Using self-climbing units to clean windows on high-rise buildings can significantly save BSCs time and money.

“It’s usually five to seven times faster [than manual window cleaners],” says Jim Diebel, operations manager for Pinnacle Building Services, Saint Paul, Minn. “So you have labor savings, and you save on insurance.”

Most automated window cleaning systems increase productivity, says Draper.

“They all clean and climb at about 35 feet a minute, so that’s a very rapid cleaning speed,” he says. “Many machine operators out there are seeing a decrease in labor on a building, so that’s a cost savings to both the contractor and building owner.”

As with water-fed poles, automated window cleaning machines use pure water, thereby eliminating streaks and the need for chemicals.

“It’s a better clean because there’s no residue left behind,” says Draper. “Every time you use a chemical, there’s some residue left behind, and that residue attracts dirt regardless of what substrate it’s on. When this machine goes up a building it’s cleaning not only the glass but all the substrates that surround that glass.”

But safety and productivity improvements aren’t the only benefits of automated equipment. Many building occupants favor these machines because they afford a sense of privacy.

“We deal with a lot of high-rise complexes,” says Draper, “and people don’t like the fact that somebody’s looking in the window, especially in high-rise residential settings.”

“With hotels and condo buildings that are all glass, you’re living in an aquarium,” adds Diebel. “With this equipment you don’t have prying eyes on your home or office.”

While automatic window cleaning equipment can improve safety and boost productivity, BSCs and window cleaning companies are quick to point out that these tools are a welcome adjunct to their business rather than a replacement for window washers.

In inclement weather, for instance, Diebel reverts to suspending workers over the side of the building to wash windows.

“Automatic equipment has limitations in cold weather because the water lines freeze,” he says.

In fact, automated window cleaning equipment accounts for only 20 percent of Diebel’s business — a testament to the industry’s reliance on manpower to wash windows.

“[Automatic equipment] isn’t going to replace window washers,” says Diebel. “It’s another great tool that’s been added to our company.”

Kassandra Kania is a freelancer in Charlotte, N.C.

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Automatic Window Cleaning Systems Save Time and Money