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Auto Scrubber Buyers Guide: Steps to Determine Which Auto Scrubber is Best For your Facility

Auto Scrubber Buyers Guide: Steps to Determine Which Auto Scrubber is Best For your Facility

There are dozens of automatic floor scrubbers on the market today, and choosing the best one will require some thought and consideration. First, you’ll need to identify why you’re looking to invest in a new machine. Then, you’ll need to narrow down the best machine option for your facility based on a number of factors.

To purchase the best auto scrubber for your facility’s needs, there’s a series of questions you’ll want to answer to determine which floor scrubber will be the best for your facility.

In this guide, we’re going to walk you through the typical questions you’ll 9dd9eb04e9a33b43d2be1d9ba18a61b952d45104need to answer in order to find the best auto scrubber for your facility.

Table of Contents

  1. Why Do You Need A New Automatic Floor Scrubber?
  2. What Are Your Current Cleaning Processes and What Equipment, If Any, Do You Currently Use? 
  3. What Is The Scope Of Work?
  4. How Large Is the Area You Are Trying to Clean?
  5. Are There Any Obstacles In The Area Being Cleaned?
  6. What Are Your Facility’s Current Goals?
  7. What Floor Scrubber Can I Afford With My Facility’s Budget?
  8. What’s Next?

To begin, you’ll need to identify exactly why you need a new auto scrubber. You may think that an equipment purchase is straightforward and that you’re “just in the market for a new machine.”

Clarke MA10 Cleaning LobbyHowever, there are several different reasons you may be looking for a new auto scrubber.

Depending on why you’re looking to invest in a new auto scrubber, you’ll be able to guide the purchase process in a direction that makes sense for your unique situation.

For example, the right piece of equipment for a business currently using a mop and bucket will be different from a company who currently has a ride-on scrubber and is looking for a way to further increase staff efficiency.

Some of the most common reasons for a new equipment purchase include:

Existing Equipment Frequently Breaks or Is Old

The biggest expense to any cleaning operation is labor, and when equipment breaks down, it requires higher staffing and labor costs to complete the same amount of work in a time period.

Dealing with broken equipment is time-consuming and expensive. If you are constantly having to deal with taking your equipment in for repair, it might be time to invest in a new machine.

20191031_103307You’ll need to consider how much your equipment is currently costing you in repairs and whether it is worth it to continue to put money into an old machine rather than invest in a new machine.

Additionally, old equipment is likely no longer efficient in water and chemical usage. Upgrading your current auto scrubber can help increase these and other cleaning efficiencies.

When looking for a new machine, ask yourself if you were happy with the size and efficiency of your old floor scrubber. Did it fit into tight spaces, or was the machine too big? Were you able to clean without having to fill-and-dump the tank several times, or do you need a bigger floor scrubber?

This is a good opportunity to identify the features on your current auto scrubber that you like and those which you don’t. Understanding what features you must have and which you can do without will be helpful when selecting a new floor scrubber.

Looking For A Way to Reduce Labor Costs

Looking for the latest innovations in the janitorial industry can help you cut down on labor costs – which is the largest expense to most cleaning operations.

Integrating any type of new floor scrubber can help your staff do more work in less time, but the most dramatic increase in productivity can be achieved with autonomous equipment.

Automation is one of the newest ways to significantly reduce labor costs.

Autonomous equipment relieves your cleaning staff from repetitive and time-consuming tasks, like vacuuming or mopping, so you can redeploy staff to complete other higher value tasks or higher profit project work. 

Disruptions / Absenteeism

Employee retention and turnover are common issues in any industry.

Finding ways to increase the amount of work your current staff can do during a cleaning shift will help you keep your facility clean.

Investing in a new auto scrubber can be one way to improve the efficiency of floor cleaning procedures so your staff can move onto other cleaning tasks.

Forced to Reduce Operational Expenses

You may find yourself having to make budget cuts even when you don’t want to.

Using powered cleaning equipment, like auto scrubbers, will help improve worker efficiency so you can best utilize the staff you do have.

Auto scrubbers are available with a range of productivity-enhancing features such as large solution and recovery tanks to extend time between dump-and-fill cycles, large cleaning paths to decrease the overall cleaning times, and even technology to help push the machine along so operators do not exert as much energy when compared to other cleaning machines, like floor buffers.

