Tag Archive for: Maintenance

What is the ISSA CITS Certification?

What is CITS? There are a lot of people in the facility cleaning and facility maintenance industry that are just becoming familiar with the term. CITS stands for the Cleaning Industry Training Standard. It is provided through the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA), the leading trade association for the cleaning industry worldwide. CITS has been designed specifically to help address the need for training and improved professionalism throughout the cleaning industry. This includes the cleaning of facilities such as commercial buildings, educational institutions, office buildings and all other workplaces. It is designed to assist with the training and education of all commercial custodial and cleaning personnel whether they are in-house or contract service providers. The CITS program is authored by the American Institute for Cleaning Sciences (AICS) who are the leading authorities on the commercial cleaning industry.

CITS consists of several programs to give your cleaning staff a better understanding of how to clean a facility more effectively and efficiently. It is designed to create a healthier, safer environment, reduce waste, reduce risk, increase productivity and standardize the cleaning process. These programs include:

  • General Cleaning

  • Hard Floor Care

  • Carpet Care

  • Restroom Care

  • General Safety

  • Hazard Communication

  • Health Care

  • Value of Clean

  • Customer Service

  • Green Cleaning

  • School & Educational Institution

These programs are available through Accredited, Certified Trainers who can instruct your custodial staff in the proper and most efficient and productive means available to clean and maintain your facility. CITS ensures the workers cleaning your facility are trained and certified.

The basics of all courses in the CITS program cover

  • Expected Results

  • Tools and Equipment needed to perform each task

  • Chemical Products needed to perform each task

  • Personal Protective Equipment needed to perform tasks

  • Cleaning different surface types

  • Safety Considerations and avoiding Risk

  • Cleaning issues unique to your facility

At the end of each training session each participant will be required to pass a written exam to prove they have the knowledge needed to perform the job and gain the certification.

People are hired every day to clean buildings. It is commonly assumed that people inherently know how to clean a building. This has been proven over the years to not be the case. Workers need training and education to become productive, efficient and capable of performing multiple tasks in a set period of time. Training and education is essential to perform the job safely and quickly. It is necessary to avoid risk to themselves, risk to facility occupants and risk that may cause property damage. Training also reduces complaints that may arise from the condition or appearance of the facility.

CITS is the Standard in Cleaning. In fact, as you now know, it is the Cleaning Industry Training Standard. If you would like your cleaning staff to become more productive, exercise all safety precautions, avoid risk of injury and damage to property, increase the health of your facility occupants, and reduce complaints about facility appearance then CITS is your answer. If you are interested in having your cleaning staff become Accredited in their profession, please contact us at the Rhiel Innovative Solutions. We can help you achieve your goals.

ISSA CITS Certification

Common Problems with Automatic Floor Scrubbers

What are the most common reasons automatic floor scrubbers need service? This will be an overview. The first in a 5 part series of why these cleaning machines break down and require service. Let’s first take a look at a little history and what automatic scrubbers do and how they perform.

Automatic scrubbers have evolved quite drastically over the last 60 years or so. The first floor scrubbers were very simple in mechanical nature but very inventive for the time. (Here is a quick summary on Automatic Floor Scrubber History) They dispensed water from a clean water holding tank, scrubbed the floor with the clean water and added cleaning chemical, and then vacuumed the floor dry with a vacuum system and squeegee mechanism on the back. These 4 areas are where most of the service is needed. Putting down water, picking up water, scrubbing the floor, and operating forward and reverse. It was true 60 years ago and still true today. Although the earlier machines were much simpler in their mechanical design.

Combining the actions of a floor mop, scrub brush and wet/dry vacuum all into one machine. The first scrubbers ran on electric supplied by plugging the machine into a wall outlet, but soon they were using batteries to propel the machine. This made them much more maneuverable and easier to use.

Because these machines combined all the necessary aspects to cleaning a floor, this made the floor cleaning process much more hygienic. Operators were discovering they could use disinfectants, degreasers, and specialized chemicals to aid in creating a cleaner environment. They are great for use in hospitals, schools, government buildings and all places where large groups of people congregate on a hard floor surface. They were soon discovered to be of great use in cleaning factory floors and other large buildings. As the popularity of the automatic floor scrubber grew, so did the complexity of the machines. Constant improvements by manufacturers were made to make the machines more maneuverable, efficient, productive and easier to use for the operator.

Since the first automatic floor scrubbers were fairly simple, the required maintenance was necessary but easy to perform. Clean out the tanks. Clean the brushes. Clean the squeegee assembly and the squeegees and you were pretty much done. There were possibly a few grease fittings to lubricate on a routine basis but that was all.

