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Selecting the right commercial vacuum cleaner, sweeper or floor scrubber dryer?

With so many different types of floor cleaning machines available, it can be hard to decide which one you should buy for your business, this especially being the case if you run a company offering cleaning services to other businesses.

So why is cleaning so important?

That is a very easy question to answer, as one of the first things anyone notices about a business place is how clean it is. It's all about first impressions, and we all know how important they are.

Because of this, most businesses either invest in the right cleaning equipment or arrange for their premises to be cleaned by a professional cleaning company. Either way, it is vital that the person doing the cleaning picks equipment that is versatile, efficient, and long-lasting.

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Choosing a commercial vacuum cleaner

For most businesses, the primary tool is the vacuum. One thing you may notice is that commercial machines normally don't have the flashy features found on most modern domestic machines. For instance, you will more often than not, not see adaptive suction, LCD screens, or anti-hair wrap technology on these machines.

Instead, the best commercial vacuums are built to be durable, powerful, and have a large dust collection capacity. Putting it simply they are designed to be used on large areas of floor while being easy to use are ergonomic and are capable of being used day after day without breaking down because of overuse.

So, whilst commercial vacuums are similar to their domestic cousins, they are usually bigger / more robust and, in most cases, are capable of performing a range of different tasks. They come in a variety of formats, including upright, tub and backpack, each one being more suitable for some uses than others.

Understanding how vacuum cleaners work may help you choose, so here is a basic explanation of their operation.

All vacuum cleaners are powered by a motor, this driving a fan which sucks air and dirt into the machine, any dirt being trapped in one of the filters. The air is then expelled from the machine, normally through another filter.

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There are many factors that have to be considered here.

The level of suction (vacuum) power you need.

The amount of suction power needed basically depends on the type of dirt and debris you will be collecting. Lighter, finer dust requires a more powerful airflow, whilst heavier deposits need more suction power.

This is important as it means you have to know the types of dust and dirt you will be dealing with. And when you also have to cope with liquids, then that is a different matter entirely, and will require another type of cleaner. This is because whilst most machines can cope with virtually any type of dirt, if you want to deal with liquids you will need a wet and dry vacuum cleaner.

Fortunately, these can normally be switched from dry to wet operating modes (although this normally requires that you ensure that the collecting bag is in place when using it for 'dry' operation), so in many cases one machine is suitable for both types of duty.

Hortech Karcher Vacuum cleaner

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The level of vacuumed volume

This can be important as it is directly related to the level of suction the machine can produce, something which has to be taken into account when you are dealing with certain types of dirt and debris. It is calculated by taking the average air speed the machine can produce and multiplied by the diameter of the hose. Thus a narrower hose has a lower air volume but produces more sucking (vacuum) power. Airflow is normally measured in litres per minute, the larger commercial vacuum cleaner machines being able to move thousands of litres per minute, something often needed when cleaning large areas.

The power of the vacuum motor

As you would imagine vacuums fitted with higher wattage motors have more overall 'sucking' power, although as we have seen, the vacuum level  produced by commercial and professional (as well as domestic variants) can be affected by the size of the hose and any attachments.

But it is not just the size of the motor and hoses that count here, the overall efficiency of a machine is also determined by the quality of its engineering, how well it is suited to task in hand and how well it is maintained.

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Battery powered commercial vacuum cleaners

As we all know, battery technology has advanced a lot over the past few decades, batteries that were huge, now being reduced to something you can hold in your palm of your hand. These advances mean that it is possible to power a commercial vac with a battery, thus releasing you from the need to be plugged in all of the time.

Commercial cleaning more often than not requires something a bit bigger than the small hand-held battery vacuums people use for cleaning the car (although sometimes these smaller units can be handy even in the commercial environment). Lithium batteries now power commercial vacuum cleaners that can be used every day, with longer running times and in many instances equivalent power levels to standard plugged in machines. This makes the perfect choice where there are no plugs available or where trailing cables could cause a hazard.

Another plus point for battery powered vacuums is that they are often quieter than mains powered units, something that could make all the difference when cleaning an office or healthcare environment.

Don't Forget You Can Also Lease and Hire Cleaning Equipment as well as buying it

Backpack vacuum cleaners

Another form of a portable vacuum cleaning system is the backpack vacuum. These are very useful in confined areas like coaches, buses, trains, anywhere where the space to operate is too cramped to use a standard sized machine. One of their big advantages is that they allow for single hand operation, this allowing the operator to move anything out of the way or to pick up litter or items too big for the vacuum to handle.

