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How to choose cost-effective floor solutions30th of October 2012
Cleaning professionals and facility managers are increasingly confronted with budgets under pressure while cleaning standards become more stringent every day. So how do you choose the best solution and what challenges play a crucial role in the decision? Floor care solutions manufacturer Tennant offers an overview.
Faced with cleaning requirements that become stricter every day, facility managers are under pressure to find effective cleaning solutions that also save money. On top of that, the environmental aspect is playing an increasingly important role as well. So finding a cleaning solution that offers productivity, effectiveness and sustainability benefits seems to be something like the Holy Grail of cleaning. Today cleaning equipment suppliers offer different products and technologies that allow cleaning professionals to achieve these goals, ranging from chemical-free cleaning to cleaning path extension and multi-purpose cleaning machines.
Image in high visibility areas is important of course, but there are certain other aspects that require specific cleaning solutions. In terms of effectiveness, a number of elements play a role in achieving the expected cleanliness on hard to clean floors. Floors without a protective layer or coating are generally harder to clean because their open structure allows dirt and grime to set in. Luckily, cylindrical brushes on scrubber dryers can deal with this tough task. Sometimes, however, double-scrubbing may be necessary in which the cleaning solution is allowed to work on the dirt before pick-up.
With industrial floors, cleaning involves dealing with industrial dirt as well, such as tough oils and fats. In food and beverage production or handling environments this will mean stubborn sugary or syrupy spillage. These challenging cleaning applications require robust and heavy-duty cleaning equipment such as scrubber dryers or scrubber sweepers. Essential however, is a systematic maintenance regime in order to avoid large build-up of tough dirt. Cleaning regularly is always a better option than having to do a deep scrub and restore in terms of time and labour savings.
In areas where tyre marks are an issue (eg, from forklift trucks in warehouses), even glossy finished floors might need something extra to remove the marks although ‘normal’ dirt is easily removed. When tyre marks are burned into the floor, a more thorough approach is often needed with spot cleaning using the right chemical and aggressive disk brushes. In some extreme cases, this may not succeed however, and then the only option is to strip and re-coat the floor.
In more commercial flooring, grout cleaning is a challenge because residual detergents will build up in the grout and retain dirt. Also old tile floors from which the top layer has been worn off, allow dirt to infiltrate the porous surface making it very hard to remove. Very often a protective wax or finish coating is applied, but that only seals the dirt underneath a transparent layer and does nothing to make it look less old and worn. New chemical-free technologies are available now that don’t leave behind chemical residue and so can help restore the floor’s original clean and bright aspect.
Productivity and budget
Productivity and cost savings go hand in hand for facility managers. In addition to the above effectiveness benefits, innovative technologies and product enhancements will create opportunities for reductions in cost of operation. In times of more difficult economic circumstances, this is of course a major concern for facility managers.
Using high quality materials and parts manufacturers ensure a solid construction that extends the performance life of machines. Durability and reliability pay off in the long run as they avoid damage to the equipment and subsequent repair costs.
Opting for larger tanks not only lowers operating costs by reduced fill cycles but easy-to-clean tanks also offer the benefit of fast clean-out and the reduced possibility of mould and bacteria growth, making the cleaning operation less time consuming. Choosing the right squeegee then ensures excellent water and residue pick-up, resulting in fewer passes but also in less slippery floors ready for high footfall in the shortest possible time. No tool change of squeegees, brushes or pads also increases productivity.
With intuitive controls and easy-to-operate machines the risk of abuse or incorrect operation is reduced considerably and the operator can fully focus on the cleaning task at hand.
Enhancements in ergonomics both on ride-on machines and on walk-behind models will offer clear visibility lines and reduce operator fatigue. This again has the advantage of increased productivity.
By extending cleaning paths or offering a choice of different scrub heads or brushes, cleaning equipment manufacturers can now address the financial and space requirements of most facilities. Even in times of budget restrictions this can make facility managers’ lives easier since it allows them to choose the right combination for their particular cleaning needs.
The benefits from proper service and maintenance are obvious: maximised uptime and life of the machine are the result of regular maintenance by professionals, which makes protecting your investment so much more cost-effective.
Health and safety
The implementation of an effective floor maintenance programme is a very important step in the prevention of various health and safety issues. Not only do slippery floors present hazards, indoor air quality and noise can affect the well-being of operators, staff and residents as well.
Slip and fall accidents can account for a large number of lost days of work, high medical costs and even higher insurance rates. Besides actually cleaning, ensuring the floor is slip-resistant is one of the additional aims of a floor maintenance programme. Obviously it starts with daily cleaning that should include dust sweeping, wet cleaning and spot cleaning. In most cases a walk-behind or ride-on scrubber dryer is used for the wet cleaning. Very often chemicals are used to remove dirt from the floor. However these chemicals involve a number of extra steps in handling them that can have an impact on the health and safety of the cleaning staff and the facility residents.
Chemical overdosing can leave a residue that can make the floor slippery. Mixing and manual dosing of chemicals will also present the operator with the risk of spillage and hand and/or eye contact if proper procedures are not followed. Thorough training of operators is very important in these circumstances, which in itself can be a challenge due to language problems and high personnel turnover. Some recent chemical-free technologies offer the advantage that little or no training is required, thus increasing operator confidence, productivity and safety.
Indoor air quality greatly benefits from an appropriate cleaning programme as well. Ensuring no dust particles become airborne by effectively sweeping and scrubbing the floor, positively impacts workers’ and residents’ health. Apart from this aspect, avoiding unpleasant odours from dirt build-up or residue will also benefit building occupants’ feeling of well-being.
In addition to the above, ensuring cleaning is done with the least possible disruption is essential in environments where cleaning is done when people are around, such as in schools, hospitals, offices, retail environments, etc. Today’s cleaning solutions offer equipment that works at acceptable noise levels. This has the advantage that daytime cleaning can be part of the cleaning programme, thus improving the image of the cleaner’s job and reducing labour costs.
Today sustainability is on most professionals’ plates as well. How to balance the cleaning requirements with the environmental aspects can be a tough exercise. Recent developments now offer cleaning solutions that save natural resources by reducing energy consumption and water usage and by diminishing the need for detergents, thus also reducing the waste stream.
Although faced with a plethora of challenges in hard floor cleaning, facility managers nowadays can choose from a wide range of flexible solutions tailored to their specific cleaning applications. These allow them to still live up to rigorous expectations of cleanliness, effectiveness and budget constraints all while not sacrificing image and safety.