At Factory Cleaning Equipment, Inc. we have sold thousands of battery powered floor scrubbers and sweepers over the years. If you ask anyone in our service department or in customer service you will find out that our single most expensive and frequent customer complaint is short battery life. It is very common for a machine less than 2 years old to need new batteries due to lack of watering or improper charging techniques. It is not uncommon for a customer to spend over $1,000 to replace batteries in a relatively new machine.
The scenario often goes like this… The operator is trained to check battery levels weekly. Over time he neglects to do this task. Battery water levels drop due to evaporation during the charging process. Eventually levels get low enough that the batteries are damaged during charging. The operator then notices that the machine run time is lacking. Now he checks the batteries! Of course the operator then fills the batteries as trained. The damage has been done and the machine still will not run as long. The operator reports to management that the machine is not working properly. Sometimes the operator forgets to tell management that he let the batteries go dry. (say it isn’t so!) When the batteries are returned for warranty the manufacturer can easily tell that the damage was done. Warranty is denied and the customer is stuck with a huge bill.
One solution to this problem is maintenance free batteries. We use maintenance free batteries in scrubbers if we know that it is highly unlikely that battery maintenance will be done properly. We also use them if having wet acid batteries is a hazard. This could be a situation like a gym, school, or similar applications. However, there is a trade-off. Maintenance free batteries are just not as good. The run time is less when batteries are new and the life expectancy is much less.
Finally after decades of dealing with the problem of poor battery maintenance on floor scrubbers Tennant has come up with the solution on their T500 Walk-Behind Scrubber. It is called Smart-Fill. This same innovation will also be available on their soon to be launched T600 Walk-Behind Floor Scrubber.
The Smart-Fill Battery Watering option on the Tennant T500 is such a simple concept it amazes me that we didn’t think of it before! The batteries on the scrubber are outfitted with a single point watering system. These systems are common and have been used for years on battery powered floor cleaning equipment, forklifts, etc. They basically allow an operator to hook up a fill hose to one single point on the scrubber batteries. When the batteries are full it automatically cuts the supply off. Tennant simply mounted a distilled water reservoir on the scrubber. This tank has a small pump that attaches to the single point watering system. Batteries are automatically filled when they need water.
I know what you are thinking! “My operator is going to forget to fill the reservoir on the scrubber.” You are probably right. That is why Tennant put a warning light on the control panel of the scrubber if the reservoir is low. “OK, but what if my operator ignores the light or doesn’t know what it means?” Tennant has developed a system called IRIS. IRIS stands for Intelligent Remote Information System. This system can be programmed to send you email alerts when the batteries need water on your scrubber. It can also tell you if the operator is “opportunity charging” the machine, running the batteries too low, or charging it too little. As an added benefit IRIS can produce daily usage reports and a whole range of other metrics. Your upfront investment in this system is less than $1,000.00 or $20 per month on a 5 year lease. There is no doubt in my mind that it will pay for itself in reduced maintenance costs and increased productivity from your asset.
Getting the longest possible life out of your batteries will certainly save you thousands of dollars over the life of your machine. However, there is another very big benefit. Extending the life of your batteries and equipment in general is the best thing you can do for the environment. Think of the carbon footprint to replace and recycle those batteries or build you a new machine!
We believe the combination of the Smart Fill Battery watering system and IRIS is the best cost saving innovation for our customers in years.
If you have any questions about this new technology or other features that the Tennant T500 offers don't hesitate to contact us.