ICE is the UK’s largest independent provider of industrial cleaning machines. We pride ourselves on the unique service we offer our customers, providing everything from equipment purchase or rental to asset management and maintenance.
Julie Kitchener, Head of Customer Service & Marketing at Industrial Cleaning Equipment (ICE), speaks to Warehouse & Logistics News.
Julie, you have been in your role of Head of Customer Service & Marketing at ICE for over a year now, how has your role changed on a day to day basis?
I have gone from being purely focused on marketing activities to running a Customer Service team of 35 alongside continuing the marketing responsibilities, so it’s changed dramatically that’s for sure!
I love the variety, fast pace, and new challenges that every day brings. Plus, I’m lucky enough to have a fantastic team of people who are committed to the business and extremely hard working and supportive.
Bring us up to date with things at ICE.
Like many businesses, as the situation started to intensify throughout March it was clear that our business plan for 2020 was going to be materially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. ICE have always operated a very agile and flexible business model – it’s one of our strongest USP’s – so we immediately set out developing a range of equipment to support with sanitisation and infection control to aid our customers in the fight against the virus.
We recently launched ‘A Clean Start’ – an offer with a variety of products to help combat the virus, but also to measure “clean” in ways such as ATP testing. Our teams have worked tirelessly to bring this to life in a very short space of time and have supported many NHS contracts and facilities as well as our long-standing FM and Contract Cleaning customers.
What new products are you offering your customers for 2020?
Aside of our successful ‘A Clean Start’ program, we have just launched our highly anticipated Co-Botics line – the industry’s first comprehensive range of autonomous cleaning machines. We believe these innovations will help shape the way cleaning operations and functions are carried out in the future, but in a collaborative and cohesive way. We have to think differently, and we have to change, if nothing changes then simply put, nothing changes…
Our Co-Botics equipment has been designed to integrate into cleaning team operations, picking up the manual and repetitive tasks, which will then allow operators to focus on hygiene and sanitising activities to promote cleaner and safer environments. It’s not about replacing people it’s about embracing technology to deliver higher cleaning standards, infection control and ‘proof of clean’.
Co-Botics is a very natural and progressive way of how we can help support and deliver these measures and improve wellbeing for hygienic environments – to Co-Exist, to Collaborate, and to work Cohesively within the workplace to drive standards, efficiency and sterility.
The system is as close to human activity as anything available. It is extremely intelligent and can be fully operated, controlled, and managed by the teams on site. The SMART features ensure the delivery of the following key requirements when using autonomous equipment in day to day cleaning activities:
•Safety and efficiency – safe, consistent, and easy to map and control.
•Intelligent – it will clean any area without the need for technical intervention.
•Environmentally friendly – water recycling capabilities and a run time of up to 5 hours.
•Proof of clean – fully integrated telemetry and cloud-based reporting on a clean by clean basis.
Co-Botics can be simply and easily incorporated into existing or new cleaning operations in almost any kind of environment – commercial, transport, warehousing manufacturing or distribution, healthcare, retail, hotels, hospitality and many more.
One of our major customers, OCS Group, certainly sees the value in introducing Co-Botics within their cleaning operations. Yvonne Taylor, Head of Cleaning for UK, Ireland and Middle East at OCS said, “Having been part of ICE’s development of robotics in the UK we know they have the credentials and infrastructure to take this technology to the wider market.
In my opinion, it looks like their new Co-Botics equipment meets many of the growing applications where autonomous equipment would benefit both the economic and hygiene requirements escalated by this pandemic.
I particularly like the term Co-Botics and philosophy that this technology will collaborate with human resource to deliver the levels of sanitation the world now demands; whilst complementing appropriate distancing.”
What are the biggest challenges facing ICE and your industry?
We believe that the hygiene anxiety created from COVID-19 will certainly impact the way in which cleaning is carried out in the future.
It’s highly likely that there will be a greater demand for ‘proof of clean’ as businesses will need to prove to both employees and visitors that their facilities are hygienic and safe. They will be looking for guidance from the cleaning industry around the activities that should be carried out to ensure standards are met. This will enable them to provide a guarantee to their customers that their facilities are safe to visit.
As we have seen through the media recently, the profile and importance of cleaners and the cleaning industry as a whole has increased dramatically. I believe that this will continue, and the public will look to cleaners as the visible resource within buildings to give confidence that all environments are clean and sanitised. Daytime and visible cleaning will offer confidence that important tasks are not only being conducted but carried out regularly.
And finally, I strongly believe that the use of automation in cleaning will continue to gain traction, and businesses will see the benefit of Co-Bots working alongside their cleaning teams.
Do you cover the whole of the UK?
Yes, we have facilities in Southampton, Peterborough, Runcorn, and Wales, plus a team of 40 engineers nationwide.
What trade shows can we expect to see ICE exhibiting at in the next year?
We will be at The Cleaning Show and IMHX next year, and we look forward to meeting you all there!
Industrial Cleaning Equipment (ICE)
0800 389 3869