I was given the opportunity to visit the ISSA/INTERCLEAN show at McCormick Place in Chicago last week as a guest of Dreumex and their USA affiliate Gent-L-Kleen.Their business is taking care of dirty hands and related cleaning products. ISSA is the trade organization dedicated to cleaning and sanitation and this event was a forum for introducing new products to distributors and professional cleaners.  Clean might not sound as exciting as new phones or tablets but it is essential for protecting health.The ISSA sponsors innovation awards for new products based on member voting.  I can’t cover an entire show this big in a short blog but I’d like to share some personal highlights.

First, my hosts introduced the Dreumex Omnicare soap dispenser that operates without touching the dispenser.The innovation is in the bag on valve system that provides 2,000 hand washes per cartridge from a smart dispenser that knows to minimize energy consumption when the washroom lights are off.  Dreumex notes that only 77% of people wash their hands after using the restroom.Unfortunately, I’ve seen even worse statistics.Omnicare is targeted to help eliminate reasons for not washing up.

Georgia-Pacific announced that the enMotion touch free towel dispenser has grown into a $1 billion per year brand since it was introduced at the same venue 10 years ago.This is my chance to brag as I had the privilege of leading the enMotion product development team effort from start to finish.I will cover my key learnings from that experience in future note.

Wausau Paper Wave’ n Dry touchless towel dispensing systems were one of the earliest leaders in this category. New this year is the OptiServ Hybrid system that offers a towel cut to length that is still dispensed without touching the dispenser.They are claiming ADA compliance by avoiding the tearing action.

Cascades Tissue introduced the first anti-Bacterial hand towel to the North American Market.Their lab tests show a significant reduction in contamination after drying with the towel over washing and drying with a standard towel.

One thing I heard was discussion of who is the most important customer? Is it the consumer who benefits from clean facilities and washing their hands? Is it the distributer or service provider? My experience is that the most important customer in this value chain is the facility owner/operator.This is the person who has the most at stake in the transaction.The owner/operator bears the most financial risk and is in best position to see innovative value offered.Successful innovation in this market depends on recognizing this.

Check out this link to the 2012 Innovation winners picked by the ISSA members.ISSA – 2012 Innovation Award Winners

Do you see this as innovation? Drop me a note.

Bruce W. Janda, MBA