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Check out our monthly blog, featuring handy hints and tips for taking care of your cleaning machine, case studies, new product launches and more...

Winter Driving

Driving in the winter is different than in other times of the year.  Bad weather and longer periods of darkness (especially after the clocks go back at the end of October) makes driving more hazardous. Sometimes conditions can be extreme, with prolonged periods of heavy snow and floods.

In very bad conditions, avoid driving completely, unless you absolutely have to make the journey and driving is the only option.

Prepare your vehicle

It’s a good idea to have your vehicle fully serviced before winter starts and have the anti-freeze tested.  If you can’t have it serviced, then do your own checks:

  • Lights are clean and working
  • Battery is fully charged
  • Windscreen, wiper blades and other windows are clean and screen wash is topped up
  • Tyre condition, tread depth and pressure (of all the tyres - including the spare)
  • Brakes are working well
  • Fluids are kept topped up:  anti-freeze and oil

It’s also a good idea to stock up on de-icer, windscreen wash, oil and anti-freeze at the start of winter.

 

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Emergency Kit

When extreme weather is forecast, keep an emergency kit in your car, especially if you’re going on a long journey.  If you must drive in these conditions, you should carry:

  • Tow Rope
  • A shovel
  • Wellington boots
  • A hazard warning triangle
  • De-icing equipment                                                                                             
  • First aid kit (in good order)
  • A working torch
  • A car blanket
  • Warm clothes
  • Emergency Rations (including hot drink in a flask – non-alcoholic, of course)  
  • Mobile Phone (fully charged)

Driving in snow or ice

If you find yourself driving in snow or on icy or snow-covered roads, adapt your driving to these conditions:

  • Reduce your speed. The chances of skidding are much greater and your stopping distance will increase massively.
  • Only travel at a speed at which you can stop within the distance you can see to be clear. Speed limits are the maximum in ideal conditions; in difficult conditions, they can often be too fast.
  • Avoid harsh braking and acceleration, or sharp steering.
  • Always reduce your speed smoothly and in plenty of time on slippery surfaces.
  • Slow down in plenty of time before bends and corners.
  • Braking on an icy or snow-covered bend is extremely dangerous. The centrifugal force will continue to pull you outwards and the wheels will not grip very well. This could cause your vehicle to spin.
  • To brake on ice and snow without locking your wheels, get into a low gear earlier than normal, allow your speed to fall and use your brakes gently.
  • Increase the gap between you and the vehicle in front. You may need up to TEN TIMES the normal distance for braking.
  • Keep your vehicle well-ventilated. The car heater turned up full can quickly make you drowsy.
  • In snow, stop frequently to clean the windows, wheel arches, lights and number plates.
  • Visibility will probably be reduced, so use dipped headlights.
  • During wintry weather, road surfaces are often wet and/or covered in frost and ice or snow. But this does not occur uniformly. A road will often have isolated patches of frost or ice after most of the road has thawed – this commonly occurs under bridges.

Snowroad

Rain

Rain reduces your ability to see and greatly increases the distance required to slow down and stop. Remember that you will need about TWICE your normal braking distance. Use windscreen wipers, washers and dipped headlights; drive smoothly and plan your manoeuvres in plenty of time.

Fog

Avoid driving in fog unless your journey is absolutely necessary as it can be one of the most dangerous weather conditions. An accident involving one vehicle can quickly involve others, especially if they are driving too close to one another.

If you must drive:

  • Follow weather forecasts and general advice to drivers in the media.
  • Allow plenty of extra time for your journey.
  • Check your car before you set off. Make sure everything is in good working order, especially the lights.
  • Reduce your speed - and keep it down.
  • Switch on headlights and fog lamps if visibility is reduced.
  • If you can see the vehicles to your rear, the drivers behind can see you – switch off your rear fog lamps to avoid dazzling them.
  • Use the demister and windscreen wipers.
  • Beware of speeding up immediately when visibility improves slightly. In patchy fog, you could find yourself ‘driving blind’ again only moments later.
  • If you break down, inform the police and get the vehicle off the road as soon as possible. Never park on the road in fog and never leave it without warning lights of some kind if it is on the wrong side of the road.

 

Fog

 

How to care for Your Pedestrian Scrubber Dryer

So, you've taken the plunge and leased or bought a pedestrian scrubber dryer - that's quite an investment - how do you make sure you get the best from your new machine?

