A trolley good fit

16th of December 2016
A trolley good fit

What type of cleaning trolley would you use in a hospital? An office? Or a hotel? Ann Laffeaty looks at the different trolley requirements for various environments and find out which works best where – and why.

All cleaning trolleys have a number of features in common. They have wheels, they have a handle, they have storage space…. and well, that’s about it. A trolley is basically a mobile cleaning cupboard, and we all know how much the contents of those can differ. So trolleys tend to be configured and equipped to suit the sector in question.

But what elements are required on a typical hospital trolley? And how would these differ from the requirements of an office or hotel, for example? Manufacturers all agree that hospital trolleys need to prioritise hygiene and safety; office trolleys should be compact with wheels that glide effortlessly across carpets, and hotel trolleys need plenty of room for linen and towels while being sufficiently narrow for use in corridors.

Office trolleys should also ideally have rubber-braked wheels for safety plus buckets and a wringer for floor cleaning according to IPC sales and business development manager Adriano Mariano.

“Hotel trolley requirements are similar but here there is an increasing emphasis on aesthetics,” he said. “Trolleys are becoming promotional tools that can enhance a company’s image and we are increasingly seeing website addresses, contact details, logos, slogans and images printed on to trolleys using modern digital printing techniques.”

IPC’s Hotel Maxi and Mini Brix models are particularly suitable for linen collection in hotels, he claims. “These have practical compartments and trays for amenity items and can be equipped with shelves and drawers,” he said. “The Mini model is compact and easy to move and has been specifically designed for working in corridors and restricted spaces.

“And all Brix trolleys are equipped with noise-free rubber wheels to allow them to be used in noise-sensitive environments such as hotels, hospitals and nursing homes.” For the healthcare sector, IPC offers a Healthcare Disinfection System version of its Brix line made from antibacterial plastic to minimise the risk of spreading microorganisms.

He believes trolleys will continue to evolve to become more convenient, compact and efficient. “Tomorrow’s trolleys will also be designed with the operator’s posture in mind so that they can be used in total safety,” said Mariano,. “And the ‘green’ concept will become a must-have, with trolleys increasingly incorporating recycled materials and being developed for enhanced durability.”

A good hotel trolley needs to incorporate facilities for segregating dirty laundry says Kärcher’s detergents and consumables product manager Saskia Schneider. “Besides good storage capabilities you also need a compact construction to enable the trolley to be used in tight corridors,” she said. “And good wheels are important to allow it to carry heavy weights and run on carpets.”

A hospital trolley should have good waste segregation facilities plus the ability to store clean and dirty mops separately, she said. “Ergonomics and colour-coded cleaning materials are also key, along with closable drawers where detergents can be stored.”

Office trolleys on the other hand are mainly designed for waste collecting and surface cleaning, she says. “Here you would need a console for fresh waste bags, cloths and detergents as well as good wheels for enhanced manoeuvrability and lower noise.”

According to Schneider there will be a growing need for more compact trolleys in future. “We will also see an increasing trend towards customised trolleys plus a higher demand for sustainable solutions.”

Cleaning trolley product manager for Hygienteknik Johann Storbjörk says customers should consider the size of the area to be cleaned and the amount of equipment required plus the amount of storage space available when choosing a trolley. “The size and quality of the wheels will also depend on the floor surface and whether the trolley needs to be used outdoors,” he said. “And the way in which mops and cloths are prepared will determine how the trolley is equipped.”

Rolling storage

He describes a classic hotel trolley as a rolling storage facility while the ideal office trolley is more of a central work station. He believes it is particularly important to adapt a healthcare trolley to its environment, however.

“In a hospital there will be large surfaces and long corridors to clean and it will be crucial to maximise hygiene and minimise the risk of cross-contamination,” said Storbjörk. Hygienteknik trolleys can be equipped with a lockable material box and come with a wheel feature designed to maintain direction and help the user keep control. “We also have a series of lightweight aluminium trolleys that can be disinfected at 90 degrees on a daily basis.”

A hospital trolley also needs to accommodate sufficient flat mops, cloths and gloves to allow new ones to be used in each room according to Filmop export area manager Paolo Scapinello. “The storage and waste collection sections must be closed off for safety reasons, while a silent trolley is a must,” he said.

“Sick people need to be able to rest undisturbed so lids and doors must close silently and the trolley must move along the floor making as little noise as possible.” He claims the Filmop Alpha line matches these criteria.

Office trolleys need to be easy to manoeuvre in congested environments, he says. “However they also need to have sufficient space for cleaning tools plus a large storage section for waste paper, with perhaps a divided bag-holder for segregated waste collection,” he said.

