What do we want from a floor pad?

9th of June 2017
What do we want from a floor pad?
What do we want from a floor pad?

What do customers look for in a floor pad? Is sustainability a major issue or are factors such as durability, versatility and ease of use more important? Or do they simply want a low-cost pad that can do the job for which it is intended? Ann Laffeaty finds out about the average customer’s must-haves.

A successful floor pad needs to have a number of characteristics. Naturally it needs to be fit for purpose and capable of doing the job for which it is intended. It should also be durable and easy to use, while also helping to reduce costs. And ideally a floor pad should offer sustainability benefits as well. But which of these qualities resonates most with today’s clients?

Durability, efficiency and cost are all important considerations for Nilfisk’s customers according to group floor care product manager Anders Sandstrom.

“The environment is a key factor for those companies with a strong sustainability profile but price, performance and durability take precedence for many,” he said. Nilfisk offers a wide range of floor pads made from recycled PET bottles for its sustainability-driven customers.

Sandstrom claims it can be difficult for clients to find the right pad for a specific application. “The floor pad offer on the market is almost unlimited but quality and performance vary greatly depending on the supplier,” he said. “The need for flexible and productive cleaning solutions that are also easy to use is driving the industry forward. We at Nilfisk are highly committed to providing these.”

According to Sandstrom it has been a challenge for cleaning companies to enter the floor renovation arena. “The specific requirements of floor renovation systems need to be met if you are to be successful,” he said. “Knowledge and experience are both very important and these are two areas in which cleaning companies need to invest.”

A well-known brand associated with high quality is among the top requirements of most floor pad customers according to marketing specialist at HTC Twister Group Anette Therén.

“The trend is to focus on results and the total cost of ownership rather than simply to look at unit price,” she said. “Customers are interested in achieving clean, attractive and safe floors. Once those criteria are reached they then want to maintain the desired result for as long as possible. This is because periodic maintenance is costly while also resulting in valuable floor space being temporarily out of action for both customers and visitors.”

Sustainability is another important consideration, she says.  “An increasing number of companies are aiming to reduce their chemical usage in order to enhance their green profile,” said Therén. “A sustainable approach is also becoming more important when competing for government tenders and corporate contracts. So it is crucial that floor pad producers can present an offer in line with
these ambitions.”

She claims that Twister pads can prolong the life of a floor and its coatings, resulting in consumable waste savings of up to 17.8 kg per pad.

“The products themselves are also sustainable since they are made from old PET bottles recycled into the non-woven raw material we use to make the pads,” she said. “Microscopic diamonds are then impregnated into the pads to provide the polishing effect in daily cleaning.”

Chemical alternatives

She says there is a growing understanding that new and improved alternatives to chemical cleaning are available today. “The chemicals used with floor cleaning machines have long been known to have insufficient time to work during the period between the cleaning pad passing over the floor and the squeegee removing the chemical,” she said.

“Twister pads use mechanical methods to dissolve and remove the dirt while simultaneously polishing the floor during daily cleaning. This makes the floor surface more resistant to dirt and wear.”

Twister offers a range of pads for use on various types of floor. These include the Twister Extreme Red pad which is designed for stripping away floor finishes. “The Twister Extreme Red is a mechanical alternative to traditional, harsh alkaline strippers and can also be used for the light honing of stone floors and for stain-repairing concrete,” said Therén.

Other factors that are important to customers include durability and ease of use, she says. “Today’s customers demand a high level of versatility which means that being proactive in R&D is one of the keys factors for success in the cleaning pad business,” she said.

Sustainability and ease of use are two of the megatrends as far as customer demand is concerned according to 3M’s marketing communications manager María Gomez.

“A growing number of floor pad customers are showing an interest in using environmentally-sound products and following sustainable processes,” she said. “They want safe, chemical-free systems to protect their employees and they want to ensure that any waste and chemicals that end up in the environment are kept to a minimum because they care about their customers, their employees and
the environment.”

She says 3M’s main objective is to provide sustainable products. “We do this by ensuring our floor pads are efficient and save our customers time,” she said. “We also offer a range of pads that can be used without chemicals.”

According to Gomez, ease of use is important because the industry experiences such a high turnover of staff. “The level of employee movement means there is a need for intuitive and easy-to-use products,” she said. However she adds that many companies are simply seeking a low-cost product. “By buying a cheap pad they believe they are saving money but the real savings come from using
 long-lasting, efficient systems,” she said. “Every day we work on creating an awareness of this.”

Anticipate needs

Other key customer requirements include speed and efficiency, says Gomez. “Products such as our double-sided pads help to reduce costs and material usage while achieving more gloss finishes at a lower price,” she said. “At 3M we are constantly developing products in line with customer needs while also trying to anticipate those needs.”

Clean Part customers seek a good quality product at appropriate price levels according to ceo Maria Svensson.“The typical Clean Part customer has a limited in-house stock of floor pads and relies on us for quick deliveries, in many cases directly to the end-user,” she said. “So the fast service we provide is as important as the high quality of the pads we deliver.”

Wider range needed

Other requirements of today’s customer include the delivery of a wider range of floor pads including more specialised products and a broader range of sizes and shapes, she said. “We believe this trend will continue in the coming years.” Clean Part offers a range of Americo floor pads for applications such as stripping, scrubbing, buffing, polishing and burnishing. These are available in both standard round and rectangular sizes.

Like other suppliers, Svensson believes that issues such as sustainability and chemical-free cleaning are becoming increasingly important among customers. “Americo floor pads are made with 100 per cent recycled PET plastic and they are also fully recyclable,” she said. The company’s EPP pads also contain micro-abrasive particles that can remove damaged layers of finish without the use of harsh chemicals.  “This pad is also excellent for repairing acrylic or urethane finishes for recoating,” said Svensson.

The main requirement of Wecovi’s customers is to find the right floor pad for the required task according to the company’s marketing coordinator Margo Heusdens. “They want to know: can this pad solve my floor problem? What is its price and how durable is it?” she said. “Sustainability is also becoming a major issue, as is chemical-free cleaning. This is not only important from an environmental viewpoint: it also reduces costs and results in floor pads that are more durable than other products.”

The company develops products that can be used without chemicals and Wecoline by Americo floor pads are made from recycled fibres.

Durability and effectiveness are also key customer requirements, says Heusdens. “Durable and effective pads allow cleaners to limit the number of passes required which saves time and money,” she said.?“Cost is another important consideration but it is sometimes a challenge to look at cost in use instead of cost per unit. Luckily there is a lot of common sense out there and when cleaners work with effective materials they are more likely to demonstrate good results.”

So, what will tomorrow’s customer want from their floor pad? “Customers such as cleaning contractors, hospitals, retail chains and industrial companies are all looking to reduce their ecological footprint while achieving better results and maintaining the same routines,” said Twister’s Anette Therén. “There are many solutions being developed to meet this demand and our Twister mechanical cleaning solution is among them.”

3M’s Maria Gomez believes customers will increasingly seek products that will make their lives easier by saving them time and effort. “We develop our products by listening to the customers and even when the product is on the market, asking for their feedback,” she said. “In fact you could say our customers are the real 3M product designers.”

And Clean Part’s Maria Svensson feels that sustainability will play an even greater role in the future. “We feel that our customers want to make a positive contribution to the world,” she said. “As more facility managers establish sustainability programmes, distributors are demanding more eco-friendly products from their manufacturers.”


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