Reduce Workplace Injuries & Lower Workman’s Compensation Claims

Losing an employee to an injury can set you back in costs and in the hygiene of your facility.

Viper AS530R Ride On 20in Autoscrubber-1When an employee is out for an extended period of time you’ll need to find a way to complete the work they were doing. If you’re like some people, may not want to hire a new employee per diem. If this is the case, automatic floor scrubbers can increase efficiencies so your current staff can complete more work in less time.

As an added benefit, many machines come with new, enhanced safety features. The new safety features on auto scrubbers can limit worker injury so you can avoid higher premiums due to comp claims and help your staff avoid future injury.

Examples of these safety features include:

  • Ride-on scrubbers that have steering controls that will prevent the machine from flipping over on turns
  • Autonomous machines have built-in infrared lights that allow them to react in real-time to a changing environment and avoid anything in its path.

What Are Your Current Cleaning Processes and What Equipment, If Any, Do You Currently Use? 

After identifying why you need new equipment, the following question will address your current equipment and processes.

This will help determine which type of auto scrubber will fit your facility best.

The goal of switching or upgrading to an automatic floor scrubber should be to:

  •  lower the time it takes to clean and improve worker productivity
  • help your staff achieve a better level of clean inside your facility

There are three common processes that are used by facilities to clean floors, and they include:

  • Mop & Bucket System
  • Floor Buffer
  • Auto Scrubbers

Mop & Bucket System

Mop Bucket and WringerCommon in many facilities, the traditional mop and bucket system is used to clean and remove spills from areas of hard flooring. The mop and bucket system is outdated. It is labor-intensive and inefficient.

Transitioning away from the mop and bucket method to a floor scrubber greatly increases efficiencies. 

Floor scrubbers remove the manual labor from scrubbing a floor. The machines are equipped with automated systems to scrub and dry your facility’s floor in one pass.

With a mop and bucket, it is inevitable that water and possibly even cleaning solution will be left behind, greatly increasing the risk of occupant slips and falls.

The mop and bucket system requires staff to push mops around, wring them out, and regularly change out water. With an auto scrubber, your staff will have to fill the tank once and then clean until the recovery tank is full, greatly reducing the amount of time your staff spends changing out the bucket solution.

Additionally, the mop and bucket system is not as hygienic because the mop reuses dirty water from the bucket. Floor scrubbers only lay down clean water.

Auto scrubbers clean floors with greater scrubbing pressure, reduced amounts of water and cleaning solution, and leave the floors dry, making it a more hygienic cleaning option, more environmentally-conscious and a safer choice.

Floor Buffer

Some facilities opt to use a commercial floor buffer to clean floors. Floor buffers can help you achieve a better, more hygienic clean when compared to mopping, but it is still very labor-intensive and will require more than one piece of equipment.

Unlike floor buffers, floor scrubbers do not require the user to remove water and dry the floor in separate steps.

When using a floor buffer, you’ll need to remove the water and solution from the floor after the cleaning procedure.

This will either require a mop and bucket or a wet/dry vacuum. A mop and bucket is the least effective solution removal method. It will not remove all water and can pose a slip and fall risk because water is likely to be left behind.

A wet dry vacuum will remove all the water and solution but you will need to switch between two pieces of equipment which is tedious.

When making the transition from a floor buffer to an auto scrubber the best type will depend on the size of the area being cleaned and what is occupying that area.

If you’re cleaning a medium to large size area (1,000+ sq ft) with a floor buffer, you’ll likely transition to a walk behind or stand on scrubber.

Automatic Floor Scrubbers

You may already be using some type of auto scrubber to clean your floors.

If so, you understand the efficiencies a scrubber can provide. However, you should evaluate if you have the correct size for your facility before purchasing a new one with the same specs.

CA60 20B right-1

The right size auto scrubber for your building will allow your staff to clean each area quickly and with minimal issues. For example, if you currently have a 20-inch floor scrubber and it fits nicely into congested areas, then you will likely stick with the same size. But, if you are using a 20-inch floor scrubber to clean 30,000 square feet of open area, you will likely be better suited with a larger auto scrubber.

