Top Tips for Maintaining Commercial Vacuum Cleaners

It can be easy to overlook the routine upkeep of your commercial vacuum cleaner, especially if you tend to be of the opinion “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The failure to keep up with the maintenance of your commercial vacuum cleaner can significantly diminish its performance. A neglected vacuum cleaner leaves behind dirt and debris, which results in a “dirty” clean. Ineffective cleaning sacrifices the health and hygiene of employees and building users.

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In contrast, a well-kept vacuum cleaner along with proper cleaning can improve the indoor air quality of the building.

Proper care of your vacuum cleaner will also lengthen its useful life and limit the need for replacement and parts. Give your vacs a little TLC to increase cleaning effectiveness, save money and enhance the image of the carpets and floors.

Properly cleaning commercial vacuum cleaners can deliver savings in ways you may have never considered. Following a routine maintenance schedule is the best way to ensure ROI on your equipment investments.

Check out the following tips to cleaning and maintaining vacuums:

Inspect dust bags regularly

At the beginning of each shift, check the filter bag before use. Change the bag when it is 2/3 full. Do not wait for the bag to become totally full, as this will restrict airflow and can diminish performance.

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Check micro filter compartment

Remove any dust and dirt. If the microfilter is visibly dirty or there is an odour when using the vacuum, change the filter.

Check motor and HEPA filters

If a HEPA filter is present, replace it when visibly soiled. Motor filters usually need to be replaced every 2 years or when visibly dirty, whichever comes first.

Check brushes/floor tool

Remove the brush, then clean any strands of hair or carpet fibres wound around the brush. Scissors work well at removing these fibres, but avoid cutting brush bristles.

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Keep tool storage compartments clean

Limit the transfer of dirt and allergens to clean areas and ensure that accessories perform as expected by keeping tools clean and in good working order.

Inspect suction hoses and electric cables

If you suspect a blockage due to lack of air flow, disconnect hoses and check for obstructions. If an obstruction is found, disconnect hose and re-install in reverse to pull the clog out. Check electric cables for any fraying or damage and replace when necessary.

Clean the tank (wet vacuums) 

Remove and empty dirty water from the tank, then rinse and let dry for optimal cleaning results. Thorough cleaning of the tank is especially important to avoid unpleasant odours.

Check squeegee on floor tool (wet vacuums)

Check for splits and cracks on squeegees before use. Damage to squeegees can cause streaking on floors and results in poor water pickup. The length of useful life depends on the types of surfaces cleaned.

In summary, when it comes to proloning the life of equipment and ensuring it works to its optimal standards, it is always better to be proactive rather than reactive. Stay on top of regular maintenance for a clean that won’t disappoint and satisfies your bottom line.

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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.

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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Electrical safety of Cleaning Equipment

Cable Integrity

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Always check by sight and touch (before plugging in and switching on!) for any nicks or imperfections – report any issues and DO NOT USE.

Check for any tears or cuts to the cable and if there is any damage, and certainly if any copper cable is visible, DO NOT USE the appliance and report it for repair & replacement of the cable.

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It’s not worth taking the chance – FIT A NEW CABLE!

Damage can occur when:

• Cables are caught on skirting boards, around door frames or other obstacles
• Cables are stood on, wheeled across or slammed in doors
• Cables are caught under a rotary machine, or a cylindrical brush  scrubber drier, causing the cable to break – this can be a significant safety risk, especially when using a scrubber drier with water.
Be careful and vigilant & follow best practice guidelines with regard to cable handling.

We always recommend the use of an RCD (Residual Current Device).

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• Did you know that it takes only a fifth of a second for a strong electric current flowing through your heart to kill you?
• Think about if for a moment: if you’re using a rotary buffer  and you accidentally slice through the cable, the electricity has to go somewhere.
• If the machine has a metal case, you’re holding on to it, and you’re standing on the ground, there’s a very high risk that your body will form a “short circuit” – the path of least resistance for the current to flow through.
• It takes just the blink of an eye for a current that’s doing you a favour by powering your machine to change its mind, zap through your body, and kill you.
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• One way to reduce the risk is to use an RCD (residual current device), which automatically shuts off stray currents before they can electrocute you, cause fires, or do other kinds of damage.
Typical issues associated with plugs

Over heating / burned

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Damaged plastic casing

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Plug with no top & no earth in use in a public area with a real danger of electrocution for any user.

