Like many aspects of the cleaning industry, autoscrubbers are slowly, but surely, on an evolutionary path fueled by technological advances, a push toward increased worker productivity and a societal emphasis on environmentally-friendly practices.

Autoscrubbers presently on the market are the easiest they’ve ever been to use and maintain. Materials are lighter, making machines less bulky and heavy, and a wide variety of sizes are available for riding and walk-behind products.

While autoscrubbers traditionally have been electric plug-in machines, the availability of battery power has freed up operators’ abilities to clean without worrying about physically dragging a cord around wherever they go. Battery-powered machines can also save operators time, improving worker productivity. In general, battery-powered autoscrubbers are easier to maintain and have longer lives. Maintenance-free batteries are more expensive up front, but the lifecycle cost is lesser because they don’t require replacement as often. Low-cost acid batteries are another option, but maintenance is important to prolonging battery life. One recent battery advancement is the formulation of gel batteries, which are maintenance-free and do not require watering, and feature a long-lasting run time.

Machine size is another consideration for building service contractors. Whether ride-on or walk-behind, more autoscrubbers are being manufactured in compact sizes, creating an even larger variety of choices for BSCs. In the past, rider scrubbers were typically large and lacked maneuverability, making them best suited for industrial applications. Now, rider machines are small enough to travel down supermarket aisles and other tight spaces, and fit easily through doorways.

Environmentally-friendly machines have burst onto the market, thanks to the push toward green cleaning, resulting in autoscrubbers that use less chemical and water. Using less chemical to do the job saves product costs, and using less water saves time for workers who no longer have to refill the machine. Water and chemical savings also decrease dry times, improving efficiency. Some autoscrubbers have built-in chemical metering systems, which not only ensure the proper use of chemicals but also result in fewer errors.

Advancements in autoscrubbers have paved the way for leaner, greener, faster, lighter, and more efficient machines. Most machines enable savings in one or more areas, including price, productivity and time. Purchasing the right machine for the job, even if it is more expensive, is likely to save money in the long run through worker productivity. With labor costs representing a vast majority of a BSC’s budget, it’s important to make the right choice.

Excerpted from the May 2007 issue of Sanitary Maintenance.