Battery maintenance for floor cleaning equipment

Choosing the right battery for your scrubber drier or sweeper, understanding proper battery maintenance and educating machine users are just a few important ways to ensure the safe, uninterrupted operation of your floor machines, and are key to getting the biggest return on your battery investment.

So what battery technology do you choose?

Deep-cycle batteries, whether they are flooded, AGM or gel, are the best choice for cleaning machines because they are optimised for deep discharge, characteristic of regular machine operation.

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Flooded versus sealed (AGM or gel) technology is a decision based on budget or environmental regulations at an individual location. Flooded batteries cost less and have a longer life-cycle, while sealed AGM or gel batteries are maintenance-free but have a higher price. Preference really depends on one of these two requirements.

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Maintaining water levels is the key to maintaining flooded batteries. Despite the multitude of challenges impacting the floor cleaning industry today, equipment inefficiencies due to the failure of watering deep-cycle flooded batteries shouldn’t be one of them.

watering systems

Single-point watering systems are gaining in popularity as they make maintenance of deep-cycle flooded batteries quick and easy. With a battery watering system, staff can fill a complete set of batteries in less than 30 seconds.

Regardless of which battery technology you choose, it’s important to remember that a battery is only as good as the maintenance it receives. Proper maintenance of deep-cycle batteries will provide maximum performance and longer life extending your overall equipment run times and return on investment.

A common problem often encountered is users who have let batteries discharge too far. This can shorten the life of batteries and it is so critical to avoid this, and some manufacturers now have an electronic ‘low battery cut-off system’ that prevents this from happening.

Following a few simple maintenance steps ensures that your machine’s deep-cycle batteries will provide optimum performance levels day in, day out.

Tips for Proper Maintenance:

Safety

The safety precautions and procedures outlined below should be followed whether handling flooded lead acid (FLA) or valve regulated lead acid (VRLA) such as AGM or gel batteries.

‐Always wear protective clothing, safety glasses and gloves when handling and/or performing battery maintenance

‐Never add acid to a battery

‐Keep batteries clean and dry

‐Keep sparks, flames and cigarettes away from batteries

‐Charge only in well ventilated areas

‐Avoid skin contact with the electrolyte

‐Always use insulated tools

Charging

chargers

‐Charge after each use and follow the manufacturer’s charging instructions

‐Before charging, ensure the electrolyte level is above the plates in flooded batteries

‐Tighten vent caps before charging

‐Do not interrupt a charge cycle

‐Never allow batteries to freeze and never attempt to charge a frozen battery

‐Avoid charging at temperatures above 120°F (49°C) and always keep batteries away from heat sources. High heat kills batteries.

Watering (flooded batteries only)

‐Add water only after fully charging the battery (unless plates are exposed)

‐Check with the manufacturer regarding proper electrolyte fill levels

‐Never allow the electrolyte level to fall below the plates

‐Use distilled water

Cleaning

‐Clean the battery terminals and cable lugs regularly with a solution of baking soda and water using a wire brush. It is imperative to properly maintain the entire connection in a flooded battery because corrosion at either end of the connection can  cause high resistance and potential battery failure. Rinse with water and dry.

‐Thinly coat all connections with anti-corrosion spray or silicone gel to resist corrosion

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‐Tighten all wiring connections as per the manufacturer’s specifications

‐Do not over-tighten as this can result in breakage of the battery terminals

‐Avoid under-tightening as this could lead to terminal meltdown

‐Make sure there is good contact with the terminals

Storage

There are important steps that should be followed when storing batteries for an extended period of time.

‐Completely charge batteries before storing and monitor every six weeks while in storage

‐Batteries gradually self-discharge during storage. AGM batteries self-discharge at a much slower rate than flooded batteries. Be sure to monitor voltage every 4 to 6 weeks. Stored batteries should be given a boost charge when they are at 70 percent state of charge or less.

‐Store batteries in a cool, dry location avoiding areas where freezing or very hot temperatures are expected

‐Keep batteries fully charged to prevent freezing

‐When batteries are taken out of storage, recharge them before use

‐Avoid direct exposure to heat sources, such as radiators or heaters

Gaining a clear understanding of the various deep-cycle battery types and maintenance practices ensures that your battery-powered floor machines will continue to operate at peak levels of performance and reliability. With proper care and maintenance, an initial investment in deep-cycle flooded, AGM or gel battery technology can be extended as well as keeping the total cost of ownership to a minimum resulting in more uptime and greater profits for your company.

When it comes to battery maintenance, the bottom line is that with proper maintenance, batteries can serve users for years to come.