If you’re not sure about why a larger, more productive machine might be better in the situation mentioned above, check out this example:

The typical 20- inch automatic walk-behind floor scrubber can clean 20,000 square feet in approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes, but a 28-inch ride-on floor scrubber can clean the same area in about half the time, saving 1 hour and 5 minutes.

That means your staff would be spending half the time on each cleaning procedure.

What Is The Scope Of Work? 

The next step is to determine the right size auto scrubber based on the area.

To determine the correct size auto scrubber, you’ll want to review the scope of work.

Scope of work includes two things:

  • How Large Is the Area You Are Trying to Clean?
  • Are There Any Obstacles In The Area Being Cleaned?

How Large Is the Area You Are Trying to Clean?

The size of the area being maintained will help determine the type of auto scrubber you will need. It will also play a large role in helping narrow down the right size for your facility.

The right size auto scrubber will allow your staff to work efficiently in the area. The more productive your staff is, the more work they can complete during a shift.

There are a few types of auto scrubbers: upright, walk behind, ride-on or fully autonomous. 

Upright scrubbers are effective in cleaning areas 500-1,200 square feet.  

They are lightweight and most effective in small, congested areas such as entryways, offices, and restrooms.

Automatic walk-behind floor scrubbers perform best for cleaning areas of 1,000-150,000 square feet.

They are effective for cleaning large open areas such as gyms, warehouses, building lobbies, or open hallways. 

Ride automatic and fully autonomous floor scrubbers are the largest in size and can clean areas ranging from 15,000-150,000 or more square feet.  

Similar to walk-behind scrubbers, they are most effective in large open areas such as gyms, warehouses, building lobbies, or open hallways.

Are There Any Obstacles In The Area Being Cleaned?

It is also important to consider the things that are in the area being cleaned.  

You will need to choose a machine with a cleaning path that allows your staff to easily work and maneuver in the given space. 

Clarke MA10 12E Upright Scrubber-1An upright scrubber is the smallest available scrubber. They are available with cleaning paths ranging from 12 – 14 inches.

Walk-behind automatic scrubbers are available with cleaning paths ranging from 13 – 38 inches. 

Ride automatic scrubbers and fully autonomous floor scrubbers offer cleaning paths ranging from 20-45 inches.

Depending on the area or areas being cleaned, you may need two auto floor scrubbers. For example, if you are looking to clean larger open areas greater than 100,000 square feet, your cleaning team will be most efficient with a 45-inch ride automatic scrubber. 

However, if you also have some smaller areas, like restrooms, a small 12-inch upright can help your staff clean under partition walls and sinks where that ride on wouldn’t fit.

A larger walk behind or ride-on scrubber would not be efficient in the restroom and can actually increase the amount of time it takes to clean. It will be difficult for staff to maneuver such a large machine, requiring extra effort and decreasing productivity.

What Are Your Facility’s Current Goals? 

Every automatic floor scrubber is unique, and offers a set of features that can help you best achieve your goals.

After identifying the type and size auto floor scrubber that will best fit your facility based on the scope of work, the next step is to narrow down the different models based on available features.

Aside from wanting clean floors, you may have other goals. In some cases, the goals of your facility may be determined by your industry, but they may also vary based on your organization’s goals.

For example, healthcare facilities will likely require a floor scrubber with a low noise level so that it can be used without disturbing patients. Or, do you want your facility to be perceived as cutting edge? Then, you may want to consider an autonomous machine that can operate during the day on its own.

There are 5 common priorities that drive which features you should look for in a machine.

You’ll need to decide which of the 5 is most important to you:

  • Are you looking to increase worker productivity?
  • Are you looking for ways to improve employee and occupant health and safety?
  • Are you concerned with your image?
  • What is the frequency of your cleaning schedule?
  • How does cost affect your decision-making?

Based on the importance of each of these factors, you’ll have a better idea of which equipment features your next auto scrubber should have.

1. Are you looking to increase worker productivity?

With the addition of any automatic floor scrubber, you’ll help your staff enjoy increased productivity and cleaning efficiencies. However, there are many floor scrubber features that are specifically designed to further increase worker productivity so you can repurpose labor and lower labor costs. 

