Cleaning equipment is a great aid to cleaning staff, but as any other equipment, cleaning machines sometimes malfunction. The downtime this causes, due to repairs or maintenance, can take up hours, days, or in extreme cases even weeks. Machine downtime costs companies thousands of dollars annually, and it can impact many departments.Downtime costs can come from a loss in production, rescheduling charges and fees, unexpected costs for the actual repairs and cleaning staff that might sit idle or end up working beyond their shift, getting overtime pay.
This often happens due to the waiting game that is calling a service technician, assessing the problem, ordering parts and the technician finally returning to solve the problem.
Cory Bohlman, Service Manager at Bruco, Inc., reported to CleanLink that: “billions are spent each year on repairs that could have been prevented. That is just the cost for the repair and does not include the residual costs associated with machine downtime.”
Moreover, machine downtime is not only costly, but has a negative impact on the overall well-being of indoor environments. Cleaning equipment such as floor scrubbers and sweepers help cleaning staff achieve consistent and effective cleans. In this way, when these machines are not working properly, or do not function at all, the indoor health and safety of a space suffers.
It is clear that downtime of cleaning equipment is disadvantageous for any business, so it is key to do the most to reduce the time your machines are not running. Reduced downtime means increased productivity, since machines are working optimally to achieve the best results. Moreover, this is done without straining cleaning staff because they are collaborating with the equipment to work more efficiently. Aside from this, reduced downtime means increased profitability, since repairs are less frequent and overall cleaning costs can be reduced.
HOW TO REDUCE DOWNTIME
1. The subscription model
When a business wants to find a strategy to reduce the downtime of their equipment, it is vital that they know exactly what is causing this downtime. Having access to data from a machine can give business owners insights into exactly how long the machine is down, what is causing the error and how this might be prevented in the future. ICE Robotics Intelligent Cleaning Equipment is offered through an all-inclusive subscription model that includes i-Synergy fleet management software. This cloud-based software can be a great benefit when addressing the issue of downtime.
Fleet management software
The fleet management platform gives end users access to data like the activity and inactivity of the machine and can look for maintenance or error notifications.
As a business owner, having access to this kind of data can help you to determine timeframes for when parts wear out, so you can get ahead of problems like this. When you order new parts and install them before the old ones run down completely, it will cut back on the time the machine is inactive.
Aside from that, the fleet management software notifies you when maintenance is due, or whenever an error occurs. This notification includes information like what needs to be serviced and what is causing the fault. BSC’s and building managers are not alone in monitoring their equipment. With the subscription model the provider is their partner in maintaining the machines, which means the service technicians are always helping and monitoring with them.
One example of this is quite simple, but highly effective. In multiple cases, ICE Robotics service technicians have received alerts that machines were not charging. The service technician then reached out to the facility and alerted them about the issue. Subsequently, the facility manager went to check on the machine. In some cases, it was as simple as the machine not being plugged in to charge. But because the service technicians notified the facility, they were able to get the machine charged before the next shift eliminating what could have been hours of downtime.
Using cleaning equipment through a subscription model is not only beneficial because it gives you access to data, but it also means the provider is keeping an eye on the equipment alongside you. For both the end user and the provider, it is equally important to keep the equipment in operating condition since the provider is technically the owner. In this way, the machine will be maintained at the highest level, keeping the downtime to a minimum.
Access to frequent updates
Another benefit the subscription model has to offer is access to software updates. Although this might seem like a trivial thing, keeping a machine’s software up to date can be of great influence on the performance of equipment.
The fleet management software that comes with Intelligent Cleaning Equipment has to be updated from time to time to keep it functioning optimally. These updates sometimes fix minor problems in the software or provide improvements or enhancements to certain functions. For example, updates might mean that machine performance can be tracked and analyzed more quickly and accurately, or data can be collected and reviewed in more detail.
When buying cleaning equipment, these software updates usually have to be bought from the provider. This is not the case with the subscription model, where the software updates are included at no extra cost. The software updates typically happen simply and without an end user having to do anything, except checking their email when they are notified about the new update.
The frequent updates make sure the fleet management software is always functioning at the best of its ability. Like we touched on before, this software is crucial when addressing downtime, since it gives BSC’s and building managers a clear view on what is happening. In this way, they can effectively look for solutions and changes can be made.
2. Active MaintenanceIt is clear that maintenance is crucial when speaking to downtime of cleaning equipment. In a more general sense, the way you are maintaining your machines can impact how they function on a daily basis. There are different methods of maintenance, but active maintenance can be the most effective when you want to reduce downtime. This helps you anticipate problems before they arise, or even helps prevent them.
Active maintenance means taking proactive maintenance one step further. Not only do you follow and try to meet machine guidelines for cleaning, inspecting, and replacing, but you actively look for possible errors or maintenance opportunities.
Active maintenance is made possible by fleet management software since this provides the data necessary to effectively do this. The fleet management software supplies end users with all data on the machine, while simultaneously looking for possible errors and maintenance notifications. Plus, since the ICE Robotics team is continually monitoring alert notifications, they can learn what error codes need what parts or labor and provide deployed service technicians with this information prior to them being on site.
In this way, problems can be fixed easily or even prevented, and technicians and staff can learn from errors that occur. This will significantly decrease the time the machine sits idle.
3. Lithium-Ion Batteries
Another factor that can cause a significant amount of downtime is the battery. According to CleanLink: “Battery maintenance is another aspect of cleaning equipment that is often overlooked.” However, the maintenance of industrial batteries is a complicated and time-consuming task, so making improvements here can be a major influence on your downtime.
Most cleaning equipment is powered by the common lead acid batteries. In general, these batteries work fine, but the maintenance they require is difficult and takes a significant amount of time. Lead acid batteries should always be flooded in a mixture of water and electrolytes, which powers the batteries. Refilling this fluid is an intricate task, all the measurements need to be right or else the batteries will not function.
Because the maintenance of common lead acid batteries is so complex and needs to be done weekly, it takes up a lot of time in which the machine cannot be used. One way to reduce this downtime can be to replace the lead acid batteries with a low maintenance power source, like lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are extremely low maintenance; charging them is as simple as plugging in a charger, which can be done at any time.
Where lead acid batteries need to be watered precisely and fully each time, the lithium-ion batteries can be opportunity charged. This means it does not harm the machine if the batteries are only half charged each time or charged overnight. In this way, the machine can simply be charged when it works best for the end user, like at night or at other times when the machine is not being used. This produces no extra downtime of the cleaning equipment.
Moreover, lithium-ion batteries can last approximately 10 times longer than lead acid batteries. This is another benefit when considering downtime, since replacing the batteries in equipment can often take days. The process of ordering new batteries, calling a company to install them and the task of doing this can cause the machine to stand idle for a considerable amount of time.
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If you’d like to read further, we suggest: 5 Ways Your Business Can Reduce Annual Cleaning Costs.