Cleaning trolley trends

27th of January 2015
Cleaning trolley trends

Image, flexibility, sustainability, cost – what are the chief factors driving the trolley market today? Ann Laffeaty finds out.

The trolley market is evolving all the time. A growing emphasis on hygiene and safety has led to a rise in the development of trolleys with enclosed compartments for waste and contaminated materials, for example.

At the same time sustainability has moved higher up the agenda, and this has spawned a generation of durable trolleys made from recyclable materials and components. And as more companies seek to flaunt their corporate image there has been an increasing emphasis on customised trolleys that can be overprinted with logos and slogans.

But how important are issues such as cost, flexibility and ease of use to today’s trolley customers? And what other key trends are influencing the market?

Today’s customers are chiefly seeking trolleys that are cost-effective and simple to use according to Christoph Zimmermann, product development manager at Vileda Professional.

“Many customers request a universal, flexible and cost-competitive trolley,” he said. “However there is also an increase in demand for trolleys for specialised applications where this approach doesn’t work. Examples include the healthcare and hotel services industries, and there is also a growing demand for CE or ‘controlled environment’ trolleys. In this sector customers are looking for a trolley that fits their needs while also ensuring high standards of cleaning.”

He says specialised trolleys need to balance cleaning performance against other key requirements such as hygiene, ergonomics and efficiency.  And in such cases, cost comes lower down the list of priorities. “The more specialised a cleaning task, the less important price-competitiveness becomes,” he said. “Key decision-making factors here will be about efficiency, longevity and flexibility so that the trolley can easily be adapted to suit changing requirements.”

According to Zimmermann there is also a clear trend towards customisation. “The cleaning trolley is the most visible part of the cleaner’s equipment so it should signal professionalism and efficiency,” he said. “For most cleaners the trolley becomes ‘their’ trolley over time and customisation can help to increase their pride in the job and in the equipment they use. And contract cleaners understand that a trolley is a visible carrier of their brand and a vehicle they can use for advertising.”

He says weight is not a dominant factor in the decision-making process. “However, manoeuvrability and safe handling are both key since they enable the cleaner to perform an efficient cleaning job,” he said. “Ease of use goes hand in hand with efficiency and time savings, so this is considered a prerequisite when choosing a trolley. And ease of use includes not only the cleaning process but also the unpacking and assembly.” Vileda’s VoleoPro line of trolleys can be put together by the customer within minutes without the aid of tools, according to Zimmermann.

He adds that other top trolley requirements concern long life and sustainability. “Customers are increasingly asking for a cradle-to-grave concept,” he said. “They want insights on how to rejuvenate a trolley to expand its life, and sometimes they ask for recycled materials to be incorporated into the trolley design.”

According to Zimmermann, many customers today are facing shorter contracts. “In practical terms this means that a trolley once purchased will often be transferred from site A to site B when a contract is terminated,” he said. “This may occur without the trolley having been optimised for the new requirements.”

Trolleys product manager at Vermop Petra Schmitt says innovation, pricing and customisation are key drivers for today’s customers. “In mass business, pricing is very important,” she said. “If the customer is working on a short-term contract of a year or less, a low price will be the main objective. However for hygienic cleaning in hospitals or cleanrooms a certain level of flexibility is very important.”

She says customers are also looking for quality and reliability and in some cases image is a key factor. “In shopping malls, for example, the cleaning company advertises on the trolley,” she says. “Here good branding and a professional look are very important to customers.
“Low weight, ease of use and safety all are factors that the customer sees as a given in today’s trolleys.”

Repair and remodel

She adds customers are increasingly seeking to repair and remodel their trolleys rather than simply replacing them. “A high level of customisation is another increasingly important factor to customers,” she said. “Our Equipe and Shopster trolleys are configured to the customer’s needs to meet this demand, and a growing number of customers ‘brand’ their trolleys with logos plus an exterior design that matches the cleaning environment and gives the trolley a special look.”

Today’s customers demand ergonomics and smart solutions according to managing director of Hygienteknik Stefan Johansson. “They also want the means to impregnate mops directly on the trolley,” he said. “However we believe the most important selling point for customers today is how easy the trolley is to assemble.”