Hotels needs may differ depending on whether the trolley is to be used in the guest rooms, lobby, restaurant or conference rooms, says Scapinello. “In all cases the trolley needs to be discreet so that cleaning can be carried out without any visual disturbance for hotel guests,” he said. “And room service trolleys should be slim enough for use in corridors, but large enough to carry large volumes of clean linen and towels.”

He says hotel trolley should ideally be fully enclosed. “Having a messy open trolley in sight of the guest rooms could damage the hotel’s image,” he said.  “Many hotels also require customised trolleys where the brand is featured on the panels.” Filmop’s Emotion trolleys offer sufficient storage for use in hotels and can be customised, he says. “Our Alpha and Emotion lines can incorporate various kinds of waste collection facilities as well as mopping systems and storage capacities.”

According to Scapinello the next challenge for the trolley industry will be to transform today’s units into eco-friendly and ergonomic work stations. “There will also be an increasing use of technology to help end users perform their daily activities in an even more professional way while reducing their labour costs,” he said.

Export sales manager at TTS Alessandro Costantini says segregation between compartments for disinfection, storage and waste management units is among the chief requirements of a healthcare trolley. “It is also crucial to have closable trolleys for safety and hygiene reasons, while high quality plastic should be used in the construction to facilitate deep disinfection,” he said.

Office trolleys need to offer space for cleaning materials as well as carpet cleaning machines and small vacuum cleaners, he adds.  A compact version of TTS’s Magic trolley is said to offer good storage and waste segregation within a small footprint.

A particular issue for hotel trolleys is one of storage space, says Costantini. “While hotels usually need large trolleys to carry linen and amenities for room service, housekeepers experience space problems in lifts and store cupboards,” he said. TTS’s Magic Hotel range incorporates hooks to allow different trolley units to be attached and then disassembled to combine flexibility with the ability to be easily stored.

Costantini believes that tomorrow’s trolleys will be increasingly customised to suit individual needs. “They will become an integral part of the environment and be not only functional, but also attractive to look at,” he said.

What flooring?

The type of flooring along with hygiene requirements both play a role in determining what type of trolley system is required, according to international sales manager at Crisp Clean Judy Toes.

“Hospitals need either a flat mopping system using a double bucket wringer, or a dosing system that enables the operator to use a clean mop for every 10 to 20 square metres,” she said. “A segregated waste collection system is also required.

“On the other hand, carpeted office areas do not require mopping systems but need more waste collection facilities along with storage plus the ability to securely carry a vacuum cleaner.

“And in public areas – such as in hotels – there is often a demand for systems that are aesthetically pleasing and where chemicals are kept out of view and secured.  As a result we have found trolleys that are either party or fully enclosed are becoming increasingly popular, while demand for trolleys that are small, lightweight and manoeuvrable is growing in areas where there is restricted access.”

Crisp Clean offers a range of part and fully-enclosed trolleys featuring a range of waste segregation options. These are designed to be functional, ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing, according to Toes.

While the environment in which a trolley is to be used is important, there are several other factors that may influence a customer’s choice of trolley according to Vileda floor care business development director Steve Barber.

“Sometimes a customer’s trolley choice will depend on the type of mopping system required,” he said. “For example, the design of the trolley would differ if you were using pre-prepared mops rather than a bucket and press system. With pre-prepared mops you need storage space for used and unused mops whereas with a bucket and press system you would often use the same mops during your shift.

“The amount of available storage space may also influence your choice of trolley, though the size of cleaning and storage cupboards is often overlooked in the design process.” Vileda’s VoleoPro trolley is said to have a particularly compact footprint. “There are also folding waste compartments on our Origo range that are designed to make it easier to store the trolleys after use,” said Barber.

Geographical location may be another influencing factor when choosing a trolley, he says. “The Nordic and Scandinavian countries tend to prefer an open, metal-based trolley with adjustable push bars whereas plastic-based trolleys are preferred in southern Europe,” he explained. “And the trend in mid-Europe is for trolleys made from a combination of metal and plastic that can be completely enclosed using door panels.”

Design influence

He says building design and architecture are having a major influence on the market.  “There are huge investments being made into the appearance of buildings which means that any visible cleaning products need to match this investment,” he said. Vileda’s VoleoPro range has been designed to complement modern decors, according to Barber.

He believes that trolley design will continue to evolve. “For example, just 10 years ago there were only a few clients asking for doors on their trolleys whereas this is now a basic requirement in many environments,” he said. “And trolley doors can also be used for advertising or promoting the cleaning company’s brand.”

And he feels technology will become a key driver in future. “As companies continue to digitialise and integrate apps into the cleaning process, trolleys will move on from simply being a central storage point for cleaning tools to becoming the focal point of the whole process and a vital tool for tracking performance,” says Barber.


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