small restroom tile floor with grout and floor care sign

Compact autoscrubbers tackle tight spaces with speed and efficiency

Americans love to supersize — whether they’re buying a car, a house or a meal. But bigger doesn’t always mean better. Downsizing often yields greater long-term benefits.

Such is the case with floor care equipment: More facility managers are realizing that smaller, compact floor machines deserve a place alongside their large ride-on counterparts. These walk-behind scrubbers — some no bigger than an upright vacuum — streamline processes and improve the cleanliness of hard flooring in small areas.

Bill Allen, territory manager for Fagan Sanitary Supply in West Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, often uses the following analogy when talking to customers about the need to incorporate small floor machines into their equipment arsenal:

“You wouldn’t have two 60-inch zero-turn mowers to cut the grass in your 40-acre facility, and then give your staff six-inch hand clippers to do the trimming and weeding. Similarly, you wouldn’t give your staff ride-on floor scrubbers or large walk-behind scrubbers, and not give them small machines to take care of detail areas,” he says. “If you only focus on increasing efficiencies with large pieces of equipment in large areas, you’re missing an important piece of the puzzle.”

The Incredible Shrinking Machine

Whereas large floor machines run upwards of $8,000, some compact scrubbers cost as little as $1,200 — with more expensive options ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 — making them an attractive option for facilities with tight spaces and tight budgets.

Ronnie Kent, president of Associated Paper Inc. in Conyers, Georgia, is selling significantly more compact scrubbers than oversize ones.

“People don’t cringe as much when you tell them the price,” he says.

Along with its smaller price tag, a compact autoscrubber has a smaller footprint with a cleaning path ranging from about 13.5 to 15 inches, depending on the type of machine and the manufacturer. According to distributors, they are lightweight and easy to maneuver in small, tight spaces, such as classrooms, restrooms and stairwells.

In addition to working around obstacles, compact scrubbers can extend their reach under furniture, partitions and the like.

“When I demo [compact scrubbers], I lower the handle away from the scrubber so the unit is almost parallel to the floor,” says Jason Teigman, executive director of sales for Bio-Shine Inc. in Spotswood, New Jersey. “Customers can see that the machine easily reaches underneath objects such as lab tables, desks and water fountains.”

These undersized units also excel at quick cleanup of spills and reduced labor.

“There are compact walk-behinds that hold a couple of gallons of water, all the way down to cordless units that hold no more than half a gallon of water,” says Kent. “Instead of getting out a mop and bucket and putting up wet floor signs, you can just use one of these to scrub the spill and vacuum it up — and it’s dry instantly.”

Indeed, floors that dry in under a minute are a huge selling point — especially for managers whose facilities are at risk for slip-and-fall injuries.

“Being able to clean with solution and vacuum up the dirty water at the same time — so the surface is dry for people to walk on — is a huge safety feature,” notes Allen.

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Productivity Advantages Of Small Autoscrubbers