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Floor-care Equipment: Consider the Benefits of New Autoscrubber Technology

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Look at Webster’s definition of the word “boost” and you’ll see that it’s a verb meaning “to lift or raise”. At Clarke, the longtime Springdale, Ark.-based powered floor cleaning equipment manufacturer makes double use of that word: At Clarke, the word BOOST means “Battery Operated Orbital Scrubber Technology” and describes the company’s new autoscrubber technology.

In today’s volatile economic climate, each facility maintenance organization is charged with introducing higher quality standards, increasing productivity and cutting costs, while still doing an effective job of cleaning. Clarke’s Focus® II Autoscrubbers® with BOOST® Technology are designed to do just that, said Keith Willey, marketing manager for Clarke.

The machine features a 70-percent reduction in water and chemical use, a 40-percent increase in pad life, longer battery runtimes and chemical-free stripping. The specific features and benefits of BOOST technology fit any green cleaning program, Willey says. “These are qualities that maintenance staffs at school, healthcare, and other types of facilities look for when they purchase scrubbers that will meet the unique cleaning challenges they face.”
Syracuse University’s Experiences

In western New York, over 22,000 students, faculty and other staff members tread upon the floors at Syracuse University. Dan Welker, custodial supervisor for the university, has the responsibility of overseeing the care of the granite and marble floors in a number of buildings. The problems of increasing productivity, moving labor and chemical costs down, and improving machine maintenance were solved two years ago when the university purchased the Clarke BOOST, Welker says.

Clarke research demonstrates that BOOST Technology cleans floors more effectively than traditional disc scrubbers do. Welker confirms that claim, saying the condition of their floors is now better than what they had been getting with the older style of machine. With conventional disc scrubbers, Welker had to spend extra time cleaning the corners and edges of floors and they had to make a lot of dump and fill trips.

With BOOST, workers spend 50- to 70-percent less time emptying the recovery tank and refilling the solution tank, Welker reports. And he points to another labor-reducing quality--the machine’s handy controls. They can adjust the machine speed easily with those controls.

The university bought one BOOST machine for their physics building and the technology worked so well that they bought two more machines for the other buildings, Welker says.

Ferris State University
At Ferris State University in Big Bend, Mich., Gary Gawne, superintendent of custodial services, is responsible for cleaning and maintaining the 3.5 million square feet of campus facilities. Over the past three years or so, his staff has been using BOOST technology for routine floor cleaning and stripping.

Whenever they buy a piece of equipment, Gawne requires the vendor to first leave it with them for a week or two.

“We have to run and evaluate it before we buy. Our initial look at the BOOST’s accomplishments impressed us,” he says. They liked its ease of operation, its maneuverability, its thoroughness and its quickness.

He believes the machine’s 14” x 28” rectangular-shaped pad, along with its orbital action allows it to do a thorough stripping job. They also like the BOOST’s water conservation. The pad does more of the work with less water being involved.

Gawne has found that the normal stripping process of the machine saves them well over 50 percent in labor and reduces chemical use.

“It’s good for the environment,” he says. “Using the machine reduces the stripper chemicals you use. Therefore you’re not putting it down sanitary sewers. That’s a strong benefit.”

Warrick County Schools
Evansville, Ind., is the home of the Warrick County School System, a group of educational institutions consisting of 19 buildings that encompass 1.8 million square feet. The 9,000 school children walking the floors each school day present a sizeable cleaning challenge, says Rick Madden, manager of custodial services. “It’s that challenge that prompted us to buy a 20-inch BOOST Walk-Behind Floor Machine earlier this year and a 32-inch BOOST Rider just this past summer.

“The Clarke sales rep told me about these machines and demonstrated them. We liked what we saw. It gets lots of wax off the floors at one time. In my case you could call it a deep scrubber.”

Madden describes using the BOOST as a one-person operation. Prior to the BOOST, it took four or five people to do the job, he remarks. “The Clarke machine gives us a strong labor savings benefit. It’s a time saver and a product saver. If we don’t have to use a stripper, that’s a savings, too.

“It’s a green product, also. By using fewer chemicals, less water and less electricity it’s good for the environment. It’s easy to operate, too, and its low noise level doesn’t present us with any problems,” Madden says.

University of Evansville
A St. Louis-based contract cleaner, too, has become a big BOOST booster, says Wayne Eldridge, account manager for WFF Facility Services. Eldridge manages his maintenance staff of 47 individuals onsite at the University of Evansville, located in Evansville, Ind.

“We purchased the BOOST 28-inch machine in early June of 2008. The university had a large, LEEDS certified building and wanted equipment that would fit with the green cleaning concept,” he says. “The Clarke people came in and demonstrated it. We saw and liked its performance and decided to purchase it specifically for the new building and also use it in other buildings. We do lots of heavy cleaning—scrubbing, stripping, refinishing all the floors during the summer.”

Eldridge used the BOOST 28 extensively and after the first month, praised it as “very easy to operate with fast set-ups and the ability to run a whole shift without recharging.” He says one person can do the same area and procedures that it used to take three people to do.

“We’re able to do two to three times the area with 50-to 70-percent less water and chemical use. The pad lasts four to five times longer than round pads and gets right up to the edges and corners.”
Eldridge says the floors they normally would have to scrub four to five times are usually cleaned with one scrub pass and one mop pass. “We’re ready to apply finish right after the second pass. There’s little or no drying time needed before applying a finish.

“The machine is very maneuverable,” he says, “and can be moved from building to building on most sidewalks and streets.”

Pulaski County School System
Johnny Phelps serves as a custodial coordinator for the Pulaski County School System in Somerset, KY, near the Lexington and Louisville areas, where he’s responsible for one million square feet in 16 elementary and high schools. He has a staff of approximately 75 maintenance people who clean up after the 7,500 students who attend the schools.

Phelps’s staff has utilized two BOOST autoscrubbers for nearly a year in two of the district’s schools, where he’s been utilizing a program of doing more scrubs and re-coats, rather than stripping.

“Our people using BOOST love them. They use fewer chemicals, are easy to maneuver and to get into corners, and their noise level has generated no complaints, nor have there been any complaints about changing the pads,” Phelps says. “With rotary machines you sometimes have problems with changing pads, but there have been no complaints about changing the BOOST pads. The pads seem to last longer, so there’s less change out on them.

Both sides of the pads are usable, so our people flip them.”

Phelps says the women on his maintenance staff are less intimidated by the BOOST machines than they are when using the rotary machines. “The BOOST is easier to operate,” he says, “and it does quite a good job.”

Adirondack Medical Center
Blaine Love, manager of environmental services at Adirondack Medical Center, Saranac Lake, NY, recently purchased a Clarke Focus II model and believes that “it’s the only way to go for medical centers and places where people have allergies to stripper chemicals.

In the past, his department had been hindered in the proper upkeep of hard floors throughout their hospital because of people who were affected by the odors of floor strippers and wax. “With the purchase of this model, we have the ability to strip ready-to-wax floors and do the stripping job with just water,” he says.

“This machine uses a square pad and an orbital sanding motion to the floor. It applies water and the squeegees it up all in one pass. .

“One person can strip floors during the day and the night person can come in and just wax. There is a 70-percent savings in manpower alone, along with a 60-percent savings in chemical use.”

The consensus of the above mentioned cleaning people is this: If a maintenance operation needs a high level of cleaning with the ultimate in green benefits, BOOST technology is the way to go. No other manufacturer comes close to matching Clarke’s combination of quality cleaning ability and green benefits in autoscrubbers.

By Jordan Fox