Over the past several years, I feel that it has been my duty to present information about game-changing technologies and new trends that may help grow business and improve operations.

In the early 1990s, I wrote several articles about flat-mop technology — something that was just not used in the United States. Over the past couple of years, flat mopping has started to gain the same popularity in the U.S. that it had in Europe.

I also wrote extensively about ergonomically correct tools. This was at a time when most of the cleaning industry fought the proposed ergonomic legislation in Washington. Since then, many organizations that voluntarily adopted ergonomic tools have seen vast safety improvements.

I would like to talk about another game-changing technology. The technology is the battery.

Historically, there have been three types of energy for powering machines in the cleaning industry. The most popular is cord-based electricity. We plug the machines into the wall and must move the plug when we need to clean beyond the cord’s reach.

The second technology for powering equipment is propane. Propane is used extensively in large retail and commercial hard-floor buffing and burnishing operations where it is too labor intensive to change cords every 100 feet. But propane machines have a few faults — they are noisy; they give off carbon monoxide; they have a tremendous amount of vibration on the handle; and the cost of maintenance can be high. There is also an element of danger for workers and occupants if a tank is leaky or has not been refilled properly.

The third type of power is battery. Battery power has not been used extensively in the cleaning industry, with the exception of auto scrubbers. But, in the last few years, there have been some heartening attempts to incorporate more battery power — particularly in backpack vacuums, day-portering vacuums and light sweepers.

I think the best and most revolutionary battery-powered machine that I’ve seen recently is a new burnisher that is designed to compete directly with its propane counterparts. What makes the battery-powered burnishers exciting is that they combine the portability, runtime and weight of propane with the safety of a cord-based electric.

They are quiet enough to use when people are in the area, have little handle vibration, are low-maintenance and eliminate the safety concerns of handling propane. Some battery-powered burnishers even come with an on-board charger, which helps eliminate downtime. I foresee that many organizations that have not been able to use propane in a building may want to consider using high-speed, high-RPM battery-powered burnishers.

With the successes of flat mops and ergonomic tools in mind, I think that now is the time to take a look at the best method of powering your burnishing operation.