Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

If It's Broke, Fix It

January 11, 2012

Consumerism has taught us that when something is no longer operating optimally or is altogether broken we should throw it away and purchase a replacement.

While this might be a viable strategy with inexpensive items like spray bottles, mop heads and cleaning cloths, it would be detrimental to budgets for things such as burnishers, autoscrubbers or carpet extractors.

Especially today, when major purchases are difficult to justify for many operations, the frugality of refurbishing and retrofitting existing equipment can save money and keep workers productive — all while continuing to deliver the level of service your customers and clients demand.

Although fixing existing equipment can cost roughly 50 percent less than procuring new equipment, the practice of fixing broken machinery is not always preferable.

"You really need to examine the cost of refurbishing and the expected additional life of the machine versus buying a new piece of equipment," notes Bill McGarvey, director of training and sustainability for Philip Rosenau Company Inc. "Other considerations would be budgetary constraints, length of contract — for building service contractors (BSCs) — training requirements, etc."

Sometimes, the cost of repairs will not be recouped through the use of the equipment, in which case it might be wise to purchase a new apparatus.

Hold On To What You Can

If you ever have the privilege of speaking to a veteran JanSan professional, you likely have heard them echo the thought that "they just don''t make them like they used to."

As George Maleno, service manager at Philip Rosenau Company Inc., points out, there are old floor machines still around that, if you can get the parts, are every bit as good as — if not better than — some of today''s "low end" models.

JanSan equipment has an expected lifespan, and because not each piece of machinery will last forever, some are better candidates for repair and retrofitting than others.

Typical lifespans of common JanSan equipment include:

  • Vacuum cleaners: Three to four years
  • Carpet extractors: Three to five years
  • Burnishers: Five to eight years
  • Autoscrubbers: Five to 10 years.
It should be noted that nothing is indestructible, but if proper care and maintenance are given to a piece of equipment, it can last well beyond its expected life.

It should go without saying that the opposite is also true.

Now What?

Okay — you''ve made the decision to squeeze another couple of years of quality operation out of some of your more pricey equipment.

Your next question is, "Who do I get to perform the repairs?"

While some larger operations may have a dedicated repair technician on staff, the vast majority of in-house service providers and BSCs do not.

Instead of taking a gamble and hiring such an individual, many of these folks choose to partner with their local distributor or with a regional manufacturer representative to arrange for repairs and retrofits.

It is a good idea to work with a knowledgeable individual because many warranties can be voided if repairs are performed by anyone who is not factory trained and certified.

And, if you employ multiple lines from various manufacturers in your daily operation, having your dedicated repair individual certified many times over can become a financial burden.

Sending your equipment out to be repaired or retrofitted by qualified personnel ensures a timely turnaround with documentation that the work was performed properly.

Such services usually come with some form of a warranty for the work performed — an added bonus that you cannot get with a dedicated repair technician.

Ensuring Long Life

Although it is likely to cost less to repair or retrofit a piece of equipment, it is still an operating expense most would like to avoid at all costs.

In addition to following manufacturer recommendations as to daily and weekly maintenance, McGarvey provides the following tips to maximize the life of equipment.

  • Shut equipment down and empty recovery tanks when full, as overfilling recovery tanks leads to vacuum motor failure
  • Shut equipment down when clean solution tanks are empty because continuing to run equipment may damage pump motors
  • Clean all equipment and store properly
  • Check cords daily to make sure they are in good repair
  • Empty vacuum bags often, preferably when they are half to three-quarters full
  • Wipe down equipment every day, which not only keeps them looking better but also makes it easier to spot a potential problem
  • Report problems to supervision immediately
  • Do not operate equipment that is unsafe.