Warehouse Cleaning - What do you need to know?

Published : 05/23/2017 12:59:22
Categories : Harrison Hire & Sales Posts

Looking after a warehouse is a big responsibility. Ensuring the area is free of trip, slip and fall hazards is an important part of health and safety legislation and so keeping an area clean is one way to keep employees and visitors safe. Dust needs to be safely managed as this can be a hazard to health too, as well as causing problems with machinery. A clean and well organised warehouse is easier to manage and leads to improved efficiency. Also, when clients or prospective customers visit, a well-maintained facility creates a positive and professional impression. Below we take a look at the whole process of cleaning a warehouse floor from choosing the right equipment to using the correct detergent.


Considerations for cleaning a warehouse

Agreeing a programme and implementing it is the first step. Every organisation will have their own specific needs and requirements so it is worth taking the time to consider you requirements. The area, volume of traffic and the type of dirt which might be created are the main ones. Consider the operation times of your warehouse. Is your facility in operation 24 hours a day? Will noise from cleaning equipment cause any disruption?  Planning for regular cleaning is key. Think about whether daily, interim or a periodic deep clean should be scheduled too. Above all, it needs to be realistic and consider the resources available to the organisation.

The type of dirt this will determine how you clean. The needs of a fish warehouse will differ greatly from that of a warehouse where IT components are stored.

The floor surface you are cleaning will also determine the best method. Rough concrete will require different pads or brushes to studded rubber. Every surface should be considered individually.

Detergents - some flooring types are sensitive to chemicals. Take advice from a company who specialise in cleaning to ensure that you don’t damage your flooring with the method you propose to use.

Training is often overlooked. Your operatives need to be shown how to use equipment and detergent properly. It has been known for our service engineers to find lengths of pallet wrap under some of our customer’s machines which keeps them busy!

Machinery - Your choice of equipment will depend on the resources available. A dust pan, broom and mop may be adequate for a small shop stock room but in reality won’t be adequate for larger facilities.  Below we look at the types of machinery available to tackle these tasks.


Dust/debris collection - Sweepers

It is unlikely that any sweeper or scrubber dryer will cope with packing straps or pallet wrap. Manual collection is likely to be the best method. Other debris such as splinters from pallets should also be collected as these may cause damage to equipment, will likely reduce its efficiency and at very least will fill the hopper and mean that they need to be emptied more frequently!

A sweeper is the best way to safely collect dust. A broom will throw dust into the air. You may remove some of it, but some will always settle again. A sweeper is designed to pick dust up and store it in a hopper and then be safely disposed of. There are manual, self-propelled and battery operated walk behind sweepers, and ride on sweepers. These are available in battery, LPG, petrol and diesel versions   Take into consideration where the sweeper will be used, for example, battery operations are available in areas where engines are prohibited. Will the sweeper be used only indoors, or for external areas too? What type of flooring will you be cleaning?

Please note that some dust carries additional risks. Asbestos and silica can cause breathing problems and permanently damage health if inhaled, whilst flour, aluminium, starch, chocolate powder are potentially explosive. If this is the case then a specialist vacuum will be required. Contact us for advice.


Scrubber Dryers

Once you’ve removed the dust, then it’s time to look at a scrubber dryer. The size of the area to be cleaned will be a major factor in determining the size of the machine. Are there lots of awkward corners? A cabled scrubber dryer would be restrictive in a large warehouse but might be perfect for a smaller area where there are lots of obstacles to negotiate. A large scrubber dryer might be ideal for a vast warehouse assuming there are large areas of uninterrupted floors to tackle. There are wide selection of scrubber dryers on the market. The formats for scrubber dryers are similar to sweepers – walk behind or ride on, and a similar array of power options and an array of sizes. Look out for those which have energy efficiency settings, or use detergent more effectively.

Scrubbing width and the sweeping width are common points our customers look for when choosing a machine. Productivity is another; this is the area that can potentially be covered if the scrubber dryer was used uninterrupted at maximum speed, it is measured in square metres per hour. In reality, there are other factors such as the amount of soiling on a floor or obstacles in the path of the scrubber which will reduce this figure.

As an example, a 2.5 metre aisle will take 3 passes with a 1.2metre machine. You could clean the same area in the same time with a 90cm machine which will cost less and use less water and detergent too!

Consider the size of the solution and recovery tanks too when deciding on your machine. Smaller tanks may be quicker to empty but in a large warehouse the operative will need to stop more frequently. The last thing to consider, if you go for a battery model is battery life although generally a larger machine will have more batteries to give a good period of usage between charges.


Combination Machines

These are (as you may have deducted) a combination of both a sweeper and scrubber dryer. Although the initial investment in a combination machine can be higher, the cost of an operative cleaning in two passes with two machines could make this style of equipment more cost efficient long term. Once again, there are a number of different sizes and styles to consider.


Good practice for cleaning and using detergents

Always secure the area before you start. Apart from the potential for someone walking in front of a machine and injuring themselves, it is easier to clean a floor without people walking more dirt across it!

Wear the correct safety equipment – if the packaging recommends gloves and googles be worn then please take note! Many products are alkaline, but detergent can cause skin irritation so check the instructions.

Clean your machinery, pads and brushes after use. This will mean you will get a better clean when you use the equipment again.   

Get the right product to suit your requirements. A warehouse that stores oil will require a different detergent to an electrical component warehouse. Harrison Hire and Sales are happy to advise on the best solution to meet your needs.

Check how much you should dilute the detergent. Some manufacturers supplying their products in a more concentrated format so please check what quantity you need first. Concentrated detergent is greener as less water is being transported. Using the correct quantities will keep your floors cleaner for longer. Too much detergent can leaving a residue on the floor which will attract dirt.

Consider pre-treating oil stains and marks from rubber tyres. A specialist detergent can be applied, left on for 15 minutes to allow the chemical to activate, then use the scrubber dryer afterwards as usual.

For floors that haven’t been cleaned for a long time, or are very dirty then the 2 step cleaning method is recommended. This is when you apply the detergent to a section of floor and use the scrub facility only on your machine. After allowing the detergent to act for a few minutes, return to the area and reclaim (pick up) the dirty water. Once the area has been cleaned, you can also neutralise it with clean water as this will keep the floor cleaner for longer. Some surfaces might benefit from applying a protective coating too, as this will mean longer intervals between deep cleans.


For help and advice selecting equipment and machinery for your business or organisation please contact us on 0800 888 6662.

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