Flooring represents a significant investment for any business, therefore it is crucial that the longevity of this valuable asset is maximised. One of the key ways to do this is by devising and implementing a best practice approach to cleaning. This will prolong the quality of the floor at the same time as improving the levels of hygiene within the wider building. A clean floor also speaks volumes about the pride that an organisation takes in its day-to-day operations, which can have reputational benefits too.
However, with such a wide array of cleaning equipment available in the Australian market, it can be difficult to know where to begin. It is not always easy to differentiate one machine from another, and with so many manufacturers claiming to offer ‘unparalleled functionality’ and ‘the most effective approach to cleaning yet’, customers understandably struggle to choose.
Alphaclean has therefore devised this short document to provide a helping hand. A buyer’s guide to floor cleaning equipment contains a series of tips and suggestions to ensure you make an informed, headache-free purchasing decision. Of course, if you need any further information, remember we’re here to answer any questions – large or small.
First thing’s first…what is your flooring?
Different surfaces and fabrics all have varied cleaning requirements. Some vinyl surfaces for instance, may require deep scrubbing using a rotary machine and a suitable brush head, to properly clean the floor. Marble, granite or limestone may require a high polish to remove the appearance of scratches, and carpets might benefit from an extractor to clean the fibres more proficiently than a vacuum.
“A machine suitable for XXX” should therefore be at the top of your list of buying criteria.
What surface area do you need to cover?
Higher capacity cleaning equipment will be required if the flooring covers a vast area. On the other hand, organisations located in smaller premises will not need to invest in such a high-powered machine. Make a note of the dimensions of your floor so that this factor can be considered when approaching cleaning equipment suppliers.
If space is tight, more compact cleaning equipment will be beneficial. Manoeuvrability may also play a key part in your final choice. Compare the width of the cleaning track and turning circle of each machine, along with their ability to negotiate irregular surfaces, navigate under desks or on stairs.
Know your environment
If the outside environment is particularly dusty or muddy, dirt may be walked into the premises or carried through the air, which could heighten the need for more robust floor cleaning equipment. Even if the surrounding environment is relatively clean, the flooring may still be subjected to tougher conditions. For example, continued footfall can result in a dirtier floor than one that is in a less-used location. These factors will influence the extent to which the cleaning equipment needs to be especially powerful or simply suitable for ordinary cleaning.
Decide on a budget
In difficult economic times it is understandable that organisations want to try and save money. But investing in cheaper equipment that is ineffective, poorly constructed, or that utilises more cleaning chemicals, is simply a false economy. It will cost businesses more in the long run as the equipment will have to be replaced and the quality of the cleaning process will be adversely affected. The flooring may even have to be prematurely replaced, which is something no organisation can afford.
It is important that the budgeting process is realistic, but on the other hand, companies also need to ensure they remain focused on what they can afford. The crowded cleaning equipment market now benefits from a number of effective, multi-purpose machines that represent incredible value for money and a solid investment for any business.
If cash flow or upfront capital expenditure is a concern, look for a supplier that can offer a flexible finance package such as a lease or fully-maintained rental plan. Often available without an initial deposit, these lending schemes enable easy accounting and are tax deductible. Many also offer flexible end of term options, following a finance period of 1-5 years.
Look to the future
When working through this checklist of points to consider, it is important to note the various factors that will influence the purchasing decision. But it is important to look ahead too. To maximise the return on investment from floor cleaning equipment, it is important to think about how your cleaning requirements may evolve over the next two to three years.
Do you have an environmental conscience?
Regulations and standards are continually being introduced to encourage organisations to adopt more sustainable business practices. Companies that wish to demonstrate their ‘green credentials’ should therefore look for equipment with in-built features, that have been purposefully-designed to better protect the environment.
Some machines have been specially engineered so that they utilise less water, and therefore less chemicals. Others achieve more energy-efficient power consumption. If sustainability is high on your agenda, look for a cleaning equipment provider with similar ethics and an understanding of greener technologies.
Whatever the nature of your business – from factories to restaurants, hotels to offices – floor cleaning equipment can help uphold your duty of care to provide a clean, safe and hygienic environment in which employees can work. Floor cleaning can also play a crucial role in the control of infections in healthcare environment. It is important to therefore invest in machinery that can proficiently carry out the work that it is intended to do.
Cleaning equipment should also be safe to operate. Many machines are now cordless and battery-operated, to prevent trailing leads. This lessens the chance of trips or falls, which is especially important in areas with passing ‘traffic’ and in daytime cleaning scenarios.
The correct cleaning procedures can also reduce the risk of accidents happening. Many machines now have powerful in-built functionality to clean floors in a single pass and leave them virtually dry in a matter of minutes. Air movers, fans and room dryers also help to speed up the drying process, which has obvious safety benefits and also improves air quality.
Daytime vs night-time
Daytime cleaning is rising in popularity, primarily because it costs less. Cleaning during operational hours avoids the need to pay a premium for ‘out of hours’ services, and cuts energy bills as buildings no longer have to be lit during the hours of darkness. This approach also shows to employees, visitors and customers that the organisation takes pride in its appearance and levels of cleanliness. However this approach also presents additional factors for consideration.
As already highlighted, the health and safety of personnel and other individuals must be of paramount concern. Cleaners and their equipment will also have a more visible presence, and it is important to remember that first impressions count. The machinery, and indeed appearance of operatives, must therefore match the level of professionalism that the company wants to portray in other areas of the business.
Machine quietness is another issue that often needs to be considered, especially in daytime cleaning scenarios where noise could disturb personnel or spoil the atmosphere in a customer-facing business. Indeed, noise is an especially unwelcome intrusion in many settings, such as healthcare when patients need rest and recuperation, and education, where concentration is crucial.
Talk to the experts
Cleaning equipment providers have a wealth of knowledge and experience that will prove incredibly helpful during the process of researching, shortlisting and purchasing the right machine. The more professional of organisations will offer a no-obligation consultancy service whereby they digest your specific requirements and provide guidance and recommendations accordingly. Make best use of this advice, but remember not to be swayed by a sales pitch – remain focused on your own buying criteria.
Don’t forget that floor cleaning machines need consumables such as belts, filters, pads, brushes and of course, cleaning chemicals. Assess how long these will last, whether they are available from the equipment supplier and how much they cost. Also consider the recommended service and maintenance approach. These factors will all affect the ongoing ‘cost’ of the machine.
View your equipment provider as a cleaning partner that can support your business as you continue to grow and evolve. The more responsible suppliers will seek to develop long-term, value-adding relationships with customers, which continue long after the initial procurement. They will play a crucial role in enabling the flexibility of your cleaning approach, which will ensure you constantly achieve the highest possible standards.
It is important to remember that no two organisations are the same. The criteria influencing one cleaning equipment purchase is therefore likely to differ from company to company. Specialist advice should be sought from industry peers, trade journals and equipment providers, but the key thing is to invest in the product that best fits your specific needs.