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Mechanised Sweepers and Cost Efficiency

Rationale for mechanised cleaning

Roads get dirty usually on the sides or curbs faster as compared to the centre of road. This is due to the fact that the debris is constantly pushed to the sides by the regular vehicles plying on the road. Rao explains, “This means a road which may be of 8mtr width actually requires only one meter width to be swept on either side. While these curbs need to be swept on a daily basis, the centre of roads may require weekly sweeping to clean the dust or rubber particles possibly getting accumulated in the centre over a period of time.”

Selecting a sweeping machine

Surface condition, content of debris, area to be swept, frequency of sweeping and number of labours employed are the main deciding factors in selecting a right machine. An outdoor sweeping machine should be capable of catering to complex situations like sweeping minute dust, litter, debris and pebbles from smooth and rough surfaces during the sweeping operation. It should also be capable of sweeping a width of one to 1.25m in a stretch and equipped to collect 100 to 200kg garbage. These machines should have a higher ground clearance in order to be manoeuvred on speed breakers on Indian road conditions.

The operational aspects should be simple and suitable in order to be handled even by non-technical and semi-skilled manpower also with minimal maintenance. Size of the machine need not necessarily be large like a truck mounted sweeper because curbs are being targeted for sweeping than the entire road. More so, a smaller machine would be ideal to enable it for easy manoeuvrability in all kinds of road widths. On the financial front, any machine should give a return on investment (ROI) in less than one year.

Commenting on the ROI aspect Raja adds, “One should invest from the aspect of product life cycle rather than from the point of purchase. The technology has advanced to a level that what a man can accomplish in eight hours can be done by a machine in one hour.”

Eureka Forbes is today offering Truck mounted sweeping machines, walk behind sweeping machines, ride on sweeping machines, petrol, diesel and battery operated sweeping machines with major focus on Facility Management, IT, residential and manufacturing segments.

Capacity should be determined by taking into account number of hours, length of the road area, width, efficiency of the machine and the dust one is looking to manage. “Hydraulic machine equipped with two, three or four cylinder engine can be chosen based on the kind of environment. You might have to work at a higher capacity if you have a challenging environment. For example, in a very dusty environment, one may also need to move at one kilometre speed rather than at a higher speed,” says Raja.

Based on the capacity, a sweeping machine can clean a minimum area of 1500 to 2000sqm in an hour replacing five persons. This can help save 60, 000 to 70,000 per month excluding consumables as an expense to the manpower.

The bigger the premises the better is the cost benefit analysis of the sweeping machine and quality of cleaning also improves. N Sujeeth Prasad, Administrative Officer, Jayakrishna Textiles, Bangalore, says, “Sweeping machine is a boon for us because there is dearth of labourers in the market. We have deployed three mechanised sweepers which are efficient in cleaning our premises spanning an area of 20,000sqm.”



End user generally chooses a machine based on the criteria like quality, after sales service, capacity, performance and the cost. Machines have different capacities for different applications. However, there is a direct bearing of the capacity of the machine on the cost.

Higher capacity machine for highway cleaning and low capacity battery operated sweeper for indoor cleaning are available in the market. The latter has limited hours of usage and is generally recommended to control pollution and sound levels. “Currently 320 to 440 ampere hours battery powered machines have the capacity to run for five hours and can clean an area up to 5000 to 6000sqm ” adds Venu Madhavan.

Filtration systems

Higher capacity diesel engine operated models are robust and are used for large area applications. In order to trap the fine particles which is a perennial problem in cement and manufacturing facilities, sweepers are equipped with inbuilt filtering systems like panel filters, envelope and drum filters. Sweeper machines with panel filters require less investment and have large filter surface area for efficient cleaning.

Vinish Gangadharan from Oceangate Terminal Cargo Pvt Ltd, says, “We have currently put in place a mechanised sweeper for our 20 acre yard. The machine has been able to address the challenge of clearing fine dust, cement and mud particles on the paver blocks which earlier had been a challenge area. Over 90% cleaning has been accomplished with these sweepers.”

The latest development however, is a cyclonic dust control system on indoor sweepers. This three-stage filtration system uses a first-stage filter for removing large debris and a cyclonic pre-filter for smaller particulates. It finally removes the remaining dust (as small as 0.5 micron) from the airflow in the third stage of the filtration.

On outdoor sweepers (mechanical or air sweepers), the latest innovation offers improved dust containment through atomisation of water, reducing the amount of water used and the number of refills per working shift. Indoor air quality can be largely improved by the sweeping operation. Another development in street sweepers is the move towards electrical vehicles. The use of battery-driven machines that can run for a full shift without recharging is important as it enables municipalities to comply with the ever more stringent standards for carbon emissions they are faced with. With easy-access maintenance points and no-tool brush changes, sweepers are increasingly easier to service, resulting in higher productivity. Less downtime is also achieved by the optional bumpers and protection guards that withstand the most demanding environments for long machine life.

Mechanisation and Time Efficiency

An Indian labour can sweep an area of half acre or 2000sqm a day on an average. That means a road of 10km in length would require minimum 10 labourers for sweeping an area of 20, 000sqm on a daily basis even if we consider that only a meter width on the sides are to be cleaned. Going by Minimum Wages Act, this costs a good amount of approximately 85,000/- per month which includes the basic salary of 6,400/- plus peripherals and statutory needs. One machine can easily do the same at as less as 30,000 per month inclusive of all operational expenses. Says Rao, “The simple equation in today’s context of mechanisation is four paisa per square meter as against 12 paisa per square metre if a labourer is employed for the same sweeping operation on an annual basis. This denotes a saving of approximately 70% revenue. Thus, a machine cost can be recovered within a time frame of maximum one year.”

Highlighting the fact that mechanised sweepers enhance industrial workshop productivity and cost efficiency, Raja, says, “Going by the fact that productivity of a person doing manual sweeping is approximately 300sqm an hour, a mechanised sweeper could cover almost 8000 to 20000sqm an hour. With this increase in productivity, it saves on almost 30 to 60 times the manpower for a specific area of cleaning needless to say that it is time efficient too.

“With technological changes in terms of sweeper designs, we are able to achieve a dust free environment with the inclusion of vacuum technology,” he adds.

Challenges and Solutions

Low awareness levels and manpower issues

There is a slow growth in demand for sweepers; major reason being the lack of awareness. To which Raja explains, “End users might presume mechanised cleaning to be a tedious, costly and technologically oriented job meant only for skilled manpower. Contrary to the belief, the mechanised sweepers today have integrated manual methods of sweeping in a mechanised form thus providing optimum results.

“With increasing cost and low availability of manpower, we have also seen a steady growth in sweeper demand with maximum numbers coming for lower end ride on models,” Raja adds.

Obsolete vis-à-vis Advanced Technology

In the past, civic bodies bought sweepers and dumped them in their backyard stating that they were not conducive to Indian roads. Raja says, “This could be attributed to fact that indigenous sweepers which were once the preferred choice of the civic agencies became prone to breakdowns due to their out-dated technologies. Besides this, some models used cartridge filters/bags which used to get clogged due to heavy fine dust conditions reducing the suction power.

“Latest sweeping machines (mostly imported) have much improved designs limiting breakdowns and increasing efficiencies. A case in point is the CS 140, a technologically advanced mechanised sweeper equipped with ‘twin action technology’ for more effective sweeping,” Raja concludes.




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