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Green, clean, sustainability machine

Satish Mahajan
National Sales Head, Comac India

If you are looking for ways to pivot your housekeeping operations to sustainable choices, this article is for you. From water-saving to controlling noise pollution, reducing plastic content of machines to choosing the right battery, Satish Mahajan, National Sales Head, Comac India deconstructs how cleaning machines can help organisations meet sustainability goals.

How can machines be engineered to be more water-efficient?

When we talk about water in cleaning, we mean a solution or water mixed with chemicals. Yes, machines can be engineered or designed in such a way that water flow is controlled and distributed evenly over the brush and cleaning surface. This is possible with the use of a peristaltic pump for the controlled flow of water and chemicals.

In fact, Comac has already developed a technology called the Comac Dosing System (CDS). The flow of water and chemicals can be controlled from the dashboard of the machine. This ensures changing the water flow as needed, which reduces water consumption by about 50%.

In regular scrubber dryers, there is no control of water flow. Generally, there is a mechanical lever that is set at a certain level and there is a continuous flow of water during scrubbing operations. The more the water flows, the greater the quantity of chemicals that will be wasted, resulting in a higher cost of cleaning.

Less use of water results in time optimisation because it allows you to work longer with a tank, thus reducing the time spent loading and unloading water.

What makes battery-powered machines more eco-friendly?

If the machines are battery powered, of course, they are eco-friendly as they do not emit pollutants like carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Just like a mobile phone, battery-powered machines rely on rechargeable batteries. So, unlike machines with an internal combustion engine, they don’t use fossil fuels such as petrol or diesel as fuel or oil mixture.

The interesting thing about batteries is that they are interchangeable; so, for example, if you have a battery powered scrubber-dryer or sweeper, you can use its battery to operate other battery-operated machines from the same manufacturer (Provided proper safety gear and tools are used for installing the batteries on the machine).

Quiet operation is a major advantage of battery-powered machines, so in terms of noise pollution, they have a low environmental impact. It not only helps increase productivity but will have a very good social impact as well. The cleaning activity becomes a more pleasant and enjoyable experience, and the janitor or machine operator takes pride in driving ride-on machines. Also, low noise emissions will keep other co-workers or the public in the vicinity of the machine focused on their tasks.

In addition to being quiet, a battery-powered machine is also easy to use:

  • It has no cord and you don’t have to rely on a secondary power source, which offers greater flexibility and portability. When working on several projects or in tight spaces, cordless machines allow you to maneuver and move about freely without the hazard of tripping or tangling a cord.
  • You don’t need to refuel, prepare petrol/oil mixture, handle or dispose of flammable substances. In short, you can work faster, safer, and cleaner.
  • Plus, battery-powered machine need minimal maintenance. compared with petrol or diesel-driven machines. There’s no need to clean or change air filters, spark plugs, or empty out fuel before storing the machine, etc. This means energy spent on manufacturing the parts will be reduced, resulting in low carbon emissions and helping keep the environment clean and green.

Batteries can pollute the environment. What type of battery is eco-friendly?

Lead Acid Battery: Currently, most cleaning machines use lead-acid batteries, and 99% of these are recycled at the end of their life cycle. But the lead content in the batteries and its exposure during the mining, processing and recycling steps can lead to environmental contamination and health hazards. The situation would definitely be much worse if these batteries were being landfilled, as a single lead acid battery in a landfill has the potential to contaminate a large area.

Li-ion batteries: While the usage of Li-ion batteries is not very widespread among cleaning machines as of now, it certainly will be used extensively in days to come as every cleaning machine manufacturer is working on developing or sourcing batteries that are economical and suit the design and application requirements.

The Li-ion batteries are better in terms of their autonomy, compact size, ease of charging etc. They are said to have very good performance and are more environment-friendly. From a pollution aspect, lithium is not a big concern but Li-ion batteries have content like cobalt, manganese and nickel, which are termed as toxic metals but are not as problematic as lead.

The choice of batteries is not a big question at this moment from the standpoint of the environment and buyers. Both batteries are good for the environment if they are manufactured, used, reused and recycled responsibly.

How can accurate dosing of chemicals help a client meet sustainability goals?

Accurate dosing of chemicals simply means less use of water, and less use of water is a sustainability objective. Less chemicals also means less discharge of effluent back into drains and ultimately into rivers or groundwater.

CDS helps meet the objective of controlling and dosing the accurate quantity of chemicals in scrubber dryers. Two separate selectors allow the operator to dose the water and the detergent separately. It ensures improved performance since the solution outlet in the centre of the brush allows a homogeneous distribution over the entire surface. In addition, there is less waste due to side sprays. This means that the amount of solution can be immediately adapted to the specific dirt encountered.

How are machines designed to operate within permissible sound limits? 

Comac scrubber dryers have the optional feature of Eco Mode. The cleaning operations carried out with a scrubbing machine in ECO Mode allow us to reduce the supply of water, detergent and pressure. This working mode therefore reduces the waste of water, detergent, and energy since only the necessary quantities are used.

It also allows us to reduce the noise level of the scrubbing machine, thus making it suitable for carrying out silent interventions aimed at saving energy and increasing working autonomy. Finally, in battery-powered sweepers, it is enough to press a single button and the noise level is lowered, reducing consumption and increasing autonomy.

A very low sound pressure level allows you to operate in sensitive environments and in the presence of people, such as in nursing homes and hospitals, without disturbing those who live and work there.

How are machines designed to minimise/avoid damage to the surfaces on which they operate?

This can be a very technical question, but generally speaking, machines are designed to have proper weight distribution and a well-designed centre of gravity and centre of mass as machines are supposed to work on flat surfaces and at the same time, at gradients of 5-10%. Machines manufactured at Comac have solid rubber wheels that are non-marking and anti-skid. The scrubber dryer machines have breakaway squeegee assemblies to protect the corners in the factory or premises. This feature helps protect the machines and other surfaces as well.

Also, brush motor decks and the pressure exerted by them are designed to look at the surface area to be cleaned. The right selection of brushes, pads and tools is a must for avoiding damage to the floors, in addition to the use of the right chemicals and the ability of machines to handle varied brush pressures.

How are you working to reduce the plastic content of your machines?

We have developed some machines with aluminium chassis, and we’re attempting to use metals as much as feasible. Furthermore, the construction of our machine is and will be heavier, allowing for an extended machine life cycle. We want to refurbish old, used and fully depreciated equipment in India and extend their life by 3-4 years and help reduce plastic waste.

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