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How a Vacuum Cleaner Works

When you sip a drink through a straw, you are utilising the simplest of all suction mechanisms. Sucking the drink causes a pressure drop between the bottom of the straw and the top of the straw. With greater fluid pressure at the bottom than the top, the drink is pushed up to your mouth. ­

The same basic mechanism is at work in a vacuum cleaner, although the execution is a bit more complicated.

Let’s look inside a vacuum cleaner to find out how it puts suction to work when cleaning up dust and debris.

Vacuum cleaner

As can be seen, the standard vacuum cleaner design is very simple, but it relies on a host of physical principles to clean effectively.

It may look like a complicated machine, but the conventional vacuum cleaner is actually made up of only six essential components:

  • An intake port, which may include a variety of cleaning accessories
  • An exhaust port
  • An electric motor
  • A fan
  • A porous bag
  • A housing that contains all the other components

When you plug the vacuum cleaner in and turn it on, this is what happens:

  1. The electric current operates the motor. The motor is attached to the fan, which has angled blades (like a planes propeller).
  2. As the fan blades turn, they force air forward/upwards, towards the exhaust port and via the dust bag where dust and debris will be retained.
  3. When air particles are driven forward, the density of particles (and therefore the air pressure) increases in front of the fan and decreases behind the fan.

This pressure drop behind the fan is just like the pressure drop in the straw when you sip from your drink. The pressure level in the area behind the fan drops below the pressure level outside the vacuum cleaner leaving an area of low air pressure below the fan, and near the floor (this is the ambient air pressure).

This creates suction, essentially a partial vacuum, inside the vacuum cleaner. The ambient air pushes itself into the vacuum cleaner through the intake port because the air pressure inside the vacuum cleaner is lower than the pressure outside, as air always moves from areas of high pressure to comparatively low pressure. This is the process that will remove dirt from the floor.

Because the fan has created an area of low pressure near the floor, air from the floor is going to move in to fill that space, due to how air pressure works. Sometimes, very small particles of dirt and dust will be lifted by the low pressure area as well. In addition to this, air takes larger, loose particles of dust and dirt with it using friction.

As long as the fan is running and the passageway through the vacuum cleaner remains open, e.g. no kinks in the hose, no blockages etc, there is a constant stream of air moving through the intake port and out the exhaust port.

Many vacuum cleaners, in addition to using a fan, also use a rotating brush that sweeps the floor. Sometimes, this rotating brush is powered by the same motor that runs the vacuum cleaners fan, although many commercial specification vacuum cleaners such as the Sebo BS36 Comfort, will have twin motors, one to power the fan and the other to power the brush.

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Occasionally, this brush will be powered by being pushed back and forth across the floor instead. Either way, this brush serves the purpose of loosening trapped dirt and dust particles stuck in the carpet that would not have been picked up by the air pressure, and moving them to the surface, or even into the air, where they will be picked up easily.

Once the vacuum cleaner has sucked in air and dirt particles, the high pressure area directly above the fan — remember, air travels from comparatively high to low pressure areas — causes them to continue to move upwards. At this point, the air and dirt particles enter the vacuum cleaners porous bag. This bag is porous enough to allow air to pass through easily, but dense enough to trap dirt, dust and any other larger particles that were on the floor. After exiting the bag, the air leaves the back of the vacuum cleaner, passing through an exhaust filter, leaving any dirt that came with it trapped in the bag.

Repeated applications of a rotating brush tend to loosen all dirt after a while, as well as trapping larger particles completely in the bristles and lifting them where they can be more easily sucked up into the vacuum cleaners porous bag.

With the simple principles described above, floors are kept cleaner.

Cleaning Sports Hall Floors

Cleaning sports hall flooring is an essential part of regular maintenance. Not only will it make the floor look more visually appealing, but it will also extend the timeframe between scheduled floor sanding and refurbishment.

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We recommend our 5-step process for cleaning sports hall flooring:

1. Always pre-sweep floors

The most important way to protect the floor is to dust mop / sweep on a daily basis to remove grit, dirt and other dry debris. This dirt can otherwise act like sand paper on the floor seal causing erosion over time.

Begin with a pre-sweep of the floor to remove all dry grit, dust, fibres and hair. Doing so will make the actual cleaning of the hall far easier.

Avoid using dust mopping systems that use oil based or even water based treatments to hold and retain dust. These can leave a residue behind, trapping dirt which can then scratch the finish and which could be slippery and potentially dangerous.

Use a scissor mop or V-sweeper that will trap and hold dirt without any chemicals, and cover a larger area than a flat mop.