Some of the most notable productivity-boosting features include: 

  • On-Board Battery Charger

Battery-powered floor scrubbers can be equipped with on-board battery chargers. On-board battery chargers allow batteries to be charged at any available 120V outlet. This means that operators don’t have to take the time to return the machine to a battery-charging station. 

Pro Tip: Although it is convenient, staff should not charge the battery every time they have the opportunity to. This is otherwise known as “opportunity charging”. You should always charge machine batteries to 100% including cool down time before operating the machine. Opportunity charging will overheat the battery and will shorten the life of the battery.

  • Larger Solution & Recovery Tanks 

Equipment with large capacity tanks can increase the time between dump-and-fill cycles. The fewer number of times your staff has to stop to empty tanks and refill solution will increase the amount of time they have to perform other higher, value cleaning tasks. 

  • Tool-less Equipment Changeouts

If you don’t want your staff to spend time changing out brush types or accessories, look for slide-out decks and easy-to-swap brushes. This will allow your workers to clean different surfaces with one machine and spend minimal time changing out machines or accessories. 

Employee and occupant safety may be your top priority. If this is the case, below are a few ways auto scrubbers can improve employee and occupant safety including: 

  • Chemical Free Floor Stripping 

Machines that use orbital scrubbing can be used to remove finish from the floor without the use of chemicals. 

Orbital scrubbers “orbit” or move in fast, tight vibrations to scrub the floor. 

The fast movements combined with the proper floor pad eliminate the need for chemicals. This also helps to increase IAQ (indoor air quality). 

  • Gel / AGM Batteries 

Gel / AGM battery powered equipment offers increased safety and convenience because there is no potential for battery acid spills or noxious gas emissions during charging that can occur with conventional batteries.

Gel/AGM batteries require less maintenance, increasing worker productivity. Staff does not have to worry about filling batteries.

There are typically three underlying reasons you may be concerned with your image: 

  1. I Want Better, More Consistent Results
  2. I Am Looking To Be More Sustainable
  3. I Am Interested In Being More Innovative

I Want Better, More Consistent Results

In one pass, auto scrubbers clean, scrub, and dry floors. With an auto scrubber your staff are not responsible for the manual cleaning and scrubbing of floors. Your staff simply has to maneuver the machine. 

Any floor scrubber will be better than either a floor buffer or a mop and bucket system. For the most consistent clean, consider autonomous floor machines. They can be programmed to follow the same cleaning path every time, eliminating operator error.

I Am Looking To Be More Sustainable

If you are interested in becoming more green, important features to consider include: 

  • Low Water & Chemical Consumption

Water-saving options reduce the water needed to clean floors. There are also chemical dispensing systems that automatically monitor the amount of chemical released to reduce the amount of chemical needed. Some scrubbers can even entirely eliminate the use of chemicals when removing floor finish from the floor.  

  • Reduced Sound Levels 

Low-decibel floor scrubbers enable your operators to clean during business hours and reduce fatigue and irritation that noise can cause.

I Am Interested In Being More Innovative

Investing in the latest innovation not only helps increase worker productivity and increase cleaning results, but it can also demonstrate to your customers or building occupants that you are constantly looking for ways to improve. 

Integrating innovative equipment, like autonomous floor scrubbers, into your cleaning routine also helps people see proof that you are constantly seeking out the newest equipment to keep them safe and healthy. 

Autonomous equipment works on its own, requiring minimal effort from your staff. In some cases, they just need to power on the machine and it will run on its own. 

By automating time-consuming cleaning tasks, your staff will be free to complete other more important procedures like cleaning and disinfecting. 

Depending on the desired appearance and expectations in your building, you may be cleaning your floors daily while others may clean less frequently. 

In facilities that require more frequent floor cleaning, such as high traffic entryways in buildings or hallways in schools, powered equipment will expedite cleaning tasks and improve worker productivity. 

As an added benefit, the more frequently you clean your floors, the shorter the payback and quicker you will see a return on your equipment investment.

Do you have a set budget in mind already? Are you considering the factors beyond the cost of the machine, like repairs and service? 

