Small space, big capacity trolleys

21st of December 2017
Small space, big capacity trolleys
Small space, big capacity trolleys

How do trolley manufacturers create compact, lightweight trolleys that incorporate all the tools and capacity that their customers require? We find out about the ingenious ways in which trolley space can be maximised.

Compact trolleys are increasingly in demand because of the many benefits they offer over larger models. They take up less storage space and fit more easily into lifts, for example. They are also less cumbersome to push around and are more manoeuvrable in corridors.

But even the most compact of trolleys needs to be fit for purpose. This means it should be able to house all the required cleaning equipment and refills while also being capable of accommodating any waste that might be picked up on the cleaner’s travels.

So how do manufacturers provide a trolley with a large capacity on a small footprint? The answer lies in modularity and customisation according to TTS export sales manager Alessandro Costantini. ”A modular design allows us to create smaller units that offer a range of customisable functions,” he said.

“The trolley can then be divided into several compact parts that can be used independently of each other and may be recomposed again later as a complete unit.”

He confirms that there is growing customer demand for compact trolleys. “Operators need modern and flexible tools that can be used even in the most hard-to-access areas such as corridors and staircases,” he said.

The TTS Magic Line has a new hook system that allows the Mini Magic satellite station to be detached with just one click. This is said to enable it to be used comfortably even in narrow spaces.

“A modular trolley may be customised to easily incorporate all the necessary cleaning equipment,” said Costantini. “For example, the Magic Line allows users to adapt the storage space by adding drawers, shelves, buckets and basins according to demand. It also enables them to divide the waste collection bag and increase the number of collection apertures by means of an insert.”

IPC’s tools division’s managing director Michele Redi agrees that there is a general requirement for today’s trolleys to be small and compact while also being conveniently equipped.

“This means they need to feature all the essential components for the required cleaning regime while also being light enough to be pushed around through narrow corridors and in tight corners,”
he said. “But this is easier said than done and requires a great deal of skill and knowledge.”

The types of equipment and tools that need to be incorporated will depend on the sector, says Redi. “In environments such as schools, offices, supermarkets and smaller department stores a trolley needs to be compact and manoeuvrable even though bulky components such as water buckets and supports for waste bags or laundry bags cannot be avoided,” he said. “You can’t leave out what is really necessary. However, sometimes you can rationalise smartly.”

He says trolley suppliers should be wise to the fact that customers often overestimate their need for certain tools.  “For example, they may ask for items they will never use during standard daily operations,” he said.

IPC’s compact trolleys help the operator to maximise available space by incorporating holders for sweeping, washing and disinfecting frames as well as hooks and fixings for cleaning tools and safety signs, says Redi. “Customers can also save space by doing away with bulky buckets and wringers and equipping their trolley with a pre-impregnated mopping system such as our SDS system instead,” he said.

New from IPC is the “kit concept trolley” which is claimed to offer modularity while also reducing size. The company’s Brix Compact trolley comes in three models and can be used in a range of environments by changing the kit on the standard body.

Demand for compact grows

Vileda’s business development director Steve Barber agrees that demand for smaller, more compact trolleys has been increasing over recent years. This has prompted the company to develop the VoleoPro range which has a footprint of 0.5 square metres.

“The main driver for this launch was the fact that smaller cleaning cupboards result in a reduced amount of space for storing large trolleys between shifts,” he said. “Many customers choose their trolley based on the storage space available rather than on the tools that will be required to fulfil the day’s tasks. To resolve this conflict we have been obliged to develop trolleys that make the most of the space available.”

The mop frame holders on Vileda’s VoleoPro trolleys have been moved from their traditional position on the outside to a new position beneath the waste collection unit. “This removes 15 cm from the width of the trolley without any negative impact on functionality,” says Barber. “Modularity is also key and our Origo range uses all the possible space to ensure that elements such as buckets, waste collection and cleaning materials will all fit.”

But there is no getting around it, says Barber: a smaller trolley will inevitably have a lower capacity for tools and equipment than a larger model. “However by working with our end-users and combining a thorough knowledge of the cleaning process with smart design and engineering we are able to come up with compact trolleys that will accommodate everything that may be required by the cleaner,” he said. “We also have a range of multifunctional tools that allow users to reduce the number of items they need to carry - and this again frees up space on the trolley.”

He adds there is no need for a trolley to be compact in certain environments. “For example, in airports and shopping malls the main purpose of a trolley tends to be for waste collection and washroom refills,” he said. “Here you need ample space to hold the collected waste and store toilet rolls and hand towels.

Compact not always best

“Choosing a compact trolley for this type of environment would be less effective and increase overall costs since the operatives would need to make multiple trips to and from the central waste area and storage station. Therefore manufacturers need to offer flexibility and supply everything from small compact trolleys through to large multipurpose units.”

Like other manufacturers Kärcher has noticed an increase in demand for compact trolleys according to international public relations manager Alexander Becker.

“This is particularly the case in upscale hotels,” he said. “In these types of environments compact trolleys are preferred because they take up less space in corridors and are less intrusive for guests. And the fact that compact trolleys require less storage space helps to reduce costs.”

Like Barber he claims that fewer tools are required on today’s trolleys due to the development of more flexible and multifunctional products. “Our goal is to offer trolleys that can be configured according to specific cleaning tasks so that no unnecessary items are accommodated,” he said.
Kärcher offers the Trolley Clean Liner Classic II, a compact unit that incorporates two colour-coded 15-litre buckets, a mop press and a fold-up bin liner holder.

“While it is not easy to fit all the necessary components on to a more compact trolley, the availability of more compact components is helpful and we are working on more flexible build trolleys,” says Becker.

The demand for more compact trolleys stems from changes in the cleaning market according to Filmop’s export area manager Igor Pegorin. “Narrow rooms and environments with a reduced number of storage spaces have always existed,” he points out. “However the growing demand for compact trolleys arises from greater specialisation when it comes to cleaning tools.

“At one time a standard trolley could basically suit any environment. But nowadays the market has evolved and it has become more sensitive to the requirements of individual applications and the need to provide better support for specific needs.”

Various functions

He says it is a growing challenge to design compact trolleys that can fulfil different functions such as washing, waste collection and material storage. Filmop’s latest trolley – the AlphaSplit line - is a compact multipurpose unit incorporating various modules that can be divided up and locked if required.

But the choice of trolley ultimately depends on the environment according to Pegorin. “If the main aim is to sanitise a hospital for example, the storage and cleaning functions will be less important and require less space than the disinfection equipment,” he said. “And the type of mopping system you require will also impact on trolley choice. For example, a wet-mopping system that offers mop-soaking on demand will save a significant amount of space compared with traditional systems that require one or two buckets.”

So, will trolleys become even more compact in the future? IPC’s Michele Redi says yes, tomorrow’s trolleys will become increasingly compact and efficient, “However, we feel that the traditional ‘all-inclusive’ trolley will retain a small and limited share of the market,” he said.

Filmop’s Igor Pegorin believes compact trolleys will not necessarily dictate tomorrow’s products. “We think the main demand in future will be for trolleys and tools that are easier to use, environmentally-friendly and more compact while maintaining their functionality in order to improve hygiene standards in different environments,” he said.

And Vileda’s business development director Steve Barber agrees here will be an ongoing need for trolleys of all different sizes. “Cleaning requirements vary greatly and the trolley’s capacity should never be the main driver in any purchasing decision,” he said.

“Selecting the correct cleaning system that meets the specific needs of the site in question is key to the end result. The ongoing challenge for trolley developers is to ensure that the chosen system - whatever that may be - will fit on to the cart.”


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