First of all, read the Operator Manual - seems simple right?  But a surprising amount of people don't read this important guide...  The Manual contains lots of useful information including the functions of the controls, how to empty the machine, charge the batteries and even a troubleshooting guide.  If there's an issue with your machine, it's always a good idea to consult the Operator Manual before reporting the fault as it may be easily rectified by unblocking a filter or emptying the dirty water tank.

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Familiarise yourself with the consumables on the machine which may need replacing - e.g. squeegees, batteries, brushes etc.   These should be checked regularly to see if they are worn or damaged - the machine will not work properly if these parts need replacing.  Again, the Manual will have instructions for replacing consumables.

You cannot clean a dirty floor with a dirty machine - so do make sure that you empty the dirty water tank and any waste hoppers, as well as cleaning out any filters which may be blocked.  Your scrubber dryer will perform much better if it is cleaned regularly.  Check the brushes for debris - especially shrink-wrap which should be removed from the floor before using the scrubber dryer.

Scrubber Sweeper New 4

If your machine runs on wet batteries, they should be topped up with distilled water every week - do not use tap water as this can ruin the batteries.  Always top up your wet batteries before putting the machine on-charge.  Ensure the machine is charged fully before using it - avoid opportunity charging (charging for a short length of time) as this can shorten the life of the batteries.

The future of cleaning machines?

Driverless technology has taken a major advancement in recent years with cars being tested by several manufacturers, ready for launch in the coming years. When it comes to cleaning, the only real automation has been in the small-scale robot vacuums, which have really been aimed at the domestic market. But all that is about to change...

Horizon Product Blue

In the Spring of 2017, Nilfisk launched a smart, simple and highly reliable self-operating machine that has the power to increase the effectiveness of any cleaning program. It can handle repetitive tasks with consistent performance without the need for training but, most importantly, the time normally spent manually operating a scrubber can now be re-allocated toward a more focused and efficient cleaning program.

The proprietary advanced technology recognises an entire room in a single pass. The sensor suite has been optimised to guide the machine quickly and safely while detecting and avoiding any obstacles. The simple and intuitive interface makes this self-learning scrubber extremely user-friendly, allowing for hours of independent cleaning.

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With 3 cleaning modes, the driver-less Liberty A50 Scrubber Dryer can be tailored to suit your needs. The ‘CopyCatTM’ mode is designed to replicate your desired cleaning path to perfection. With a single manual ride, the machine precisely learns exactly how you want to clean. For future cleaning passes, the scrubber will adapt to any new obstacles and clean with the highest consistency. With no need for special mapping or programming, ‘Fill-in’ mode is the fastest way to get started with autonomous cleaning. Simply drive the perimeter of the room you want to clean and the scrubber will autonomously clean every inch of the area avoiding any obstacles on the way. You can also choose to run in ‘Manual’ mode, giving you the productivity and flexibility of a manual stand-on scrubber. For cleaning tasks where only part of the normal cleaning procedure needs to be carried out, the manual mode will contribute significantly to reducing the total cost of ownership.

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The machine also comes with a remote user device, which communicates the current status of the machine and alerts the user of any issues. Using the device, the operator can pause or stop the machine remotely if needed. The scrubber is designed to operate even in low light conditions, allowing users to reduce facility operation costs. The intelligent and self-learning software solution is state-of-art. It enables the scrubber to remember, learn and make decisions even when the environment has changed.

At the March 2017 Cleaning Show in London, the Liberty A50 won the coveted Innovation Award in the floor cleaning category.

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So, do your cleaning staff need to be worried about being replaced by a machine? The simple answer is no - these autonomous machines simply free up Operator time which can then be spent on other cleaning tasks. Whilst the autonomous machine can tackle large areas with repetitive cleaning passes, they also free up cleaning operatives for manual, ad-hoc jobs in more unstructured environments such as busy offices

Purchase vs. Leasing

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For business owners who need certain equipment to operate, there is a lot to consider. Beyond simply weighing the overall costs of purchasing or leasing a piece of equipment, you also need to consider maintenance, depreciation, flexibility and more.

When you start narrowing down on the type of cleaning machine your business needs, it’s a good idea to thoroughly consider the pros and cons of leasing versus purchasing. In certain circumstances, the cost-benefit of one option may strongly outweigh the other.

