The third part of this three-part article discusses the necessary education for using vacuums on hard floors.

There are very few scenarios where using vacuums to clean hard floors and vertical surfaces doesn’t make sense. Very large, open spaces like gymnasiums or movie theaters may be better served by wide-area mops or ride-on scrubbers, says Mandelstam. Using vacuums is also noisier than dust mopping, which can be a hindrance in public spaces.

In general, however, experts agree most BSCs and in-house custodial departments can benefit greatly from making the switch from dust mops to vacuums.

“We have been successful with the utilization of back pack vacuums in virtually every facility type, from academic environments and office buildings to industrial settings and medical,” says Harris Sr. “The addition of battery technology has further enhanced the successful usage in areas that historically the use of cords would have been prohibitive due to potential trip hazards, such as patient-care areas.”

Much of the pushback distributors hear from end users about vacuuming hard floors or vertical surfaces can be addressed through education.

“We are creatures of habit and legacy methods, and dust mopping is an entrenched process,” says Rathey.

To get customers to make the switch, refamiliarize anyone who hasn’t tested backpack vacuums in many years with the equipment. Newer machines are lighter weight than just five years ago, offer better suction power, and the battery-powered units have seen run times double or triple to an hour or more. The machines have also come down dramatically in price.

Many custodians, particularly smaller men and women, have a perception that backpack vacuums are difficult to use. Often, a distributor can overcome this hurdle simply by letting skeptics try them on for size.

“The harnesses are designed to carry the weight, and it’s not difficult to wear a backpack, but there’s still the perception that it’s going to be heavy and uncomfortable,” says Mandelstam. “It’s just user preference.”

Distributors can educate managers about the accessories available to make the machines more versatile and effective, including training on properly using the various heads and wands to avoid scratching a floor. Training should also help custodians understand that slower is better when it comes to soil removal.

“You must slow down to optimize performance before you can metaphorically speed up through the net efficiency gains and better outcomes from vacuuming,” says Rathey.

Through proper education and training, coupled with a hands-on trial period, distributors can help customers see the many benefits of dumping dust mops, cloths, and wands in favor of backpack or other vacuums.

“Skipping this fundamental training frequently leads to poor results and frustration for the operator, manager and, worse case, the customer,” says Harris Sr. “A little time spent up front on training can minimize or eliminate many of the hurdles when implementing vacuums for the care of hard floors and vertical surfaces.”
Becky Mollenkamp is a freelance writer based in St. Louis.

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Improve IAQ, Productivity By Using A Vacuum On Hard Floors