Scrubber dryers - the importance of productivity

12th of March 2013
Scrubber dryers - the importance of productivity
Scrubber dryers - the importance of productivity

Noise levels, operator comfort, aesthetics, size – all are important points to consider when choosing a scrubber dryer.  But customers will also want a machine that can carry out the job quickly and efficiently while keeping down costs. How crucial is productivity to the customer when choosing a scrubber dryer? Ann Laffeaty finds out.

Noise levels, operator comfort, aesthetics, size – all are important points to consider when choosing a scrubber dryer.  But customers will also want a machine that can carry out the job quickly and efficiently while keeping down costs.

However, the productivity of a scrubber dryer depends on a number of factors such as speed of operation, battery run-time, ease of use, water and detergent usage and drying time. So which of these do manufacturers focus on when developing a productive scrubber dryer?

“Simplicity is of key importance,” says NSS business development manager Oussef El Caidi. “We always attempt to build machines that can easily be used by anyone since training is expensive. We are particularly proud of our LCD displays that use pictures and icons to inform the operator where to look when a problem occurs. Other companies tend to use numbers, codes and slashes which are more difficult to understand.”

He says tank capacity can have a major effect on productivity. “Our Champ 3529 has a 110 litre tank and a 120 litre recovery tank which avoids the need for the operator to keep stopping the machine to fill and empty the tanks,” says El Caidi.

“The vacuum motor is also very important because you have to be able to quickly remove the water. If you have a weak vacuum the area will remain wet and you will have to do the job again. If you are working on an area of 40,000 square metres it might take you two to three days to carry out a job that might only take half a day with a better machine.”

Factors such as cost, size, comfort and aesthetics are equally as important as productivity according to Truvox UK field sales manager Ricky Smith.

“Customers should check the price of replacement pads and brushes and find out how quickly these can be delivered,” he said. “It is also a good idea to speak to the manufacturer or distributor about the repair services they offer. And ask colleagues and contacts about the reliability of a particular machine. If it is out of action for just one day it can be costly in terms of time and money.”

He adds that the amount of liquid used, speed of drying and training offered can make a major difference to a machine’s productivity. “Using a scrubber dryer correctly will ensure you achieve optimum results, so customers should ask whether suppliers will carry out on-site demonstrations for their cleaning staff.”

Cost joint priority

According to Smith the Truvox Multiwash is particularly productive since it can clean floor surfaces that are neither flat nor level. “An optional side brush enables cleaning to ‘skirting board’ level, which is especially important with safety flooring which tends to curve up the wall,” he said.
Fimap customers tend to put cost and productivity joint top of their list according to ceo Massimiliano Ruffo.

“All productivity features must be taken into account such as working speed, working autonomy, user friendliness, reduced downtime and ease of maintenance,” he said.

After-sales service is also crucial, he adds, and quiet operation is important to customers in the healthcare and wellness sectors. “Aesthetics are key since they highlight brand identity and make the machine easier to recognise,” he said. “This allows the customer to identify the product with a brand that stands for quality and trustworthiness.”

According to Ruffo the productivity of a scrubber dryer will depend on the type of floor on which it is to be used and the operating methods applied. “After an evaluation of these factors it is
possible to choose the most suitable model offering productivity according to cleaning needs,” he said.

“For example where labour costs are high, hourly performance will be more important than battery run time whereas if labour costs are low, battery run time will be key.” A software package developed by Fimap - Fit4You – is said to allow customers to find the best scrubbing machine for their needs.

Ruffo cites the company’s new Mxr machine as an example of a particularly productive model. “It is a ride-on machine that requires the same level of investment as a walk-behind model, which means it can reduce cleaning costs by up to 36 per cent,” he said. “Mxr is also so small that the operator can move from room to room without alighting from the machine since it can pass through traditional doors and enter standard lifts.”

Kärcher’s environmental PR David Wickel says flexibility and user-friendliness can both improve a scrubber dryer’s productivity. “Cleaning machines should be adjustable to requirements simply by changing the brushes or varying the contact pressure or brush speed setting,” he said. “Controls should be clearly arranged and their function must be apparent at a glance to rule out operating errors. And the machine should be robust and durable and require minimal maintenance.”

Since labour makes up a large part of a company’s cleaning costs it makes sense to use a powerful, efficient machine that will speed up cleaning, he says. “At the same time the machine must be tailored to suit the application and offer a good price-performance ratio while fitting inconspicuously into the background – particularly in areas that are open to the public.”

Kärcher’s new walk-behind B 40, B 60 and B 80 scrubber dryers feature an Intelligent Key system enabling relevant personnel to set different parameters. “The facility manager uses a grey key to set speed of travel, brush speed, motor output and detergent dose while the service technician uses a red key for machine maintenance and the operator has a yellow key to select the cleaning programme.” explains Wickel.

