Power Sweeping Equipment Maintenance Tips

Jim Adair, Director of Product Management at Schwarze Industries, emphasizes the urgency of proper sweeper maintenance, “As soon as its care is let go, its deterioration will have a snowball effect.” However, Jim says that in his experience, many sweeping companies do not have a (formal) daily process or maintenance schedule that their teams use to ensure that routine maintenance is performed. Jim Adair and Brian Giles, Product Manager at Schwarze, have provided advice for daily, monthly, and seasonal inspections that together provide an extensive list of sweeper inspection and maintenance recommendations.

Number 1 Tip: Examine Your Sweeper Truck Before and After Use, Every Time!

Jim’s and Brian’s recommendations on behalf of Schwarze, serve to elaborate on this overarching sweeper maintenance advice we received from Tim Toler, Owner, Clean Sweep Lot Service, LLC., Indianapolis, IN:

“The most important maintenance tip I think is for the driver to check out the truck before leaving to start using it. If you can get a driver who does that consistently, you’ve got a winner there. Don’t’ skip a day. Check your equipment every day, and wash your truck each day after use. Oil changes and other maintenance are all important, but if you don’t degrease and power wash your equipment down after using it, it won’t perform as it should. It won’t go. That’s it! If you wash the equipment after eight hours of use, that will preserve the life of it.”

Daily Sweeper Inspections

Jim Adair advises routine inspections, as the framework for developing the most effective overall processes for keeping power sweepers ready for top performance and for significantly extending the life of sweeper equipment. He emphasizes the importance of training everyone using sweeper trucks to start by following this simple daily inspection process:

Before Sweeper Use

Start by checking all the safety lights. Check to be sure safety alarms, cameras, and mirrors are all working. Set all this safety equipment properly every day, before starting the engine of the sweeper truck, and then ensure the area is clear of people and objects before starting the sweeper.

After Sweeper Use

When sweeper equipment is treated properly after each time it is used, it will be in good condition for the next time it is operated, and it can be expected to perform fully as it is designed to function. So, when the sweeper is brought back to your lot, it needs to be washed and receive an after-use inspection, which includes all the steps of the standard before-use inspection routine, without filling the water tanks.
The after-use inspection should additionally include checking to identify any parts that may need servicing. For example, lights that are not working properly, hardware coming loose, engine performance issues, or other issues that your shop technicians, or in smaller businesses, perhaps a mechanically skilled driver or another person on the team can correct.

How To Help Ensure Daily Inspections are Performed

For sweeping company operators with growing fleets, many have set up two staging areas, with one marked for trucks that are waiting for maintenance and the other marked for those that are ready to use. After the driver sweeps, dumps and cleans the truck, the driver then parks the sweeper in the waiting for maintenance/service area, for servicing. After the maintenance work and servicing to correct issues is completed, the shop worker then parks the sweeper truck in the ready-to-use area.
Alternative Staging System: Sweeping companies that don’t have room for two designated parking areas can use a laminated, color-coded sheet that can be stored in the glove box and then placed on the dashboard when needed, to indicate that the truck is either ready for maintenance/service or ready for use.

Monthly Sweeper Inspections

Perform an additional inspection monthly to correct issues that have been deferred throughout the busy month, such as minor repairs of items noted in the daily after-use inspections. Also, take this time to inspect the painted parts of the sweeper truck, and have them recoated, to help prevent rusting and keep the vehicle looking fresh.

Seasonal Maintenance of Sweeper Parts

Downtime is typically rare when the spring busy season begins for many sweeping companies around the country. Across much of the U.S., sweeping companies remove the remaining materials put down during winter for ice and snow control as well as heavy debris accumulated in the snow. So, it’s an important time to make sure each sweeper’s dust control system is working as designed.

Spring Maintenance: for Regenerative Air Sweepers

Here are some tips from Schwarze, for preparing regenerative air sweeper trucks for heavy use in the spring:
Sweeping head flaps — Replace head flaps as needed. Examine side plates and skids thoroughly, to see if they have become damaged, and replace damaged skids or plates.
Fan — A dilapidated fan does not generate the necessary vacuum, and it can cause an extreme vibration that can damage some parts of the fan drive assembly. Replace parts on the drive assembly or housing liner for the fan that is showing wear.
Water System — Insufficient water suppression promotes excessive wear on the fan, its housing, and related parts necessary for airflow. Repair or replace worn out or damaged components that are no longer working.
Filters — Inspect engine filters, water filters, and hydraulic filters, and replace these critical filters, as needed.

