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Although there are definite advantages to upright vacuums, distributors say they are still waiting for the hospitality industry to fully recognize the benefits of implementing backpack options. Backpack vacuums are non-disruptive, ergonomic-friendly and are extremely lightweight, making them easy to maneuver and transport from room-to-room.

“Because of the design of the backpack, it settles comfortably on the user’s back, hips and shoulders,” says Scott Uselman, manager and head of sales with High Point Sanitary Solutions in Houston. “Ergonomically speaking, it is superior to any other vacuum because the machine rests on a user’s hips.”

Attachments used in conjunction with the backpack vacuum also eliminate the repetitive back-and-forth arm motion of pushing a 20-pound upright or having to bend awkwardly to reach difficult spots.

In addition to the ergonomic benefits associated with backpack vacuums, manufacturers tout productivity gains for housekeeping departments.

When implementing a backpack vacuum program, when compared to a 14-inch upright, manufacturers say the time to vacuum a 5,000-square-foot lobby or dining area is decreased by 38 percent, or nearly an hour. The annual savings for making the switch is roughly $5,000, and $15,000 over the course of three years.

Most times, restaurants or bars are dusting and sweeping floors instead of vacuuming. By inserting a backpack vacuum into the cleaning program for a 2,000-square-foot restaurant, versus a 12-inch wide broom, a facility would save $30 week in labor costs and $1,560 in annual labor savings, according to manufacturer studies. Cleaning times with a backpack are also three-times faster than with a broom.
Vacuuming allows a cleaning crew to reach places that a broom can’t: table legs, crevices in booths, kitchen prep areas, storage areas, and in and around service stations. Detail cleaning tasks, like dusting air vents, also require less time and effort.

NICK BRAGG is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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