He says low cost and flexibility are other key requirements. “It is also important that the customer saves time,” he adds. “For that reason we offer a trolley on which customers can load everything they need for a full day’s cleaning. This means they can avoid having to go back and refill their trolley later that day.”

He feels that the ‘next big thing’ in the industry will be trolley systems that incorporate disposable cleaning materials alone. “A trolley with no reusable mops and cloths will save a great deal on laundry and transport costs,” he points out.

Johansson agrees with other manufacturers that the look of a trolley is becoming particularly important to customers. Hygienteknik offers printed waste bag covers for its trolleys designed to allow cleaning companies to project their brand or enhance their image. “The cleaning company can change the message on the cover whenever they want,” he said.

He adds that another important consideration is the number of trolleys that can be loaded on to a Euro pallet. “This helps to save money,” he said. “We have been trying to copy Ikea’s flat-pack concept and when developing our trolleys we calculate how many we can we get on to a pallet.”
Environmental matters public relations officer at Kärcher Linda Schrödter says image, ergonomics, modularity and hygiene are all key requirements for today’s trolley customers.

“However, customer requirements are industry-specific,” she adds. “Some customers are constantly looking for lower priced trolleys whereas for others, factors such as safety and image are more important.”

According to Schrödter, flexibility and modularity tend to be key factors for the trolley market worldwide. “The trend towards customised trolleys is also becoming stronger,” she said. “Image is increasingly important and the need to personalise trolleys and use them to advertise the company is growing.”

She adds that weight and ease of use are also crucial. “The more ergonomic a trolley, the more benefits it will bring in terms of cost-saving and the quality of daily maintenance,” she said. “And safety is an important factor in environments such as an airport or railway station to prevent any risks of injury to the public.”

She believes that the growing focus on hygiene is having an impact on the trolley market worldwide. “Trolleys of the future will be more closed; made from plastic and more customised to meet the latest trends in professional cleaning,” she said. “And the next big thing may well be a trolley that comes combined with a machine.”

Enclosed systems

International sales manager for Crisp Clean Services Judy Toes has also seen a greater demand for enclosed systems. “The weight and manoeuvrability of the trolley plus the height of the pushing handle and the height and location of the waste compartments are all key ergonomic considerations,” she said. “But flexibility still remains of utmost importance.”

“Customers have been asking for bespoke systems for many years and this trend continues,” said Toes. “Many customers need to be able to offer a unique system to their customers.”

Marketing manager for Tecno Trolley Systems Mirko Zen says the main driving factor in the market today is the functionality of multipurpose trolleys. “A mobile working station must be designed to fulfil the needs of the specific situation,” he said. “The key words are customisation and modular design, and we turn our trolleys into complete cleaning systems according to our customers’ needs.”

He says other relevant factors include durability, weight, sustainability and the flexibility to perform new functions once the original service is over. “Image is also becoming more important, though this impacts more on end-users than on distributors,” he said. “Contract cleaners and facility management companies increasingly value the ability to brand their trolleys to turn them into an effective marketing tool that helps with company identification.

“Nowadays the results of such customisation have improved thanks to modern digital printing techniques that speed up and simplify the operation. This means that customers can incorporate elements such as website addresses, contact details, logos, slogans and images on to their trolley.”

He says factors such as weight and ease of use also play a fundamental role. “Safety is another relevant factor since a trolley should have rounded plastic corners to prevent any possibility of snags or cuts, plus lockable drawers and compartments to prevent any user contact with equipment or any risk that a third party could tamper with them.”

He says the demand for more sustainable trolley solutions is a relatively new trend. “A long life span and the use of recyclable plastics are among the environmentally-friendly features that add value to our customised trolleys,” said Zen.

And he feels the next big thing will be on-demand pre-impregnation for mopping systems.  “Customers today want to achieve water and detergent savings,” he said. “They also want flexible systems that can assure high levels of hygiene while also reducing costs. We can meet these demands with our new mop pre-impregnation systems situated on the operator’s trolley. We believe this will be the next step in the evolution of trolley systems.”


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