From 14 to 17 May 2024, RAI Amsterdam will transform into the capital of cleaning and hygiene during Interclean Amsterdam; the place to get an overview of business opportunities in the professional cleaning industry. The show offers cleaning products and solutions, inspiring sessions on cutting-edge topics and the technology of the future. In preparation for Interclean Amsterdam, we take a look at the future of the industry with exhibitors participating in the event.
In this Exhibitor in The Spotlight, we talk with Nexaro about the company, what you can expect from them at Interclean, the biggest trends and challenges in the cleaning industry, and the role sustainability and digitalisation play in their business.
Can you provide an overview of Nexaro?
Nexaro is a technology start-up founded in 2020 and based in Wuppertal, Germany. With the Nexaro NR 1500 and its Nexaro HUB software solution, Nexaro markets and sells a system solution certified for commercial cleaning purposes. The focus is on the Nexaro cobotic approach: a true collaboration between humans and state-of-the-art robot technology, which not only enables an increase in efficiency and quality while reducing costs, but also lowers the workload of cleaning staff.
As an independent start-up within the Vorwerk Group, Nexaro is currently focusing on the markets of Germany, Austria, and Benelux as well as Finland, Denmark, and Sweden. The expansion into further European markets is planned for mid-2024.
What will you be showcasing at Interclean Amsterdam?
At Interclean in Amsterdam, we will be offering insights into how our innovative cobotic solution can not only be a potential solution to the cleaning industry's biggest problems, but can also transform the job profile of cleaning professionals. Interested parties can therefore visit us, test the Nexaro NR 1500 and the Nexaro HUB directly at our booth, and be convinced first-hand of the benefits of our cobotic system solution.
Who are you interested in meeting at the event?
As a start-up, we consider exchange within the rest of the industry to be essential. It is particularly important for us to build and expand existing relationships with customers, distributors, and partners, but also to expand our network. We look forward to exchanging ideas and networking with journalists and further interested parties.
What do you feel are the biggest trends in the industry currently?
As we already saw at other trade shows this year, the industry is shifting toward digital solutions. In this context, robotics plays an essential role. Many companies are already focusing on the use of autonomous or semi-autonomous systems. However, we do not see robots as a mere substitute for cleaning specialists. Instead, we see genuine cooperation between humans and machines as a key trend.
What do you feel is/are the biggest challenges in the industry currently?
One challenge within professional cleaning is the labour shortage, as shown by the results of a representative survey of decision-makers in cleaning companies that we commissioned. At present, 91% of respondents identify the lack of qualified personnel as one of the major challenges. In a particularly labour-intensive industry, general bottlenecks in the labour market have a particularly strong impact. The cleaning industry is also undergoing a profound upheaval: in addition to the labour shortage, the enormous pressure on margins and the high physical strain on cleaning staff continue to confront the industry with growing challenges.
How is new technology helping you to overcome these challenges?
Traditional cleaning, involving high staffing levels, has led the industry into a dead end. This is because companies precisely need these staff to achieve a high turnover. However, due to the current situation in the labour market and the negative reputation of the profession, this is not possible. One way out of this impasse is offered by robotics, which has the potential to solve both the staffing bottlenecks and the profitability pressure for cleaning companies.
This is where the Nexaro cobotic system solution comes in: the burden of work on cleaning staff is eased by having the robot autonomously take over the monotonous and particularly strenuous dry floor cleaning. This allows staff to concentrate on carrying out more demanding tasks. Using the robot at any time of the day or night also reduces work during off-peak hours, which can contribute to changing the image of the cleaning profession.
The use of the Nexaro NR 1500 can be controlled individually and as needed via the Nexaro HUB. Model calculations show a cost reduction of around 35% compared to conventional structures with traditional staff deployment. Nexaro's approach is based on the principle of supplementing rather than replacing.
What trends over the last couple of years have become mainstream in your company?
As a young start-up founded in 2020, we look back on a short company history. Our competencies lie in the areas of robotics, digital tools, and innovation. Accordingly, we as a company operate on digital structures. Now, the task is accelerating innovation developments with a view to addressing the urgently needed digital transformation within the industry.
What trends do you think will dominate your sector in 2023-2024?
We continue to see sustainable, innovative, digital, and autonomous developments as important drivers of change within the industry. This is because the challenges in the market will likely persist, meaning that cleaning companies will be dependent on the use of autonomous digital structures in the future.
In addition, we assume that robotics will increasingly become a trend as a means of supplement and support – and this assumption is supported by the figures of our representative study, according to which 87% of the decision-makers in the industry consider the cooperation of man and machine to be expedient, while 36% percent even regard this collaboration as very expedient.
How important is sustainability to your organisation?
As part of the Vorwerk Group, it is also essential for us to operate in a climate-conscious manner. Among other things, we comply with social sustainability criteria (LkSG compliance) along the whole length of the supply chain. In our quality-, environment- and energy-certified production facility, we have not only reduced our use of materials but recycle as much as we currently can, in addition to using 100% green electricity. Our packaging is also FSC certified and as far as possible made of recyclable and recycled as well as biodegradable materials.
Through optimised component designs, we enable both resource-saving and weight-optimised use of materials as well as the easy separation of materials for subsequent recycling. Durability is also a decisive factor for our products. The modular design of our autonomous robot vacuum cleaner simplifies the repair of devices. The interplay of the various measures for the sustainable design of the product thus implies resource-conserving and energy-efficient cleaning with Nexaro.
What impact is digitalisation having on your sector?
Digitalisation is having a significant impact on the professional cleaning industry as digital solutions enable a significant increase in efficiency and make the cleaning processes much more flexible. Nevertheless, digitalisation is still in its infancy within the industry and currently cannot keep up with other sectors that are much further ahead. However, the cleaning industry can learn from digital pioneers about the opportunities digitisation brings, but also what challenges may lie ahead. In the cleaning industry, digital gadgets must be easy to use, require minimal instruction, and fit smoothly into the daily routine of staff.
To be able to establish themselves within the industry in the long term, it is most important that digital tools support and unburden, which in turn has an enormous impact on the working conditions of staff. The use of vacuum robots controlled by management software such as the Nexaro HUB serves as an example here. By using it, the cleaning tasks of the vacuum robots can be easily coordinated, controlled, and documented. In addition to the seamless tracking of cleaning services, real-time monitoring can be performed if required.
In the future, the connection of external systems to what we call “digital buildings” will also become increasingly relevant in this context. Digital tools are the basis for profitable solutions in the professional cleaning industry, which we as a company are open to.
Which single piece of technology are you most excited about for the future?
The most exciting topic for the future is clearly artificial intelligence (AI). AI-based robots are an essential building block that is fundamental in the development of our hardware, but of course in particular in the software of our Nexaro HUB. We are working meticulously to extend our HUB to better reflect the needs of our customers.
Specifically, this means that the control of our robots will become even more intelligent to make individual cleaning tasks more versatile, autonomous, and efficient. Of course, interaction with the cleaning staff should remain just as seamless and self-explanatory as it is.