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MARKET production

::: MADE IN ITALY: carpet machines
by Chiara Merlini
-----------------------------------------------------------
Textile flooring solutions, more than others, require careful maintenance using suitable machines in order to guarantee their beauty and hygiene over time

Versatile, strong, an element of furnishing … there are many reasons why people go for carpets rather than other floor coverings.
A popular solution in Italy in the 1970s, carpets and rugs have since fallen into disgrace, parquet, terracotta and tiles now being the favourites. However, carpets have recently started to come back into vogue, thanks also to developments in fibre technology, a wider choice of patterns and types, guaranteed to satisfy every taste and style. Things are different in Anglo-Saxon countries, the Middle East and America: carpets and rugs have always been the preferred choice, while it’s the other types of flooring that are trying to win over the buyers.

::: Correct maintenance
While it’s true that carpets and rugs call for different forms of care and attention than other floor surfaces, the widely spread belief that they trap dirt and mites needs to be disproved (in view of the current trend for “exasperated” hygiene, this has become a priority!).
If the right care and attention is given to their upkeep (and not just when the dirt can actually be seen!), using specific machines and products, people can really enjoy all the many benefits carpets and rugs offer: eclectic style, silence, a feeling of warmth…
Carpet sweepers and cleaners are, therefore, necessary for correct cleaning: loose fibres need to be removed, dirt must not be allowed to build up and – on a regular basis (not just exceptionally!) – various methods should be used to wash them. Correct maintenance means carpets and rugs last longer and keep their original beauty, at the same time guaranteeing the hygiene we normally associate with other forms of flooring.

::: Carpet machine production
In recent years production of machines for carpet-care (carpet sweepers and cleaners) has been more a case of market settling rather than an actual rise. Like most Italian manufacturing of machinery, this is thanks to growing exports: of the 71,780 items produced in 2007 (according to data supplied by AfidampFAB, the Italian Association of professional cleaning Machine, Products and Tools manufacturers) 80% are exported, worth 12,550,524 Euros.
More than an actual rise in output, the trend over the years has been for consolidation of the market share: poor dynamism is partly attributed to the current economic climate, where price is always the main factor, and so people tend to choose the cheapest machines (perhaps for domestic use, rather than professional use). This often leads to improper use, as people fail to obtain the required level of suction and correct cleaning capacity by using the most suitable and adequate type of machine. Plus the influx of imported products from the Far East with their low technological content just adds to the confusion, damaging the market for serious producers with expertise from years of experience.
The role of exports for these machines is even more important than for other market segments and “Made in Italy” quality is much appreciated. Although, at the risk of repeating ourselves, price is a crucial factor, people tend to look to serious producers when optimal performance is required, as their competence and great experience is seen as a guarantee.
Ductility is the keyword here: diversified production on the carpet sweeper market offers various types to suit the flooring, while the markets for carpet cleaners prefer multifunction machines, i.e. those that can be used as both dry and wet floor cleaners and of a smaller size than those in the past. The main sector requiring these machines is that of professional cleaning firms, following by industry and HORECA (hotel-restaurant-catering).

::: The offer and comments on the market
Santoemma, of Milan, has specialised over the years in the production of injection/ extraction machines, compact machines, foam machines and foam/ rinse/suction machines. At the recent Interclean Amsterdam it presented its Charis, a carpet cleaner that’s ideal for both routine cleaning and deep cleaning thanks to a system that regulates the gradual delivery of the water and suction power. It also offers pre-brushing (normally with a single-brush). What’s more, thanks to the patented Click System, by pressing a button on the grip, a roller drops at the front to make it easier to move the machine, making life easier for the user (less effort).
Michele Massaro, of Lindhaus, confirms the “shrinking” trend in this market. He says that the use of vacuum cleaners without mechanical action is one of the many factors causing the carpet cleaning market to shrink. Machines that are not really suitable for the purpose, but cheaper. Plus machines produced for the home are now being used for professional applications. Not to mention the many cut-price Chinese products now flooding the market. “What’s more,” adds Massaro, “there is a general lack of care for textile surfaces.
Those who travel have direct and unpleasant experience of this: dirty, stinking carpets in hotels, even the most luxurious ones.” His companies top machines are the LW for the European market, RX Hepa for the USA, Canada and the UK and the Dynamic for Japan and the UK.
Leoncini overseas production has been increased (the LM 12 is their top-of-the-range machine). As Alberto Leoncini stresses: “There has been a drop in the popularity of carpets in Italy in recent years, non textile flooring being the preferred solution. However, thanks to the multiple applications of modern extraction carpet cleaners, we have absorbed this fall in sales and our exports have easily made up for it.”

Someone who claims the trend is different is Luca Gola, of Lavorwash. “Our sales in this sector are growing rapidly. I believe that this positive result is due to the market’s general appreciation of our policy for continual improvement of our products, plus the development and extension of the Lavor Pro range dedicated to specialists in the cleaning sector.
The pay-off we have chosen to stress our disposition to work in close partnership with our customers is “Lavor Pro – Works For You”.
I know that our customers have clearly perceived our spirit and appreciate our flexibility.” The best-selling Lavorwash model is the Costellation IR, a vacuum cleaner/carpet cleaner with a 78 litre stainless steel body and tilting emptying system. It has two independent silenced 2-stage 2000 W motors (max 2400 W) offering 108 l/min air flow and fast-coupling and anti-static systems.
The drop in demand, however, is also confirmed by Cilmas, which has recorded a fall in sales across the market, especially in Europe. However demand continues to be high in Anglo- Saxon countries, the Middle East and America.
In line with the specific needs of the market, the machines in the Mirage 250-600, Spinning and Crystal lines (mains or battery-operated) are the most popular. The 510-710 and the 62-LBT series are, on the other hand, most popular in North Europe.
Tecnica is present on all the main trade areas, especially its upright machines on those markets where carpets are traditional floor coverings (the USA, Canada, the UK…). Multifunction versions (flexible, detachable electric brushes and carpet sweepers) are popular in Europe and many emerging countries”, says Stefano Vidoni. He also says that the XT, Commercial, CRX, XTR and XTRh machines are in most demand on the various markets, stressing that the sectors involved are not just the professional cleaning industry, but also general industry, the health sector and the public sector in the USA and Canada, while in Europe sales are high in the HORECA sector.
TMB is the Comac’s Group firm located in Guardamiglio, in the Province of Lodi in the Italian region Lombardy, steadily engaged in the vacuum cleaners and carpet sweepers production. Comac Group is officially born in 2003 as a “team” Ruffo family companies and trade mark: Comac, Tmb, Ruffo and Cofirent.
According to Antonio Bigaran of Portotecnica the IPC Integrated Professional Cleaning - group created in 2005 by the some leader companies in professional cleaning sector union, each of them specialized in different market segment - develops and increases in this very sector range and more receptive markets abroad researches.

::: What will be the carpet cleaner machine evolution?
Designers and architects will have a significant role to increase furniture’s solution forecasting textile floor use in a more advanced market in the early future. On the manufacturing side, the way goes towards technological innovative solutions, together with attention and sensibility to different markets penetrating machines up to answer different Countries requirements.

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