Collection tank size

Unlike the smaller domestic units, most commercial machines collect the debris and dirt in a tank, which means picking the right sized tank is something that could be very important. There are pros and cons of having a bigger collection tank, the obvious one being that the bigger the tank the bulkier the vacuum unit is going to be. It is vital to consider the type of dirt you are going to be collecting (dust, being less dense normally means that it can take a long time to fill in the tank, whereas bulky debris can fill one up very quickly) and how often you want to have to stop to empty the tank.

The latter is important as, as the tank fills, the available suction power reduces, this especially being the case when the tank is full of compacted dust.

The type of debris also must be considered for another reason. Tanks are usually made from stainless steel, which is resistant to mechanical abrasion. However, if you are going to be removing any aggressive chemicals, it is best to use a vessel made from Polypropylene (PP).

Vacuum noise level

The amount of noise the vacuum makes is yet another consideration you have to take into account when choosing a unit. Vacuums that produce lower levels of noise are becoming increasingly popular with professional cleaning companies, these being especially useful for contract cleaners where a noise level of under 80dB is often mandatory.

These both improve operator comfort and safety, whilst also being more suitable for use shops, hotels, hospitals and other public areas.

What types of filter systems are used

There is no doubt that the efficiency of the filter systems used in a vacuum cleaner counts for a lot, affecting both performance as well as the health and safety of the user and those who are or will be using the cleaned area later. The other thing about filter systems is that good ones don't clog up as fast as less efficient models, something that can save you a lot of time in the field.

Most commercial vacuums, like the ones produced by Karcher and Nilfisk use certified High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, which 'sieve' the air exhausted from the machine in various ways, the system collecting the smallest particles, which helps to maintain a high air quality in the cleaned area.

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Hortech Viper Vacuum cleaner

Vacuums for flammable or hazardous dust

Some cleaning jobs involve dealing with flammable or hazardous materials. This sort of dust and debris needs careful handling, the safety of the operator being of paramount concern as they not only collect the dust but also dispose of it safely. Industrial safety vacuums are able to safely remove and handle hazardous substances such as asbestos. Karcher supplying a number of such machines.

Construction quality – one of the main differences when compared to domestic vacuums.

As you might expect commercial vacuum cleaners are built to last, The manufacturers expecting them to be used for many hours every day and so build them to be more durable when compared to domestic machines. With this in mind, some householders decide to pay the higher price for a commercial machine as this can work out cheaper in the long run.

Stainless steel and aluminium are the favourite materials for the main body and internal parts, with high-density plastic being used for the exterior.

Need help selecting the best commercial vacuum cleaner for your needs?

This is just where we can help. We are a leading cleaning equipment supplier in the UK and therefore have a wealth of experience to draw on, so if in doubt, please ask us for advice, and we will make sure you get the right vacuum cleaner, at the best price.

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Choosing a machine for warehouse floor care

Selecting a vacuum cleaner or sweeper for specialist use, like caring for the floor in a warehouse or logistics centre requires a bit extra thought. And you have to bear in mind what you are trying to achieve, i.e. improved safety and well-being for the workers and improved operational efficiency. After all, you simply cannot clean a large area with brooms, mops and buckets of water today. It simply takes too long.

This is why cleaning professionals look for simple to use, reliable compact machines, their small size allowing them to be used between in narrow aisles and among carts and pallet trucks.

In some cases an industrial sweeper is better than a vacuum cleaner

Sweepers are ideal for collecting the coarse waste and dust that collects in warehouse aisles, whilst also being suitable for outdoor use.

They are normally equipped with side brushes so that no dirty edges are left, any dirt being moved to the centre of the machine where the main roller brush picks up the dirt and deposits in the collecting container.

Sweepers come in man-behind; best for use in narrow spaces, or man-on-board, which are best where larger areas need to be swept.

Choosing the most suitable industrial floor scrubber

There is no doubt that industrial floor scrubbers outperform the mop and bucket system, but here, let's look at the main reasons you should choose a floor scrubber:-

1. Safety

It might seem a silly reason, but the mop & bucket are a real safety hazard, with trips, slips and falls being responsible for thousands of workplace injuries every year in the UK.

Wet floors are an accident waiting to happen, even when the proper signs are used, but perhaps worse than that, mops are proven to deposit bacteria and dirt back onto the floor if the operator does not continually keep emptying the bucket and refreshing the cleaning solution. As workers are often in a hurry to get the cleaning done (especially if this is the last act on a shift) the result can be a biological nightmare which could put the health of your employees and visitors at risk.

Basically put, only an industrial floor scrubber can guarantee a nice clean and dry floor. This is because these scrubbers use fresh water, this being stored onboard, which is used once and then moved to a collection tank. This reduces the risk of spreading any contamination, whilst the onboard squeegee systems make sure that the water being used in the cleaning process gets collected, leaving a nice, safe,  dry floor behind.