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Attempted DIY connection with exposed wires hence PAT failed.

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In all cases DO NOT USE the machine.

Replace the plug correctly and ensure the correct fuse is used.

Plugs and sockets

For plugs and sockets, keep an eye out for the following:

Hot plugs or sockets, scorch marks, fuses that often blow, or flickering lights – they are all signs of loose wiring or other electrical problems

Badly wired plugs – any coloured wires sticking out could come loose and debris could also get into the plug

Overloaded sockets – plugging too many electrical appliances into one socket can lead to overheating

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Cables and leads

The risks with cables and leads include:

Getting frayed and damaged – make sure the outer covering of all power leads is in good condition and replace if necessary

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Being badly positioned – they shouldn’t be anywhere that they could be tripped over, or near water, cookers or other sources of heat

Running them under rugs or carpets where they can wear through without anyone noticing – position them elsewhere

Keep your electrical equipment in good working order

Follow the guidelines below to make sure your electrical items are safe to use:

Maintenance

Electrically powered machines, especially ones that run at high speeds and contain motors, such as buffers and scrubber driers, should be serviced once a year by a qualified technician.

Plugs, sockets and cables

Plugs, sockets and cables also need to be used correctly, you should:

• Make sure you can’t see any coloured wires between the plug and the power lead – change the plug properly

• Make sure the wires are held firmly in place inside the plug

• Only use one adaptor per socket – don’t plug one adaptor into another and try to  keep to one plug per socket
Fuses

When you’re fitting or replacing a fuse, it’s important to use the right fuse for the machine to make sure the fuse doesn’t overheat.

Check the user manual or look for a sticker on the machine to find out its wattage and then use the correct fuse:

> 700 watts, use a 3 amp fuse

Between 700 and 1,000 watts, use a 5 amp fuse

< 1,000 watts, use a 13 amp fuse

Extension leads and adaptors have a limit on how many amps they can take, so be careful not to overload them, to reduce the risk of fire.

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Thermal overload protection

Electric cleaning machines are fitted with a thermal protection device.

If the machine stops working, switch off and remove the plug from the wall before investigating where the fault lies.

Inspect the brush (if a rotary or scrubber), floor tool (if a vacuum), vacuum hose and any tubes for debris.

In the case of vacuum cleaners, if the floor tool, tubes and hose are clear, replace the dust bag and clean the filter. Restricted air flow causes vacuum motors to over heat and trip out.

Be careful and observant when using vacuum cleaners that you don’t pick up items that may block the hose or tube, restricting airflow.

Sometimes very resistant floors and coarse, aggressive pads can produce significant friction, resistance and heat and thermal overloads kick-in to protect motors from burning out. Use the right pad / brush / speed of machine and chemical to avoid any mishaps.

Cimex-Encap – The revolution in commercial carpet cleaning

 Cimex-Encap is a revolutionary, high productivity, cost effective, low moisture carpet cleaning system. The system features state of the art polymer chemistry that encapsulates dirt for clean carpets that stay cleaner for longer.

Cimex-Encap builds on this experience to provide one of the simplest and most effective commercial carpet cleaning processes available.

Cimex-Encap combines the counter rotating Cimex Cyclone three brush system with polymer chemistry that encapsulates dirt for clean carpets that stay cleaner for longer

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Key features and benefits of Cimex-Encap

  • Clean up to 300 square metres (3000 square feet) per hour
  • Deep cleaning – restores brightness to even heavily soiled carpets
  • Low moisture cleaning so carpets dry quickly
  • No soil attracting residues, which means that carpets stay cleaner for longer
  • Eliminates wicking problems – stains do not appear on the surface as the carpet dries
  • Cimex-Encap restores cleanliness and brightness to even the most heavily soiled commercial carpet.
  • Cimex-Encap has the added benefit of ensuring that once a carpet has been cleaned that it will stay clean.

