When discussing the merits of orbital floor cleaning machines, jan/san distributors don’t oscillate: These units — also referred to as oscillating floor machines — have revolutionized floor care by cutting labor costs and chemical usage, as well as drastically improving cleaning outcomes. 

“Orbital technology is a game-changing technology in terms of labor efficiencies,” says Tom Tipton, owner of 4 State Maintenance in Coffeyville, Kansas.

“In today’s world, we don’t get into the strip cycle as often as we did 10 to 15 years ago, so this machine plays an instrumental role in being a restorative tool for our industry,” Tipton adds.

In many cases, Tipton sees the orbital floor machine replacing conventional machines, such as swing buffers.

“By design the orbital machines we sell are square, and most of our rooms are square, so edge work and detail work become much easier,” he says. “Labor is reduced, and that’s what creates the benefit and popularity of the machine.”

In addition to design efficiencies that decrease the need for manual detail work, orbital floor cleaning machines operate at high speeds, oscillating the pad driver in tiny, quarter-inch circles between 2,250 and 3,500 revolutions per minute (RPM).

Conventional machines, on the other hand, rotate at significantly slower speeds between 175 and 300 RPM. Furthermore, orbital scrubbers are heavier, and this additional weight contributes to the machine’s efficiency, says Tipton.

The mechanical action of the machine also ensures that floors are cleaned more thoroughly.

“Instead of turning in a circle in one direction like a rotary machine, the orbital machine cleans in all directions,” says Keith Schneringer, marketing manager for Waxie Sanitary Supply in San Diego, California. “It cleans forward, backward, and side-to-side all at the same time. It provides a more concentrated cleaning, which also helps you to clean areas faster.”

The mechanics also make the orbital scrubber easier to maneuver, says Schneringer, which in turn increases speed, as well as worker safety.

“It’s potentially easier to operate than a rotary floor machine,” says Schneringer. “Typically the first time you operate a rotary floor machine, it can kick off to the side, and people can’t control them. With the orbital machine, the operator can become more proficient at using it faster than a rotary floor machine. It’s also potentially safer because it’s stable, and it’s not pulling the operator in different directions.”

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Stripping Floors Without Chemicals