Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Six Tips for Picking Equipment that Lowers the Cost to Clean

Your workers represent the largest share of the total cost to clean—90% or more according to recent studies.* So supplying them with more productive equipment can go a long way toward reducing their cleaning time and thus lowering your total costs. 

Here are some features to look for next time you’re in the market for new cleaning equipment:

Take a wider path
It stands to reason that the wider the scrubbing or sweeping path your cleaning crews have to take, the fewer passes they’ll need to do the job—and there’s often little difference in total price between machines. For example, assuming a loaded labor rate of $9/hr, the hourly cost to clean a 1,000 sq ft surface would be about $3.44/hr for a 17” scrubber vs. $2.39/hr for a 20” scrubber. And the difference in total price between the two cleaning solutions may only be $50 to $100.

Go tools free
It’s often one of those under-appreciated features that can get lost in the heat of the sales demo, but “tools free” maintenance can save your workers a lot of time changing out accessories, replacing worn parts and making needed adjustments over the life of your machines. And those minutes can add up to real money. Plus, by allowing fast and easy equipment changeouts, they can allow your workers to clean different surfaces with a single machine.

Recharge on the go
Battery-powered automatic scrubbers, burnishers and carpet extractors have been productivity boosters for years. But when the batteries die, the cleaning stops cold. And workers often have to lug the machines to a far-away charging station. On-board chargers allow your workers to recharge right where they are, cutting downtime and maximizing efficiency.

Cut the noise and clean all day
Nobody likes a loudmouth, and that goes for your cleaning equipment as well. Low-decibel vacuums and ride-on scrubbers with built-in sound attenuation allow your workers to clean during business hours, while protecting them from the fatigue and irritation that noise can cause.

Use less water
Water is a mixed blessing in the cleaning world. It’s absolutely necessary for a scrubber or extractor to get its job done, but using too much of it can put a double-pronged damper on cleaning productivity: 1) workers have to stop cleaning more often to refill their tanks, and 2) drying time takes areas out of service longer. Machines designed to minimize water usage—with no drop-off in cleaning power—can help keep your cleaners cleaning longer.

Get a bigger tank
The dump-and-fill cycle can be one of the biggest drags on overall cleaning productivity. A larger tank can have a direct and dramatic effect on the equation. But there are tradeoffs. Larger tanks usually mean larger machines, which means you can lose some maneuverability. But anything you can do to cut the number of times your workers need to refill water tanks is a net boost to efficiency. Productivity-boosting features are built-in to a wide range of cleaning equipment, but sometimes you have to do a little math to really appreciate how much they can cut the long-term cost of cleaning.

*Source: International Sanitary Supply Association - ISSA

Monday, August 8, 2016

Building Restoration: If Floors Could Talk

If floors could talk…
A look back on the history and the future of floor restoration

Gone are the days when floor restoration teams were set with a hatchet hammer, sandpaper and wax. In the early 1900s, if you could drive 38 nails a minute, you were hired, but considered slow. Today, you can size up a facility floor-restoration project with an infrared smartphone, and select from ergonomically designed power tools matched to the precise needs of the job.

As a leader in the floor care industry, Advance thought it would be interesting to take a quick peek at the past and future of floor care and restoration.

Great Expectations
Wood, tile, concrete -- each require a different approach, and on top of that, they may be coated with anything from anti-slip to high-gloss treatments. Although the physical work has gotten easier, advances in flooring materials, tools, cleaning agents and regulations have added complexity to the work that hands-on craftspeople love to do.

Another way that restoration has changed over time is that the more we learn about allergens, dust, mold and toxins, the more we depend on facility managers and janitors to keep us well.  An interest in eco-friendly and LEED-certified materials is also on the rise.

All You Have You Owe to Carpet
According to Hardwood Floors Magazine, floor care and restoration leaped forward with the advent of carpeting. Seen as a rescue from the tedious work of waxing floors,
its popularity soared in the 1960s -- running wood-flooring factories out of business.

The outcome was that a whole new industry was born. In search of new sources of income, displaced wood workers began to make a point of offering their services to victims of fire, even watching the news for tips on who might be in need. By the time the wood floor industry saw signs of recovery, so many workers had left that new workers had to be trained -- fast. This sparked the development of training programs and trade associations as the industry became more complex.

Aging Buildings Hide Treasure
Thanks to the construction booms of the 1920s and 1940s we now have aging buildings in need of restoration. This raises a number of issues, for instance:

      Will a neglected, grime covered floor be damaged in the process of polishing it for the first time in decades?
      Are original materials still available?
      Will contemporary materials have the same look as the old -- many of which are now banned due to lead or other toxins.
      What if no color photos are available from the building’s original use?

These are questions that came up as a part of the St. Paul, Minn. historic Union Depot’s restoration of 2012. As you can see here, the outcome is stunning. 

Next Up?
Based on highlights of an industry convention coming up in Sept. 2016, The Experience, you’re likely to see new smartphone-based tools designed to take environmental readings of salt, dust, humidity, rain, vibration, solar radiation and thermal shock resistance. As capability expands, training may become more specialized. Trade associations such as the Restoration Industry Association seem to be ready to help workers stay informed.

Restoring floors is one thing; cleaning them is another. This October, visit Advance at the ISSA/INTERCLEAN® One Show in Chicago to show you how it’s done right. Hope to see you there.


Wahlgren, Kim. “The History of the Wood Flooring Industry.” HardwoodFloorsMag.com 31 Dec. 1999

Union Depot
(Flooring story begins at 3:00 mark)

Smartphone app