A sweep away from success
27 June 2014
Andrew Park, strategic account director at Hako Machines, looks at how the latest technologies in industrial sweepers can help contract cleaners to maximise their business profits
The UK contract cleaning market is constantly changing, constantly innovating and is becoming increasingly difficult. Maximising profitability is key to the continued success of the businesses that are operating within these markets.
In the December/January issue of Cleaning Matters magazine, Paul Kelly (commercial director for Rubbermaid Commercial Products) commented on the challenges for the UK contract cleaning industry in 2014. He said that "the improving but still tough economic climate" means that the cleaning industry "is under constant pressure to supply their services at an ever reducing cost or deliver more for the same cost".
Over 80% of a contract cleaner’s costs are wages, therefore companies are constantly looking for innovation in any form to help reduce this. This can come in the form of new PDA (personal digital assistant) and management systems, streamlining operations and operational staff and increasingly innovations in the types of cleaning machines that are used.
A tale of two sweeper systems
Within the warehousing and distribution sector ride-on sweepers are commonly used to minimise dust, dirt and debris whilst cleaning. Sweepers come in various formats, power sources and sizes but what they do all have in common is that they pick up debris. Once the collection hopper is full the operator then needs to take the machine to the waste area and empty the hopper so that he can then move back to the area he was cleaning to complete his task. Sweepers in the industrial market follow one of two main sweeping principles: Over throw collection or Direct throw collection.
Over throw collection lifts debris up and over the rotating sweeping brush then deposits in the hopper. Direct throw is very similar to a dust pan and brush type set up in which the rotating brush flicks the debris directly into the hopper. Both systems have benefits depending on the application, type of debris and the environment. Both systems need to have an effective filtration process to ensure continued performance during operation.
The most popular and effective system is the overthrow system as this ensures that 100% of the hopper capacity is utilised as the hopper is filled from the top which increases the operators productivity by reducing the amount of time spent emptying the hopper.
When selecting an industrial sweeper one of the most important factors to consider is the dust filtration system. During sweeping the debris is collected by the main sweeping broom and deposited into the hopper. Following this, due to the vacuum the dust and air is drawn onto the filter system. The dust is extracted and the dust-free air leaves the machine. As with any filter they need to be replaced or cleaned otherwise they clog up, so the position of the filter and the materials used during manufacture are important. Tool free removal of a filter in quick time is important as well as saving costs on filter replacement/cleaning. Any sweeper machine design that does not consider dust filter position, type, size and lifetime performance will result in poorly performing sweepers and dusty operational environments.
There are various technologies on the market which can help and ensure optimum performance in both overthrow sweeping and filtration. For example Hako Machines has two significant technologies that guarantee high levels of performance in both sweeping and filtration.
In terms of effective filtration, Hako has its R²S System (Resonance Shaking System) which ensures that the filter is efficiently cleaned out on the move electronically. An electric motor initiates fins on the filter that shake the system at varying frequencies. This leads to the collected finer dust and debris being automatically shaken off the filter and dropped back down into the hopper. This means that the operator can continue to clean without stopping to manually clean the system which results in increased time spent on the cleanable area – significantly improving the productivity of the operator therefore reducing staff costs for the job.
Companies that utilise technologies such as these can expect to reduce their shift and staff costs as the time taken to complete the cleaning task required is significantly reduced.