The Floor Finish Line
November 6, 2008
Any floor care professional can tell tales of shortcuts used to expedite the floor finish process. From thin coating to missing corners and edges, the process can be laborious and painstaking, causing users to skip steps and make mistakes.
Any floor care professional can tell tales of shortcuts used to expedite the floor finish process. From thin coating to missing corners and edges, the process can be laborious and painstaking, causing users to skip steps and make mistakes. However, improper application of finish diminishes the floor's appearance, possibly leaving building occupants and visitors with a bad impression of the facility. It can also result in unnecessary product and labor costs associated with floor repair.
New innovations in floor finish applicators are making the process easier and more effective. While some users prefer traditional mop-and-bucket methods, these new innovations have floor care professionals racing to the floor finish line to save time and money while improving worker productivity, increasing quality and limiting harmful impact on the environment.
Like New Every Time
Floor care professionals who have moved beyond traditional mop-and-bucket systems likely use flat mop floor finish applicators. With some flat mop systems, users harness packs containing the finish chemical on their backs. In a gravity-fed process, chemical passes from the backpack to the mop through a small hose.
Other flat mop systems feature plastic containers located on the flat mop handle. Floor finish is poured directly into the container. When the user presses a trigger, finish is released from the container through a tube and onto the applicator pad.
Due to the 'sticky' nature of floor finish, hoses associated with these systems can become clogged, which results in downtime and lost productivity. Consequently, this extends the amount of time the area must be closed to building patrons and occupants as well as the time needed to effectively maintain the floor.
Getting a Handle on Ergonomics and Productivity
Since labor is the most expensive component in the cleaning business, it is important to continually improve the finishing process while reducing the application time. Therefore, both the application method and the user must be as efficient as possible throughout the finishing process.
Oftentimes, traditional floor finish application methods result in heavy lifting and strain on the user. Users finishing large areas using a mop and bucket tend to tire easily, which reduces productivity and increases the potential for injury.
To enhance productivity and the usability of traditional application methods, some new tools feature flat mop designs with ergonomic handles and grips. Such designs enable users to apply finish with a more natural posture, requiring less effort, which improves productivity and reduces the likelihood of injury.
Auger-shaped handles reduce wrist strain caused by repeatedly pushing and pulling a heavy mop back and forth across the floor. In addition, these handles reduce the strain on the lower back and shoulders. These innovations help workers complete the task more quickly and efficiently while limiting the opportunity for injury. In addition, these enhanced ergonomic features can reduce worker strain by 35 percent compared to traditional mop-and-bucket methods.
Good for Floor Care, Good for the Environment
Traditional floor finish applicator systems typically require several gallons of water to clean after use. Water is used to flush mop heads, buckets, backpacks or feed lines clean of chemical. Disposable parts reduce the need for large quantities of water during the process. In fact, newer systems are able to save as much as three gallons of water for each mop used in the finishing process as the rinsing step is eliminated.
In addition to using less water, new floor finish applicators also use less chemical. In mop-and-bucket systems, as much as one-third of a gallon of floor finish is left in the head of the mop or in the bucket after application. New innovations limit the amount of product used through a trigger-based system that allows users to regulate the flow of finish to the applicator. Waste is reduced to zero because users are able to use what they need, easily storing the remaining chemical for later use.
New applicator systems can also contribute to better indoor air quality (IAQ). Many floor finishes contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which contribute to poor IAQ. Closed loop, bag-in-a-box, systems limit exposure of floor finish used during application, thereby reducing odors and enhancing IAQ.
Nice and Easy Does It
Recognizing that floor care professionals face increasing budget and scheduling demands, engineers have productivity in mind when developing new designs for applicator equipment.
In addition to ergonomic designs that reduce worker strain and disposable parts that limit downtime, simple systems offer ease of training and good floor finish applicators are designed for users of any skill level. Since most users will become experts after their first application, it is likely that these new applicators will reduce the dependency of higher paid, specialty floor finish crews, thus lowering a building service contractor's overall costs.
These new systems take the guesswork out of traditional application techniques, allowing users to begin tasks immediately and also allows for scheduling flexibility, as anyone can complete the work.
The Race to the Floor Finish Line
As budgets continue to tighten, more floor care professionals are looking for smart, innovative ways to improve the productivity and efficacy of floor maintenance programs. Traditional floor finishing techniques, while effective, can easily tire users and result in unnecessary chemical and water waste. New and innovative tools offer floor care professionals a safer and easier-to-use alternative to these systems, allowing them to maintain the integrity of their operation while improving productivity, reducing costs and limiting impact on the environment.