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2. Make sure you DO wet clean the floor

Athletes perspire. Perspiration, or sweat, and body oils are high in protein and salt which will build up over time. Solvent based cleaners and too little water will not break down the residue and can lead to a dull, slippery floor. Wet cleaning of some type, either mopping or automatic scrubbing combined with the proper wood floor cleaner, will remove these films.

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3. Always use a scrubber drier when possible

Mopping is fast becoming a thing of the past, especially in large areas like sports halls, due to limitations on productivity and how damp the floor remains.

Using a scrubber drier leaves the floor drier and much cleaner. Depending on the size of machine you use, a sports hall floor can be clean and dry within 45 minutes with very little effort.

As long as the floor is in good condition and there is a quality finish, there is no concern about moisture or weight issues when cleaning hard wood sports floors.

Using a scrubber drier is a great way to clean a wooden sports hall as wood doesn’t like having too much water left on the surface as it will begin to expand if the water is soaked up by the wood.

A scrubber drier will leave the floor almost dry after passing over the floor. Remember, always use as little water as possible for cleaning hardwood sports flooring.

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4.  Use the right products on the floor

Do not throw any and all types of cleaners at the floor in an attempt to solve an issue. This will only result in damage to the finish and/or the wood itself. Use a cleaner recommended by the flooring manufacturers / contractors for any wet cleaning you perform.

A good cleaner would generally be an alkaline based cleaner along the lines of Granwax Sportsclean or Junckers SYLVA Cleaner.

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These will help remove all traces of grease and the dirty marks that are left on the floor and on the sports lines. Sometimes it might be necessary to apply the floor cleaner in higher concentration as a pre-spray leaving it for a few minutes in order to remove all black rubber sole marks.

5. Preventative maintenance – Protect the floor!

Hardwood sports flooring is designed to withstand many types of activities. However, furniture such as chairs, certain types of equipment and hard plastic or metal casters can damage the floor.

Make sure everyone that uses the floor takes appropriate steps to keep the floor protected during events.

There are many types of floor covers and mats that can make protecting and cleaning hard wood sports floors much easier.

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Use large barrier matting to protect the floor from grit and water. Clean and replace the matting regularly.

Finally, check ventilation and heating systems to prevent condensation and use cleaning products without wax content.

Cleaning cars with Pressure Washers

Nothing makes car cleaning quicker and easier than using a pressure washer. They can blast away mud and thick grime, leaving just a thin film to be taken off with a sponge. This reduces the risk of scratching paintwork.

Brake dust can be hosed away, leaving only the toughest spots for a washing brush and wheel cleaner.

And most pressure washers can be used to apply specialist detergents to help with removing even the most stubborn of dirt and grime.

Based on such compelling reasons, deciding to buy one is the easy part! However, picking what specification, make and model is more complicated, as there is a huge range of pumps, accessories and prices to consider.

Cleaning cars with a pressure washer

Can the bodywork of a car be cleaned with the pressure washer? Of course it can. But there are various ways of doing it.

Even the most basic model of pressure washer can have almost 40 times the water flow power of a garden hose, which comes in handy when trying to remove tough dirt, bird droppings, dried on insects and winter salt stains on a vehicle.

Tips for pressure washing cars

Rinse the car thoroughly. As far as coarse, loose dirt is concerned, it is often sufficient to simply spray down the car with the high-pressure jet.  Even if you’ve washed the car recently, there will be some dust and dirt that can be removed with a water spray.

Don’t forget the bottom. Just because it can’t be easily seen, it doesn’t mean it can’t get dirty. Use an angled extension wand to clean the vehicles underside and inside the wheel arches.

A traffic film remover detergent (TFR) is recommended if you want a more thorough wash. Apply the detergent using the pressure washer’s chemical injection system. Make sure to use a pressure washer-approved detergent so as not to damage the car or the pressure washer.

Set the pressure washer’s nozzle to low pressure. Immerse the detergent pickup hose in the detergent solution.

Use smooth, overlapping strokes, starting from the bottom and working your way up. Wait five to 10 minutes, giving the solution time to work.

Use a washing brush attachment to help loosen stubborn dirt and grime. Why use elbow grease when you have a powerful scrubbing brush to do the work for you?

Rinse under high pressure. Start at the top and work down to ensure the entire area is soap free.

Pay close attention to both the spray angle and distance while using a pressure washer. Spraying too closely could damage an area of the car rather than clean it, so hold the wand a couple of feet from the surface and gradually move closer if additional cleaning power is needed.

Choosing the most suitable pressure washer

There are many types of pressure washers available including cold water, hot water heated by diesel, cold water powered by combustion engines, wall mounted and stationery units and even trailer mounted systems.

