Which cleaning trolley goes where?

28th of November 2011
Which cleaning trolley goes where?
Which cleaning trolley goes where?

What is the ideal configuration for a cleaning trolley in an office, a school or a hospital? Ann Laffeaty asks trolley manufacturers how they adapt their products to fit specific locations.

Cleaning trolleys are ingenious inventions. They are sufficiently lightweight and easy to push while also housing a wide variety of tools, chemicals and waste disposal facilities. A trolley’s configuration will depend greatly on the environment in which it is to be used. When cleaning a small room that is a short distance from the cleaning cupboard, for instance, the trolley will be a simple affair housing only a few essentials.

But where long distances are involved and complex cleaning operations need to be carried out, the configuration of the trolley will be more of a juggling act. It should not run out of supplies, since repeated trips to the cleaning cupboard will be costly from a labour point of view. However, if the trolley is too heavy to push it could slow down the operator - and even lead to back or skeletal injuries.

So, how does the configuration of a trolley differ from environment to environment? And which are the hardest sectors for which to provide trolleys?

According to Crisp Clean Services’ design manager Dave Hudsmith the type of flooring present and the level of hygiene required play major roles in determining the type of cleaning system to use. “Carpeted office areas, for example, need no mopping systems but do require waste collection facilities and a vacuum cleaner,” he said. “Hospitals tend to require a flat mopping system either in the form of a double bucket wringer or a dosing system that uses a clean mop for every 10 to 20 square metres.

“Hospitals also often require segregated waste collection, whereas heavily soiled areas such as school entrances and passageways are ideally suited to a flat mop double bucket system since this will be highly effective at removing large amounts of soil.”

Another consideration will be the impression the trolley is likely to make on the public – and whether this matters, he adds. “Public areas often demand that the trolley does not become an eyesore or that harmful chemicals are secured out of view,” he said.  “For this reason, part or fully-enclosed trolleys have often become a prerequisite. However the underlying trolley configuration can be broken down into the same basic elements according to the cleaning method, storage and waste requirement.”

In restricted access areas trolleys also need to be as small, lightweight and as manoeuvrable as possible says Hudsmith. “The addition of large fixed wheels at the rear of a trolley to enable it to be taken upstairs is another typical requirement,” he said.

Crisp Clean Services offers a range of trolleys from a simple single bucket flat mopping system to a multi-function trolley that can carry several mops and segregate various different forms of waste.

According to Hudsmith, one aspect of a trolley system that is often overlooked is the material used in its construction. “In a hospital environment it is astonishing to see the condition of some plastic-based trolley systems being taken onto wards,” he said.  “The plastic quickly accumulates dirt, germs and bacteria and the complexity of some of the mouldings makes cleaning the trolleys practically impossible. In these situations a stainless steel frame offers a much simpler construction with the clear advantage that it is capable of being cleaned and sterilised.”

Vileda’s technical services group manager Jorg Dunkel agrees hospitals need to be supplied with trolleys that have a metal frame with no dirt traps. However, he claims hospitals are among the easiest sectors for which to provide a trolley solution. “In public areas such as hospitals and airports the customer understands the need for a trolley which means the cleaning system will be very well organised,” he said.

Configured to suit needs

According to Dunkel it is important that a trolley should be configured to suit the needs of the individual cleaning site. “If the customer decides to use pre-prepared mops in place of the mop-and-bucket method the trolley will look very different,” he said. “Also, if there are carpets on the cleaning site – say in an office or hotel - then the wheels must be bigger, otherwise too much force is needed to push the trolley. Covered trolleys also create a better impression in a hotel or office.

“It is also important to consider the waste-collection system in a trolley configuration, and whether it needs to fulfil transportation tasks such as bringing paper towels, toilet paper and soaps on to the site.“

He says a compromise is often required between providing a full range of cleaning products and limiting the size of the trolley to make it sufficiently compact to store. “In a hospital the main focus will be on cleaning, whereas in an office it is often hard to find sufficient storage space in the building for trolleys,” he said.

Vileda’s Origo 500 modular series is said to allow for up to 1.2 million different trolley configurations. The company’s latest developments include covered trolleys and lockable boxes. “Covered trolleys are becoming more and more important as an increasing number of customers move towards daytime cleaning,” said Dunkel. “A covered trolley also creates a better impression in an office and can also help to prevent the misuse of detergent in a care home for example.”

He says other environments where specialist trolleys are required include operating theatres - where trolleys need to be particularly compact – and clean rooms in the pharmaceutical industry. “Here we offer stainless steel trolleys that can be autoclaved.”

According to marketing manager of Tecno Trolley Systems Paola Zorzo all sectors have their own specific needs but flexibility plays an important role. “No sector poses a major challenge when it comes to providing a trolley: this is what we continue to invest in R&D for,” he said. “By listening to the needs of the end-users and pulling together the work procedures in their sector we can come up with the trolley configuration for them.”

He says clearly-segregated recycling, storage and cleaning sections are constants that need to be considered in any trolley configuration. “These areas should be able to be closed off from one another whether by drawers, doors and sides,” he said. “Lids, doors and drawers should also be lockable using just one removable key to allow the operator to protect all substances and working equipment.”

He said there is a growing trend towards the 'one-trolley-fits-all' approach. “Our Magic trolley has many combinations to allow the operator to create their ideal trolleys for disinfecting, cleaning and maintenance needs,” he said. “The trolley can also comprise a separated waste collection and a transport-managing linen service plus almost any other application.”

According to IPC Ready System’s sales director Mariano Adriano it is difficult to configure a trolley for a specific environment or industry. “The configuration will change depending on the different habits and needs of every country,” he said.

However, he adds that there are some general considerations to be made in specific sectors. “Hygiene is of course a major factor when configuring a hospital trolley since the contamination risk is very high,” he said. “The trolley here would mainly be used for quickly disinfecting contaminated areas so there would either be a microfibre mop replacement system together with a Velcro tool, or a standard mop replacement with pockets made of polyester-cotton yarn.

“The trolley would also need to have handles made from fibreglass/aluminium and the material used to produce the trolley’s plastic components should be anti-bacterial.”

IPC Ready System’s HDS Suite features antibacterial plastic products for the healthcare sector. The company also offers the DS Drop pre-treated mop system.

In a school or supermarket, says Adriano, the trolley system would need to include separate areas for clean and dirty water and for detergents. “Trays might also be useful to contain cleaning products such as cloths and microfibre mop replacements,” he said. “We would also suggest a 120 litre bag support with compartment for refuse with its own lid. This is for aesthetic and security reasons and to avoid the spread of bad smells.” He says useful accessories in a school or supermarket would include handles for dust and wet flat mops, Kentucky mops, a multi-purpose clamp and a wet-floor sign.

A similar trolley configuration would work in an office, he says, though here he would suggest the addition of waste and recycling compartments for collecting rubbish from individual desk bins.
According to Adriano, IPC Ready System trolleys can be adapted to suit any environment including clean rooms where equipment that produces no static energy is required. “Aluminium frames with Velcro and disposable mop replacements would be the recommended solution here,” he said.

He adds that the most difficult market for which to provide trolleys is the contract cleaning sector. “In order to keep costs low and be more competitive while also increasing their profit, the cleaning sector restricts our efforts to create professional cleaning systems,” he said. “The biggest challenge is letting our customers understand that they should evaluate the product first – and then the price.”


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