Manufacturers have made substantial improvements to all models in recent years from diesel, propane, gasoline and especially electric sweepers and scrubbers. Cleaning equipment is a very specialized category and electric machines have definite advantages in the proper setting while considering other important application specific requirements to ensure an effective cleaning result. Safety, longevity, ease of use and daily care, time efficiency, and reliability, and the total cost to clean should always be key considerations when choosing the best overall solution. Electric or IC is an important choice but not the only consideration.
Electrified floor cleaning equipment has expanded dramatically over the last 10 years and has become the dominant fuel source vs internal combustion (IC) in the industry by a huge margin and continues to move to an all-electric industry. The shift towards electric power has occurred largely because our customers’ needs have shifted to providing a more sanitary, safe, quiet, healthy, and efficient work environment at the lowest possible cost.
Fleet owners realize significant advantages in the areas of cost, operation, maintenance, and even performance.
- No fuel storage – Electric Floor Cleaning Machines are charged on a charging station, so there is no need for special propane storage outdoors. Liability is reduced as electric charging stations do not present the same hazards that come with storing LPG on-site.
- No fuel cost – Yes, there are electricity costs involved but they are significantly less than fuel. Fossil fuel prices also fluctuate dramatically, which adds to the uncertainty of future expenses of operating machinery. The electric sweeper or scrubber require a recharging of the batteries during the off-shift or during breaks. Electricity rates are a big component of your cost of operation analysis, but direct comparisons usually reveal significant savings of over $14/ shift/ day. That’s $5,460/ Year or $27,300 over 5- years of fuel savings.
- Low maintenance costs – Electric motors do not require the same extensive maintenance routines to operate at peak efficiency. IC engines are more complicated to maintain. The maintenance routine is simpler since a combustion engine or hydrostatic transmissions are not needed.
- Electric cleaning machines have a significantly lower cost of ownership – With fuel (electricity), reduced maintenance, and other operational expenses.
- No emissions – Electric motors do not produce fuel emissions during operation. This advantage is essential when the forklift is used in an area where the ventilation and air movement are limited. There is also nothing to worry about with future EPA emission standards or the quality of the LPG source.
- Low noise – the electric floor scrubber or sweeper does not produce engine noise or other types of rumbling in the area. Operators will enjoy less fatigue and improved safety. They are able to hear important sounds that could indicate the need to stop or maneuver in case of emergency.
- High capacity and efficiency. Cleaning path, water pickup, and tank capacity have equaled or surpassed most IC Powered Scrubbers.
- Smaller turning radius – A ride on floor sweeper operator will be able to maneuver the machine through narrow areas without bumping into racks, trucks or walls.
- Simpler operation – An electric rider sweeper or scrubber operator will make fewer arm, hand and foot movements to clean and maneuver through the facility.
- Automatic braking – An operator will notice the braking action that takes place as soon as his foot is lifted from the accelerator.
- This automatic action reduces brake wear and reduces fatigue for the operator. Breaking also helps recharge the batteries to increase efficiency.
- No Handling Fuel Tanks – LPG tanks can weigh upwards of 60 lbs. and often need to be lifted in awkward positions to insert into the machine leading to possible injury.
- No Engine Damage due to overheating or lack of oil. Unlike most equipment, the radiators have to be cleaned daily in a sweeper or scrubber as part of normal operation.
Plug-in Electric Maintenance Advantages
Fewer moving parts means that there are less things that can break down. Without the complexities of internal combustion engines, electric forklifts require much less maintenance. This is always a good thing when managing an equipment fleet. Some specific maintenance advantages are:
- Fewer waste fluids – Electric motors do not require engine, transmission, or coolant fluids. Replacing and disposing of these fluids are not necessary.
- Long life for components – Electric rider sweepers offer many years of trustworthy use on every component.
- Longer service intervals.
Limitations of Electric Sweepers and Scrubbers
Most drawbacks are minor, and can be managed with a small amount of planning. Most concerns people have with electric equipment is related to run time. Where IC machines do provide infinite run time, most floor scrubbers are used less than 2-3 hours per day. Additionally for those that use the machines more rigorously, opportunity charging makes perfect sense. With filling, dumping, and breaks, the maximum effective use of a floor cleaning machine is typically 6-hours per shift. This provides ample time to opportunity charge providing virtually limitless run time.
The Electric Sweeper or Scrubber Will Require Additional Care
- Batteries require occasional cleaning, watering, and regular charging.
- Facility electrical output will need to meet the voltage and amperage requirements for the charging station.
- It usually does not make sense to use electric rider sweepers or scrubbers in large facilities that primarily use IC powered equipment in their business.
It is clear why electric sweepers and scrubbers have played an expanding role in equipment fleets around the world with their safety and environmental strengths. With the advent of opportunity charging and even lithium ion battery technology the sky is the limit for making the industrial cleaning equipment industry even more valuable to providing sanitary, clean, healthy, and safe facilities.