Imagine a janitor barreling toward the end of his shift. He is preparing for his last task: cleaning the floors of an expansive corridor. It seems like a daunting chore but he’s got the help of a battery-operated, ride-on autoscrubber. The equipment cuts cleaning time to less than one hour — a huge difference from when the halls were cleaned manually by mop and bucket in more than four.

He revs up the machine and sets out to make the floors shine. Then, 15 minutes into cleaning the floor machine powers down. He turns the key. Nothing.

One of the most frustrating experiences for a janitor is when a piece of equipment doesn’t work as intended. For building service contractors, the downtime can mean an unhappy employee and possibly an unhappy customer, not to mention the extra manpower and labor costs needed to cover the tracks of a project delayed.

For battery-operated equipment, more than likely the equipment disrepair isn’t actually disrepair at all — it’s an overlook of battery maintenance.

The biggest problem regarding floor machine operation, according to jan/san distributors and manufacturers interviewed for this story, boils down to end users failing to conduct regular battery maintenance, or recognizing its value.

“Basically with floor machines, the biggest problems I run into is the lack of battery maintenance, or the lack of knowledge when it comes to battery maintenance,” says Cory Bohlman, a service manager for Bruco in Billings, Mont. “You will charge your batteries as normal, but your machine will start having less and less run time.”

Depending on the frequency of use and the task at hand, a properly maintained battery-operated autoscrubber should be able to run anywhere from two to five hours. Anything less than that may indicate a problem. While many distributors offer equipment servicing, general battery maintenance is often left to the machine’s owners or operators.

Purchasing floor equipment is typically the largest investment a BSC will make, says Brad Gruber, president of Uneeda Enterprises in Garden City, N.Y., so they need to  treat it well.

“People spend $5,000 to $10,000 on a machine — it’s not like they have a back-up,” Gruber says. “If you take care of your car it’s going to last longer. Same thing with cleaning equipment and batteries.”

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