"Warehouses are taking proactive steps to keep their place clean"

  • Interviews
  • Sep 30,22
Huge amount of products going in and out of the warehouses automatically translate into dust, debris, dirty floors, soiled racks, dusty walls & ceilings with cobwebs. In this interview, Samir Sabu, Director, Soma Specialities Pvt Ltd, explains the importance of having neat & clean warehouses to attract customers and benefits offered by the company’s mechanised cleaning machines to the industries.

Huge amount of products going in and out of the warehouses automatically translate into dust, debris, dirty floors, soiled racks, dusty walls & ceilings with cobwebs. In this interview, Samir Sabu, Director, Soma Specialities Pvt Ltd, explains the importance of having neat & clean warehouses to attract customers and benefits offered by the company’s mechanised cleaning machines to the industries.

Kindly brief us about Soma Specialities.

The company started manufacturing floor cleaning machines back in 1992, but our journey in the cleaning industry began way back in the 1970s when we started taking housekeeping contracts in factories. Since there was no machine available for cleaning in those days, our technocrat Founder & Managing Director saw an opportunity and developed the first single disc floor scrubber CYCLON FM-240 in India in 1992. From thereon began our journey of backward integration and since then we have developed the largest range of floor cleaning machines in India for every application indigenously.

We have our own range of floor cleaning machines such as single disc scrubbers, floor scrubber dryers, industrial vacuum cleaners and mopping machines. We also have acquired dealerships of internationally reputed manufacturers for their range of specialised cleaning machines such as road sweeping machines, high pressure jet cleaners, concrete floor grinding machines etc. which allow us to provide a complete range of cleaning machines and solutions to our customers for their various cleaning applications.

Our customers come from varied industries such as manufacturing, warehousing and logistics, pharmaceuticals, educational institutions, hotels, hospitals, airports, railway stations, public sector units, shopping malls, commercial offices, residential complexes, etc. There is no place which can do without mechanised cleaning systems in present times. Since our foray into manufacturing in 1992, our current production unit located at the outskirts of Mumbai is the 4th manufacturing plant where we moved in 2009.

Our turnaround came in 2007 when a leading manufacturer in cleaning machines from Germany called Karcher approached us to design, develop and manufacture a specific floor cleaning machine for them. Having found us capable to helm such a prestigious project for them was a huge validation for us but they also wanted us to increase our production capacity to meet their volume requirements. So, we moved to our present manufacturing plant in 2009 and added state-of-the-art manufacturing & testing equipment to increase our production capacity with additional assembly lines. Thanks to our good reputation, today our core customers include 5 multinational companies out of which 4 are from Europe for whom we do OEM manufacturing. Apart from this, our own brand CYCLON also sells well in the market and we are exporting our products to international markets in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and South America. We feel a great sense of pride to say that we are the largest manufacturers of single disc floor cleaning machines in India.

What are the unique features of your cleaning machines?

In addition to our biggest USP of being 100% Make in India brand, our experience as a housekeeping contractor has helped us immensely as we ourselves were users of cleaning machines at one time. So, our machines are designed and produced keeping the Indian conditions and users in mind. For example, sometimes the floors can be a bit uneven or the power supply might face fluctuations, in which case, our machines are designed to handle such situations. Our machines are made of high quality materials so that they are more durable & robust enough to be operated in rugged Indian conditions.

Generally, the operators using cleaning machines are not formally trained or skilled operators. So we keep in mind not to use sophisticated systems and keep the machine as simple as possible for the operator. This also helps us keep the costs down and reduce dependency on expensive spare parts. We believe that simplicity is the key for longer life of the machine and ease in maintaining the machine and keeping the after-sales costs to a bare minimum. Easy availability of spares at economical prices gives us an added advantage.

How are you serving the warehousing sector?

Warehousing sector has become increasingly aware about hygiene and cleanliness. Cleaning needs in a warehouse can be broadly categorised by the kind of applications including floor sweeping, dust collection from the racks as well as ceilings, clearing cobwebs from walls & ceilings high up, spillages collection, removal of dirt and floor care and sweeping of the outdoor area of warehouses, which if controlled minimises the dust inside the warehouses. These basic applications can find solution in the form of floor cleaning machines such as walk behind scrubber dryers & ride on scrubber dryers for cleaning & maintaining the floors, sweeping machines such as mechanical or battery driven ride on sweepers for indoor & outdoor road sweeping & heavy duty vacuum cleaners which can be used for wet or dry pick up applications for cleaning the racks, inventory packages, cobwebs removal from the walls and ceilings, clearing the floors from litter & liquid spillages etc.