“This makes it possible to set an individual profile for each user which means the machines are easy to handle and economical to operate because they are optimally adjusted to the application in hand.”

Hako product and marketing manager Klaus Serfezi says the company’s customers tend to consider quality, robust design, ease of operation and after-sales service alongside productivity.
“A machine will remain in operation for longer if, say, it is designed for ease of servicing and maintenance, has an on-board diagnosis system and is backed by a good service network,” he said. “The ‘look and feel’ of a machine will also play an important role. 

Given the fact that scrubber dryers are commonly used by women, small, manoeuvrable machines are often favoured. And factors such as spring-cushioned seats, a good view of the working area and sufficient legroom coupled with an electronic control system will help to make a scrubber dryer easy and comfortable to operate.“

Large areas in one pass

Hako’s ride-on Hakomatic B 115 R machines have a ‘boost button’ to increase water supply and brush pressure in heavily-soiled areas, and a low water setting for general cleaning. Hako’s AquaControl is claimed to offer water savings of up to 50 per cent while the company’s refill systems are said to increase efficiency by significantly shortening refill time.

The productivity of a scrubber dryer is more than simply the time it takes to clean a floor says Numatic’s floorcare channel manager Kevin Andrews. “The time to fill, clean down and empty the machine also need to be taken into consideration,” he said. “Area coverage should be a simple equation: a sensible walking speed multiplied by the width of the machine.  But other aspects such as distance from cleaning station should also be taken into account.”

He adds that battery run-time and a low-flow water rate option - perhaps with a built-in chemical dosing system – will also help the operator to cover large areas in one pass on an individual shift.  “An effective suction will help to leave the floor streak-free, while simple maintenance procedures such as easy-to-clean filters and pipes will ensure that the machine works at maximum efficiency,” he said.

According to Andrews, all Numatic scrubber dryers are easy to operate, clean and service. Features of the Twintec TTB1840 include a small size, rechargeable battery packs and ease of use, while the company’s Vario machines offer width-adjustable traction drive and computer-controlled chemical and water flow rates.

Senior group product manager of Nilfisk-Advance Domenico Coppa says contract cleaners are increasingly being expected to clean large areas more quickly.

“Facilities such as schools and gymnasiums are becoming more widely used by other bodies, which means scrubber dryers need to offer the same cleaning results in a shorter timescale using higher working speeds, longer running times and requiring fewer waste water dumps and refills,” he said.

“Contract cleaners are increasingly looking at the cost in use of a scrubber dryer rather than the price of the machine delivered.”

Productive features of Nilfisk-Advance’s scrubber dryers include high vacuum performance, easy-to-access water tanks, on-board refilling hose and one-touch controls, says Coppa. The company’s Ecoflex system also helps to control detergent use.

“The goal is to use exactly the right amount of water and detergent, which is where a dosing system becomes key since it saves money plus time spent on refilling and waste water disposal.”
Battery run, recharge times, operator comfort, ease of use, easy tank access and tool-free replacement of consumables can all help to improve a machine’s productivity says Coppa.

“Fast drying is also important and a machine equipped with a double vacuum system plus an appropriate squeegee blade will increase drying performance, particularly when using the machine at full speed and on tough floor surfaces such as tiles.”

Sales director of Industrial Cleaning Equipment Rob McInally says factors such as size and manoeuvrability are important to the company’s customers alongside productivity.

“The machine’s quietness also needs to be considered because noise can be an unwelcome intrusion in healthcare and educational settings,” he said. ”The safety of staff, customers and visitors is also important, particularly if the scrubber dryer is to be used for daytime cleaning.”

Suitability balance

He says battery-powered scrubber dryers with no trailing leads will be less likely to cause trips or falls. “Models that leave the floor dry in minutes will also guard against slips,” he said.

“Furthermore if a scrubber dryer leaves the floor sufficiently dry to walk on in a short space of time it will enhance the productivity of the cleaning regime as well as that of the business in the building being cleaned.”

According to McInally ease of use, ease of maintenance and battery run and recharge times all have an impact on productivity. “Other factors to consider are reliability and machine life,” he said. “How long can your machine be expected to deliver the results you require, and does your machine provider offer the right support and service arrangements to minimise downtime?”

An example of the company’s productive machines is the ride-on RA 535 IBCT which has a tight turning circle and can fit between till stations in supermarkets, he says.

According to McInally, the productivity of a scrubber dryer should be balanced against its suitability for the task in hand.

“Productivity will always be high on the list of priorities, but this shouldn’t be at the cost of results,” he said. “There is no point in having the fastest, most energy-efficient machine on the market if the cleaning results do not reach the required standard.”


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