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Sustainability” means more than just environment friendliness – it means companies balance the economic, environmental and social impact of their business decisions. And, when done right, sustainability can be a core strategy in a company operations that help them grow while lowering their resources and costs to do so.

Businesses are increasingly facing the challenges of environment driven issues; the key issue being pollution. Among the top environmental issues facing the cleaning industry are energy efficiency, water quality & quantity, air pollution and waste management.

Innovative hard floor cleaning solutions providers typically focus on three aspects of sustainability:

Environmental aspect

  • Reducing or eliminating harsh chemicals
  • Reducing waste
  • Reducing office/plant resources
  • Reducing packaging

Social aspect

  • Reducing chemical accidents
  • Producing low noise machines
  • Reducing VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compound)
  • Integrating ergonomics

Economic aspect

  • Product benefits
  • Differentiated results
  • Lower costs
  • Economic Profit

Manufacturers choose the above aspects because they impact the environment and their business. They typically view sustainability as a journey. The strategy is to start with a narrowly defined boundary or scope and a few key projects for each aspect. As they build their skills and learnings, they extend their boundary and add more projects. Innovative technologies and product design support the sustainability strategy of these cleaning solutions providers.

Driven by the market requirements in sustainability, cleaning equipment manufacturers now offer solutions that meet the expectations in natural resources protection, waste reduction and energy savings. The portfolio has grown to include innovative “off the floor” solutions, superior cleaning solutions that emit fewer toxins, reduce engine emissions, use less water, use fewer or no chemicals and minimise noise levels, among others.

When a cleaning professional or facility manager is considering a potential investment in scrubber-driers for his facility maintenance programme, the solutions provider will look at all aspects and propose the scrubber-drier that best fits the application while guaranteeing productivity and superior cleaning results.

Protecting the environment has become an integral part of many facility maintenance programmes. With new information on the negative impact of some chemicals, airborne particles and even noise, many new industry standards and regulations actually mandate environmental sustainability. Fortunately, recent technological advancements in scrubber-driers make protecting the environment effortless.

Latest innovations in scrubber-driers concentrate on productivity, reduction of chemical use, safety, operator comfort and waste reduction. These are all linked directly to the above social, economic and environmental sustainability pillars.

Productivity

Salaries and wages represent the biggest cost when operating facility cleaning and maintenance. Therefore, any increase in productivity immediately translates into a cost reduction and a higher effectiveness. Coupled with additional performance enhancements, such as larger solution tanks, wider cleaning paths and longer battery life, scrubber-driers have redefined how today’s hard floor surfaces are cleaned.

Nowadays, scrubber-driers come equipped with chemical-free and quick-dry technologies that also use less water while guaranteeing an excellent cleaning result. Cleaning technologies that make more efficient use of water and thereby reduce the fill and drain instances during the cleaning cycle have an immediate effect on the cost of operation.

On top of this, pre-dosed chemicals offer the benefit of operator safety and also reduce down-time because there is no need for mixing and measuring detergents.

Scrubber-driers with quick-dry technologies leave just-cleaned high traffic areas available for passage in a much shorter time. Not only will it increase cleaning productivity but even allows for 24/7 operation.

Reduction or elimination of chemical use

The environmental concerns today force machine manufacturers to invest in technological innovations that allow scrubber-driers to run on less or no chemicals whilst achieving adequate cleaning results.

The development of chemical dispensing systems is an important evolution in the hard floor care industry. Automated chemical dilution and proportioning systems are replacing less effective and less safe dispensing methods.

Automated chemical dispensing systems ensure that the proper amount of chemical is used on the floor, which protects the floor surface from potentially damaging chemicals. This also saves on chemical costs by eliminating over-use and reduces waste. In the old days, the method of manually mixing and measuring chemicals almost always resulted in too much chemical being used, resulting in a myriad of problems, including higher chemical costs, premature removal of floor finish and a sticky or slippery floor. With automated dispensing systems, the integrity of the floor finish is maintained and less chemical is used to get the job done, ultimately leading to a safer floor surface.

Scrubber-driers equipped with chemical reducing technologies are a good choice for today’s facility managers and cleaning professionals. They affect safety and the waste stream in different manners: not only is the waste water less hazardous for operators and the environment (no need for separate disposal), but the packaging reduction that comes from not using chemicals or using less of them is obviously an important environmental benefit.

Safety and operator comfort

Safety goes hand in hand with the above: when operators can work with pre-dosed or less or no chemicals, the risk of exposure to harmful detergents and effluents is minimised, resulting in operator safety. Moreover, scrubber-driers that leave floors immediately dry after cleaning, present a reduced risk of slip and fall accidents.

Maintaining hard floor surfaces with a scrubber-dryer helps reduce the amount of dust that gathers on the floor. The less dust there is to remove, the less dust there is to potentially become airborne and affect indoor air quality.

Operator comfort is highly impacted as well by ergonomic enhancements, low sound levels and easy-to-use machines that don’t require lengthy training cycles for operating the scrubber-dryer and handling chemicals.

Just as the safety of maintenance personnel and facility occupants must be addressed when considering how to care for a hard floor area, so too, must the safety of the facility itself. Not only does routine maintenance pose a risk to the structure – walls, columns, floors – but it also poses a risk to other components within that facility – shelving, products, assembly lines, etc.

While older cleaning machines were bulky and square with sharp corner points, some of today’s best built ride-on scrubber-driers are highly manoeuvrable and include corner rollers that “grip” a wall or stationary object and roll the machine forward. In addition, headlights improve operator visibility to help avoid bumping into walls, columns or other obstacles.

Waste reduction

Manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to reduce packaging throughout the manufacturing and supply chain: from choosing suppliers that run waste reduction programmes to delivery of finished goods in reduced and recyclable packaging. The customer has the benefit not only when receiving the equipment or parts, but by decreasing the use of chemicals there is no need for storage of detergent jugs or containers at the customer’s site. The ecological footprint through waste reduction is considerably less significant than in the past.

Choose technology today

There are numerous examples of best practices in hard floor care, such as those listed here. They continue to grow as new scrubber-drier technologies continue to advance. The bottom line: with the evolution of best practices in equipment and cleaning chemicals, there’s no time like the present to choose scrubber-driers which allow you to maintain a high performance floor care programme that produces an outstanding looking floor at an affordable price, all while preserving natural resources.

Agnes Knapen, Marketing Communications Manager, EMEA
Tennant Company – www.tennantco.com

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