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Many facets of Single Disc machines

Single disc scrubbers are the most versatile, multipurpose and general machines for maintenance and cleaning of all types of floors and carpets. As the name implies, it uses a single rotating disc which works on the floor to clean it. Different pads, rotation speed and motor power can provide the solution for any floor cleaning application: floor cleaning, scrubbing, polishing, marble/granite restoration, crystallization, buffing, spray buffing, scarifying, scouring, sanding, stripping, carpet shampooing, wooden floor sanding etc.

Theoretically, a single disc floor machine is a low speed machine with a horizontally rotating head attached to a large, round scrubbing pad or floor scrubbing brush which spins in a circle in one direction. The spinning of the pad or brush is powered by a small motor, ideally mounted directly over the centre of the machine head to distribute equal pressure on all sides of the brush or pad for proper scrubbing. Most scrubbers come equipped with solution tanks that can squirt floor cleaning solution directly into the scrubbing pad and onto the floor. Scrubbers are made to spin at a variety of speeds. The speed at which the pad or brush rotates directly affects the kind of floor cleaning job to be done.

Single disc scrubbers operate in a side to side or “swing” motion and are designed to handle scrubbing jobs, when the floor has in-ground dirt. Depending upon the accessory chosen, these machines can be used to remove old polishes from worn out floors or grind floors to bring a mirror shine finish on the same floors. Single speed scrubbers usually rotate at output speeds from about 150 to 175 revolutions per minute (RPM). Dual speed scrubbers will go from about 150-350 RPM. With new forms of engineering technologies coming in, many manufacturers have started producing variable or multiple speed floor scrubbers in which the brush/ pad speed can be regulated to suit the floor/ carpet maintenance operation being performed.

Criteria for Selection

The selection of a floor cleaning machine firstly depends upon many factors such as the cleaning operation that needs to be performed, dirt or stain prevalent on the floor, the area to be cleaned, the layout of the area, manoeuvrability of the machine to perform cleaning operations and presence of human traffic during cleaning hours. Usually, where no other machine can be suggested, a single disc scrubber can be the most general purpose machine to be used for any floor cleaning operation. The mechanical action of the floor cleaning process takes into account factors such as motor power, brush speed, brush orientation, weight on the brush and brush aggressiveness. Single disc scrubbers can be evaluated based on the following factors:

• Motor Power: This defines the strength of the motor to rotate the brush. As the situation becomes more difficult for the brush to rotate, higher should be the power of the motor. For example, for someone doing marble crystallization or dry buffing or carpet shampooing, the friction caused between the floors and pads is higher than the routine floor cleaning operation thereby obstructing the pad to move smoothly. In such circumstances, the motors with higher power will facilitate the pad or brush to rotate despite the resistance provided by the floors. Also, if the operation hours are longer, higher motor power will be more helpful.

• Brush/ Pad Speed: Every floor or carpet maintenance operation can be optimized with the ideal brush speed of the machine. For those who need to perform multiple operations, there are options of using single speed, 2-speed, 4-speed and variable speed machines.

• Drive: Usually, the motors rotate at a speed of 1440 RPM, but the brush or pad cannot be allowed to rotate at such high speeds for operator safety. Between the motor and the brush, there is always a speed or motion transmission system, which is usually a gear drive or a belt drive. The more the speed reduction ration, higher is the power transmitted to the machine from the motor. Machines with belt drives are the easiest to design, comparatively cheaper, noiseless and easy to replace. However, since they are not able to produce lower speeds and transmit more power to the brush, they are more suited for easier applications like floor cleaning. For other operations such as carpet shampooing, crystallization, scarifying, marble restoration etc, gear driven machines are most suitable. With gear drives, the speed reduction ratio is higher; therefore the force transmitted to the machine from the motor through the gear drive is higher. Gear drives can also be of different types and planetary gear drives are known to transmit maximum power to the machine.

• Brush size: If the area to be cleaned is too large, a smaller brush will take too long for cleaning and will render the cleaning job highly inefficient and time consuming. It will be a waste of the labour and money. Therefore, selecting the machine with the right brush size is most important. Most machines are available in 12”, 15” 17” and 20”. It is suggested that machine should be chosen of such a size which would support floor pads which are of fixed sizes as well.

• Weight and stability: Although single discs require operator skills to balance rather than lift it, weight still plays a crucial role for the machines. Brush pressure is important as the right kind of pressure applied on the brush or pad can optimize the cleaning result. Machine weights should be kept as low as possible without compensating the application. Higher weights can cause operator fatigue when working for longer hours. For carpet shampooing for example, higher weights are not advisable as the extra weights may not let the pile of carpets stand up. But when grinding needs to be performed on the floors, with higher weight, the grinding results will be faster, better and more uniform. If the motor is mounted on the centre of the base of the machine right above the centre of the brush, then the pressure distributed on the base will be equal on all sides.

