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Special case cleaning trolleys5th of December 2013
What types of customers require bespoke trolleys configured to their own precise requirements? And does a “one size fits all” approach ever work in the trolley market? Ann Laffeaty finds out.
Trolleys are essentially a fairly simple concept. Basically a bag or a box on wheels, a trolley’s main purpose is to take away any strain from the operator when transporting heavy or unwieldy items from one place to another.
Although not exclusively used in the cleaning industry, trolleys have become invaluable to the average cleaner’s work. Items such as buckets, mops, brooms and vacuum cleaners are all necessary tools of the trade and these heavy, cumbersome items may have to moved long distances around the facility to be cleaned.
But every task is different and the range of items required by each cleaner will vary from one job to another. A hotel cleaner will need to transport shampoos, towels, bedding and washroom supplies to each guest room, for instance, and some of these items should be able to fit on to a trolley. The type of equipment required will also depend largely on the facility’s floor surface: vacuum cleaners will be required in place of mops and brooms in a carpeted area, for example.
Sometimes a trolley should have a smart appearance to reflect the brand values of the premises being cleaned. And closed compartments will be necessary in other environments in order to prevent smells or any health and safety issues that may arise from having a trolley containing an open bucket of used cleaning cloths.
So there is often a need for a ‘special case trolley’ configured specifically for the user in mind. In fact marketing director of TTS Paola Zorzo argues that practically every trolley is a special case. And she adds that the company is constantly being asked to configure bespoke trolleys for individual customers.
“Every industry has its own space requirements depending on whether their top priorities are safety, hygiene or organisation,” she said. According to Zorzo the TTS concept is to provide trolleys with an optimum level of flexibility so that they can be customised in the easiest possible way. “It is very important to have everything at hand while cleaning in order to avoid any unnecessary loss of time,” she said. ”Therefore the choice of a suitable cart is the first step towards increasing productivity.“
Variety of environments
To prove this theory, TTS has trialled its Magic Line trolleys in a variety of environments including offices, nursing homes, hotels, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. “The trolleys that had been specifically configured for the environment in question resulted in improvements in productivity of between 19 and 36 per cent,” said Zorzo.
She claims that the right trolley for each application needs to be identified – even if this means several operators working in a single building all using trolleys built to a different configuration.
“For instance, in the case of a swimming pool building maintained by eight operators, we once had to come up with two different configurations in order to optimise performance,” she said.
“In a nursing home with 14 operators, on the other hand, we had to come up with four different configurations – while in a pharmaceutical operation where 22 operators were employed a total of seven different versions of the trolley had to be made to optimise productivity.
“The key point is that each operator should be able to include all the tools necessary to clean the area assigned to them.” She adds that creating several different bespoke trolleys within one organisation should not be a problem from an aesthetics point of view. “The trolleys may all have different configurations, but they will still belong to the same line and this will prevent the negative effect of the trolleys having a different look.”
IPC Ready System sales director Adriano Mariano says his company also has to come up with special case trolleys from time to time. “It happened this year when one of our key customers involved in the retail market asked us to configure a trolley specifically for them,” he said.
Problems had arisen at the retail company when housekeepers attending spillages with a mop and bucket sometimes made the initial problem worse. “Paperwork relating to the incident would either be poorly completed or not at all – and when a customer then slipped on the poorly cleaned floor, the company would struggle to defend its position.”
IPC Ready System’s answer was to come up with the CS1 Mobile Cleaning Station. “This is an all-inclusive trolley with dedicated microfibre mops and accessories, plus a wet and dry vacuum unit,” said Mariano. “The trolley also has an optional app to solve the paperwork problem. This app is used to store the info on the web for future use as required.”
Email reports of spillages are instantly sent to the supermarket and the contractor, and this can then be used in court to mitigate or reduce the cost of any personal injury claims.
Crisp Clean Services offers a range of stainless steel systems from a single bucket flat mopping trolley to a multifunctional, high-hygiene dosing system trolley capable of carrying several mops and segregating three different forms of waste.
“Adaptation by accessorising a basic trolley layout gives the customer the ability to fine-tune their own particular configuration,” said international sales manager Judy Toes. “Carpeted office areas, for example, do not need mopping systems but require more waste collection and a vacuum cleaner,” she said. “Hospitals tend to use flat-mopping in the form of either a double-bucket wringer system or dosing system using a clean mop for every 10 to 20 square metres.
“Hospitals also often require segregated waste collection and enclosed systems. And heavily-soiled areas such as school entrances and passageways are ideally suited to a flat mop double-bucket system due to its effectiveness at removing large amounts of soil.”
According to Toes, in public areas it is often important that the trolley does not become an eyesore and that harmful chemicals are secured out of view. “To this end, part or fully-enclosed trolleys have become a prerequisite,” she said. “However the underlying trolley configuration can be broken down to the same basic elements such as the cleaning method, storage and waste requirement.”
She adds that in restricted access areas, trolleys need to be as small, lightweight and manoeuvrable as possible. “Adding large fixed wheels to the rear of a trolley to enable it to be taken upstairs is a typical requirement,” she said.
Kärcher can also offers pre-configured trolleys to suit different demands says Linda Laipple. “Special configurations are needed according to the different facilities, different cleaning frequencies and different types of soiling,” she said. “Closed compartments tend to be used in hospitals, for instance - mainly for health protection purposes, but also to avoid any possible misuse of the detergents.”
She says customers tend to tell the company exactly what they need. “Sometimes the trolley configuration needs to be adapted for different manual tools such as specific mops etc, and this need to be discussed with the customer.”
So, are customers increasingly asking for bespoke trolleys, or is the market heading more towards a ‘one-trolley-fits-all’ approach?
“In general the tendency is heading towards a multipurpose trolley solution to avoid spending too much money on different systems and to ensure operators are trained in an easy way,” says Laipple.
Crisp Clean’s Judy Toes disagrees. “A ‘one trolley fits all’ approach is simply not good enough and this is demonstrated by the regular requests we have for ‘bespoke’ trolley configurations,” she said.
“Most cleaning environments have their own specific requirements – and these are often not only environment-specific but also country-specific.
“Accessorising a basic trolley layout gives the customer the ability to develop their own particular configuration.”