The scrub brushes were raised and lowered mechanically, usually either with a hand lever or a foot pedal. The operator would let up on the foot pedal to lower the brushes to the floor and push down to raise the brushes from the floor. This was a really simple lever action mechanical system that required very little maintenance. The squeegee mechanism used the same principle. Move a lever to one side with your hand and the floor squeegee lowered, move the lever back and the floor squeegee raised. Once again very little maintenance required.

Solution was dispensed through a mechanical valve that was opened and closed by the operator. The solution valve lever was usually located conveniently next to the operator’s hand to slide forward or back as he needed more or less water. This lever operated a cable that was attached to the solution valve above the brushes. Outside of an occasional corrosion issue after 10 years or so this was very reliable.

The vacuum motor that was used to remove the dirty water from the floor was operated by one switch on the dashboard. On or Off, that was it.

The first machines used the weight and pressure of the brushes to propel the machine forward so very little maintenance was required. There was no drive motor to worry about.  You can still find some brush driven scrubbers today but most are powered by drive motors forward and reverse.

So you can see, when I get a request for a service call today, the reasons why haven’t changed a whole lot. The scrubber isn’t putting down water, it’s not picking up water, it’s not cleaning the floor properly or it’s not moving forward or reverse. These are the issues we hear most often. As the machines continue to evolve mechanically and electronically they become more complicated to service. They are also much more ergonomic, easier to use and produce less stress on the operator.

When purchasing an automatic floor scrubber, please take these aspects into consideration. Scrubbers are made to pick up all the dirt on the floors most people want to avoid. This dirt has to go somewhere and that is the inside the machine. They must be cleaned out on a routine basis to perform well. The four areas we addressed here are the most commonly heard issues for maintenance. Take care of these and you’ll get longer life out of your new purchase.

A good preventative maintenance program will help you prevent these problems and have less down time. Effective preventative maintenance has two big components; scheduled maintenance calls by a trained professional (monthly, quarterly, or semiannually depending on your needs) and daily routine maintenance done by you and your team.

For more details about our preventative maintenance program and service department please visit this page. Also be sure to check back or subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss parts 2 through 5 of this mini blog series on common problems with automatic floor scrubbers!

image call to action for service and preventative maintenance

The Dawn of The Automatic Floor Scrubber

The Advance Machine Company began manufacturing terrazzo floor grinding machines in 1924. In 1928 they started making the first Automatic floor scrubbers that put down water, scrubbed the floor, and vacuumed the floor dry in the same operation. Advance made their first Convertamatic floor scrubber in 1958. These models came in 26B, 32B, 38B, 260BHD, 320BHD & 380BHD.

Clarke started the manufacture of bar sanders in 1916. In the 1920’s they put a stick on the sander to do floors. In the 1950’s they introduced floor machines and in 1958 they introduced their first automatic floor scrubber. In 1963 Clarke started manufacturing their best yet, TB28 and TB32 series of floor scrubbers. In my opinion these 2 scrubbers are two of the best automatic floor scrubbers ever made. I’ve been selling and servicing automatic floor scrubbers since 1983. I hope I have established some credibility in this field over the last 33 years.

These companies are not the only ones to pioneer this industry but in my opinion the Advance Convertamatic and the Clarke TB series scrubbers were 2 of the best. They worked well, they were heavy, durable, relatively easy to operate, and built to last a lifetime.

Both companies have since been purchased by other companies. Acquired a couple of times actually. But they are both still in the market selling their current version of a machine that scrubs and dries floors.

These machines were the beast of the era. They performed well with minimum downtime. What else can you ask? Since then there have been a number of improvements made by companies that weren’t even around when Clarke and Advance were founded.
Once again, this is only my 33 years of experience influencing me, but I believe one of the best alternatives if you are looking for a scrubber to do it all, meet all your expectations and provide clean, dry floors, in any situation, the answer is Factory Cat/Tomcat.

These machines have taken floor cleaning to a whole new level. These are state of the art, computer controlled, productive, efficient, and built to last. These machines cannot only scrub the floor; they can sweep up debris like a sweeper at the same time. They have filters that filter the clean water before it touches the floor, filters that filter the dirty water to prevent clogs and variable solenoids that control water flow. They have state of the art on-board computer systems that monitor all functions of the machine and draw amps off the batteries in the smallest amount required to operate the machine productively. It monitors the brush motors, vacuum motors, drive motors so as to provide the power needed at any one time while providing maximum efficiency and providing longer running time. This reduces wear on the batteries and provides maximum run time. If the owner of the machine does not like the factory settings for speed control, water control, brush speed, down pressure,  or many other variables, the on board computer may be adjusted by simply plugging in a laptop to the on-board computer and making the necessary adjustments. All this means is that you will get the cleanest floors possible, with the least amount of amp draw, and providing the longest run time and battery life attainable. It also means you no longer need a big guy running the scrubber. Because of the smooth computer controls, anyone can operate this equipment and not suffer fatigue from running the machine.