This will help in uniform cleaning, polishing and grinding results and better stability of the machine thereby causing lesser fatigue to the operator.

• Vibration: At higher weights or higher speeds also, the machine should be stable and should not cause vibrations. The machine operator could benefit from a lower level of vibrations – enabling the machine to be used for longer periods with minimum operator fatigue.

• Noise: Many single disc cleaners also enable the cleaning process to blend more into everyday working practices by offering a far lower noise option than many other types of floor cleaning machines. This ensures that floor cleaning tasks are able to be undertaken during working hours with minimal disruption to the surrounding workforce and therefore reducing the cost of the machine operators’ overtime or out of hours allowance.

• Accessories available for use with the machine: The machine should be compatible with all types of accessories so that it can be used for various applications. Except for the pads, most brushes for the machines are to be supplied by the manufacturer of the machine itself. Therefore, it should be checked first as to what are the accessories that will be provided with the machine and optionally.

• Availability of spares and services from the supplier: Spares and services should be readily available, as longer down times for the machines means loss of revenues to the service providers. Doing a background check for availability and cost of spares will always be helpful in the smooth operations of the machines in years to come.

• Reputation of the manufacturer: Every manufacturer in the market has certain products which are their core strengths and some products that are only to complement their product portfolio to make it an all round package. But if they are not known to supply some machines with the same quality they are usually associated with, their single disc scrubbers can be avoided.


Being the most versatile, Single Disc Machines are known to provide the best cleaning results compared to any other machine. They are one of the least expensive machines with a wide array of tasks that can be performed with a single machine with just the right change of brush or pad. The single disc scrubber essentially replicates the human action of cleaning, by using a rotating disc, which is in contact with the floor to scrub, buff and polish the area as required. Just that it employs more pressure and speed to clean the floors faster and with greater efficacy compared to manual cleaning. Single disc scrubbers are compact and most easy to be transported via smaller vehicles or public transportation systems to various sites with minimum damages and transport hassles. This makes it a favourite for the in-and-out service job industry people who provide carpet shampooing, marble/ granite polishing, residential spring cleaning services and 1-time cleaning services in offices or small workshops. Single Disc Scrubbers are preferred also because they:

• Reduce recurring labour costs as lesser number of manpower will be required for cleaning a given area

• Reduce training and labour turnover costs

• Improve quality and consistency of cleaning

• Increase productivity and efficiency by speeding up the cleaning process

• Maintain level of hygiene and

• Increase safety standards

Single disc floor scrubber is the single most important machine for the hospitality industry along with the vacuum cleaners. Be it hotels, hospitals, housekeeping service providers or specialized service providers like carpet shampooing and floor polishing, the single disc scrubber has served these segments sincerely and provided its users with generous profits. Every hotel from a 1-star hotel to a 5-star hotel, we can find a single disc scrubber being used, whether it is for marble polishing, carpet shampooing, floor cleaning, wooden floor sanding, buffing etc. Hospitals and laboratories frequently need single disc scrubbers to revitalize the floor polish that has been applied. They can also be used for cleaning under the beds as larger scrubber dryers cannot reach into such compact spaces.

Even in engineering industries where the layer of muck (oil or grease from machines that sticks with dirt to form a sticky layer on the floor) is large enough to make the floors look very dirty with uneven muck deposits, single disc scrubbers can be used with wire brushes and appropriate degreasing chemicals and the original floors can be restored to their earlier glory. This process of cleaning is called scarification.

Even as the market for larger machines is growing at a rapid rate, single disc scrubbers will never fall out of contention and will always be the highest selling floor maintenance machine across the world. Their versatility and ability to perform newer maintenance tasks by using newer accessories always helps in getting new clientele. As the boundaries of service providers are increasingly becoming blurred, an altogether new segment has emerged, of civil contractors who are into floor polishing activities and use the conventional Frankfurt machines. With each passing day, more and more such contractors are impressed by the benefits of using single disc scrubbers combined with diamond polishing pads for floor polishing and have adopted this technology rapidly.

In fact, their demand for heavier range and duty machines in single disc category has lead to the development of larger machines with higher motor powers and heavier weights. Floor polishers across the world now prefer to work with single disc scrubbers.

Variable speed machines instead of single or 2-speed machines are being favoured. The hospitality industry feels that with multiple floor and carpet maintenance operations to be performed, it is ideal to keep one machine with variable speeds instead of different machines with different speeds. Around 10-15 years ago, not many could have envisioned that single disc scrubbers would be used with diamond pads for grinding and honing of stone floors.

Single Disc Machines are known to provide the best cleaning results and are the highest selling floor maintenance machine across the world.

Samir Sabu
Soma Specialities Pvt. Ltd

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