All About Truckmounts: The ICS Q&A
|"Today, truckmounts can be utilized for more than just carpet cleaning, which opens more markets for increased profitability."|
|-Lou Querin, Cleanco|
You can’t have a conversation about carpet cleaning without discussing truckmounts, as there’s perhaps no word more synonymous with cleaning equipment. However, truckmounts have undergone some significant changes recently and are sure to undergo even more change as the industry continues to power forward. So we gathered a panel of experts – Doyle Bloss, HydraMaster/US Products; Jerry McKillip, Prochem; Eric Bosell, Legend Brands; and Lou Querin, Cleanco – who dished on various aspects of truckmounts, such as the truckmount vs. portable question, truckmount uses aside from carpet cleaning and what the future may hold for this equipment.
ICS Cleaning Specialist: Gas isn’t cheap. With that being said, why does it still make sense for a carpet cleaner to own a truckmount?
Doyle Bloss: Truckmounts remain the most efficient and effective way to deep clean carpeting and hard surfaces to provide the highest level of profitability to the professional cleaner or restorer. Couple that with effective improvements in fuel efficiency of engines, and design engineering enhancements in direct drive truckmounts that maximize fuel consumption efficiency, the truckmount remains the dominant required piece of cleaning equipment for the cleaning and restoration professional.
Jerry McKillip: When the cost of fuel goes up, it makes even more sense to have a truckmount. With the added expense of driving to the job, you need to be more productive once you are on-site. The fuel and operating cost of the van used to get to the job is not going change dramatically whether you are transporting a portable or a truckmount, however the amount of cleaning that can be completed with the truckmount is far greater than with a portable. Also, most slide-in truckmounts will only consume 0.75–1.5 gallons of gas per hour.
Eric Bosell: (1) Truckmounts give you a cleaner indoor environment. All the spent chemicals, contaminants and contaminated air produced by the cleaning process is drawn out of the house. Portables do capture liquid extracted from the carpet, but not the air. They recirculate the air inside the structure. (2) Superior heat production. (3) The powerful vacuum provided by a truckmount significantly decreases drying times. Not only are vacuum pumps much more powerful than portables, they use positive displacement blowers. Positive displacement blowers pull air steadily even if the airflow is restricted. This means they maintain a deep vacuum at all times. (4) The better-equipped truckmount operator usually incorporates water softening into the fresh water supply system. Softened water is only available to the portable operator if the facility being cleaned has it available. Soft water cleans much, much better and leaves the carpet feeling much softer. (5) The vacuum, water pressure and heat provided by truckmounts make production levels much higher.
Lou Querin: Today, truckmounts can be utilized for more than just carpet cleaning, which opens more markets for increased profitability.
ICS: What are some ways that you see carpet cleaners benefit from owning a truckmount beyond just carpet cleaning?
DB: Successful truckmount owners have been “thinking outside of the carpet” for a long time in looking for ways to maximize revenue in a challenging economy, and in recognition of the growth in popularity of other floor coverings. While the truckmount has long been recognized as a water damage extraction machine, it is its ability to create hot cleaning solution under pressure and then immediately recover the waste water that is making it into an all-surface cleaning machine. Special rotary extraction tools have been designed that allow a truckmount to effectively and profitably clean finished and polished concrete floors, natural stone floors and surfaces, ceramic, porcelain, and quarry tile and grout cleaning, and indoor and outdoor pressure washing.
JM: Although the truckmount has been labeled a “carpet cleaning machine,” these units offer far more than that. With today’s truckmount, the operator can also clean tile, pressure wash and use the unit for flood damage.
EB: Hard surface cleaning is lucrative and immediately available to the truckmount owner, and it is more effectively accomplished with a truckmount. Truckmounts can also pressure wash driveways, remove graffiti, clean off moss from roofs and siding, unplug sewage blockages and even clean dryer vents. We are beginning to see truckmounts used in biohazard cleanup applications as well. Best of all, truckmounts can deliver the deep, powerful cleaning that restoration professionals rely on.
LQ: Today’s truckmounts are manufactured to do more than just carpet cleaning. Adjustable heat control, pressure control and vacuum control allows for upholstery cleaning, hard surface cleaning and pressure washing capabilities, as well as flood restoration and duct cleaning. This gives truckmount owners the ability to expand their market and profit potential.
