Street Cleaning: Can one piece of equipment do it all?

Published : 01/26/2018 11:37:03
Categories : Harrison Hire & Sales Posts

“Street cleaning” is an incredibly broad term that covers everything from litter collection and gum removal, floor cleaning and graffiti removal. I’d love to say that there is one item of equipment out there that “does it all” but unfortunately that simply isn't true! You really need to look at what you want most in a machine to decide what equipment best suits you.

The closest we have come to an all-round solution is a municipal utility machine. Traditionally these machines have been “street-sweepers” but have recently developed for use in many aspects of street cleaning; built-in pressure washers, plus attachments for street scrubbing, salt-spreading, snow-shovelling and grass-cutting to offer a more year-round solution. Rather than buying several items of equipment that each do different tasks, you can have one multi-purpose machine that does them all.  This genre of machine is developing – look for attachments that are easy to changeover.

City Ranger 3500 clearing snow

There are some advantages to using municipal utility machines. Realistically, most organisations will already have machinery for different tasks but if you are looking to replace them, then buying a single machine with attachments is very cost effective. Whilst the initial outlay isn’t insignificant, you can manage your costs over a pre-agreed time period. Only having one service contract to manage is definitely a plus – keeping lots of different equipment in good working order is a never ending task, and is definitely time consuming. Keep in mind that as municipal utility machines are so flexible and can be utilised year round, there won’t be much “down time” to get the maintenance carried out! Also, staff training is less of an issue as there is only one system to learn. Compare this to training your operatives to use machines from a number of different manufacturers, each with unique operating procedures?  We quite often see machines which have been damaged through insufficient operator training, which can be costly to repair and plays havoc with programmes of work – it does keep servicing dealers busy though! Tip: Check whether staff training is included when you buy.

Pressure washers are still a fantastic option for many aspects of street cleaning, have a lower outlay than municipal utility machines and are very versatile. Take advice from an industrial cleaning specialist to ensure that a high pressure washer will meet your needs. Options include cold or hot water, petrol or diesel, portable, trailer mounted, or even vehicle mounted. That’s before you even start comparing psi and flow rates! If you are using a bowser, you might find that a lower flow rate, higher psi machine will make your water supply last longer for less down time. Be aware that some manufacturers quote maximum psi, not psi from the end of the nozzle. A high pressure cleaner is flexible enough to be used for deep cleaning, stone cleaning, graffiti removal and gum removal. Some accessories might be needed to tailor the pressure washer to the job – there are some very useful ones on the market. A turbo nozzle is great for removing graffiti, green algae and moss; it combines the power of a pencil jet but covers the area of a fan nozzle. A flat surface cleaner can be used to clean walls and floors. Some of these have a hose that sucks up the waste water as you work which can then be directed down a drain. 

Pressure washer trailer with bowser

The only downside of a pressure washer is that a vast amount of water is needed, which also creates a lot of effluent to dispose of.

Gum removal is best treated separately from other types of cleaning as there are much better gum removal techniques. My personal preference is the use of dry steam to break down the gum- It’s safe to use around the public, and only leaves a chalk substance that just blows away so nothing to clear up. This is far safer than an operator walking around with a gas canister, which offers potential risks to the operator and the public.

Gum removal

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