Choosing the right type is dependent upon many factors including the available power source, the intended application and, of course, how much budget is to spend.

There are lots of suppliers and manufacturers of pressure washers but it is important to choose one from a reputable manufacturer who uses quality components (fittings, pumps etc) and has a reputation for build quality.

Buying cheap certainly doesn’t make economic sense with pressure washers as the components used will generally be of lower quality and the design can make some units extremely difficult, if not impossible, to repair.

That is why we recommend quality yet cost-effective pressure washers from Cleanwell and Interpump.

Pressure washers

For more information on the range of pressure washers available from IFM (UK) contact us today at info@industrialfloorcaremachines.com or call 01442 823090.

Warehouse floors – forklift truck tyre marks and their removal

A clean and tidy industrial floor will improve the aesthetics of any warehouse and also satisfies safety requirements demanded by H&S bodies.

In order to keep industrial floors in the best possible condition it is important that a good cleaning programme is implemented.

Sweep floors clean

It is important that industrial floors should be well maintained and kept clean and free of any loose debris that could otherwise abrade the surface. Use large brooms, scissor sweepers or where size and budget permits walk behind or even ride-on sweepers for large warehouse facilities.

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Remove grime

Depending upon the size of the floor, the use of a mop and bucket for small areas is viable but for deep cleaning and certainly for larger expanses of floor area, a scrubber drier is better suited to remove any grease, spillages or general grime.

Rubber tyre marks

A major problem in maintaining an industrial floor is the tyre marks left behind from forklift trucks.

These marks become more apparent and troublesome when a light reflective floor is involved, and can detract from the aesthetic appearance and reduce the performance characteristics of the floor surface.

Warehouse floors

The removal of ingrained tyre marks can in many cases be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Therefore it is strongly advisable that a cleaning programme is put in place to manage the situation.

Forklift Truck Tyres

The most common forklift truck tyres are made from a universal rubber compound. This type of tyre will leave marks on concrete floors.

There are two types of “non-marking” tyres available and these should be considered for use where tyre marking becomes a problem.

“White” tyres are made from synthetic rubber with white silica gel or resin instead of carbon. The white tyres have a grey-white appearance, can cost up to 25% more than the universal carbon tyres and have about 90% of the life of the universal tyres.

They can also have a heat build-up problem when running fast and/or over long distances. If heat does build up then the load capacity can be reduced. These tyres can leave a white dust-type residue, which does not adhere to the floor surface and can be swept up during the cleaning process.

Polyurethane tyres are shiny black in appearance, very hard and can cost twice as much as universal rubber tyres. It is suggested that polyurethane tyres wear three times more than the universal tyre. The polyurethane tyre will leave a black residue that does not stick to the floor unlike black rubber type tyres. This non-sticking allows the residue to be swept or vacuumed through the maintenance cleaning process.

Spinning is the main contributory factor to black rubber tyre marks. This is a particular concern for light reflective floors. This practice must be discouraged where possible.

Recommended method for cleaning and removing rubber tyre marks

Envii EN701 Rubber Tyre Mark Remover (Ultragreen & Non-Hazardous) removes rubber marks with ease. It is able to tackle the most difficult rubber deposits whether it be from a forklift or the landing area on a runway.

It is ideal for busy warehouse or distribution centres where time is at a premium and areas cannot be closed off for long periods.

Use neat for heavy rubber tyre marks where 100ml will normally treat 1m² or it can be diluted to deal with lighter marks or for ongoing maintenance.

Another product we have found from experience that works well is Ultrapac Renovate from Prochem. It can be used as a pre-spray and can work wonders on rubber tyre mark removal. This product is solvent free and is designed for the removal of ingrained soils, carbon, soot and rubber from hard and semi-porous surfaces.

UltraPac Renovate

After application of a rubber tyre mark remover, the area can be scrubbed with a scrubber drier using hard polypropylene scrubbing brushes or with green scrubbing pads to loosen the residue. The scrubber drier can be filled with water and / or a water and detergent mix to remove excess solution from the floor surface and provide a final clean in the process.

A recommended chemical for this process, and for regular maintenance cleaning of warehouse floors, is Triple Advanced Scrubber Drier Detergent manufactured by Selden. The super strength formulation of this product removes even the toughest grease and grime and is designed for cleaning large warehouses.

Polypropylene scrubbing brushes or green scrubbing pads are recommended for use with scrubber driers to clean warehouse floors. Do not use black pads to clean any marks from a light reflective floor surface as they are extremely aggressive and may scratch the floor surface.

