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INTERVIEW

“Maintaining hygiene is topmost priority of hospitality and food industry”
Monday, 29 August, 2022, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
MicroGO, a pioneer in the space of cleaning and hygiene industry, focuses on providing smart, assured, sustainable and service (SASS) solutions. The company caters to food processing and management industry. It facilitates production of safe and wholesome food and prevents food product contamination.

Dr Rachna Dave, CEO and founder of MicroGO, shares her views on food and beverage industry, monitoring systems, hygiene management, sustainability and more, in an email interview with Kimberley Fernandes. Excerpts:

How would you describe the current scenario of the food and beverage industry?
The demand for food options that are both healthier and easier to prepare is driving innovation in the industry. In addition, alternatives derived from plants and sustainability in both the production process and the packaging of goods are quickly gaining popularity.

Tell us about the application of your products across the food management and processing industry.
Cleaning, disinfection, maintenance, and housekeeping are a few examples of "hygiene practices." By preventing food product contamination, hygiene practices refer to all the actions necessary to maintain a clean food manufacturing infrastructure and, as a result, facilitate the production of safe and wholesome food. The acronym SASS, which stands for smart, assured, sustainable, and service advantage, is applied to our products.  In addition to providing guaranteed scientific outcomes, our products and solutions also ensure the ongoing viability of business operations and financial resources. The customer can monitor and assess the results in real-time thanks to the technological capabilities of our solutions.

We take care of all areas or touch points where cleanliness is crucial, such as the entrance, where it's important to wash hands and feet to reduce the amount of dirt and germs that are tracked into the clean space. We advise using the items GOclean++ and GOassure K-LITE to achieve this. Similar to this, SOPs are followed and integrated with a centralised hygiene monitoring system for other aspects of the kitchen, including utensils and cutting boards (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian), air, temperature, and relative humidity monitoring, and intermittent hand hygiene. This guarantees that any non-compliance is promptly informed to the hygiene managers, and the corrective procedures are done in real-time. As a result, this guarantees that the highest standard of safety is upheld.

What is the significance of an integrated centralised monitoring system in the food management industry?

Maintaining the highest standards of hygiene is the topmost priority of the hospitality and food industry. However, multi-centre establishments face a significant challenge when it comes to implementing hygiene practices and tracking hygiene compliance levels. The hygiene manager is a nodal officer who is responsible for maintaining this hygiene level and is often shuttled between various facilities for monitoring. They would prefer to devote their time and efforts to concentrating on creating novel protocols and practices to improve the level of hygiene. In recognition of this significant industry pain point, MicroGO has developed a digital hygiene platform namely GOsmart. GOsmart creates a smart hygiene ecosystem integrated into a smart dashboard where hygiene managers can keep track of various hygiene-related activities and compliance across various establishments from any part of the world. Additionally, it enables them to make real-time course corrections.

For example, a hygiene manager can monitor how many employees have performed hand and foot sanitisation before entering into the kitchen or whether they have followed hand washing every 30 minutes while working in the kitchen. He can also monitor whether the storage area of the kitchen is maintaining a predefined temperature and humidity or whether cutting boards meant for vegetarian or non-vegetarian food were sanitised as per the prescribed protocols. Our dashboard is equipped with various audio-visual alarm systems that can provide an early warning sign of any deviation from predefined protocols or SOP across various facilities to take corrective measures. The hygiene manager can generate various statistics and reports (daily, weekly, monthly or yearly), for submission to various regulatory or accreditation agencies. The management can also get real-time information on the consumption of various materials and hygiene products, which helps them with cost optimisation and attain sustainability.  

How does hygiene management help farmers retain the freshness of produce?
Post the harvest, the fresh produce encounters various opportunities that contaminate the produce like it can be passed on the soil, via handling, storage or transportation crates. Implementing good hygiene practices, such as washing hands, keeping a clean processing area, or sanitising crates, can significantly reduce produce loss. In order to solve this issue, we must consider the first-principles method. Post-harvest losses continue to rise annually as a result of the unfortunate fact that the entire industry is unwilling to change the current setup.

