Do you remember the first time you saw an orbital machine at a trade show or distributor? Did it seem like another gimmick that would come and go as other types of equipment? They are finally taking their place in the floor care arena. Orbital machines have been around for a long time but were primarily used for sanding gym floors. At one time the only pads available were steel wool or modified round pads. Orbital machines are geared to go back and forth rather than in a circle like a traditional rotary machine.  

Orbital systems are now found on various platforms just like rotary machines.  With a rotary machine, floor techs had to square out corners and edges with a hand tool such as a swivel brush since the round structure could not reach those areas effectively. An orbital machine is usually rectangular and can get along walls and into edges thereby reducing (and in some cases) or eliminating the need to scrub corners.  

Both systems rise and fall on the quality and type of pads used for the task at hand. It is vital that the floor tech be trained in how to select the best pad for the job. This often requires they know what type of finish is on the floor, evaluate its condition and decide whether a scrub or strip is necessary. 

New pad technologies can allow a floor tech to remove a layer or more of finish either dry or with water along. The floor can be prepped for another coat of finish after vacuuming the area, damp mopping with a neutral detergent and once dried, apply the finish. Of course, a major benefit is the reduction in used of strippers and other chemicals that would be poured into the sanitary waste system. Check to see if converting to the new pads and new floor equipment can earn green points, reduce labor, save on chemicals and improve your bottom line.

Although each type of machine has their place in floor care, give orbital machines a test drive to see if it can reduce labor and improve your environmental profile. 

I hope to hear from you soon.  Until then, keep it clean…

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678.314.2171 or