Leasing

Pros:

  • This method is good for equipment that needs to be updated often because you can acquire updated technology easier and quicker. If you will need to update your equipment on an annual basis to remain competitive, leasing allows you to avoid being stuck with outdated equipment.
  • There is less expense up-front with leasing because you have lower, scheduled payments. You don’t have to deal with one large lump sum to purchase what you need, making it easier to budget for the equipment over a longer period of time.
  • Leasing is flexible and offers more options when it comes to the type of equipment you get. You aren’t as restricted by high up-front costs or other concerns to try something new that may help your business.
  • With leasing, you don’t pay for maintenance. If the machine breaks down, the costs for repairs are usually included in your monthly payment.

Cons:

  • You usually pay higher costs over time than you would if you paid up-front. Most leasing options require interest to be paid as well.
  • Since you don’t own the equipment, it gives you absolutely no equity. You won’t have the option to sell the equipment once you are finished with it, so there is no potential to make any money back.
  • The available length of lease terms may be longer than you need. Strict agreements may force you to pay for and keep a piece of equipment for a longer time frame than you require, resulting in wasted funds and space. This can be especially difficult for larger pieces of equipment that you need for a short period of time but don’t have storage space for.
  • Availability of products may be limited depending on the stock of the leasing company. Your choice of brands or models could potentially be out of stock or not carried at all, so you could have to settle for something else.

Purchasing

Pros:

  • You will own the equipment, so you can make any alterations necessary. Maintenance is also in your hands, you can choose to take out a separate maintenance contract or pay for any repairs as and when needed.
  • You have the option to sell the equipment when you are finished with it, allowing you to recover some of the cost.
  • Purchasing is easier because you don’t have to deal with agreements and contracts. You simply pick out what you need and pay for it. This works well for smaller equipment that is easy to store, as well as equipment that has a long life.
  • You have complete control over what you get because you aren’t limited by a leasing company’s stock. If you want a particular model or brand, you have the ability to order exactly what you need.

Cons:

  • You will have a higher initial cost as opposed to lower monthly payments that may be easier to budget. It may be difficult to pay for costly equipment all at once. Higher initial costs may keep you from purchasing exactly what you want and may force you to settle for a lower-cost option.
  • For a technology that is outdated quickly, you are stuck with it because you own it. You then have to decide if it is worth it to continue to use it, repair it, store it or sell it.
  • You are responsible for all maintenance, including costs. This can become expensive, depending on what issues you encounter, and repairs are not always simple. You could potentially be burdened with broken equipment that you can’t return or sell. Keep an eye on the product warranty to see if it covers repairs and for how long.

Determining costs for equipment through either method should include considerations of tax deductions and/or the potential resale value. Consider the potential revenue derived from using this equipment, how quickly the equipment will be outdated, the size of the equipment and the overall costs. Each decision regarding equipment leasing or purchasing should be made carefully to best fit your company’s situation and needs.

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Battery Care

Battery care and maintenance is a key element in making sure your cleaning machine functions at it’s most efficient - failure to take care of your batteries can affect the performance of your machine and lead to the batteries needing to be replaced more quickly.

Battery Care & Charging ProceduresBattery Care E Mail Pic 1

  • Only charge batteries once daily, if possible for a minimum of 8hrs and only charge batteries when the charge has depleted to 20% or less - the red ‘low battery charge’ light should be flashing.
  • Avoid opportunity charging (quick charging between uses) it is detrimental to battery life. Opportunity charging is not good because the cooling time is eliminated, shortening life (ie. One charge cycle per day is preferable.)
  • Never charge a wet battery with a sealed (gel cell) battery charger. The wet battery needs the higher voltages to finish the charge and without it the batteries never come back to 100% and sulfation can occur.
  • Never charge a sealed (gel cell) battery with a wet battery charger. The higher voltages (above 14.8 volts) that a wet battery charger generates causes excessive gassing too fast for the sealed battery to recombine, causing dry-out and battery failure.
  • Never let the water level of a wet battery fall below the plates. Lack of maintaining the level in a wet battery causes damage (sulfation) to the exposed portion of the plate that reduces capacity.
  • Always fill your serviceable, wet batteries with distilled water after they have been charged. If the level is at least above the plates, do not fill the battery until after recharge. The level Battery Care E Mail Pic 2will expand during charging and if you fill them before recharging, the level will possibly bubble out of the battery. The plates must be covered with water for recharge but be careful not to overfill.
  • Always keep the tops and terminals of batteries clean and free of corrosion. The film on top of the battery can cause the current to migrate between the posts, accelerating self-discharge.
  • An overly discharged battery may need to be cycled a few times before it can recover fully. If a battery begins to heat before coming up to a full state of charge, it may be necessary to discharge the battery and recharge it a few times. This charge and discharge cycle may help the current acceptance of the battery and facilitate its recovery to a usable condition.
  • As batteries age, their maintenance requirements change. Generally their specific gravity is higher. Gassing voltage goes up. This means longer charging time and/or higher finish rate (higher amperage at the end of charge). Usually, older batteries need to be watered more often. And, their capacity decreases.
  • Inactivity can be harmful to deep cycle batteries. If they sit for several months, a ‘boost’ charge should be given; more frequently in warm climate (about once a month) than in cold (every 2-3 months). This is because batteries discharge faster at higher temperatures than at colder temperatures.

