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An Effective, Sustainable Alternative: Cylindrical Brush Machines

March 6, 2012

It is not uncommon for a technology to be introduced ahead of its time to be appreciated only years, if not decades, later. For instance, most auto buffs are familiar with the 1948 Tucker Sedan. It introduced a host of technical innovations to the automotive world, including disc brakes, seat belts, fuel injection and a padded dashboard - none of which got more than a passing glance at the time. Twenty years later, most cars included these innovations as standard equipment.





It is not uncommon for a technology to be introduced ahead of its time to be appreciated only years, if not decades, later. For instance, most auto buffs are familiar with the 1948 Tucker Sedan. It introduced a host of technical innovations to the automotive world, including disc brakes, seat belts, fuel injection and a padded dashboard - none of which got more than a passing glance at the time. Twenty years later, most cars included these innovations as standard equipment.

In the professional cleaning industry, there have also been equipment introductions that were not appreciated at the time, but garnered greater attention years later. For instance, it seems as though recycling portable carpet extractors were just waiting for the “green cleaning and sustainability movement” to get the industry’s attention.

Another cleaning equipment innovation, which has well-established roots in Europe and other parts of the world but is just now getting a serious foothold in the U.S. cleaning industry, is the cylindrical brush floor machine. This newfound appreciation is likely thanks to two distinct trends in floorcare:

  • The desire to reduce floor maintenance costs.
  • The evolution of green and sustainable cleaning and the goal of reducing the amount of water and chemicals used in floorcare, otherwise known as low-moisture floor cleaning.


Reducing Floor Maintenance Costs

Anything technology can do to speed up and ease cleaning tasks will help reduce the cost of labor, which is generally the most expensive part of floor maintenance. Increased contact pressure - as can be found with cylindrical brush machines - can help make floor maintenance more effective and faster.

Most cleaning professionals are familiar with rotary pad floor machines. However, according to David Frank, President of the American Institute for Cleaning Sciences, an independent testing organization for the cleaning industry, “unlike conventional rotary buffers, cylindrical machines have counter-rotating brushes on each side of the machine.” He continues: “Although these machines weigh as much as a conventional buffer, they (can) have six times the contact pressure, which (helps) improve their ability to deep-clean floors.”

Another factor, revolutions per minute, or rpm, on these machines varies depending on the model and manufacturer. However, some of the more popular machines have brush speeds of 650 rpm, which is significantly faster than many rotary floor machines.

Additionally, the square shape of many cylindrical brush machines makes it easier for the user to line the machine right up to floor edges, helping to eliminate manually cleaning these areas and improving worker productivity. And the brushes do not load up with finish and soils as quickly as rotary pads, so the user does not have to stop as often to replace pads.

Some cleaning experts also believe cylindrical machines are more protective of floor surfaces. Often, when a vinyl composition tile (VCT) floor is scrubbed with a rotary scrubbing pad, small scratches, similar to hundreds of microscopic canals, are cut into the floor’s surface, according to Ron Goerne, CEO of Service Resources. “Soil and moisture can become trapped in these small canals,” he says. “With time, dust as well as soil tracked in (to the facility) can collect in these scratches. When this happens, the floor’s gloss and luster can be seriously diminished. A cylindrical machine with soft roller brushes will not scratch the VCT.”

 

Green and Sustainable Floorcare

Cylindrical brush technology lends itself well to green cleaning. Mainly, this is because of the brushes. The bristles are able to dig deeper into the pores of the floor and grout areas. Essentially, this means that the machine does more of the actual cleaning work, reducing the amount of water and chemicals necessary to complete the task. One manufacturer says studies indicate a 30% reduction in chemicals and water.

Another manufacturer has taken this a step further and suggests that cylindrical brush machines can be used for chemical-free cleaning, an emerging trend in the professional cleaning industry. In floorcare, this refers to the removal of finish and soils without the use of chemicals of any kind. While this view is not necessarily supported by other cylindrical brush manufacturers, it does indicate the potential and power of the technology.

Finally, as it pertains to sustainability, rotary pads must be replaced frequently as they become worn and soiled. While they can be cleaned, they tend to lose their effectiveness fairly quickly. The brushes on cylindrical machines are designed to be used over and over again. This helps reduce the amount of waste generated in floorcare.

 

Disadvantages

The technology does have at least one disadvantage. Cylindrical brush floor machines typically, but not always, cost more than their rotary counterparts. Especially in today’s economy, selecting a cylindrical machine that may cost thousands of dollars instead of a rotary machine that costs hundreds of dollars is hard to swallow.

In order to justify the cost, users should ask themselves questions such as:

·         Do we perform floorcare tasks frequently?

·         Are we trying to reduce the labor costs associated with floorcare?

·         Are we prioritizing and implementing Green and sustainable cleaning strategies?

 If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then cylindrical brush machines may be the technology whose time has finally come.

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