Auto Scrubber Maintenance: What Corrections Administrators Need to Know Was Published in Corrections.com for Client Kaivac
Auto scrubbers, often just called “scrubbers,” are used in all facilities with large floor areas. This would include correctional locations.
They are designed to clean floors quickly and thoroughly. In many cases, the machines are what is called a “walk-behind,” where the operator walks behind the machine, guiding it over the floor. Others are called “ride-on” machines because they are driven by an operator riding on the unit. These are most often used in exceptionally large facilities, such as a convention center.
Auto scrubbers are costly machines. They have been designed to last about seven years, but lack of proper maintenance will shorten this lifespan. However, constant attention, meaning regular, if not daily, care of the machine can lengthen the lifespan to as much as ten years or possibly more. And with all correctional facility budgets tight, taking proper care of these machines is more important now than ever before.
So, how do we do this?
First, we need to make something clear. Scrubbing floors is a dirty job, even for an automatic scrubber. They work in dirt, using brushes and cleaning solution to scrub floors and a vacuum system that vacuums up the moisture and soils into the machine’s recovery tank. However, while most of the moisture and soil does end up in the recovery tank, a great deal of it collects under and on the machine. This includes the machine’s hoses, control valves, filters, float and drive assemblies, spray jets, and squeegees.
The greater the accumulation of soil and the longer it remains on the machine, the greater the chances the machine’s performance will suffer. Over time, poor performance can lead to machine malfunction. Because these machines are complex and complicated, when this happens, downtime can be lengthy and costly.
Before we discuss ways to keep an auto scrubber in proper running order, we should know one more thing about scrubbers. Do not expect the machine’s warranty to cover maintenance problems due to improper upkeep. Even if the machine is relatively new, if it is clear it has not been appropriately maintained – given the constant attention referenced earlier – the manufacturer will likely not cover repair or parts costs.
With that understood, how then do we properly care for these machines?
Auto scrubber care falls into three categories. These are daily, weekly, and hourly care routines.
- After each use, flush clean the recovery tank and the “pick-up” hoses.
- Check and clean the filters and debris trays.
- Remove the pads and brushes and rinse clean.
- Remove the squeegee assembly and clean.
- Inspect to see if squeegees are worn or torn.
- Wipe the sides of the machine. Make sure the machine is dry after each use.
- Inspect the battery. Depending on the type of battery installed, it may need to be filled every week.
- Inspect hoses to see that they are securely attached and not worn.
- Look for any damage to the machine, where it may have bumped into a wall, for instance. These “bumps” can negatively impact moving parts.
About every 100 hours of use, or approximately every 90 days, several things on the machine should be inspected or replaced:
- Replace hoses and filters.
- Check grease fittings, drive motors, brush motors, vacuum motors, and actuator motors.
- Test LCDs, switches, and solenoids. (Solenoids may need inspection by a technician.)
- Finally, check anything else that “moves” when the machine is operating or encounters water or cleaning solution.
If this looks like a complicated “to do” list, you are right. These are complicated machines, and for them to last and provide a good return on investment, they must be maintained. Further, we probably should add two more things to this list.
First, do not wait for a breakdown or malfunction before taking the machine to a repair facility. It is best to have the machine checked by a floor machine technician at least once per year. View this preventive maintenance as money in the bank because it can eliminate downtime and forestall more considerable repair costs down the road.
Second, investigate less complicated, less costly floor machines. Many larger facilities are now using what at least one manufacturer calls “auto vacs” or “omniflex” floor machines. This new generation of floor machines perform all the tasks of a scrubber, but because they have far fewer parts, they also have far fewer repair issues.
While traditional automatic scrubbers are usually the costliest cleaning tools to purchase and to own, when it comes to maintenance, what we have discussed here applies to all types of cleaning equipment. Always remember, take care of these machines, and they will take care of your facility.
More Kaivac articles can be found here.