Keeping a polished floor in pristine condition takes both and effort. So how can this be achieved productively without taking the floor out of service for extended periods of time, asks Columbus UK Tanny Sinfield.
Maintaining a high shine on a polished floor can be a time-consuming task. But no business or public facility can function properly while its floors are out of action. For this reason, it is imperative that all floor polishing operations are carried out swiftly and efficiently to minimise the amount of downtime.
But how can this be achieved? What are the latest machines, polishes, pads and other products on the market capable of providing a highly-polished shine? And how important is productivity to the customer in the great scheme of things compared with, say, the cost of floor-cleaning or the quality of the shine?
“Speed and productivity are both crucial factors for customers when choosing a floor polishing system,” says Sinfield. “In fact, these elements of the operation are becoming more important every year as labour costs continue to rise.
“We are constantly seeing new stripping agents, pads, floor machines and floor finishes being launched on to the market in a bid to improve productivity and reduce the total cost of the process. These new, faster and more consistent polishing methods are designed to ensure an enhanced quality. And they have been developed to carry out the work in a reduced amount of time and with a focus on the reduction of the total cost.”
According to Sinfield, a high gloss finish can be achieved in a shorter amount of time – and without the floor has to be kept out of action for any longer than necessary – by choosing the right procedure, chemicals, machines and accessories.
And he believes the most effective results are produced by using a polishing machine that operates at 1,500 revolutions or more. Columbus UK offers the Orbis 200 for small to medium-sized areas and the Orbis Duo for larger areas where higher productivity is required.
“We are constantly seeking innovative machine technologies, chemicals and new materials such as polishing pads to increase the efficiency and results of the process,” said Sinfield.
While productivity is important to customers, it is not always the be-all and end-all, he adds. “Floor polishing is a time-consuming job that may need to be carried out up to six times a year,” he said. “While speed and productivity are two major considerations our customers will also be concerned with other factors such as user safety, performance and price.
“If you rush the polishing process it may result in permanent damage to the floor or produce uneven results which will lead to unnecessary extra work. Some customers tend to prioritise price which can be a risk since this may prompt them to choose products of lesser quality that deliver lower productivity and poorer results.”
Truvox International sales and marketing director Gordon McVean agrees with Sinfield that ultra-high speeds of around 1500 rpm work best when attempting to produce a high gloss finish. And he believes productivity to be one of the most important considerations for buyers when evaluating floor polishing systems.
“Clients increasingly stress that the cleaning time available to their workforce is coming under greater pressure either because they have cut employee numbers or because staff have other urgent duties to perform,” he said. “But it is crucial to strike a balance between productivity and results. The polishing job needs to be carried out quickly and efficiently but the work must also deliver the right results the first time, every time.”
Floor polishers differ greatly in build quality and reliability, he says. “If you fail to factor this into the equation you will risk seeing your hard-earned profit being eroded by declining performance, increased downtime and excessive outlay on servicing and maintenance.”
According to McVean, a growing number of today’s clients are able to appreciate the fact that productivity is fundamental to their bottom line. “Financial pressures are focusing their minds on topics such as return on investment and labour costs which account for the lion’s share of any cleaning budget,” he said.
But he adds that there are other, non-financial drivers that need to be factored in. “For example, the increase in daytime cleaning puts a premium on those procedures that are particularly rapid and efficient and which allow the cleaner to complete the task swiftly so that business can take place as usual with minimal disturbance,” he said.
“Also, technological advances in many fields have led to buyers of equipment being generally more open to the benefits – including that of productivity – that mechanisation can bring. Meanwhile, ergonomic design and labour-saving features are increasingly being considered as key contributors to staff well-being as well as lower absenteeism rates, better morale and improved employee retention rates.”
Columbus UK offers the Orbis UHS Cordless Burnisher which is incredibly easy to use and produce a consistent finish in shorter periods of time.
But while productivity is extremely important, other factors need to be borne in mind by any buyer keen to keep their floors in good condition over the long-term, says Sinfield. “These factors include build quality, reliability, ergonomic design and choice of accessories,” he said.
“As daytime cleaning becomes more prevalent, many customers are opting to go cord-free to eliminate trip hazards while also seeking machines with quieter operation. Another trend is that more clients than ever before are becoming reliant on casual cleaning staff – and this makes ease of use very important.
“However, when choosing any system it is advisable to start with the floor type, area and the pattern of use both of the floor and the machine. These factors will determine the most appropriate speed for a rotary machine.”
He says the use of the right polish and pads for the type of surface in question is crucial in achieving optimal results the first time. “Gone are the days when you could simply choose a red pad for spray cleaning and a white pad for polishing,” he said. “The selection is now huge – and choosing the right pad for your surface will ensure far better results for your finish.”
The cost of labour is the main factor influencing the emphasis of productivity in floor polishing according to Sinfield. “We estimate that the cost of the floor pad is only five per cent of the total cost of the stripping operation, which means the time it takes to execute the task is key,” he said. “The more rapidly a floor pad is able to do the job, the less expensive the total operation will be.”
He believes productivity to be uppermost in the minds of most customers when choosing a floor polishing system. “However, for some customers – such as those who operate smart hotels or large commercial stores – there will be other factors to consider such as the appearance of the floor and the quality of the shine,” he adds. “This is particularly the case in Europe.
“Most customers want a rapid system that provides clean, beautiful and shiny floors but that is also easy to maintain.” Columbus UK’s stone and vinyl floorcare range is highly productive while also achieving great results.
Productivity is crucial in the floor polishing sector – and is sometimes instrumental in the contract cleaner being given the job in the first place.
“Any floor needs to put be back in operation as soon as possible which means the work is generally carried out during holiday periods, particularly in the case of facilities such as schools,” Sinfield said. “In hospitals and care homes, there are charts that show when the cleaning staff are carrying out floor polishing work since this will indicate that the room cannot be occupied while the task is being carried out.”
He believes the importance of productivity in floor polishing is increasing all the time – and in larger buildings in particular. “If a cleaning contractor is able to polish a wide expanse of a floor in the same timescale as a smaller one, his or her company will be more competitive,” he said. “This means it is important to look at innovations – and using the right floor pad for the floor can increase productivity.”
Columbus UK offers a range of polishing pads including a chemical-free stripping pad and a product with added microorganisms to enhance its biodegradability.
Despite the importance of productivity, Sinfield believes that the key to productive floor polishing is knowledge. “You need to have a deep understanding of floors, chemicals and floor pads,” he said. “It is also important to know what the customer wants so that you can act according to their wishes and support them if there are any questions or challenges.”