Oil spillages and tyre marks from forklifts etc, require aggressive and regular cleaning with floor cleaning machines. Any delay in attending to this need often leads to a dense dirt accumulation on the floors. In warehousing management, although material movement is the top priority, but proper identification of the cleaning equipment helps in achieving overall cleanliness in warehouses.

Is modernization of warehouses aiding the demand for mechanised cleaning machines?

Yes, absolutely. India’s traditional go-downs with little or no maintenance are evolving into modern warehouses categorised neatly into industry specific segments and these modern warehouses are welcoming appropriate mechanised cleaning solutions for their upkeep. Locations of warehouses are strategically located near the highways around transport hubs on the outskirts of the cities. The huge amount of products going in and out of the warehouses automatically translate into dust, debris, dirty floors, soiled racks, dusty walls & ceilings with cobwebs.

Nowadays, the management team of warehouses realises the importance of having neat & clean interiors and green and clean exterior to attract their customers. A properly managed housekeeping team can deliver miraculous results in maintaining any warehouse. For an auditor, it’s easy to look for observations related to housekeeping since non-performance is clearly visible during the walkthrough of any audit. Continuous cleaning operation is the key to maintenance. Movement of huge equipment in the premises may mean tough stains on the floor.

Since the boom of e-commerce business, warehouses are supposed to be very particular about cleanliness. The inventories that are being sent out are also supposed to be spotless clean or else they can be returned back to the seller. In order to eliminate such occurrences, warehouses are taking proactive steps to keep their place clean. The business that we are specifically receiving from the warehousing sector is increasing every year by over 100%.

How is the market for cleaning machines?

Market for cleaning machines has picked up momentum since the past 10-15 years. It has been increasing ever since. Shortage of labour coupled with increased awareness of hygiene at the workplace has made automation in the cleaning industry a must needed option for corporates which has resulted in increased demand for the cleaning machines. Companies are willing to spend on bigger machines for keeping their workplace clean and presentable. Due to the pandemic, initial importance was given on sanitisation activities but corporates understand that if the workplace is kept clean and hygienic, sanitisation is not required as much, and mechanisation of cleaning work is the way forward.

Could please elaborate more on some of your recent launches?

We launched our newest walk behind scrubber dryer in September 2021 and we have received promising feedback for its performance & contributed to our company sales. In larger areas such as warehouses, it would neither be feasible nor be economical to use multiple machines with multiple operators, so using a scrubber dryer which can clean and dry the floor simultaneously is the best option.

More than 50% of our direct sales for these machines is coming from warehousing sector across India apart from our OEM customers. We also launched some new variants of our industrial vacuum cleaners. One such variant of our industrial vacuum cleaner is used for sweeping large areas of warehouses or production areas like a sweeper where the dust or waste is scattered throughout the plant. Since a sweeper cannot pick up minute dust particles, using this machine solves the problem of picking up dust or waste.

We have also provided heavy duty vacuum cleaners which can be used for cleaning the ceilings as high as 50 ft above. We are able to customise the vacuum machines as per our customer’s requirements for any application in industries such as metallurgical, flame proof, textile, food, automobiles, service centres etc. 

What is your outlook for the company in 2022-23?

After the initial slump due to lockdown during the second phase of Covid wave, we saw a huge demand for cleaning machines and by the end of FY 2021-22, we had surpassed our pre-Covid sales. The same trend seems to continue as we are set to achieve our previous year’s sales within the first 8 months of the current FY.

Power cuts & frequent lockdowns in China have affected their supplies to the western world as well as in India so domestic & local customers are approaching us to fulfil their requirements. Accordingly, we have been expanding our production capacity and adding new production lines to meet the demands of our customers. We are also introducing newer variants of floor cleaning machines & vacuum cleaners to suit wider customer base so this will also improve our sales figures eventually.


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