 4 Simple Steps to a cleaner carpet……

 1.       Thorough vacuuming before using Cimex-Encap ensures all dry soil is removed. Removing the dry soil enables the Cimex-Encap process to more effectively attack the sticky/oily soil left in the carpet.

2.       Cimex-Encap is a polymeric carpet cleaning solution that is applied to the carpet via a Cimex Cyclone three brush machine. The solution releases sticky soil from the carpet fibres and then traps or “encapsulates” the soil as it dries.

3.       Cimex-Encap is a low moisture system so carpets dry rapidly. For the encapsulation chemistry to work fully, leave the carpet to dry overnight before vacuuming.

4.       The Cimex-Encap process is completed by vacuum cleaning. Encapsulated soil is simply removed from the carpet with normal routine vacuum cleaning.

Cimex-Encap Low Moisture Carpet Cleaner attacks all soils commonly found in carpets. Its unique formulation emulsifies the soil and then, using the latest chemistry, encapsulates the soil for easy removal. Low moisture technique means fast drying times – carpets are normally dry to the touch in 45 minutes to 2 hours.

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Cimex-Encap Spotter is the only spotting solution designed to work with the Cimex-Encap system. It can also be used to pre-spray stubborn stains and high traffic areas for even more effective results. Cimex-Encap Spotter works on both water and oil-based spots and spills.

Cimex-Encap Pads provide the most effective application of the Cimex-Encap solution when cleaning low pile commercial carpets. The pads provide greater contact area than the brushes which helps achieve enhanced agitation of the carpet fibres.

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How to Dispose of Carpet Cleaning Waste Water

An issue all carpet cleaners must grapple with is how to dispose of waste water.

Waste water can contain several different types of bacteria, body fluids, human and animal waste, chemical compounds, oil, grease, smoke, airborne pollutants, detergents, solvents and more – all potentially hazardous to human health and the environment.

Because of this, properly disposing of waste water is critical and there are a variety of rules and regulations on how it must be handled.

In most carpet cleaning situations, waste water can be discharged by pouring it into a sink, toilet or most other drainage systems as long as it is connected to the main sewer infrastructure.

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Discharge water should be filtered to remove carpet fibres and other solids in order to prevent clogging pipes.

Filtered debris typically can be put in domestic / commercial refuse bins unless it contains hazardous materials.

If the waste water contains hazardous materials, it should be taken to public or private facilities that are equipped to handle such waste water.

Never discharge waste water by pouring it on the ground or into storm drains.

For public safety and liability reasons, maintain a log each time carpet cleaning is performed listing the discharge water disposal method, amount and any special handling requirements.

Waste water disposal has become a more serious problem in recent years.  A failure to properly dispose of waste water can result in significant fines for the carpet cleaning technician and sometimes for the homeowner or building owner as well.

The importance of carpet cleaning in Healthcare environments

It is important that residents of care homes have clean and deodorised carpets where germs cannot breed, because the elderly and infirm are particularly vulnerable to infections.

Carpets should be regularly deep cleaned with the appropriate chemicals to help fight dirt, odours, infections and germs. The dirt that causes infection cannot be seen with the human eye, nor can it be vacuumed away. A professional powered machine must be used, one which will get right down to the base of the carpet.

IFM (UK) supply professional self-contained carpet soil extraction machines from Prochem, Truvox Hydromist and Rug Doctor.

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These machines inject the correct amount of carpet detergent into the carpet and the roller brush cleans each fibre of the carpet.
With some residents prone to spillages, accidents and incontinence, keeping carpets and soft furnishings clean can be an ongoing issue.

The Prochem chemical range is the ideal solution with such products as Neutra-Soft all-in-one carpet detergent, Urine Neutraliser and Odour Fresh perfect for those embarrassing stains and odours.