2. Cost

Paying your staff to clean the floors in your building is not a cheap option, the average worker only being able to mop around 4,000 - 5,000 sq feet of floor every hour, whereas an employee using a walk-behind floor scrubber can clean around 13,000 sq feet in the same time, while ride-on floor scrubbers can clean 100,000 sq feet of floor area per hour. This makes floor scrubbers about 20 times more efficient than the mop and bucket method, which in turn means you save around 80% in staff time.

3. Green cleaning

Today, most businesses are anxious to prove their green credentials, and as the mop and bucket system wastes a lot of water, they are starting to use a floor scrubber as they use very little water in comparison, the new water retention technologies employed ensuring that very little water is wasted. Plus, it is possible to clean many areas without using cleaning agents at all, the water and scrubber pads (and in some cases steam) producing a nice clean and almost germ free environment. And where agents have to be used, modern floor scrubbers enable the user to vary the level of cleaning agent being added in the cleaning process.

Understanding your cleaning needs

Before you can pick the best floor scrubber, you have to understand what you want your model to do and what it is going to have to cope with.

Types of debris?

As you can imagine the type of dirt and debris varies tremendously, food spills and metal shavings needing a different type of machine, i.e. a disc scrubber or one that uses a cylindrical brush.

How big an area are you going to be cleaning?

This factor is the main driver when deciding between a walk-behind floor scrubber, a ride-on floor model, or even in some cases an robot / autonomous floor scrubber.

Are you cleaning narrow spaces?

Will you be cleaning narrow spaces like the aisles in a warehouse? If so the walk-behind floor scrubber is the best choice, but as they are not as good at cleaning large areas, for some the ride on scrubber is the best option.

Noise level.

If you are going to be using the scrubber in an area that requires as little noise as possible, then be sure to check the dB rating.

Consumables and replacement parts

Whichever floor scrubber you pick will eventually need replacement parts like hoses, brushes and squeegee blades. Make sure that the machine supplier can quickly source these for you. After all you don't want to have to wait weeks to get a part, one that could put your machine out of operation.

Size of the collecting tank.

The size of the cleaning area governs the choice of the tank, and it is often best to get a model that has a bigger tank than you think you will need, as this will reduce the time spent in emptying and refilling the tank and thus gives you yet more time cleaning.

Pressure and dilution adjustment.

If you think you will want your floor scrubber to be able to deal with tough spots and stains, you will need to pick a unit that allows the operator to easily adjust the cleaning pressure and cleaning solution dilution levels.

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Hortech V-Tuf Vacuum cleaner

Automated floor scrubbers

We have all seen those automated lawn mowers and domestic vacuum cleaning robots, the very same technology being used in the range of automated floor scrubbers available today. These machines are autonomous and can be programmed to clean certain areas and paths in any facility. They are simple to set up and use, minimal training being required.

The inbuilt obstacle-sensing systems used gives them the ability to avoid any obstructions and pedestrians with ease.

Disc scrubbers

Best used on already swept surfaces, these models use a pair of flat pads or brushes, these rotating at high speeds while water is shot between them. This results in an effective, high-pressure cleaning system.

Disc scrubbers are best used where you want:-

- Shining floors

- The ability to remove scuff marks

- To be able to strip any floor wax

-  to clean tiled floors

For maximum efficiency they should only be used on smooth floors, e.g. sheet vinyl or polished concrete, which means that they are a popular choice for cleaning shops, schools, and hospitals.

Cylindrical brush scrubbers

The other main type of floor scrubber, they clean using a pair of tube-shaped brushes which revolve in opposite directions. One brush provides the sweeping action, collecting dirt and debris and placing them in the onboard hopper, while the other brush scrubs the floor. This system is useful as it means you don’t have to sweep your floors before cleaning. They are also an excellent choice for areas that generate a lot of fine dirt, e.g. fabrication shops and manufacturing floors.

They also offer other advantages, as because their brushes rotate twice as fast as a disc scrubber, they use less water, while their cylindrical shape gives a better finish, whilst also performing better on floors with cracks or grout lines than a disc scrubber.

Buying, leasing or hiring your vacuum cleaner or floor scrubber

The next big decision is whether to buy, lease or rent a floor scrubber or vacuum cleaner. More often than not, buying a new machine is the most cost-effective option, but if you will only be using the unit for a limited time, then leasing is going to be your best option, and where length of time is very short indeed, renting one is going to be the best.

Whichever method you chose, make sure you carefully investigate all the options before deciding.

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For more informations call us on : 01406 426513

or write to: paul.seaman@hortechsystems.co.uk