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What's New In Upright Vacuum Technology?

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Jason Hill

Jason Hill
Vice President of Engineering,
Emerson Tool Company

Q: ProTeam has been well known for lightweight backpack vacuums since inventing the first one in the mid-'80s. After you are already famous for backpacks, how do you release an upright vacuum to the market?

That's a great question. When we approached the creation of a new upright, we knew that, first and foremost, it would be a ProTeam vacuum. Even though designing an upright is completely different than designing a backpack, if it says ProTeam, right away you know three things - it is going to be durable and built to last, it is going to remove fine particulate matter consistent with our "Clean for Health" slogan, and it is going to have the innovative design and technology to make cleaning pros lives easier. That's why we're in this business.

Q: So tell me about the durability of this unit. How did you assure that your customers would get a return on their investment?
We wanted to create an upright that may represent a slightly higher investment up-front, but provides years of reliable performance. ProTeam stands behind the durability of our products by providing a three-year limited warranty with the ProGen unit.

Q: Then you must have a reason to believe it will last
Many reasons to believe it will last. What we wanted the vacuum to do in the field, we tested for extensively in the laboratory. This means that latches, hinges, switches, and filters were put through many cycles of tests. Our engineers even set up the ProGen to vacuum a strip of carpet back and forth over and over again for hundreds of hours to simulate typical use. Additionally we placed 30 test units in the field for customers acceptance and suggestions for improvements prior to production.

Q: So after all those tests, what can you say about the durability of the ProGen?
I can say that it will withstand heavy-duty wear and tear, because of its high-impact molded plastic body. The units we tested ran an average of 800 hours between motor brush replacements. When it does need maintenance, as all vacs do, the maintenance is often fast and easy. For example, the design of the units allows for quick access to clogs, quick change of the power cord and brush roll removal and replacement can usually be done in a matter of minutes without tools.


Q: How are those repair times so short?
We designed the brush roll to remove with the push of a button, no tools needed. There are also four access points to check for and remove blockages without tools. We wanted to eliminate the extra steps of finding the tools and looking up how to do it, so repair is very intuitive. An animated dashboard warns the user if there is a brush roller jam, blockage, or full filter, and the motor will automatically shut off if those warnings are ignored to prevent actual damage. It reduces the guesswork, so cleaning pros can focus on cleaning.


Q: Then let's focus on cleaning next. What can a cleaning pro expect when using the new ProGen?
Expect the high-performance two-stage motor to create powerful suction and clean, not only the flooring, but also the air. Indoor air quality is very important to us, because it affects everything from a customer's perception of a business to the productivity of the people who work there. The ProGen has dual post-motor HEPA media filters, capable of capturing up to 99.97 percent of allergens and asthma triggers down to 0.3 microns in size, protecting cleaners and building occupants alike.


Q: Is protecting cleaners another one of your goals with this upright?
Yes. It's just the right thing to do, both morally and financially. Cleaning professionals often suffer work-related injuries, and those injuries end up costing business owners a lot of money. It is a sad and unnecessary trend in our industry that we are working to change by designing vacuums with improved ergonomics.

Q: What about the new upright is ergonomic?
The contact point for an upright vacuum is the handle, so the handle of the ProGen is lighter than our previous model and fits the hand well to help reduce fatigue. It also has large rubberized wheels, so it maneuvers easily and smoothly. A couple months ago we were in Chicago with our sales team playing around with the ProGen and several units from other manufacturers, and we were amazed at how different the ProGen felt. Turning, going over thresholds, and cleaning under furniture were all surprisingly easy and didn't take much effort. There are also small details that each make this vac a little more user-friendly. The cord stores in the front, and it has a low center of gravity to reduce tipping over. The powerhead has LED headlamps to light up the cleaning path in dark places. We listened to what our customers told us they want from an upright, and we innovated brand new features to try to raise the bar for upright technology.


Q: It sounds like this vacuum is ready to be tested in the real world.
It is. We have invested significant time and resources in developing the 12- and 15-inch ProGen uprights. The Carpet and Rug Institute gave it their Silver Level Seal of Approval, so we know that the soil removal, dust containment, and surface appearance change are up to high standards. Now we are excited to get them out in the field see what cleaning pros think.

posted on 9/25/2014