Tomcat/Factory Cat Scrubbers are available in Models that range from 17″ to 46″ Scrub Paths in Walk-Behind and Riding machines. They carry a 3 year warranty, and if you purchase our scrubber approved chemical from us to clean your floors there are many items that we will cover for the life of the machine.

All this makes Factory Cat/Tomcat one of the best options available on the market today if you are in the market to find the most productive, efficient way to clean your floors with a minimum amount of downtime.

Give us a call. We’ll demonstrate a machine in your facility at your convenience.


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Dilution Control

Dilution Control Systems are gaining in popularity every day. And with good cause. Facility managers are becoming more aware that a system which accurately measures and dispenses cleaning chemicals is more preferable. They are much more cost effective than Ready-To-Use products and more efficient than guessing and randomly pouring chemical in a bucket or an automatic scrubber. Accurate measuring assures that you get an end use product that is the most effective and cleans better without waste or misuse. It also assures that you are using a product that is produced the way the manufacturer intended. A product that is not over or under diluted, and will meet all the claims for sanitizing, disinfecting, or general cleaning listed on the chemical manufacturers specification sheets.


Through the use of dilution equipment, chemical concentrates are accurately metered with water and are dispensed as ready-to-use cleaning solution. There are 2 types of dilution control systems. Partial Loop and Closed loop. A partial loop system does not prohibit total chemical exposure when dispensing, replacing or changing out the chemical container. Some of the chemical can splash or drip when changing containers or even when using the dispenser. A closed loop system does provide total containment of the chemical at all points during the replacement and the dispensing process. In a closed loop system the ability to contain the chemical at all points during the replacement and dilution process is critical. This is important because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that U.S. Institutions spend more than 75 million dollars per year in chemical related injuries and lost wages. The EPA has also said 6 out 100 custodial workers are injured each year by exposure to harsh cleaning chemicals.

Why use dilution control? Lets concentrate on the closed loop systems. Although Partial loop systems are available, closed loop systems are safer. There are 3 main benefits.

1. Safety. Through the use of closed loop systems, end users are never in direct contact with concentrated chemicals reducing potential injuries.

2. Dilution Accuracy. Concentrated cleaning chemicals are designed to work best at their targeted dilution levels. Inaccurate dilutions can lead to ineffective cleaning and infectious disease outbreaks. Accurate dilutions lead to optimum product performance.

3. Waste Reduction. More is not always better. Dilution control reduces cleaning costs by up to 30% by accurately mixing the dilution. Unlike the Pouring Method the correct amount of chemical is dispensed every time.

Without the use of chemical dilution systems you run the risk of improper cleaning solutions. This can result in sticky or slippery floors, unclean surfaces, and improper sanitization or disinfection. You also run the risk of personal injury to the custodial staff. Proper training is required. Closed loop dilution control systems typically come in either a single bottle or 4 bottle units. That is, they hold either 1 or 4 bottles of concentrated cleaning chemical. There are also remote, hand held closed loop systems for those times when a wall mount unit isnt available or convenient. Closed loop systems are even available on some brands of automatic scrubbers. They automatically dispense the correct amount of chemical through the scrubber as you scrub your floors. No pre mixing is necessary. Just fill the automatic scrubber with water and the chemical is automatically dispensed through the system.

The proper installation and connections are crucial to ensuring the system runs properly. When choosing a chemical dilution system, make sure to contact a reputable chemical distributor that offers a complete line of chemicals and can provide the training and education necessary for safe implementation.

Contact us here at The Rhiel Supply Company and we will be able to provide you with the chemicals, dilution control systems, education and training necessary for a reliable and safe program.



Make Your Customers Love You Through Good Maintenance

Customer experience is central to any successful business and everyday it is becoming more and more important. Arguably the biggest factor impacting your customers’ experience is the cleanliness of your facility. It is the first thing that people notice when they enter your business. Starting in the parking lot, then moving to entry way and continuing through the facility and possibly your restrooms. This is a large area to maintain and can often be overlooked.

Your customers, however, will notice if your facility is unclean and dirty and it will negatively impact their experience and can overshadow what you want them to see (products, promotions, and any other conversion opportunities). This makes your cleaning and maintenance efforts especially important to your customer retention and upsell opportunities. With this being the case I wanted to do a series of blog posts to address key areas of your facility and provide you with solutions that are effective, work to lower your total cost and improve your customer experience.

I will briefly address each area in the series so you can get an idea of what’s coming. (I will add hyperlinks to each descriptions below the image once that topic has been posted.)

Make sure you don’t miss a post and subscribe to our blog today by filling out the form in the top right!




