As cordless equipment becomes more and more prominent in the professional cleaning market, the importance of battery technology will increase.
While cordless vacuums and hard floor care equipment promise improved production rates, this goal can only be achieved by calling upon the most dependable battery options.
To learn more about modern batteries, I spoke with Elke Hirschman, vice president of marketing for Trojan Battery.
We discussed recent battery improvements, sustainability issues and the impact that cordless equipment options can have on a cleaning operation's production rates.
Phillip Lawless: How has battery technology improved over the past few decades?
Elke Hirschman: The engineering behind battery designs and the manufacturing techniques employed by battery companies has advanced in recent years to make certain that batteries will withstand the rigors of floor cleaning machine applications.
Using advanced testing procedures and state-of-the-art manufacturing practices ensures the proper development and assembly of deep-cycle batteries for improved performance.
Battery manufacturers work closely with floor machine manufacturers to ensure their battery designs and functionality keep pace with new floor machine designs and demands of end-user customers, such as the availability of single-point watering systems for easier maintenance.
Regulated industries are moving quickly with much of their equipment requiring valve-regulated, lead acid (VRLA) battery technologies such as AGM and gel.
These batteries are non-spillable, require no watering and are less gassing.
PL: What advantages are offered by battery-powered equipment over equipment with cords?
EH: Battery-powered floor cleaning machines are ideal solutions to avoid issues commonly associated with electrical-powered floor machine options.
This includes being tethered to a power cord or power outlet which restricts cleaning areas and emits excessive noise.
Battery-powered floor cleaning machines provide the flexibility needed by today’s cleaning professionals.
PL: How has battery-powered equipment affected worker productivity?
EH: Battery-powered floor machines enable operators to work unencumbered, allowing them more mobility to complete their cleaning tasks, resulting in time and cost savings.
A battery-operated floor scrubber gives workers the flexibility to clean any area at any time during the day or night, resulting in higher productivity and increased profitability.
PL: How have today’s equipment batteries become more sustainable? Can today’s batteries be recycled?
EH: All lead-acid battery technologies, including flooded, AGM and gel technologies, are 97 percent recyclable.
Since lead is the most recycled metal in the world today, a lead-acid battery’s grid and small parts casting are made using recycled lead and can be recycled many times over.
In addition to the lead, other parts of the battery can also be recycled including the plastic container and the electrolyte.
The containers are neutralized, reground and used in the manufacture of new battery cases.
The electrolyte can be reprocessed and sold as battery grade electrolyte again, and in other instances, the electrolyte’s sulfate content can be recycled and used in manufacturing textiles, glass and detergent fertilizers.
In addition, a battery’s separators are often used as a fuel source for the recycling process.
In fact, the only part of a lead-acid battery that cannot be recycled is a small portion of the electrolyte which is neutralized and managed according to federal and state water treatment regulations.
PL: Is there a type of equipment battery that is more environmentally responsible than others?
EH: Based on their design and operation, AGM and gel batteries gas less, are non-spillable and require less maintenance.
Since these batteries don’t require watering, machine operators avoid coming in contact with electrolyte as would be the case with flooded battery technology.
While AGM and gel batteries do not have openings to add water to the cells, they do slightly “off gas” so there should be good ventilation in areas where battery-powered equipment is stored on a daily basis.
It’s also important to understand that not all AGM batteries are the same.
There are significant differences in the construction and performance characteristics, so it’s essential that the battery you choose is from a manufacturer with extensive experience in producing true deep-cycle batteries.
Many AGM batteries on the market today are designed for high initial capacity ratings verses consistent capacity over the life of the battery.
A battery manufacturer that uses advanced third-party testing procedures and state-of-the-art manufacturing practices to ensure the proper development and assembly of components of its deep-cycle batteries are key factors to achieving maximum life from your floor machine’s deep-cycle battery.