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As budgets continue to be tightened, street cleaners may need to look for all-in-one, adaptable machines, rather than shelling out much-needed finances on specialist sweepers. Kärcher UK’s Head of Municipal Sales, Ian Robins, advises those seeking multi-tasking street cleaning solutions of what to look out for.

As well as being representative of a community in general, well-maintained streets, public areas and green spaces contribute to the well-being and – if you accept the ‘broken windows’ theory that overt vandalism is thought to breed more antisocial behaviour – even the safety of the area’s residents.

Nowadays, mechanical muscle is essential to be able to clear away litter, leaves and dirt quickly and effectively. Not only that, but the right technology cuts down on resource consumption and reduces the amount of work involved for employees.

At a time of budget constrictions and increased fiscal scrutiny, many local councils will need a machine to travel between multiple sites, often on a daily basis. In this way, one northern borough tows a compact municipal implement carrier with a 4x4 and uses it to complete three different tasks daily; sweeping shopping precincts, towing wheeled dustbins and providing a water bowser to water flower beds. Moreover, in a country where snowfall is irregular and hard to predict, it’s on standby to grit and plough, blow or throw any snow that comes.

Holding specialist snowploughs in storage year round is an uncomfortable cost justification – yet equally town centres, universities, retail parks and many other businesses with large outdoor through routes cannot afford to be without winter weather protection if and when snow does fall. It’s here that smaller sweepers and implement carriers really earn their stripes. Modern multi-taskers require only a few minutes, often tool-free, to refit the machine for a new purpose. Removing the need for a separate vehicle for each individual activity

34 | Tomorrow’s Cleaning February 2016

keeps budgets, maintenance, parts, service, training and storage infinitely more manageable.

Thanks to their modular attachments, these compact vehicles are now suitable for use all year round – cleaning narrow roads and pavements in winter, conducting street cleaning operations in spring, caring for flower beds and green spaces in summer and removing fallen leaves in autumn.

The combined sweeping mechanism and container convert implement carriers into all-purpose waste collectors that can gather both litter (e.g. paper, leaves and cans) and heavy debris (bottles, sticks, stones and broken glass). Kärcher’s automated coarse dirt flap is critical for ensuring fault-free operation; this flap separates large items from the rest to prevent blockages and protect the machine.

Accessories available for street cleaning operations include sweeping brushes in different widths; side brushes, useful for sweeping dirt and debris from gutters and under benches; weed brushes for convenient removal of unwanted plants and moss between paving; efficient vacuum systems for single-pass pick up; pressure washers for tackling organic matter or chewing gum; dust suppression and washing systems. Various mowers, hedge trimmers and hydraulic watering booms can be used for maintaining green spaces.

Generally speaking, the key issue when purchasing a vehicle is its intended area of use. Compact, manoeuvrable machines as narrow as 1.09m are widely available – perfect for use alongside pedestrians and essential if you have narrow paths and sharp bends to contend with. Articulated

steering ensures a minimal turning circle and creates directional stability in the rear axle, enabling the safe navigation of kerbs and road signs. Reduced load is a bonus for pavements and a must to avoid lawn damage. Moreover, keeping under 3.5 tonnes precludes the need for a truck driver’s licence making sourcing drivers significantly easier.

It’s easy to overlook a slope, embankment or awkward kerb. Before making a purchase decision, it is important to conduct a site inspection with a representative from the equipment manufacturer. This enables potentially difficult areas to be identified upfront and customised solutions to be proposed. On difficult terrain and hilly areas, look for permanent all-wheel drive and high-performance engines to deliver extremely high traction and effective ground protection in all weather conditions.

Cleaning is a year round process and road and surface cleaning operations have to get underway while the New Year is still young. In addition to the usual dirt and debris that have to be dealt with, remains of festive celebrations line the streets too, waiting to be cleared away. Road grit that was essential for dealing with snow and ice can quickly frustrate once the snow has melted, making it unpleasant for residents to use pavements, bringing additional deposits into building foyers and causing accelerated corrosion of vehicles until it has been fully cleared away.

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