Finding the proper maintenance solutions for your facility will positively impact your employees’ outlook about their working environment. It certainly involves proper cleaning to reduce the spread of sickness, but it also includes employee comfort during the workday; things such as anti-fatigue matting for employees who stand for long periods of time. Ultimately happier employees will make happier customers and improve their experience interacting with your business.


Your parking lot is the first thing your customers see when entering your facility. This gives them their first impression of your business and preps them for what they should expect inside. If the parking lot is a mess with unsightly litter, cigarette butts and other debris then the customer will already have a negative attitude about your establishment when entering. The parking lot can be a tough place to get to regularly, but there are cost-effective and efficient solutions to address this problem area.


Your entry way can have a tendency to get dirty quickly, especially when there is bad weather. This makes sense due to it being the highest traffic area in your facility. Also during bad weather it is a significant safety hazard. Without proper maintenance the risk of a customer slipping and falling increases dramatically. Both the safety and the cleanliness will be addressed in this post.


This is a big factor in whether a customer will return to your business. Dirty, odor-ridden restrooms are a big turn off and will impact your customers’ opinion of your facility. Many solutions exist that can make bathroom maintenance easy and quick and vastly improve you customers’ experience.


These areas include anywhere in your facility that customers can roam (shopping, eating, perusing etc.). The solutions to achieve optimal maintenance here are different depending on what your business does, but have some similarities. These similarities and difference will be discussed in this post and appropriate solutions will be offered.

If you are interested in learning more about “The Value of Clean” please refer to this blog post that has an infographic summarizing the whitepaper put out by ISSA. Also make sure you subscribe to our blog so you can receive each post of this series straight to your inbox.



The Essentials To Daily Floor Scrubber Maintenance [Infographic]

Here is an infographic to recap last Monday’s post about daily automatic floor scrubber maintenance! This is great material to post near the area you keep your auto scrubber.


The Circle Of Battery Life Maintenance

More and more facilities are now using battery powered floor scrubbers to clean their floors. They are faster and much more productive and efficient than the traditional mop and bucket. They also require more attention and maintenance. One of the biggest concerns is the batteries. This one area seems to be the most neglected. Maintenance staffs will perform daily maintenance to clean out the dirty water, clean the squeegees and brushes, pads and filters. Not as often do they pop the caps on the batteries to check and correct the water levels. This one task is crucial for the machine to function properly since most machines have wet/cell batteries. Batteries should be checked at least on a weekly basis.

Here are a few basic tips and when used together they create the circle of battery life maintenance. Check out the image below for a more visually appealing representation.

  • Check the water levels at least once per week.
  • Use only distilled water when filling the cells.
  • Cover with enough water to cover the lead plates but not to the top of the cell.
  • Clean off the terminal posts.
  • Make sure the cable connections are tight.
  • Charge the batteries before you fill them completely. (Assuming the water level covers the lead plates)
  • Always plug the charger into the machine first, and then plug into the wall outlet.
  • When Charging is complete remove plug from wall first, then the machine.
  • After charging check the water levels and fill to the water level mark in each cell.

Following these simple steps will result in longer running time and increased longevity for your batteries. Batteries are expensive. Good maintenance will reduce your cost and expense.


Do You Have Ice Melt Residue In Your Entryway?

It’s just about that time of year; the snow will soon be melting and temperatures will begin to rise in the coming weeks. While I know the winter may still seem far from over now is the time to begin planning for your spring cleaning. Over the next several weeks I will be discussing various areas of facility maintenance that certainly need attention after a long winter. Today I will begin with entryway cleanup, specifically ice melt residue. I will discuss cleanup as it pertains to solid flooring and will address carpet cleanup in a later post.

Step 1: Sweep or vacuum up any debris that may have accumulated on the surface

Step 2: Mop surface with a chemical that can remove the residue

It is important to use a new mop head as buildup and grime that have accumulated in an old one will inhibit the effectiveness of your cleaning efforts. We recommend a microfiber mop head because it does a better job picking up dirt off the floor, but more importantly the dirt rinses out of them better than a cotton mop head. What we personally recommend for the chemical component is R-65. It is a soap film remover, but also does an excellent job at cleaning up ice melt. I am always curious as to how these products work so to answer this question we put in a call to the chemist responsible for R-65. He explained that it is the amount of chelating agents (also known as sequestering agents) that allows R-65 to work well on ice melt. It is these chelating agents that bond with minerals such as calcium, magnesium and sodium (common ice melt ingredients) and allow other ingredients in the product to clean surfaces easier. Without the chelating agents the calcium, magnesium and sodium would reduce the cleaning effectiveness of the product by bonding with the surfactants (a class of cleaning agent).

Step 3 (optional): Burnish your floor

Burnishing your floor can restore shine and gloss. While not all businesses need to have their floor look like this, some rely on that elegant look to increase appeal.