply by removing or replacing some components,” he said.

Smart features and connectivity are becoming a growing trend, according to Redi. “At the moment we see mainly larger companies seeking to connect their equipment, and this applies to trolleys as well as cleaning machines,” he said. “And ergonomics are also becoming increasingly important. A trolley should be a helper tool - not a transportation unit that becomes a burden for the cleaner.

“We therefore adapt most of the frequently-used parts of our trolleys so that they fit well with the operator’s natural body posture in order to reduce the possibility of health issues.” Kärcher
is poised to launch a new range of trolleys claimed to be durable and versatile while also meeting today’s hygiene, sustainability, ergonomic, design and productivity requirements.

TTS has also noted an increased demand for trolleys with a hygienic design, according to export sales manager Alessandro Costantini. “The pandemic has led to calls for equipment that can reduce the risk of spreading viruses,” he said. “The choice of raw materials has an influence on hygiene levels: for example, it is impossible to thoroughly clean and disinfect products made from medium or low-density plastic due to their textured profile and high porosity.”

He says the issues of sustainability and ergonomics have also gained in importance in recent years. “There is a growing awareness that the health and wellbeing of operators can be safeguarded by equipping them with user-friendly trolleys,” he said. “Choosing suitable, ergonomically-designed equipment helps to avoid the risk of accidents and occupational injuries.”

He agrees with other commentators that customer demand reflects the environment in which cleaning takes place. “Hospitals and clinics require trolleys that are easy to clean and disinfect to reduce the risk of cross-contamination, for example,” said Costantini.

“And hotels and guesthouses need products that can facilitate room cleaning and linen collection while also guaranteeing maximum discretion. Trolleys should adapt to the environment in which they operate, and not vice-versa.”

Easy to clean

When designing a trolley the company’s main focus is on modularity, he says. “Components should be able to be customised to suit the environment because this will allow the operator to work more quickly and efficiently, which will in turn reduce costs.”

TTS Magic trolleys feature smooth, easy-to-clean surfaces and can be customised to suit any environment, according to Costantini. Made using high-density polypropylene, they feature adjustable handles plus a quick-release mop frame that avoids the need for operators to handle any contaminated equipment.

Trolleys have played a key role during the global pandemic, according to Filmop’s export area manager Paolo Scapinello. “The market is focusing on solutions that ensure a high level of hygiene and tackle cross-contamination, and trolleys are fundamental in helping to achieve hygienic and sanitary conditions,” he said.

Like other manufacturers he claims that ergonomics and sustainability have both become significant trolley trends over recent years. “The market is now aware that a functional and easy-to-use trolley can help to improve working conditions and reduce the incidence of occupational diseases along with related costs,” he said.

“Customers have therefore started to seek lightweight, user-friendly trolleys that facilitate cleaning and reduce the operator effort. And there has been a growing demand for green solutions that lessen the impact on ecosystems.”

He claims that modularity, ergonomics and sustainability are all keywords for Filmop when designing a trolley. But connectivity is less important, he adds. “While the market may welcome smart features, these are not yet proving to be a deciding factor for purchasers.”

All Filmop trolleys feature easy-to-clean non-porous surfaces, while the company’s Alpha A-B Plus trolleys are treated with antibacterial coatings to prevent cross-contamination, he says. They are made with certified PSV - Plastic Second Life components and are said to be lightweight and user-friendly.

Constant evolution

So it appears that hygiene, ergonomics and sustainability are all key trends today. But how will tomorrow’s market develop? According to Kärcher’s Michele Redi there will be no one specific “next big thing”. “It is more about the intelligent combination of different factors such as ease of use, cleaning efficiency, ergonomics, sustainability and an attractive design,” he said.

IPC’s Chiara Molardi adds the trolley industry is in constant evolution. “Over the next few years we believe that new products will increasingly be designed with the user in mind for maximum efficiency and minimum operator effort,” she said. “And the concept of sustainability will become increasingly relevant as manufacturers look to offer innovative solutions with a reduced environmental impact.”

And TTS’s Alessandro Costantini says it will be the market itself that determines how tomorrow’s trolleys evolve. “The challenge for the future will be to assess new and emerging needs and to develop professional solutions that can meet them,” he said.


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