Combine and conquer

26 September 2018

Tom Harrison, sales director at Harrison Hire & Sales, explores the possibilities of combination machines in large spaces

Warehouses, factories, car parks and shopping centres can be challenging areas to clean. Even companies with the most conscientious staff will have pieces of debris on the floor that a scrubber dryer can’t pick up. Organisations operating in areas frequented by the public will, more than likely, expect to sweep before wet cleaning. 

Keeping these areas clean traditionally has meant using a broom, which, apart from being time-consuming, is known to throw potentially harmful dust into the atmosphere. The alternatives are a walk-behind or ride on sweeper. Only then can a floor be wet-cleaned, either manually or with a scrubber dryer. Manual cleaning is not only less effective, but with ever-increasing wages, it costs more than in the past. The use of machinery is generally the favoured option where large areas are involved. However, buying or leasing both a sweeper and a scrubber dryer can be a considerable cost to your business.

So are there any other solutions? The short answer is yes: Combination machines work by sweeping, scrubbing and drying in one pass. Using just one machine offers a number of efficiencies. It is generally cheaper to buy or lease one machine as opposed to two. 

Maintenance & training

There is also less maintenance in caring for one machine, and so fewer parts are required, although it could be argued that if either a sweeper or scrubber dryer fails then you still have one machine in operation, whereas if a combination machine fails, then you have no means to clean your floors!

Regular maintenance is vitally important to avoid breakdowns and ensure effective cleaning. Worn squeegee blades and brushes, or blocked hoses can affect performance. Check whether your supplier can offer this as part of their service. Keeping the purchase and after sales care of your equipment with one company generally means they understand your specific cleaning needs and can offer a more targeted service. 

When choosing your supplier ask if operator training is included: ensuring that your employees know how to use the equipment correctly means more effective cleaning as well as fewer repair bills caused by accidental damage to machinery. Additionally, an operator who only has to learn to operate one combination machine rather than a sweeper and scrubber dryer can set to work more quickly than one who has to learn to use both! If space is at a premium, then storage of one machine is clearly preferable to two. 

Money talks

As cleaning time is halved, you can plan for lower operator costs or divert your employee into other activities. For example, a combination machine with a sweeping width of 1540mm and a scrubbing width of 1250mm can offer productivity of 11,080 square metres an hour. With the National Living Wage (payable to over 25’s) now at £7.83 an hour (and the additional pension contributions and other on-costs employers face), using your staff time effectively is more important than ever before. It is well-worth calculating the size of your floor space and the time it takes to clean the area to find out the cost. 

Don’t forget to add detergent costs into the equation! Some manufacturers offer ecological systems; these give the operator control over water and chemical use, so less detergent and water can be selected for a maintenance clean, or increased for a deep clean.

And if you just want to sweep, or perhaps just scrub or dry an area? Some combination machines have the ability to operate these three dedicated functions independently too. Other things to consider are the size of the water tanks and waste hoppers. A larger capacity improves productivity as the operator has to stop less often. Hydraulic hoppers and drainage hoses on tanks will make emptying the machine easy when the job is done.

Finally, what power source is best for your organisation? Battery powered equipment is suitable for sensitive areas, such as food production facilities, but your operators will need to charge the machine between uses. Alternatively, you could opt for LPG or diesel versions. Take time to research environmentally friendly LPG and diesel hybrid options which use 30% less fuel than traditional machines.