The total cost of ownership for your machine is not just the initial purchase price or price tag. It also includes repairs, equipment downtime resulting in worker productivity losses, and more. Other important considerations include warranty, training, and support.

Without considering these additional options, you will likely end up spending more in the long run. 

We’ll talk more about budget and costs in the next chapter, but in short, 

The right machine for your facility is not always the one with the cheapest purchase price, but the one that delivers the fastest payback period and return on investment (ROI).

The final part in determining the best auto floor scrubber for your facility is understanding what you can afford.

Purchasing a new autoscrubber will require an investment that may be more than what you thought, which may cause you to dismiss the idea of purchasing one. 

However, with the right automatic floor scrubber you can potentially save money by: 

  • Completing more, higher quality work in less time 
  • Repurposing labor for higher profit work
  • Eliminating full time employees where the work can be completed with a machine
  • Reducing chemical and water costs

The right automatic scrubber for your business will be the machine that provides the best return on investment (ROI). 

Justifying your equipment purchase can be done by calculating the time savings and increased productivity of your new autoscrubber compared to your current cleaning equipment and processes. 

Autoscrubbers can cost anywhere from $1,150 to $30,000 depending on the type. The exact cost of a floor scrubber will vary based on the cleaning path size of the machine, manufacturer, material type, battery type, and features installed.

The increased efficiencies you’ll experience as a result of your new automatic floor scrubber can offset the cost of the machine and help you achieve a quicker payback period.

In some cases you can break even on your investment in as little as 12 months. 

No matter your financial situation, there are options to help you afford the right equipment, such as:

  • Equipment Financing 
  • Equipment Rentals

Should You Finance Your Autoscrubber?

An equipment purchase can be a large investment, and paying in full may not be practical or the best option for your business. But, effectively managing your cash flow doesn’t have to mean delaying the purchase of a new, much-needed piece of equipment. 

Equipment financing can help you get the equipment you need today, and pay for it over time. 

Equipment financing is a great opportunity to make manageable monthly payments, and it gives you the chance to start earning additional income and/or reducing expenses with your new equipment before your first payment is due.

With approved credit, you can finance your equipment purchase for 1-5 years based on your budget and goals. 

Should You Rent Your Autoscrubber? 

You may also consider renting equipment. Renting equipment is a good option if it’s a short term job, a unique cleaning situation, or a one-time thing. 

Renting equipment prevents you from having to purchase the equipment outright which is especially useful if you don’t have plans to use the machine a lot. 

The purchase of commercial cleaning equipment typically requires money for the initial cost of the machine and additional expenses related to the total cost of ownership. And with any investment, you’ll want to see a good return on investment (ROI) and quick payback. 

However, buying equipment to tackle one-off procedures or speed up cleaning procedures in the short term will likely not give you a good return on your investment. 

This is because the short and infrequent use of the equipment won’t allow you to fully recoup your investment through increased productivity and other cleaning efficiencies. 

What’s Next? 

When compared to other cleaning methods, automatic floor scrubbers will boost worker productivity, reduce cleaning times, and lower labor costs. 

As you research what automatic floor scrubber will be the best for your facility, you’ll want to start by identifying why you need a new piece of equipment, and then you’ll need to determine the scope of work. How big is the area and what’s in it? 

After that, you can start to narrow down the floor scrubber types and sizes based on your facilities goals and needs. 

Are you looking to be more sustainable, increase worker productivity, achieve a more hygienic clean, etc? 

Remember that, although your budget is important, there are options available to help you get the equipment you need when you need it. 

If you’re not sure what the next step is, let an Imperial Dade Specialist help. 

We will walk you through this process and help align you with the best machine for your needs.

The Specialists at Imperial Dade can arm you with everything you need to make the right investment for your company’s needs, wants, and budget.  

Our Team begins by understanding your needs and desired outcomes so we can suggest the best products and equipment for you. We will guide you through the decision-making process to ensure you make the right purchase.    

Imperial Dade has worked with businesses in North America for over 85 years. We offer an extensive range of janitorial equipment and cleaning supplies as well as training options, equipment service & repair, delivery, and more. 

About Imperial Dade

Imperial Dade Imperial Dade is the leading independently owned and operated distributor of foodservice packaging, facilities maintenance supplies, and equipment in North America.