What Chemical Should I use in my Scrubber Dryer?

 

Now that you've purchased/hired a Scrubber Dryer, the next consideration is what chemical you should use in it?  There are a wide variety of chemicals available, depending on your needs: F181 TRIPLE
low foaming, high strength, non-tainting etc.  Based on our experience of over 30 years, we recommend Triple by Selden - a leading chemical supplier

 

Its super-strength formulation removes even the toughest grease and grime and it is low foaming - specially designed for machines with suction dryers. Triple is ideal for cleaning large warehouses, as its rapid grease cutting action ensures only one pass of the machine is required.  It is also un-perfumed, making it suitable for use in kitchens/food storage areas as it will not taint food stuffs.

 

Suitable for all heavy duty scrubber drier machines and for general machine scrub applications, Triple is a good all-round solution for most applications.

 

Do You Really Need a New Sweeper?

We were recently contacted by an existing customer with a Ride-On Sweeper, to say the machine was not performing to expectation and asking us for a quote for a new machine. 

Following a site visit, our engineer discovered that the filter was completely blocked and removed a large quantity of shrink wrap from the main broom - and now the machine is working just as it should!  The customer subsequently took out a Service contract for the Sweeper - which is always recommended, but a bit of weekly maintenance from your operators is also a good idea.

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So, think about your Sweeper - is it working as well as it did when you bought it?  If not, there are some simple maintenance tips to keep your machine in tip-top condition:

 

Ride-On Sweepers

  • Check the diesel fuel tank level/LPG bottle/ Battery charge. If needed, refill/ change the LPG bottle.Sweeper Maintenance   Ride On Pic 1
  • Check the main broom bristles for wear and that the main broom freely rotates and is free from debris.
  • Open the engine cover and check that the engine and hydraulic oil radiator’s fins are clean from dust.
  • Check the engine liquid coolant level.
  • If the coolant level is low, check the amount of liquid in the expansion tanks and if needed, use to refill the radiator.
  • Check the engine oil level.
  • Make sure that the engine air cleaner and pre-filter are free from dust.
  • Inspect the hopper filter conditions. Plies should be clean and intact.  If not, blow the filter with air.
  • Check that the side skirts are at the proper height before sweeping.
  • Do the same for the rear skirt.If the machine has been used until the Red light illuminates on the battery level indicator on the machine, a full recharge of the batteries (10-12 hours) will be required. Failure to do this may cause damage to the batteries. Charging the batteries after every use is recommended.

 

 

Pedestrian Sweepers

  • Lower the side broom.Sweeper Maintenance   Pedestrian Pic 1
  • Drive the machine straight forward. Adjusting speed depending working conditions/quantity of debris.
  • Activate the filter shaker switch every 10 mins.
  • When operating on wet floors, open the ‘wet bypass’ port to avoid damaging the dust filter. Close the ‘wet bypass’ port to restore proper vacuuming.
  • Release the traction lever, lift the side broom and turn off the machine.
  • Remove the hopper and empty it and put the hopper back on the machine.
  • Check the main and side broom and remove any debris like straps, banding, shrink wrap etc.
  • Remove and clean the dust filter as indicated into the manual.

 

Don’t Forget!

Training is important - your machine operatives may change, but your Sweeper is a significant investment.  Try to ensure the people using your Sweeper know about its basic maintenance. 

Feel free to contact us for Refresher training if required.

 

For Help and Advice Call 01282 416139