Case study: Maintaining the physical plant to ensure comfort and safety for casino resort patrons
CASE STUDY 1
Don’t gamble with your carpet
While casino owners may want the gambling tables and slot machines to be the first things visitors to their properties see, in reality what visitors will likely first notice is the floor, and this includes the carpet. Soiled carpeting is detrimental to any facility’s image and certainly not the first impression most casino owners want their visitors to have. This is why an effective, ongoing carpet cleaning program is so important.
Traditionally, in homes, offices, casinos and other facilities, the goal of an effective carpet cleaning program is twofold:
• Keeping the carpet looking its best; and
• Extending the life of the carpet
These two objectives are actually interconnected. Carpet cleaning, typically by using a carpet extractor, pulls soils, grit, dust and debris out of the carpet fibers. While it is these soils, grit, dust, and so on that mar the appearance of the carpet, they are also what reduce the carpet’s lifespan. Casino managers should view these soils as minuscule daggers. With foot traffic, they cut into carpet fibers as well as the backing of the carpet, which can cause considerable—and irreversible—damage over time.
However, in 24/7 locations such as casinos, there is one more goal when it comes to effective carpet cleaning, and that is not only to keep the carpets looking their best and to extend their lifespan but also to clean them and return them to use as quickly as possible. This changes things considerably, because no longer is the stress simply on the ways in which the carpet is cleaned but on the speed of the process, so that the area can be turned back to foot traffic—and casino gamblers—as quickly as possible.
Complicating matters, it is generally accepted that carpet extraction is the most effective way to clean carpets. With the extraction method, pressurized water or water and cleaning solution is injected into the carpet from a wand as it is moved in one direction over the carpet. This moisture, along with soils and contaminants, is then removed—extracted—from the carpet by pulling the wand in the opposite direction. While extraction is the most effective way to clean carpets, it can also create, at least in a 24/7 location, a dangerous situation. The problem is that if the carpet is not fully dry before being put back into use, the moisture mixed with solution residue can make shoe bottoms quite slippery; natural traction of the shoe bottom is minimized or eliminated. This can then cause a slip and fall, which is something certainly no casino owner wants to see happen.
DEALING WITH THE CARPET DILEMMA
While the fact that the casino is open 24/7 does complicate things when cleaning and maintaining carpets, these issues can be addressed. The first step however is one that is often overlooked, or one that is a concern just during adverse weather conditions, and that is the installation of an effective matting system. The word system is important here because we need three types of mats all working together to keep moisture and soil from being walked onto the carpet:
A scraper mat placed directly outside the casino entrance.
A wiper/scraper mat placed in a vestibule area or directly inside the casino entrance.
A wiper mat placed directly after the wiper/scraper mat; this can be viewed as a “walk-off” mat and is the final step in removing moisture and soils from shoe bottoms.
Additionally, each type of mat should be at least five feet long or longer. This helps ensure that visitors walk six to eight steps on the matting before stepping onto the carpet, effectively removing as much as 80 percent of the outside moisture/soil from their shoes.
The other key components to tackling this dilemma of keeping carpets clean in a 24/7 location include the following.
Vacuuming—According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, vacuuming can remove as much as 85 percent of dry soils not caught by the mats we just discussed. And because most soiling in carpets is dry soiling, increasing vacuuming frequencies is a major step toward keeping carpets clean and healthy. Because casinos are large locations, having a wide-area vacuum cleaner with a 30-inch cleaning path is recommended. These vacuum cleaners deliver the performance of three separate vacuum cleaners—requiring three separate cleaning workers—and can vacuum as much as 10,000 square feet in an hour.
If selecting a wide-area machine, look for these features:
A multistage filtration system; this helps protect indoor air quality.
Two “vac” motors, which provide much more cleaning power and can also deliver much higher rpms (rotations per minute) of the roller brush for more penetration of the carpet fibers.
A system that manually adjusts the height of the machine to the carpet pile height; some machines provide automatic height adjustment, but this has not proven effective in many settings.
A 75-foot power cord; due to safety concerns, select a machine with a bright-colored cord, such as bright yellow, which can help to serve as a warning for visitors to walk over the cord.
Interim maintenance—Interim maintenance is very important in a 24/7 facility. The big benefit of interim carpet cleaning—which includes dry methods such as encapsulation and dry compounds, as well as wet methods such as bonnet cleaning and shampoo—is that they either do not require moisture to clean the carpets or the required moisture dries very quickly. For the most part, these interim methods will remove the top layers of soil from carpet, helping to delay carpet extraction. But note, they are called “interim” methods for a reason. They can be employed only one to three times before carpets must be thoroughly extracted.
Also, please read your carpet’s warranty. Some carpet manufacturers will not honor their warranty if carpets have been shampooed or bonnet cleaned. This is because the process can damage carpet fibers.
Extraction—Carpet extraction is both the godsend and a curse for casino carpet. It is the most effective way to clean carpets, as we have mentioned, but the moisture required and the subsequent slow drying time can keep areas blocked off for hours and be a safety hazard. The manufacturers of carpet extractors are aware of this issue, and, interestingly, it is the wand and not the machine that can play a major role in reducing how much time it takes for carpets to dry.
Now available are what are called “rapid recovery wands.” With these wands, moisture is flushed through carpet fibers at a high velocity while the wand simultaneously extracts the moisture and soils. Essentially, the moisture never rests on the carpet. The result: more moisture is removed and drying times are reduced, usually fairly significantly.
It may also be of interest to casino owners that there are now recycling carpet extractors. These machines recycle the cleaning water and solution as many as seven times before it needs to be emptied. Why is this important? This minimizes downtime—for emptying and refilling the machine—which means more carpet can be cleaned per hour.
New Technology—Ultimately, the best way for casino managers to keep their carpets clean and healthy, improve their carpets’ longevity, and reduce drying times is to stay up-to-date with new carpet cleaning technologies. For an industry that has changed slowly over the years, carpet equipment manufacturers have introduced a number of new technologies in the past few years that make their machines more effective and thorough at removing moisture and soils, while reducing cleaning’s impact on facilities—including 24/7 facilities.