In addition to improving floor safety, compact autoscrubbers can mitigate another potential risk and expense associated with using a mop and bucket: workers’ compensation injuries.

“You have a lot of women cleaning, and they have to pick up a bucket full of water, dump it out, fill it back up and repeat the process,” says Kent. “That bucket of water weighs about 35 pounds, and if they’re using a large mop they could be swinging around 30 pounds. It’s not very ergonomic and it’s labor-intensive, which is probably why they don’t clean well or change the water as often as they should. That could also result in workers compensation issues.”

In comparison, compact autoscrubbers are lightweight and do not require the custodian to do any heavy lifting. The units have wheels and are self-propelled, and once the tank is full, the custodian simply removes the hose to empty the dirty water directly down the floor drain or into the toilet.

Despite the improved performance and ease of use these machines afford, some facility cleaning managers are still resistant.

“Some managers are still averse to giving up mops and buckets, but most of the time it doesn’t have anything to do with the equipment itself,” says Allen. “People get very familiar with what they’re doing, and over the course of time it’s hard to make a change.”

For those who are interested in purchasing compact floor machines, Allen suggests meeting with a distributor and doing a walk-through of the facility. He also recommends assessing the staff’s ability and interest level, as well as scheduling a demonstration.

“The days of demonstrating equipment are not dead,” he says. “People still want to kick the tires.”

Lastly, distributors advise facilities to have a clear vision of what they’re trying to accomplish before making a final decision so that they can best match the machine to the task at hand.

“You certainly don’t want to use a compact scrubber for a larger area just to try and save a few dollars,” cautions Kent. “You’re not going to be happy with the production of it.”

For example, a compact battery-powered unit won’t have enough power to complete the cleaning tasks in large spaces. Corded options are less expensive than battery, but staff would be forced to stop work to change outlets regularly, impacting productivity.

In both these cases, “the job’s bigger than the machine’s capable of doing,” says Kent.

Fortunately, distributors can serve as a valuable resource by partnering with facility managers to identify the right machine for their department’s needs. Training is straightforward, as is maintenance, and with the right floor machine, workers can be far more efficient than they were before.

“Custodians are so much happier when they have equipment that works for them. They feel empowered and proud,” says Teigman. “It’s hard to be proud of taking a dirty mop and dirty solution and throwing it on the floor, knowing it doesn’t yield any results. Now they have a machine that allows them to clean hard-to-reach areas, it provides the pad pressure and it removes the elbow grease. At the end of the day, that’s the goal: to be more productive and efficient.” 

KASSANDRA KANIA is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Productivity Advantages Of Small Autoscrubbers