Depending upon the size of the warehouse, the space between pallets and racking, and of course the budget available, scrubber drier options include everything from mid-sized walk behind machines such as the Comac Abila or Simpla, to larger machines such as the Comac Omnia 32, and then upwards to include ride-on machines such as the Comac Flexy and Comac Ultra 120.

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Safe and sensible activities

The loading and unloading of warehouse racking and pallet bays and the movement of goods around warehouses needs to be carried out with care to minimise surface marking and scratching.

Forklift trucks and other vehicles need to be driven with care over these surfaces to avoid marking caused by wheel spin, sharp and abrupt turning or sliding, leaving unsightly marks that need to be removed.

Even a properly planned maintenance schedule cannot prevent the leaving of rubber tyre marks if the forklift trucks are not handled appropriately and with care.

The Benefits of Entrance Matting

There are many benefits to be had investing in entrance or barrier matting for your facility, especially in wet or wintry weather. There is no legal requirement to have one at the entrance to your facility, but considering that it is the main barrier that helps prevent dirt and water from being tracked on to internal floors, it could be a good investment.

Into the Light

Here we consider how entrance matting can benefit your facility, and the methods of cleaning.

Reducing slips and falls

The less rainwater and dirt entering your facility, the less likelihood there is to be a slip and fall accident at the entrance.

Entrance matting absorbs rainwater and helps dry footwear to prevent anything being tracked throughout your facility and creating a slip hazard. Entrance matting can absorb up to 5 litres of water per square meter to ensure that shoes are dried properly to avoid slips and falls on wet floors.

Rubber or vinyl backing that is moisture resistant and slip resistant prevents a mat from shifting to prevent sliding and thus prevent tripping or falls.

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Considering that slips and falls cost employers more than £512 million per year (as per the HSE), it’s important to put prevention solutions in place. Placing an entrance mat correctly at all entrances to your facility will help reduce the risk. Everyone that enters the building should be able to step directly onto the mat and should walk across it for several paces before stepping onto the entrance floor.

Saving you money

80% of indoor dust and dirt is tracked in from outside, and the average cost to remove it from a building is over £400 per year. Furthermore, over a 20 day period, 1000 people will deposit 10 Kgs of dry dirt via footwear.

The main hazard to carpeting is dirt and soils which can have a texture that is similar to a razor and as carpets are walked on, their fibres can be cut. Within the first 2 metres, 42 % of the floor’s finish or carpet nap will be removed after only 1500 people have entered. This shortens the overall life span of the floor seal or carpet.

Entrance mats effectively remove dirt and water and trap it within the mat, reducing the amount entering your facility and the cost associated with removing it. Entrance matting also protects the surface finish of floors to prevent wear and tear, reducing the need for expensive maintenance.

Coupled with the cost of slips and falls this could prove very expensive.

Helping present a clean, safe appearance

First impressions count for a lot. The last thing you want visitors to see when entering your building is messy, dirty floors. It doesn’t give a good impression and doesn’t promote good health and safety.

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Entrance mats are attractive and make your entrance way look clean, increasing the overall appeal of your facility, especially if they are branded and bespoke to your business.

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Additionally, entrance mats show that steps are being taken to reduce the risks posed to workers and that safety is a priority in your facility.

Choosing the right entrance matting

It is important to choose entrance matting with these functions in mind to maximize the benefits.

For large entrances, a combination can be made of single function entrance mats, brush mats for scraping, combination of brush and absorbent mats for cleaning and absorbent mats for drying.

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However, smaller entrances of shops and office buildings often do not have the space to allow a full matting system. Not to worry, there are a number of multi-function entrance mats that combine coarse scraping yarns, with softer absorbent yarns to still function effectively in smaller entrances.

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Maintenance & Cleaning

Entrance mats function optimally when regularly cleaned.

  • Regular cleaning will prolong the life of carpet mats because of the reduced abrasion effect on fibres.
  • Regular cleaning will maintain effectiveness of mats for the longest time and avoid dirt and moisture from being accumulated on mats being walked in to facilities.
  • Regular cleaning will improve the overall appearance of entrances. This is where visitors get their first impression when entering a building.

By removing soils through a combination of regular vacuuming, grooming and extraction cleaning, the mats life span can be extended. A maintenance schedule should include daily vacuuming of the top surface, especially in heavy traffic areas, to prevent dirt from building up and being ground into the mat.

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Weekly grooming of the carpet will maximize vacuuming by loosening the fibres and creating easier access to the soil underneath. Grooming also helps to aerate fibres to allow quicker drying.

Also sweep or vacuum under the mat to clean the floor or carpet underneath.

Monthly injection and extraction shampooing will clean fibres and remove any leftover dirt, and help remove any nasty spills and stains.

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