Floor Care Machines for the Commercial Environment

February 17, 2003
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Scrubbers, sweepers, buffers and burnishers are a few types of heavy-duty cleaning equipment used by commercial facilities managers, building service contractors and cleaners responsible for large commercial properties. While small jobs such as touching up a short hallway can be successfully performed with operator-powered equipment, on larger jobs heavy-duty machines can cut down on time and deliver results that would be hard to match with just elbow grease.

To this end, CFC went to four equipment manufacturers and asked them to discuss some of the advantages of operating heavy-duty cleaning equipment in a commercial environment, and to provide a look at some of their most popular and innovative machines.

Minuteman International
Dick Girman, director of training and marketing for Minuteman International, says the reason to own a piece of heavy-duty floor cleaning equipment is obvious. “The right piece of equipment or chemical will cut down on the time to do any job, and this will help keep the high costs of expenditures low,” he says.

Minuteman International manufactures buffers and burnishers as well as many different sizes of automatic scrubbers and sweepers in both walk-behind and rider styles. The company’s line of walk-behind sweepers features a combination wand with a scrubber/squeegee tool.

“This allows the operator to scrub with the brush side, then flip the tool and extract dirty water with the squeegee side,” Girman says. “This off-aisle tool will clean where the machine cannot reach – underneath racking, shelves, fixed furniture or corners.”

The Minuteman SCV 28/32 rider scrubber is fitted for four interchangeable brush heads and styles, and features the on-board, off-aisle wand and squeegee tool. The scrubber can be fitted with 28- or 32-inch quick-change brush deck sizes, and either disc or cylindrical brushes.

In both systems the operator controls the brush pressure settings from the control panel.

According to Dave Ditty, director of product management for Nilfisk-Advance, the high cost of doing business isn’t to be found in equipment expenditures.

“Ninety percent of your cleaning costs is labor,” Ditty says. “If these machines can help the cleaning contractor do his job quicker, you can drive down the cost to clean.”

Ditty says that rider equipment is useful because a worker will not be fatigued from using it. “By riding, a job that people don’t want to do can be made into a job people want to do,” he explains.

The company’s new Advenger rider-scrubber allows the operator to change scrub decks without tools, as well the option of changing from disc- to cylindrical-type scrubbing, Ditty said.

One innovation recently introduced to the Nilfisk-Advance line is the Total Clean concept, designed to make the products easy to use, clean and maintain. The low battery cutout feature is one example.

“If you discharge your batteries past 80 percent, you can damage the batteries, and batteries are the most expensive and abused item on a piece of cleaning equipment,” Ditty said. “The feature shuts down the scrub deck but allows the user ample power to get back to the charging station.”

Other Total Clean features include one-touch cleaning, in which a single button will engage the machine to dispense water, scrub the floor, lower the squeegee and turn on the vacuum, Ditty said.

Tennant Co. Communications Specialist Chris Fox says that the reason for owning or renting heavy-duty cleaning equipment is versatility, to be prepared for whatever occurs during the job.

“Scrubbers, floor machines, burnishers, battery-powered equipment and extractors are the higher-expense staples of many large building service contractors,” Fox said. “It’s a good rule of thumb to have a base of inventory that can be used for most cleaning applications.”

Fox says disc scrubbers are designed for use on smooth floors with minimal debris, while cylindrical-style scrubbers are better suited for use on grouted tile and uneven surfaces. But the proper use of the machines boils down to one thing – productivity.

“Everyone is looking for higher productivity in their cleaning process,” Fox says. “If you have 20,000 square feet of hard floor space to clean twice a week, you’re better off using an automatic scrubber as opposed to the mop and bucket manual method. It’s an easy decision when you compare (the choices).”

The company recently launched its environmentally friendly FaST Foam Scrubbing Technology on select Tennant and Nobles brand scrubbers. The system is a highly concentrated pH neutral cleaner mixed with water and air that creates a self-collapsing foam, Fox said. The foam is designed to collapse to a liquid state by the time it is recovered.

“All of our machines are designed to make the job of cleaning easier, faster and better while reducing the overall costs of the cleaning process,” says Windsor’s Bob Gorsky, business manager, Hard Surface Products. “Sometimes, contractors will spend money on products because they know that product will produce a better end result, be easy to understand and maintain, and because they will get a better return.”

A reliable piece of cleaning equipment, when performing the job it is designed for, offers a number of benefits, Gorsky said. A machine that does much of the labor can make the operator “more delighted in the process of cleaning.” Well-designed machines also provide an environmental impact.

“With a broom, some dirt will go into the air, some of it will be pushed forward,” Gorsky says. “If you’re using a sweeper, debris will be swept into a hopper and into a filter, trapping the debris and providing cleaner air. This can produce a higher degree of customer satisfaction for those people who go to the facility.”

The company’s Saber line of scrubbers incorporates the Aqua-Mizer system, designed to extend scrubbing times between refills. Typically, water will be metered to the brush or pad spinning on the floor. As the head spins, cleaning solution will transition to a squeegee system at the back of the machine, where the solution is vacuumed into a recovery tank. The Aqua-Mizer retains water in the scrubbing section of the machine with a set of squeegees that hold the water and prevent it from immediately going back to the rear squeegee to be vacuumed up.

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