What is the company’s long term plan for sustainability?
Since part of the hygiene definition is fighting the invisibles (or the bacteria and viruses). For obvious reasons, it is seen as an expense and not an investment. We are making a concerted effort to incorporate a feature of sustainability into our products in such a way that it transforms the act of practising good hygiene into an investment. At the moment, our products and services, such as the GOassure and GOpure series, are able to deliver quantifiable operational and financial sustainability. We have recently launched the GOsmart, a digital hygiene platform, which by digitising hygiene shall empower the business to ensure that it can keep a track on the SOP and the resultant losses around it. This has brought us one step closer to achieving this goal. We are working toward a goal where we should be able to reduce the hygiene-related expenditures of the industries we focus on by up to 50 per cent, while maintaining the SOPs.

What are the key factors that would differentiate your brand from the existing brands in the market?
    (a) We customise each offering based upon the needs of the customer by ensuring the right science is followed. For instance, whenever there is a need for water, we first determine its physical, chemical, and biological parameters, and then we make a recommendation regarding its concentration. After that, we continue to collaborate with the client for the next three months until the appropriate science is determined.
    (b) Sustainability: Because our products and services are built with the appropriate  science and engineering competencies, we are able to achieve both underuse and overuse.
    (c) Digitalising: To ensure that the customer can real-time monitor and course correction - we use IoT and other technologies to digitalise hygiene.

What are the challenges faced by the company in this space?
If you cannot spot hygiene disturbing reasons (like bacteria and virus) - any solution around the same is looked upon as an expense. The awareness only enters if the hygiene practices are having an impact on the business. Whether it has an impact on business or not, the challenge still exists because good practices are the backbone of every enterprise. We are continuously challenged by this.

What was your last fiscal year like and what are you expecting?
We have just moved from the R&D stage to product commercialisation stage. As a result, we wouldn't discuss revenue until after a few years had passed.

What are the company’s plans for future collaborations?
We have been serving high profile clients including Airports Authority of India, Indian Army, IHCL (Taj and Vivanta), IRCTC, WayCool Foods, BigBasket, Chettinad Hospitals and Apollo Hospitals. We recently began collaborating with Central Foods in Chennai, CIMS Ahmedabad, CRCL grp, and the GRT Group of Hotels. At present, we are at a very important juncture to scale up our business and work with six states in India.

Do you plan on launching new products in light of the changing trends in the industry?
As we are a R&D based company, we are always looking to innovate new products whenever we get a problem statement across industry. We aim to provide its customers with 360°hygiene and infection control solutions by innovative technologies that deliver the correct science and provide profitability and environmental sustainability.  We hold patented platforms that have been granted patents in as low as 90 days- one of the fastest patents granted in India.

Increasing global travel, climate change and emergence of antibiotic resistance organisms pose a serious threat to the quest towards curtailing infectious diseases. Our vision has always been aligned to this market need and Covid-19 has further strengthened the need to accelerate hygiene management adoption across the world. These new challenges required newer approaches and necessitated the development of innovative technologies focussing water, food, and health. Due to rapid urbanisation, rising number of establishments of commercial spaces, and increasing safety standards post the pandemic, the industrial & institutional cleaning chemicals market in India is expected to reach $526.53 million by the end of 2026.

We have recently launched an innovative platform technology called GOsmart on August 15, 2022. GOsmart is a technological revolution that can turn any premise that has stringent hygiene requirements or a piece of hygiene equipment into a smart one. With the help of GOsmart, hygiene managers can monitor various hygiene-related activities and compliance across various establishments from anywhere in the world. This ecosystem is built on the Internet of Things (IoT), and features an integrated smart dashboard. Additionally, it enables them to make real-time course corrections.
 
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