Floor sweepers are widely used in businesses and factories to routinely clean hard floors. They collect dust, dirt and debris efficiently leaving floors clean and safe. Good ones will do all this without raising any dust. This article tries to explain how they work, the rationale for the design and what to consider when buying.
A floor sweeper is a machine used to sweep hard floor surfaces. Walk behind sweepers are similar in size to domestic lawn mowers, ride-on machines similar in size to ride-on lawnmowers, although the largest can be similar in size to a small van. They will all have a large rotating brush that sweeps the floor. Its rotation is against the direction of travel which is logical and mimics manual sweeping. Collecting the dirt and debris is where things get a little more complex.
If you consider manual sweeping; having swept up the dirt we then use a dust pan to collect it and then empty it into a bin. An industrial sweeper does the same thing but mechanically, and it has a hopper rather than a dust pan.
By definition mechanical sweepers are going to be cleaning large areas and collecting a lot of dirt and debris: Therefore hopper capacity is important. We could just make our hopper an industrial sized dust pan, open at its front edge to enable us to sweep our dirt into. This though limits its capacity. Placing it in front of the brush and at the front of the machine also limits us because the machine must be manoeuvrable and the operator needs to see the floor.
The ideal place for the hopper is at the rear of the sweeper, behind the main brush. Filling it from the top makes the most of its capacity and it can have four sides rather than being open on one side.
Placing our hopper at the back of the machine means our dirt and debris has to be swept up and then over the rotating main brush. An air stream over the main brush carries the dirt and debris and deposits it into the hopper, from the top.
Airflow through a sweeper is carefully managed to control dust. Two or more large fans at the rear of the machine suck air through it. Air is drawn over the front brushes, over the main brush and into the hopper. It exhausts through large dust filters above or behind the hopper, meaning you get totally dust free sweeping, any dust ending up in the hopper.
Mechanical floor sweepers will clean any hard floor. A variety of brush materials and the ability to adjust brush pressure means they are great for cleaning without wearing the floor surface. The lack of vacuum makes them ideal for sweeping block paving driveways and paths as they do not suck the sand from between the blocks, but they do collect leaves, twigs and refuse.
Our sweepers will sweep any dry floor very successfully. Hard wood floors, laminate wood floors in fact any wood floor can be swept mechanically. Soft brushes and low brush pressure mean no wear or damage. Carpet and synthetic courts can also be swept very successfully, our Brava walk behind floor sweepers are used every year at the ATP World Tour Finals on the O2 tennis courts.
Mechanical sweepers have a main brush and side brushes. Side brushes are positioned at the front of the machine and sweep debris into the path of the main brush. This increases the swept width of the sweeper beyond the width of the main brush which is constrained by the chassis width. The wider the sweeping width the greater the area cleaned in any given time. However, if you have an area to keep clean over a nominal 3500m² then the operator becomes the limitation and they have to ride not walk.
Ride-on sweepers work longer and faster then walk-behind machines. They travel faster for longer and consequently are used in large warehouses, car parks and factories. The way they work and the technology employed is the same, things are just larger. The main differences are hopper emptying, filter cleaning and motive power.
Walk behind sweepers have hoppers that are emptied into a bin by the operator. Smaller ride-on machines will also have hoppers that are small and light enough when full to be emptied manually. A full hopper on a large machine will be so heavy it must be emptied hydraulically, as illustrated in the picture. With no weight constraints the hopper can be as big as is practical making these machines not only faster but able to work longer between trips to empty. More time cleaning less time travelling.
A sweeper's air filters will last years. One reason is that they are cleaned regularly by knocking off the dust particles by shaking the filter. Walk-behind machines will tend to have manual filter shakers; ride-on machines will have electric filter shakers. Either way, simple filter cleaning means dust free sweeping.
Most mechanical sweepers have powered traction. Even our smallest walk-behind sweeper, the Alfa has it. Of course the brushes are mechanically driven on all models. We offer electric, diesel and petrol motors. Batteries are sized to work a full shift between recharging. Petrol and diesel motors are great when large areas are being covered and emissions are not a problem. Ride-on machines are normally front-wheel drive, keeping the rear of the machine clear for the hopper.
Dry sweeping in dusty places can produce high levels of dust if you are not using one of our sweepers. Just by using say a Boxer to sweep your factory or construction site you are minimising the risk when dust is cleared. The Health and Safety executive offer guidance here that is aimed more at minimising dust production, but also offers sensible advice about clearing dust. Our machines clear dust and are widely used in the concrete and wood products industries, which are the higher risk industries. If you need any further advice on this subject just call us.
We produce over fifteen different sweepers divided between walk-behind and ride-on machines. Choosing the right model for your application will depend on the size of your cleaning task as well as many of the factors discussed here.
Go to our product selector page or contact us and we will advise you of the best machine for your application, and even put it on a transporter and show you how it will clean your premises!