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Making efficiency routine

26 July 2016

Vacuuming and sweeping may be the most routine of cleaning tasks, but their efficiency shouldn’t be taken for granted. Stephen Pinhorne, UK national sales manager at of Truvox International, advises how to ensure the work is done cost-effectively.

Vacuuming and sweeping – the mainstay of the cleaning regime in many buildings – may happen like clockwork, but it’s worth taking time out for a review. Especially where the default position is: “It’s always been done this way.” That time will be well spent if it ensures that your team’s cleaning time is too. Labour, after all, accounts for the lion’s share of a typical cleaning budget.

Productivity is likely to be far more significant for the bottom line over the medium term than the cost of purchasing or running equipment. The more efficient the vacuuming or sweeping operation, the more time staff can devote to other tasks, or the leaner the cleaning team you need to employ.

Choosing the right vacuum for the job

Like any other cleaning equipment, vacuum cleaners need to be hard-working and hard-wearing. But running older machines until they pack up is a false economy when the cost of spares and maintenance rises and/or a newer unit would speed up the job. Other factors in choosing equipment include the floor area and layout of the space. 

Upright, tub and back-pack vacuums each have their place, and industrial applications require a heavy-duty machine suitable for wet and dry vacuuming - which is why Truvox International manufactures a comprehensive range.

Deploying three or more operatives with tub vacuums for a large expanse of carpeting will be inefficient where one, equipped with a Valet Wide Area Vac, could do the job quicker. Such a switch reaped significant savings for one London client. In this case, staff were freed up to deep-clean a different section of the office building each night, obviating the need for an expensive weekend operation. 

With a cleaning path of 70cm, the Valet Wide Area Vac has more than double the coverage of typical upright or tub vacuums. It’s also powerful, with a brush head operating at 1800 rpm to loosen dirt deep down in the pile and revive the appearance of the carpet.

Where accessibility is limited a compact tub vacuum may be preferable to an upright or a back-pack unit may be required. But the choice should not be dictated solely by manoeuvrability and physical constraints.

Ergonomics is as much about productivity as it is worker welfare. The forward-and-back stretching motion when operating a tub or upright vac for long periods means more effort, fatigue and repetitive strain injuries. 

Backpack vacuums may be more comfortable and quickly pay back in manpower efficiencies. They lighten the workload on the arms and shoulders, avoid the need for squatting and bending, and make it easy to reach high and low areas. Staff will be healthier and happier, with lower sick pay and less lost time.

Sweeping: manual vs mechanised

When it comes to sweeping, the choice in and around many buildings is often between brushing up debris manually or opting to mechanise. Again, the payback in productivity will depend on the size of area. But even in smaller settings the comparatively low cost of a manual sweeper is easy to justify.

The Truvox International TruSweep 460 is suitable for applications where power is not readily available or a powered machine is unaffordable. It picks up polystyrene, leaves, crisps and other debris from hard floors. Lightweight and manoeuvrable, with a 60cm cleaning path and side brushes, it can clear 2600m2 in an hour. 

Another example of a cost-effective yet low-tech solution is the X46 for cleaning travelators and escalator treads. The unit combines vacuuming and dry scrubbing. It sits on the comb at the foot of the stairs, or start of the walkway, and can be left in position as the cleaning operative undertakes other tasks. This is an economical alternative to costly specialised sweepers.

It pays to look afresh at routine cleaning practices, and focus on efficiency.