Floor-cleaning equipment: going green and reducing costs

by FM Media
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FRANK CUPIDO, managing director of Hako Australia shares the current trends in floor cleaning equipment solutions, which revolve around environmental sustainability and enable cost savings.

Clearly, the push to awaken the minds of the global community to think environmentally has impacted the development of sustainable cleaning products and solutions. Today, product development is driven by the need to help create a sustainable future. Let’s take a look at three trends in the floor cleaning equipment segment that are taking hold in our marketplace:

  • chemical-free cleaning in automatic floor scrubbers
  • maintenance-free batteries, and
  • daytime cleaning.

There has been much debate about this development in recent times. Not so much about whether cleaning with just water works or not, but rather in regards to the claims of effectiveness of developed ‘technologies’ to enhance water as an effective cleaner without chemical intervention. The current challenge is deciphering what is fact and what is fiction. Today’s competitive climate certainly has produced some overzealous marketers.
Chemical-free cleaning is not a new concept. It has been used for many years in various industries, for example, window and façade cleaning, and cleaning in food processing plants and healthcare environments. It is a proven technology – demineralising water process – that continues to be used today.
Chemical-free floor cleaning systems certainly have their place in the floor-cleaning segment. Water on its own can clean floors effectively without the intervention of chemical use or technology.
To be clear, however, no matter what any manufacturer says about its system’s uniqueness and effectiveness at converting ordinary water into a magical powerhouse cleaning solution, none of today’s current systems meet all floor-cleaning needs. Results depend on two key points:

  • the quality of the water itself (softness or hardness), and
  • how dirty the floor is to start with and the type of dirt to be cleaned off.

When removing soilage, such as grease or oil, from a dirty floor, chemical intervention will be needed to achieve a clean result effectively and quickly, for instance.
The safe bet is to choose a supplier that provides a complete solution to your cleaning needs and not just the sale of a concept or product. If chemical-free cleaning forms part of the solution, then you are another step closer to helping the environment and your back pocket.

Lead acid battery failure due to lack of maintenance is the main contributor to breakdowns and costs associated with operating battery-driven floor cleaning equipment. The evolution of maintenance-free battery technology means there isn’t a compromise in battery run time like there used to be and that the cost gap with lead acid batteries has reduced. They are here to stay and the benefits keep adding up. All equipment manufacturers today offer maintenance-free batteries as an option or as standard.
Driven by an understanding of the environmental and operational benefits associated with using the maintenance-free system, we decided to offer maintenance-free batteries as standard in our walk-behind scrubbers in 2007 and then extended this decision to our walk-behind sweepers in 2010. The demand for lead acid batteries, especially in smaller equipment, has declined considerably.
Some of the benefits we have experienced so far with our clients include:

  • training and supervising cleaning staff using the equipment is much simpler – it virtually eliminates battery maintenance training
  • increased productivity of cleaning staff as a result of fewer battery failures, not to mention not having to contend with battery failures in the middle of the night
  • fewer service callouts, which also reduces costs and helps contribute to lower carbon emissions due to less service vehicle use
  • it extends the life of the machine by eliminating the potential of battery acid corrosion caused by lead battery acid spillage from overfilling or overflow during the charging cycle, and
  • operational cost savings are substantial when the savings from above are multiplied across hundreds of machines in a fleet.

Furthermore, landfill is reduced as maintenance free batteries have an up to 50 percent longer life. When it comes to battery-driven cleaning equipment, be sure to ask for maintenance-free batteries.

Due to the global demand to reduce carbon emissions through less energy consumption, there is a growing shift towards doing as much cleaning during the day as possible. The environmental benefits of cleaning during the day, as well as operational cost benefits, become obvious when considering the difference that would be made if even just one hour of cleaning per night was reduced across thousands of offices and factories.
The marketplace still has some resistance to daytime cleaning, due to the liability issues associated with it; however, this is on the decline. The trend is moving towards daytime cleaning, as the importance of environmental sustainability gains momentum.
It is a process that relies on three key areas:

  • the quality and performance of cleaning equipment developed by leading manufacturers
  • integrated battery technology to maintain equipment uptime, and
  • the safe cleaning procedures of the individuals cleaning during the day through workplace training and education.

I believe daytime cleaning will become more prevalent as we help to build the sustainable future we all want.

Frank Cupido is the managing director of Hako Australia, a fully owned subsidiary of Hako-Werke Germany.

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