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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Question

I am custodial operations manager at a 34,000 student body population school, responsible for maintaining 6.5 million sq. ft. of space. About a third of the space is carpeted. We are considering a truck mount or similar portable equipment. What are the pros and cons of having this kind of equipment in your inventory?


Answer

Your phrase "truck mount or similar portable equipment" caught my eye because it is hard to envision much similarity between the two as far as performance.
Obviously, the TM will be more expensive to purchase and operate, since you have both a truck and the cleaning equipment in it. For the cost of that setup, you can purchase several portables and walk-behind units.
The performance differences arise because there is only so much power available on a 120 volt service for running the pump and vacuums which are common to both for fluid injection and soil removal. The TM will have a much greater capacity for air movement allowing for faster drying times, and most can be used for hard surface cleaning with increased solution pressure and special tools. And don't forget the heat for the solution or just rinse water.
My recommendation for maintaining 2 million sq. ft. of carpet is to have a selection of machines and processes available to cover all the variations of conditions that you will encounter.
Simple spills can be absorbed or vacuumed out with a wet vac. Bonneting or encapsulation can provide interim cleaning. A portable can extract remote or tight areas after a prespray or shampoo. A truckmount can excel in restorative cleaning where that is required.
The TM will move things along faster when the area is accessible in good weather. Working in the rain or snow is another matter. And don't forget the value of exhausting all vacuum air outside the building with a TM as opposed to leaving it inside with a portable, no matter how powerful. That feature alone might tilt the scales if you are looking at IAQ as a concern.
Why not engage a local TM operator and work with them for a while on certain campus projects. You will quickly learn the pros and cons in your setting and this may aid you in making your decision.

Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Editor
lekrafft@juno.com