Spring Maintenance: for Mechanical Sweepers

Conveyer Belt and Rollers — Sweeping millings and construction debris stretches the sweeper’s conveyor belt and wears out the rollers unless adjustments are made when needed. Replace a damaged belt or other parts, as needed, to keep the conveyor working well.
Conveyor Chains and Sprockets — Picking up millings wears out and frequently damages conveyor chains and sprockets. Adjust or replace these as needed, to avoid having them break apart.
Main Broom Side Plates — These guide the debris into the housing during sweeping. These plates can become bent and misshapen, resulting in trailing. Repair or replace the plates, as needed, for optimum performance.
Curb Brooms — Continuous use and adjustments wear out broom components, which are central to the functioning of the sweeper truck. Replace damaged ball joints, bushings, or other parts.
Hydraulic System — Maintain the hydraulics per the factory-prescribed schedule. Between and during oil changes, inspect for any contamination. Replace corroded plugs or valve coils.
Suction Strainer — Make sure the strainer is clean. Wash it with soap while it’s under running water. Strainers sometimes appear clean but can have a clear slime that impedes full water flow from getting to the pump. That can affect the vacuum system and lead to damage to the diaphragms.
Pump — Use a water pressure gauge to connect to the hose bib and check the pressure. Check to be sure the water flow is at the correct pressure and gallons per minute (GPM).
Valves — The electric valves that route water into the sweeper truck’s spray nozzles can eventually become built up with calcium, rust, or slime, which can impede optimum water flow or keep the valve from closing properly. Use soap and water to clean the water valves, plunger, and stems. Use CLR to remove lime, rust, or calcium, if needed.
Spray Tips and Tip Strainers — Clogged spray tips don’t work. Do not drill to open clogged spray tips. Drilling damages tips, causing them to fail to atomize water. Simply leaving out a clogged tip strainer causes the spray tip to become clogged much faster than tips with strainers do. To correct problems with frequently clogged spray tips, add a mesh filter between the valve and pump (such as a 5-micron filter).
Parts Requiring Lubrication — It is essential to follow your sweeper’s maintenance schedule’s greasing charts, to ensure components stay lubricated and old grease is displaced from the mechanism, to help prevent excessive wear. Routinely check grease points, even in sweepers featuring auto-lubrication.

Winter Sweeper Maintenance

During the winter season, perform appropriate seasonal maintenance for your climate zone. In regions with freezing temperatures, here are some important winter maintenance items for regenerative air and/or mechanical sweeper trucks, as applicable:
Hydraulic System — During winter months, apply dielectric grease, to help prevent corrosion.
Gutter brooms — During downtime in winter, inspect gutter brooms and replace them if they appear heavily worn.
Water System — To prevent systems damage, sweepers must be fully winterized before storing them outside in freezing temperatures.

Important Advantages of Proper Sweeper Maintenance

Beyond the critical priorities of ensuring that your sweeper truck will start and run well every time you need it to do its job well, and especially to be sure your employees can operate it safely, there are additional essential benefits of properly maintaining your equipment:
● Extended life of your sweeper equipment
● Reduced unexpected downtime due to equipment breakdowns
● Fewer avoidable major maintenance needs and inspections
● Increased reliability of your equipment
● Fewer expensive urgent repairs
Further, a well maintained professional power sweeper shows your customers that your company’s team takes pride in its work and cares about the impression it makes on them. That’s good for your brand, which means maintaining your sweeper equipment in top working order contributes to the long-term success of your business.

The Future With a Good Sweeper Maintenance Routine

Using the above collective wisdom of top industry experts can help sweeping business operators improve sweeper maintenance, which can increase revenues and reduce costs. As all drivers and shop employees see the important benefits of sticking with the daily and seasonal equipment maintenance process you establish, it will become easier for them to habituate following the processes you have set up for them.

Remember, as the Schwarze experts advise, many parts are much easier to maintain than to replace due to inadequate maintenance. So, adhere to your daily, monthly, and seasonal maintenance inspection schedules. You will be extending the life of your sweepers, improving working conditions for your equipment operators, and helping increase your team’s sense of company pride and personal performance pride. Those improvements naturally positively impact team performance, which affects customer satisfaction, which is the driver of long-term profitability.

For more information about Schwarze® power sweeping equipment product lines visit www.schwarze.com.

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