Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online
May 2012 Facility Focus
Advance Outdoor Sweeper

Lots: More Than Just A Place To Park Vehicles

The parking lot is an extension of your building; pay it some mind.

May 4, 2012

In today's fast-paced world, a parking lot is a place to park cars while individuals attend to their daily activities.

While parking lots do serve this purpose, they are actually much more than that.

A parking lot and its surrounding area are just as important as the facility attached to it, as it can serve as a customer's first impression of the facility.

Cleanliness impacts this impression and, depending on the parking lot's appeal, may determine whether or not a customer returns.

From rocks and sand to leaves and beverage cans, parking lot debris can be plentiful.

Failing to keep a lot swept and free of waste can also result in safety issues, in addition to interfering with lot usage, obstructing parking spaces or even causing vehicle damage.

A well-maintained parking lot can have curb appeal and positively add to a patron's overall experience.Image courtesy of Nilfisk-Advance Inc.

To ensure a safe, visually-appealing parking lot, it is critical for facility managers to use proper outdoor cleaning equipment to collect fine particles and litter alike — leaving a clean parking lot to welcome facility patrons.

Outdoor Cleaning Equipment

When selecting outdoor cleaning equipment, it is important to consider the scope and cleaning requirements of the parking lot.

It is also crucial to assess labor needs, equipment performance and desired results in terms of sustainability, safety, durability and effectiveness.

When conducting this assessment, there are a variety of outdoor surface cleaners available from which to choose.

Depending on the parking lot, operators can choose to employ any of the following cleaning machines:

  • Handheld pressure washers

With adjustable pressure sprays, these pressure washers reach deep into surface crevices, where traditional cleaning equipment may not.

For example, handheld machines are optimal for curbs and tight parking lot corners.

Their compact sizes make them simple to use and easy to store.

  • Outdoor power sweeping

Ride-on power sweeping machines offer wide broom capacities and dust-controlled operation to ensure effective debris pickup.

With their comfortable, ergonomically designed operator compartment, these machines minimize physical labor.

  • High-pressure operator-driven machines

These large, operator-driven cleaning machines provide deep cleaning capabilities, allowing users to remove dirt, tire marks and painted lines without surface damage.

With high-pressure performance, these machines provide increased productivity by reducing time spent cleaning.

Sustainable, Deep-cleaning Performance

Even when cleaning outdoors, facilities managers should consider the environmental impacts that cleaning equipment may have.

Most surface cleaning methods rely on abrasive action, chemicals or merely smear the contaminated residue and cleaning water from one area to another.Power Washing Parking Lot

Not only is this inefficient, but it can also potentially cause ground water contamination, which may have significant health effects on those who are exposed to it.

To prevent this, some of today's advanced outdoor surface equipment use a recovery and recycling system that works to scour away dirt, tire marks and petroleum deposits, while eliminating discharge into the environment or damage to the cleaned surface.

Virtually all water is reclaimed and contaminants are filtered out, allowing for the re-use of the reclaimed water for extended cleaning cycles.

This self-contained system delivers a sustainable outdoor surface cleaning solution by minimizing water usage and eliminating chemical use and water runoff, while aiding U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compliance.

Durable, Comfortable Design

Many outdoor surface cleaners feature a design that not only ensures operator safety, but also provide enhanced comfort to minimize labor efforts.

Other machines incorporate one-touch functions for easy control and operation.

Additional comfort features to look for include an adjustable suspension seat with lower back support, oversize tires for a smooth ride and an all-weather cab — complete with air conditioning, heat and defroster to make operators comfortable and productive regardless of weather conditions.

Lastly, whether or not the machine contains an all-weather cab, it is imperative that the driver has a clear line of sight to ensure the highest level of safety.

The Bottom Line

In addition to presenting a well-kept public image and ensuring patron safety, regular surface cleaning of parking lots can help increase the overall longevity of the lot — minimizing costs associated with resurfacing.

Depending on the size of the parking lot, resurfacing it can result in thousands of dollars spent, in addition to the extensive amount of time and labor required to complete the project.Oil Stains In A Parking Lot

It is important to remove trash from parking surfaces consistently to eliminate debris that can hold moisture and de-icing salts in contact with concrete.

After time, these will eventually ruin the parking lot surface.

It is also crucial to sweep and wash parking surfaces periodically to remove dust, oil, grease, dirt and de-icing chemicals that can be tracked inside the building.

Fluids from vehicles, such as grease, oil and antifreeze, can collect in parking spaces, which present surface damage, environmental concerns and slip-and-fall hazards for patrons.

A parking lot is not just another place to park a car, but an extension of a building and also a customer's first impression.

With the right outdoor surface cleaning equipment, facilities managers can keep their parking lots safe, clean and readily accessible.

How Does A Recovery And Recycle System Work?

An example of how a recovery and recycling system type of system functions is as follows:Reclaim And Recycle Cleaning In A Parking Lot

A machine operating with a closed-loop cleaning, recovery and recycling system features a cleaning head with turbine blades that rotate at high speed to create a vortex of air and water equivalent to a Category-4 hurricane.

Continuous movement keeps water from pooling and allows incoming high-pressure water to directly contact the surface for maximum cleaning power.

Wastewater scrubs away dirt as it is pulled over the surface to complement the pressurized water and deeply clean in a single pass.

The rotational movement of the turbine blades creates lift that reclaims water, which is pumped back to the trailer — without a vacuum system.

A multi-stage filtration system helps to minimize water usage and extend the cleaning cycle by removing dirt and contaminants, converting reclaimed water into reusable clean water.