The design and construction of industrial/institutional cleaning machines like scrubbers and sweepers have advanced considerably over a period of years. The success of every machine and manufacturer depends largely on the performance of these machines.
The performance is assessed not only by the features but also by the ease to maintain and the cost involved towards this. In this article, let us look at the components that are consumed like brushes, pads, castor wheels and squeegees.
The main function of any sweeping machine is to clean the floor by collecting all debris and dirt present. Irrespective of the type of the floor and facility, the machine has to collect the debris whatever the variety it be. Here comes the selection of suitable brush for the desired application. The sweepers also need a side brush to pick up the debris from the sides. The main brush then throws the debris into the hopper.
There are two types of main sweeping system followed. The over-throwing system has hopper at the rear side and the forward throwing system has hopper in front of the brush. The over throwing system has a bigger hopper than a forward throwing system. Forward throwing is only possible with the small ramp in front of the brush. Over throwing system however, can contain more debris than this.
There are five main materials used in the construction of sweeper brushes.
- Polypropeline – This comes with different thickness; the thicker the brush, higher the stiffness. They are more suitable for picking up heavy debris. This could ideally be used for both indoor and outdoor applications and not for fine dust applications and high temperature areas.
- Nylon – This has excellent wear resistance and longer lifetime. This is softer and less aggressive than polypropeline. This could be ideally used in high temperature areas and on rough surfaces.
- Natural fibre – Excellent for dust control. It has many fine bristles in it which help trap the dust and throw it away. It wears faster than PPN, nylon and polyester.
- Polyester – This is durable and suitable for wet and damp environmental condition. It is expensive than the above three.
- Wire – This is having a scrapping effect and ideal for heavy debris and for removal of stubborn dirt. Can be used in high temperature areas also.
It is possible to combine these above materials and construct a suitable brush system when the demand is varying. For example, polypropeline can be combined with wire to create general use of brush which will give a longer lifetime and is effective in removing dirt.
In addition to the above material properties, the brush pressure also plays a vital role in the cleaning performance. If there is too much pressure, the brush will wear out and won’t have a good sweeping effect and if the brush pressure is lighter, it will leave debris on the surface. To optimise the performance of the brushes, the operators adjust the brush pressure to the required level during the sweeping operation.
The brush requirement for scrubbing activity is predominently decided on the basis of the type of dirt, type of flooring, frequency of cleaning and the environmental conditions.
In the user environment, the brushes are expected to remove dirt and oil effectively. The cleanliness level required in the institutions is higher than the industries. Various floor conditions and dirt conditions demand different type of bristle material. The bristle material used are polypropeline, perlon, natural fibre, silicon carbide coated PPN and nylon. The bristle thickness, length and stiffness vary from one application to the other. Irregular bristle length helps remove the dirt from difficult areas. Higher stiffness is needed to remove the embedded dirt and stains.
- The Polypropeline (PPN) bristles used in general purpose cleaning brush are in the range of 0.25mm thickness to 1.0 mm thickness. These have resistance to chemicals. However, they have limited life time only.
- The Nylon brushes are soft in nature and ideal for institutional cleaning purposes where gentle cleaning is done frequently. They could be having excellent life time with limited dirt removal characteristics.
- Natural fibres are environmental friendly cleaning materials meant for light duty dirt removal. Where static electricity is a criteria, this brushes could be ideally used. They do not develop scratches on the surfaces.
Pads are extensively used in the cleaning industry for various applications which include deep cleaning, stripping, scrubbing , general cleaning, buffing and burnishing. These can deliver extremely excellent results from aggressive cleaning to high speed buffing. Pads are produced in different colours like black, brown, green, blue, red and white and are available in different sizes starting from 3” to 21”. Suitable pad can be chosen based on the nature of the job and the size of the floor machine.
Pad is constructed of polyester fibres along with synthetic adhesives. Abrasive particles are dispersed through out and bonded to the non-woven cross-linked construction with a durable adhesive. The abrasives are also synthetics and even distribution helps us to use the pads on both the sides.
Properties like thickness, pad weight, fibre type, fibre weight, mineral weight and a colour vary depending on the application.
The life of the stripping/scrubbing pads could be lengthened when cleaned with pressurized wash after every use. Heavily soiled pads should be soaked in detergent diluted solution before washing.
At the end of the day, before parking the machine, the brushes should be lifted to prevent the brush from losing shape. Brushes and pads should also be checked for the presence of wire, string and damage routinely. The brushes must be replaced or refuted when the bristle length is low. Using the brush even after its expiry will result in less productivity and poor cleanliness.
Squeegee blades are used in the scrubber driers in order to extract the dirty water effectively from the floor surfaces. Squeegees are expected to effectively work in industrial and institutional facilities. In the industrial areas they have to deal with oily and rough surfaces, hence they need to exhibit an inherent strength, resilience and toughness. Mechanical, heat resitance, electrical and chemical ressitance properties are vital in the selection of squeegee material.
Squeegee blades have been manufactured with different materials like polyurethene, urethene, linatex etc.
- Polyurethene squeegees generally offer increased operational performance but also good durability.
- Urethene is considered to be one of the more tensile, durable and cheap materials. It is meant for oil and rough surfaces.
- Linatex is the standard blade offered by most of the manufacturers. They can efficiently handle the fluctuating industrial working environments and provide excellent abrasion resistant performance even at extreme conditions.
The life of the squeegee could be optimised when it is washed after every use. The squeegee has to be replaced when streaking, chattering or insufficient pickup of liquid is noticed.
Wheels being the oldest and most basic tool, play a key role in the cleaning process. Wheels are vital for productivity improvement and performance. Wheels and casters are offered in various sizes and types. Properties like wear resistance, surface hardness, lubricity, abrasion resistance and corrosion resistance have to be considered while selecting the wheel. The softer the wheel material, the more resilient it is.
Various types of rubber, polyurathane, nylon, canvas and metallic wheels are used in cleaning. Pneumatic wheels and nonmarking special wheels are also used.
The risk of a flat spot developing is higher if left for a prolonged period with a load greater than 50% of the wheel capacity. The life of the wheels could be optimised by lubricating periodically and by replacing the defective part by inspecting bolts & nuts, misalignments and worn outs.V. Balathandayutham Manager-Product Support, Roots Muliclean Ltd.