ICS: It seems portable systems that advertise some of the same attributes as truckmounts are starting to become more popular in the market. Why should someone purchase a truckmount over a portable?
DB: As a leading manufacturer of high performance portable heated extraction equipment also, we can certainly testify to the cleaning power of some portable equipment. However, a major measurement in effective cleaning involves more than just solution cleaning pressure. One can simply increase solution pressure by restricting the size of the openings in wand jets. Effective deep cleaning involves water flow and flushing. Truckmounts remain vastly superior in the gallons per minute of water flow that actually reaches the surface being cleaned, flushing much higher levels of soil and contaminants out of the carpet. Couple that with the matched massive vacuum recovery capability of a positive displacement vacuum blower rather than an electric vacuum motor, and you can confidently state that a truckmount not only deep cleans better, but also dries faster.
There are certainly areas in a large or high rise building where cleaning with a high-performance portable extractor instead of a truckmount makes sense, but a comparison of specifications and rates of cleaning shows a truckmount as a great investment for a cleaner or restorer who does not want to limit their cleaning capabilities.
JM: With a portable you have to unload the portable, move it to a location inside and find an electrical outlet or two as some portables require separate plugs for vacuum, water pump and heater. If the portable has automatic water fill and pump out, hoses have to be carried into the job site and then in the cleaning area. Once you start cleaning, you have limitation to the areas that can be reached due to the length of hose or location of an electrical outlet, and in some cases you are unable to reach an area. When cleaning with a truckmount, you start the unit, roll out the hoses, carry in the wand and start cleaning and continue to clean until the job is complete. However, that said, I still think every cleaner should have a portable for those few cleaning jobs where it is just not practical to use a truckmount.
EB: The truth is, heat cleans and vacuum dries. Portables just can’t deliver either of these to the same level as truckmounts. Truckmounts also have much bigger waste tanks and some models can operate two or even three wands. It all adds up to higher production levels, better cleaning and faster drying. Truckmounts mean that customers can get back into their homes and businesses sooner. Perception is also important. When your customer sees you drive up in a fully-equipped vehicle and when hearing you start up the truckmount motor, they are immediately convinced that you are about to do some powerful cleaning.
LQ: Truckmounts increase productivity of professional cleaners while maintaining consistent heat, water pressure and vacuum suction throughout the entire job. Most truckmounts are self-contained, supplying their own power source, water supply and provide higher consistent heat.
ICS: Finally, talk a little bit about the future of truckmounts. What factors do you see influencing the development of tomorrow’s truckmount?
DB: Tomorrow’s truckmount will certainly take into consideration that truckmounts are not just for carpet cleaning any longer. Many of the features and designs will lean toward the diverse types of cleaning a truckmount will be called upon to do.
Fuel consumption and efficiency will certainly continue to be a driving factor in development so long as fuel prices continue to increase. Engines will continue to change based upon tighter and tighter emission control standards, meaning some manufacturers will abandon the small engine market limiting selection. Perhaps there will come a time when the truckmount uses an alternative fuel power source? Other changes might be brought about by demands to reduce water consumption.
The footprint of truckmounts (i.e., how much room they take up in a van) will continue to drive development, as professional cleaners and restorers carry more and more accessories and cleaning tools in the vehicle.
Finally, we will see the unique feature of a truckmount to recover its own wastewater continue to push the boundaries of what types of surfaces – both indoor and outdoor – a truckmount is called upon to clean.
JM: Good question, I think the next generation of truckmounts will be driven by technology. When you look at the truckmounts of the past, they did basically the same thing as the current truckmount - producing hot water and vacuum, but in a less efficient manner. So what has changed to make the current truckmount out-perform the older units? Better engines, water pumps and heat exchangers partnered with modern manufacturing processes. As technology has become available, it has been incorporated into the current truckmounts and accessories. I certainly believe the truckmounts of today have all the current technology available - I guess we will have to wait and see what is next!
EB: The size and load capacity of the vehicles are going to shrink. The pressure is on manufacturers to produce smaller, more powerful and more fuel efficient units. Government regulations through CARB and EPA will continue to drive up the cost of engines which will decrease the diversity of engines available for truckmounts. Eventually, all engines will be EFI (electronic fuel injection). Technicians will need to have the skills and knowledge to better service these machines.
LQ: The future of truckmount focus will be on fuel efficiency, simplicity of operation and maintenance, and reduction of the size of truckmounts while maintaining the same, or improving, the high levels of performance.