Correctional facilities looking for new floor care cleaning equipment are typically focused on the size of the machine, how easy it is to use, noise levels, performance, and of course cost. However, administrators should add one more consideration when considering the purchase of a new floor machine, and that is whether the machine they select is a rotary or a cylindrical brush machine.
As a manufacturer of both, I know both systems have their benefits and advantages; however, in certain settings and for certain specific cleaning tasks, a cylindrical machine just might be the better option. But before going any further, we should clarify what is a rotary floor machine and what is a cylindrical floor machine:
Cylindrical floor machines are becoming much more common in the United States as more equipment manufacturers and end customers realize their benefits. However, when compared to rotary machines, they are still relatively new. They were developed in Europe more than thirty years ago and were designed to clean the type of floors present in many older European facilities—floors that are uneven, often more porous than newer floor surfaces, and were installed using considerable amounts of grouting.
- Rotary machines are the most common type of floor machine and actually one of the oldest types of cleaning equipment available. They have a single pad that rotates clockwise, are operated by moving the machine from side to side, and can be used to scrub, strip, polish, and burnish (if using a high-speed burnisher) floors.
- A cylindrical machine, on the other hand, uses counter-rotating brushes, not a pad. And the machines are multidirectional, meaning they can be operated by moving them from side to side, forward and backward, and so on.
It is primarily because cylindrical machines use brushes instead of pads that these systems are more effective at cleaning these older floors, and it is also what can make them a perfect solution for more difficult to clean newer floors, especially tile and grout floors. Whereas a conventional rotary floor machine can be very effective at removing soils on the surface of the floor, it can prove less effective at removing soils in grout areas and especially those deeply embedded in porous grouts. Further, if the floor is uneven, the rotary machine may not be able to perform well at all. A cylindrical floor machine will be able to address these challenges…in fact, these are exactly the types of problems it was designed to address.
The following comparison of the two technologies points out some other benefits of cylindrical brush machines over rotary machines:
Cylindrical machines may also prove more effective on a wider range of floor types, such as rubber-studded floors, flooring installed in shower areas, and stone floors. However, in all fairness we must say that traditional rotary machines may have the edge when it comes to putting a shine on floors. While both technologies can produce high-gloss shines, the rotary system typically does this more effectively.
- The pad on a rotary machine has a tendency to “throw” cleaning solution on baseboards and walls. Additionally, because the pad is round, it is hard to line it up against the wall for edge cleaning. The brushes on cylindrical machines rotate inward, so splashing of solution is greatly minimized. Further, the machines often have a square base so they can line up directly against baseboards to facilitate edge and corner cleaning.
- With a rotary machine, the cleaning solution may be unevenly distributed because of the machine’s horizontal movement. To rectify this, floor care technicians need to make several passes over the same floor area to evenly apply the solution. With a cylindrical machine, a film of cleaning solution forms between the two parallel brushes. This allows the machine to better penetrate the floor with detergent and apply it more evenly to the floor.
- Rotary machines can use considerable amounts of water and chemical; cylindrical machines use water and chemical more efficiently, so in most cases less is needed to clean a floor, making them more sustainable and helping to reduce cleaning costs.
- Cylindrical floor machines tend to have more contact pressure with the floor than do rotary systems, which can result in more effective removal of soils.
- Conventional rotary machines require considerable training to use, and even with proper training can still be very difficult to operate. Cylindrical brush machines glide easily over floors and are much easier to use with less training.
So which type of machine should correctional administrators select?
The best evaluation comes from testing these machines, under “real-life” conditions in your facility, if possible. Ultimately, trying out both types of technologies will help administrators select the floor care machine that is best for their location.
Jolynn Kennedy is marketing director for Tornado Industries, manufacturers of a wide range of floor care machines and tools.