Working With Truck-Mounted Cleaning Equipment

August 20, 2009
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The professional textile cleaner and restorer has many options when it comes to truckmounts. Today’s well-engineered machines deliver unbelievable cleaning performance.

A machine with advanced engineering will last for years and years while providing clean and healthy textiles to your valued clients.

But do your homework before purchasing your machine. All truckmounts are not created equal.

Like many carpet cleaning startups, I began my business with a portable machine. As I moved forward, my brother-in-laws were looking to expand their already successful business and sought new equipment to process their growing workload.

John asked if I wanted to go to New York City to see a new type of truckmount that “cleaned hundreds of feet away from the van while still providing great power.”

So away we went to demo a truck-mounted carpet-cleaning machine. I was blown away by the simplicity, heat, and vacuum and pressure the unit delivered. Portable units were not nearly as advanced as they are today so, compared to my portable, I was immediately sold. Soon after, I purchased my first truckmount and never looked back.

Purchasing Truck-Mounted Equipment

Purchasing a truckmount requires thorough and complete consideration to help avoid serious buyer’s remorse. Before purchasing a truck-mounted machine, examine the services your business plans to provide, and make sure that the machine can handle those tasks.

When diversifying your business, will the machine you are considering have the pressure, heat and vacuum to clean tile and grout, pressure wash, clean concrete, extract flooded homes, etc?

Be certain to explain to the distributor that you need a versatile unit that will do more than just clean carpet or upholstery.

Consider buying a somewhat bigger unit than what you presently need to accommodate growing pains. The machine you choose needs to allow you to grow your business model.

There is nothing worse than an underpowered machine that lacks performance, simplicity and reliability.

Look for features that contribute to the profitability of your company. Consider whether the unit does what is needed and more. Is the machine user-friendly? Is it simple to operate? Does it boast reliability, power, quiet, gas savings, and quality engineering?

How long has the manufacturer been in business designing, engineering and distributing the machine? How is the machine’s track record in the industry for reliability and performance?

Service and maintenance is also a key factor in determining your purchase. A quality unit should have the support of a distributor network with trained mechanics and stock an inventory of parts for maintenance and repairs.

Consider the travel distance and drive time from where you operate your business to where you have the unit serviced. Tour the distributor’s service department: is the department neat and clean with an ample inventory of parts?

The distributor’s service center is the gateway in providing the technology necessary to keep your machine running and performing great at all times.

The Warranty

Another big question is in regard to the warranty. The manufacturer who designed the machine and warranty offered is very important to research. Will the manufacturer be there when you need them the most?

Find out exactly what the warranty covers and for how long. How is defective or failed parts handled? Do you have to keep an updated maintenance log which may be required?

A well-engineered unit backed by a solid manufacturer offers a warranty they stand behind.

Your Local Distributor

Distributors of cleaning equipment that have experience and knowledge will advise you in the best way to install your machine including the inside configuration (i.e., shelving, racks, etc.).

Choose a distributor with experience and one who has knowledge and a good track record of building nice rigs for cleaners. Buy from a distributor who has the knowledge, experience and a large enough network to support your business efforts.

A good relationship with your distributor is essential. Top-notch distributors not only sell equipment, they provide educational opportunities and should become a consultant to your business.

When you have technical questions and your machine is down, a dynamite distributor will come in real handy. It’s called service for a reason!

Cleaning for Health

Today’s professional cleans for health. Scientific testing proves hot water extraction is vital to an overall strategy designed to improve the indoor environment in addition to cleaning carpet from a restorative position.

You have heard the term “deep clean.” Truckmounts provide the deep cleaning necessary to restore heavily soiled carpets, and not only from a visual perspective. Hot-water extraction at elevated temperatures above 130 degrees leaves carpet healthier and uses small amounts of detergent.

Slide-in Machines

Truck-mounted machines can be installed in different types of trucks or vans. Machines referred to as “slide-ins” have their own engine and do not require power from the engine of the vehicle carrying the machine.

These machines are good on gas, easily removed to install in another vehicle if necessary and must be bolted down into the trucks in a through- floor bolted installation.

Slide-ins have self-contained engines which need maintenance (i.e., plugs, oil, filters, couplers, etc.). Slide-ins can also have a lot of gauges and switches. This is why general maintenance may be a little higher with a slide-in, and it may take a little extra training to run.

It is ideal to have more than one employee trained on a machine. Look at simplicity, along with innovation and ease of use. Slide-in units are great and offer a company a wide selection of machines from simple to highly sophisticated engineering.

You will be able to find a slide in to accommodate your needs. There is a wide price range when it comes to slide ins. Be careful: you do not want a machine that might under-perform when you need it the most.

Always demo the unit you are considering and talk to others who use the equipment to get a wider perspective when making a purchasing decision.

Direct-Drives or Van-Powered Machines

The direct drive gives the best of all worlds. These highly engineered machines use very little gas, are extremely powerful and very simple to set up and use. You have to provide power to run the machine.

There is a tradeoff. Either you buy a slide-in and maintain that engine or use a direct-drive which is powered by the van or truck engine. They call it direct-drive because a shaft similar to a car drive shaft is belt driven and is installed from the vehicles engine through the van which drives the unit.

With these units, the shaft is controlled by a clutch for “on/off” operation of the unit. A great feature of direct-drives for me and others I know in the cleaning business is that they save valuable space in the van.

The added space allows you to carry area rugs, water damage equipment (i.e., dehumidifiers, air movers). If you look at the reliability, space saving and ease of training and operation you need to consider a direct drive.

Remember, though, that this type of unit cannot be installed in just any type of vehicle. There are selected models you need to choose from, and your distributor will be/should be well informed on the specifics of the vehicle you would need.

Once a direct-drive is installed and you had to purchase a specific type of van you cannot move and reinstall a direct drive with the ease of a slide-in.

Education and knowledge is the fulcrum for professionals in our technically charged industry to keep moving forward. In that light you need absolutely the best equipment possible. Reliable equipment that saves time and money while increasing production is hard to place a value on.

A piece of equipment is only as a good as the trained professional using it. A truckmount will add tremendous growth-related opportunities for your business. This may seem a little funny.

In addition to getting married and having children, buying and using a truckmount for the first time can also be a life-changing experience.

If you take a look at what you invest compared to the potential revenue a machine creates, it’s really a “no-brainer” to add a truck-mounted cleaning system to your arsenal.

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