In order to determine the trends in cleaning, one must first observe trends in building cleaning. The challenge is to devise economic solutions to problems without reducing quality. Which machines have a short set-up time and long operating time? How can one save costs while taking environmental interests, water, energy, cleaning agents and wear parts into account?
As in the past, cost-saving is the main priority – this involves shortening of cleaning time to save labour costs. The demand for cleanliness in buildings is continually increasing and the trend is: More frequent routine cleaning and less basic cleaning. Service companies are being increasingly contracted to complete cleaning work.
The manufacturers of cleaning technology have adapted their machine concepts to the situation and offer product ranges with modular design and enhanced use possibilities. Customer-specific upgrading is provided and machines are delivered ready-to-use.
The reduction of service life costs and highly versatile deployment are the main interests of customers and the aspects which manufacturers must aim to fulfil. These objectives require considerable investment in the area of product development.
Thanks to the latest technological developments, e.g. 3D-CAD, alternative constructional concepts, deployment considerations and environmental solutions can be described in detail and compared with each other at an early stage.
Whether impact-proof plastic tanks, aluminium brush heads or stainless steel squeegees are used, close attention must be paid in selecting the right materials to ensure that the machine can withstand rough everyday use, provide long problem-free operation and remain in a visually good condition.
Long service life
A robust and well-arranged machine design for increased demands combined with simple, intuitive operation of the functions (where possible, with single-button operation) are declared objectives of development. Increased service-friendliness of machines – through an integrated diagnostics system and comprehensive service network which can deal with worst-case scenarios by employing highly qualified technicians – ensures the highest levels of machine availability. This means that the long service life of machine is an ‘integrated’ factor of the overall development from an early stage.
The technology of cleaning machines has reached a high standard over the past few years. Dramatic improvements in the ease of operation have lead to an increased acceptance by the operating personnel.
Today’s machines provide an ergonomically conceived workplace at which long hours of work represent no great problem. Cushioned seats, optimum vision of the work area or generous legroom are not the only reason for considerably more working comfort. Thanks to the inclusion of electronic control units, operation has been simplified. The driver no longer needs to manipulate various switches, levers and knobs but can operate the entire range of machine functions via a single knob. Cleaning programmes are often integrated in the control units which can be adapted to specific building characteristics.
For use in areas with high demands in respect of hygiene, e.g. in clinics, retirement homes, canteen kitchens or in the area of food processing and storage, cleaning can be completed according to the HACCP concept and cleaning machines are offered which are equipped with anti-bacterial tanks.
Where machines are required in areas sensitive to noise, e.g. clinics or retirement homes, manufacturers of cleaning technology have a wide range of quiet or silent running machines available.
Investment in easy-to-service machines (e.g. through panelling which can be pivoted open instead of having to remove screws) and shortening of set-up times have contributed to an even further reduction in cleaning costs.
Development meets demands
There will, doubtless, be further developments in the areas of economy, ergonomics and environment friendliness. Today, there are a number of applications where cleaning machines must be used several times a day for intermediate cleaning purposes. An interesting aspect for the future relates to further developments in the area of battery technology and quick charge systems available. They offer solutions with which machines can be recharged to continue operation in about 30 minutes. The batteries used are maintenance-free and, due to their special design, can be charged with high currents enabling intermediate charging at any time.
The chargers only require a nominal voltage of 230 V/AC – meaning that charging is possible from any power socket. This results in a particularly high level of machine utilisation and almost permanent availability. Also, as a result of the long life of the batteries, it is an environment friendly and economic system.
Small cleaning machines which are currently powered via a cable connection will be available as battery powered machines in future. This will make them more manoeuverable and flexible in deployment. It is becoming apparent that in future, small, high capacity batteries will be available whereby the overall size and weight of the cleaning machines could be reduced. Smaller, more manoeuverable and better designed manually operated scrubber driers with a broad working width are already in the market, providing higher levels of efficiency for larger floor surfaces.
Developments in the area of environmental considerations will continue in the same way. Greater efforts will be made to reduce water and chemical consumption or optimise them even further. In the case of scrubber driers, for example, an electronically regulated water feed to the brushes combined with water retaining rings, results in a considerable drop in water and cleaning agent consumption. The effect of this is also a reduction in the waste water produced.
At the same time, reduced water requirements and larger water tanks mean the machines can be operated for longer periods between refilling. This means that unnecessary set-up times are dispensed with and the practical area coverage of larger ride-on vehicles is increased dramatically.
Cleaning agent dosing systems, stationary or on-board, combined with automatic filling systems serve to increase efficiency and environmental protection. This is because the filling of the solution tank is time-consuming and binds the operator to the machine. Valuable working time is lost as a result. Incorrect dosing leads to poorer cleaning results and, in the case of overdosing, puts an increased burden on materials and drainage systems as well as increased costs for cleaning agents.
Highly concentrated cleaning agents for daily routine cleaning are undergoing developments to further improve the economic use of the cleaning method. Tests showed that using this type of agent, for example, brought considerable savings in cleaning agent costs and, consequently, for transport, storage and disposal. These cleaning agents are provided in packages which fit in the onboard dosing systems and, thus, ensure additional savings in valuable working time because time-consuming refilling is dispensed with.
A further trend can be seen in the topic of flooring. Where PVC or linoleum flooring was used in the past, we now often find stoneware tiles, granite, marble/terrazzo or artificial stone floors which are easier and more economical to clean. This is mainly because cost-intensive cleaning work, such as application of coating and polishing and regular basic cleaning, is omitted or reduced.
The service life of tiles and stone floors is correspondingly longer. These trends have been picked up by manufacturers who are developing appropriate solutions to enable economic cleaning and retain attractive optic of the new flooring. The use of scrubber driers with pad systems, for example, enables combined cleaning and polishing for efficient results of cleaning. The optimal solution is when the cleaning performance can be achieved without the use of chemicals.
Chemical-free routine cleaning, e.g. through using demineralised water, has retained its place in the mechanised cleaning of floors. Demineralised water dries without leaving any residue, leaving no streaks or limescale marks. This reduces the risk of re-soiling considerably because the particles of dirt have no chance of adhesion to surfactant, soap or lime residues. Within the sense of user-friendly cleaning concepts, dispensing with chemicals when using such cleaning methods has proven advantageous in respect of work protection and safety.
In future, the most important developments will remain in the areas of improving efficiency. New technologies and further development of existing ones will aim at further reducing cleaning costs and thus, service life costs. The explicit sale of cleaning machines has expanded to the sale of systems. Today, it is not sufficient to simply offer products, practical problem solutions must be provided too.
To achieve maximum efficiency, the technical aspect of cleaning machines is now supplemented by additional services by some manufacturers. This includes a comprehensive advisory service with computer-aided economic calculations prior to purchase as well as financing and alternatives to purchase such short-term leasing for flexible machine deployment.
Comprehensive customer service networks with mobile, GPS-controlled service technicians ensure quick access to the customer and fast response times. After-sales services are playing an increasingly important role with which operators of cleaning machines outsource the complete service and maintenance work.With permission from Hako-Werke