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The powerful vacuum motors on commercial machines also means that carpets can be dry within 1-2 hours.

Upholstery tool attachments allow for soft furnishings and mattresses to be kept clean too.

This simple procedure of deep cleaning carpets, upholstery and mattresses can help make sure residents live in a clean and fresh environment.

Cleaning and Maintenance of Carpet Tiles

A growing trend that we are seeing in many facilities is the installation of carpet tiles.

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There are several reasons for this:

  • Compared to other types of carpeting, they tend to hold up well to almost all foot traffic
  • Carpet tiles are relatively easy to install
  • They come in many more colours and designs
  • They are often manufactured using recycled materials
  • Carpet tiles are easy to lay on top of laminate / vinyl / concrete and with no need for underlay
  • They are easy to fit in awkward shaped rooms
  • Probably the biggest factor in this product’s favour is that if one or more tiles becomes soiled or damaged, new tiles can be installed rather than replacing the entire carpet.

Installations can be done in small areas or temporarily – you can even work around the furniture rather than empty the whole room.

Cost Effective

Carpet tiles include a strong backing so they require no underlay or adhesives and produce less waste than other flooring types, particularly in awkward shaped rooms. This saves time and money and because carpet tiles are fairly easy to install, building services departments can lay them and save the cost of professional fitting.

Any damage or spills can be resolved by replacing one tile rather than the entire floor, which is reassuring and means carpet tiles are definitely a cost effective flooring option.

Cleaning and Maintenance of Carpet tiles

However, facilities managers should be aware that although carpet tiles are durable and long-lasting, they must still be cared for properly.

Regular vacuuming is the best way to deal with everyday dust and dirt. For inevitable spills and accidents it’s best to treat the area as promptly as possible. Scrape up any solids as soon as possible, working from the edges of the spill towards the centre so that it doesn’t spread.

Excess liquid can be soaked up by placing a thick wad of absorbent paper over the area and pressing firmly. Sponge clean if required or the tiles can even be lifted and rinsed under the tap. Normally you can use a mild detergent solution and scrub gently with a brush where necessary, but it is important to remove all traces of the detergent by rinsing. Use absorbent paper to mop up as much excess moisture as possible, and allow to air dry.

If you lift a tile to clean it, you should make sure it is dry before you put it back, but let it dry naturally – don’t put it on a radiator or other artificially hot surface as this may damage the tile.

Floors covered with carpet tiles should be cleaned every few months with either a portable carpet extractor, such as the

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or the Vax VCW-04     vcw-04_image

or a “multi-purpose” floor cleaning machine (one that can be used on both carpets and hard-surface floors) such as the

Multiwash scrubber drier.MW340

For more information on the best machines to clean carpet tiles contact Industrial Floorcare Machines (UK) on 01442 823090.

The benefits of leasing cleaning equipment

Leasing your cleaning equipment makes sense in lots of ways. Here are some of the key benefits:

Improve Cashflow

Your new equipment can be installed and operational without the need for capital expenditure. The cash can then be used where it will produce the best return, such as in investment, operating activities or short term funding needs.

Retain Credit Lines

Keep existing banking arrangements, and credit lines free for more appropriate uses. Lease finance facilities cannot be withdrawn like overdraft facilities.

Simplify Budgeting

With finance payments fixed for the whole term helps avoid the effects of inflation and making cash flow forecasting and budgeting simpler. Bank facilities are generally related to interest rates, which is fine when they are low but can cripple cashflow when they increase.

Keep Up To Date

Combat obsolescence problems or requirement changes as the equipment can be supplemented or upgraded at any time in the future.

Let the Equipment Pay for Itself

Enable the finance payments to coincide with the benefits of having the new equipment as they start to appear. After all, you wouldn’t pay all your staff costs up front! Finance payments may be financed as you go along by extra income obtained by having the new equipment. Have equipment at today’s prices paid for from tomorrow’s income.

Tax Savings

In the case of lease rental, all rentals paid are 100% allowable as an expense for tax relief often providing tax savings.

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