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Market forces16th of March 2011
Heading up this edition’s special report about scrubber dryers, Nilfisk-Advance examines how changing conditions in the market are inspiring new developments in scrubber dryer technology.
Our customers are always striving to deliver the best they can to their customers, and it is our job to make them look good doing it. As we see it there are several trends in society driving the need for a new orientation in the market of professional cleaning.
Floor types are changing - for convenience and appearance. Our customers are requesting more when it comes to daytime cleaning, productivity, cost of ownership and ergonomics, there is a renewed focus on the hygienic level of our machines themselves and finally the sustainability focus has come to stay.
New types of flooring are driving cleaning methods and processes. New floor types are being chosen because they are easier to maintain, more hygienic, more comfortable for the users and/or in line with the image of the products sold or produced.
Hospitals and schools are looking for more hygienic, easier to maintain and 'low noise' floors. Soft plastic (such as Linoleum) is replacing vinyl tiles which means the elimination of expensive layers of coating that need to be stripped and burnished constantly.
The scrubber dryer is the main machine used, offering flexible cleaning with the ability to give perfect and adequate result on different areas: from light cleaning in corridors (low pressure, low water flow and often without detergent) to more aggressive cleaning in lobbies where traffic is more intense (higher pressure, more water and some detergent).
Many retail shops are moving to polished concrete. With this there is no need for burnishers and expensive detergents. A scrubber dryer is often the only machine used but since concrete still needs to maintain the original finish, a diamond pad could be a good addition.
Industries and car parks are changing their image and therefore their rough concrete floors, with painted epoxy that looks smarter and cleaner. Besides the nice look this is also helping to reduce the quantity of debris on the floor. Scrubber dryers with cylindrical decks are preferable for cleaning and collecting small amount of debris on epoxy floors, but there is no longer a need for a sweeper or a combi machine (dry sweeping and scrubbing).
This floor trend is of course different from country to country and region to region. The US is still using burnishers and coating while the western part of Europe is moving rapidly away from it.
From our customers we see four main requests dominating the future scrubber dryer market.
Daytime cleaning - Customers want to be able to maintain the same level of cleanliness for the entire day. Supermarkets, for example, want their floors in perfect condition at all times. For a scrubber to be used during opening hours it needs to be:
•Easy to drive, with the correct level of ergonomics for safe control (one-touch scrubbing functions, full view on the area to clean and comfortable driving position are important)
•No water on floors. Residue water on floors makes them slippery so scrubbers need to perfectly pick up water in all conditions. Water flow, machine speed and directions are all important
•Safe working conditions. The purpose being to protect general public and operator, eliminating all risk of the machine striking someone. Good traction, efficient braking conditions, no exposure to moving parts, safety devices such as flashing beacon or working alarms and safety switches are important
•Neutral design. The scrubber has to be a part of the environment and not attract any attention. A low noise level to work in sensitive areas, standard or optional devices to reduce shocks or impacts with shelves, palettes, doors and walls are important.
Contract cleaners are also focusing more and more on daytime cleaning as this is cheaper and more of their employees can avoid having to work unsociable hours. This will in the end make it easier to keep employees and improve the perception of working as a contract cleaning operative.
Productivity - A scrubber should offer a reduction in cleaning cost, as well as a better service for an area. For example, gymnasiums are used more and more for different events and the time to do the cleaning has been reduced drastically in recent years. So a scrubber should be able to offer same cleaning result in a shorter time, higher working speed, longer running time, less dump and refill. A compact ride-on scrubber could also be the perfect answer for this purpose instead of a large walk-behind machine.
Cost of ownership - Most contract cleaners and institutions are now looking into the cost related to the usage of the scrubber, more than the price of the machine when it is bought. For example, an onboard chemical dispensing system can help the operator to control the detergent usage thereby reducing the cost of detergents in its lifetime significantly.
A customer could also benefit from spending more money on a new brush or pad, if this helps to simplify the cleaning task significantly (like removing a frequent burnishing operation on a stone floor) or to improve the cleaning result. Scrubber dryers are more and more understood to be a part of the cleaning solution.
Ergonomics - The easier and more comfortable our machines are to handle for the operators, the better cleaning result you get. Easier to drive, easier to control and easier to use!
•A comfortable driving position or handling with necessary adjustments in order to fit the operator's size
•Clear view of the area to clean
•Control panel with easy to understand functions and support of the operator interface
•No daily tool maintenance (clean tanks, change brushes/pads, charge batteries)
•Onboard detergent system
•Automatic solution flow control
•Low noise level for both the operator and the potentially sensitive environment.
The hygienic machine trend
Another trend that we see in the market is a new focus on the hygienic level and the clean look of our machines. A scrubber should not be a 'vehicle' for germs, so it has be easy to clean in its own right, with easy access to the tanks for cleaning purposes. How and how often it needs to be cleaned is of course depending on where the machine is used, whether it's in a hospital or in a more industrial application. Nevertheless, scrubbers have to be made in a lean design to help the operator keep it in perfect condition, as well as using materials that are easy to clean and disinfect, such as gaskets, filters and blades.
The drive for 'green'
To be 'green' is an important trend in our industry, because environmental concern is a mega trend in the world and the buyers/users of machines demand more environmental solutions. A scrubber dryer has to save water, detergent and energy in its daily usage (and not only one of them), but a scrubber machine should also be made using less raw material (less lead into the batteries package for example) and materials that are easier to dispose of in an environmentally conscious way.
The challenge with the green orientation/solution is that it shouldn’t sacrifice or compromise the cleaning result. To be green and clean at the same time demands a flexible scrubber dryer. This means that a machine should be able adjust to the specific application: sometimes you just need to clean with water and brush, for example. Sometimes there is more dirt and you need to use more water and brush pressure and chemicals to clean satisfactorily.
A well made scrubber should be able to adjust the cleaning performances of a machine in order to match the cleaning task and customer expectations.
When it comes to the development of the scrubber dryer market we have many exciting challenges ahead. Listening to our customers is the most important thing, and we will do our best to live up to their expectations and their needs. After all, our most important job is to make them look good.