What Does Your Cleaning Equipment Cost You to Own?

When purchasing equipment to be used to clean your facility there are several factors to consider.  This applies to all types of equipment ranging from vacuum cleaners, floor machines, burnishers, and carpet extractors to larger pieces such as battery powered automatic sweepers and scrubbers.  These factors include the Life cycle of the equipment, the Cost of ownership, the Production rate, and How likely your machine operators are to use it.

This is the second in a 4 part series of what to look for when purchasing a piece of cleaning equipment.  We already addressed the Life Cycle of the Equipment in the first article.  Remember, whatever piece of equipment you choose to purchase, don’t cut corners.  Make sure to demonstrate the equipment in the same conditions under which you will use it on a daily basis.  Make sure it performs under the same daily routine so you won’t experience any misgivings about the equipment’s production or performance.

The Cost of Ownership

This concept is also pretty simple to understand but it can become complicated if you don’t do your homework in the beginning.  The premise is pretty basic.  How much will the equipment I purchase, cost me to operate over the Life Cycle of the Machine?  Many people look at the labor savings alone and justify the purchase on how much the equipment will save them over time. For example, if it takes 1 hour to wet mop 5,000 square feet of floor and your new automatic floor scrubber can clean 30,000 square feet in an hour, you can save 5 hours of labor.  The math is pretty simple.  Multiply the hours saved by your wage and benefits program and you get your cost justification for your new scrubber.  The savings can amount to a substantial number over the course of a year.  But don’t stop here.

Now you have to add the cost to maintain the scrubber back in to get a proper judgment on how much the machine will save.   Warranties usually cover the first 3 years of ownership.  Parts and labor are typically covered for the first year and Parts only are covered for the second and third years.  If you choose to supply your own labor if the machine breaks down, you will have to add that in.  If you choose to contract out your repairs that cost must also be added.

Routine maintenance is a must.  Periodic maintenance should be performed either by your in-house staff or a service supplier for every 100 hours of operation.

Normal wear items should also be included in cost of ownership.  Items like squeegees, brooms, brushes, pads, pad drivers, wheels, rubber skirts, dust control devices, filters, casters and hoses are all items subject to routine replacement.  Although usually covered under the warranty period even vacuum motors may fall under this category.  A vacuum motor will hardly ever last the life of the machine if you are expecting a 7 to 10 year life span.

Other items that will be of concern over an expected 7 to 10 year span include brush motors, drive motors, carbon brushes, control boards, batteries, battery connectors,  electrical cords, cord and hose connectors, switches, solenoids and regulators.  This is by no means a complete list.  It is just an attempt to let you be aware of what might need attention over the life of the equipment.

Once you determine which piece of equipment you are going to purchase, calculate the cost of maintenance to keep the equipment in good running order.  Then calculate any labor savings you are anticipating and determine the difference. This should help you decide which piece of equipment to purchase. The savings in labor should still outweigh the maintenance costs.

To reduce the Cost of Ownership, you may find buying a more expensive machine may save you a lot over years of service. If you are purchasing a machine for a cleaning contract, and are only expecting to get the machine through a contract period, the price may be a bigger issue. If you have difficulty calculating the Cost of Ownership, a qualified equipment distributor should be able to help you with the calculations.
In the next 2 articles I will address Production Rate, and Will Operators Use It?

If you have any questions or concerns please contact us at The Rhiel Supply Company, www.rhiel.com.