The chemicals used when striping floors are often harsh in nature and if used incorrectly, can cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation to custodial workers. The oscillating floor machine offers a welcomed alternative to those chemicals. Sometimes referred to as “stripping,” most manufacturers use “deep scrubbing” when talking about oscillating machines. These machines are designed to scrub down multiple layers of floor finish using only water and a maroon floor pad, but they wont always remove every layer of finish.

“If there are eight or 10 coats of finish on a floor, managers should know that this equipment will probably not remove every one of those layers,” says Louie Davis, Jr., senior territory manager at Central Paper Co., Birmingham, Ala. “It will remove most of the layers, along with the dirt and soil, but there might be two or three layers of finish left on the floor.”

Chemicals might be needed to completely strip floors, but the oscillating floor machine does scrub floors deep enough to appear as though the floor was completely stripped, say distributors. Even with two or three coats of finish left, recoating at this point will still leave a clean and clear look to the floors.

“You just can’t have unrealistic expectations of any type of equipment,” says Davis.

The fact that this equipment does clean and scrub floors without requiring chemicals is a big advantage for departments. Not only does it help support environmentally friendly initiatives, but it is safer for staff and building occupants, and it cuts down on chemical usage, which has a direct (and positive) affect on purchasing.

“Departments can cut chemical usage by as much as 75 percent by using these machines,” says Davis. “This is a significant savings every time the floor is cleaned. Plus, it is safer for the employees because they aren’t dealing with aggressive chemicals.”

According to the West Coast distributor, using floor equipment that doesn’t require chemicals is a growing trend in facilities.

“You don’t have any odors, so you can work while occupants are still in the building and not have a problem with people who are sensitive to solvents or perfumes found in many of the chemicals,” he says.

Although the oscillating equipment is not new to the industry — Davis comments that it has been available for nearly 25 years — departments are just now realizing the machines’ advantages. Benefits such as increased productivity, environmental attributes, and the potential of reduced floor care costs are enough to sell any manager on this technology.

But even so, some purchasers might get hung up on the cost of these machines. Oscillating equipment is more expensive, but distributors agree that the return on investment will more than make up for that initial sticker price.

“With the savings departments will see on chemical, water and labor, the equipment is justified from a cost standpoint,” says Davis. “It might be hard to see the longer-term return, but that savings makes this equipment a no-brainer.” 

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Increase Productivity With Oscillating Floor Machines