Streamlining the maintanance of safe, high-gloss casino floors
In most cases, casinos are 24/7 operations. Because of this, facility maintenance has to be planned and structured so that it has the least impact on patrons, their use of the casino, as well as their safety.
While things such as sweeping, vacuuming, dust mopping, and even damp mopping a hard surface floor can usually, with care, be safely performed while people are in the casino, this is not always the case when more thorough floor care is necessary. Thus managers must plan their hard surface floorcare activities carefully so that they cause the least interruption to the facility’s operation.
The first step in this process is to conduct what can be called a floorcare audit. This will help determine such things as how often the floors need to be cleaned; the type of cleaning necessary; the types of cleaning solutions, tools, and equipment required among other issues. Usually a floorcare audit details the following:
When and where a slip-and-fall accident is most likely/least likely to occur;
Where soiling is most prevalent;
The type of floor;
If a sealant or finish has been applied to the floor;
Floor irregularities such as broken tiles, uneven floors, or floors with a step or two up or down;
Matting installation; and
Floor care chemicals, tools, and equipment now in use or needed.
Sometimes floor plans and architectural drawings are necessary to complete a thorough floorcare audit. This may be true with a large casino. When completed, the final determinations of the audit should be in writing, helping to formalize the process and ensure that floor care is conducted properly.
THE MATTER OF MATS
Before we get into actual floor cleaning procedures, let’s start with the one item that does not directly involve cleaning but can have a great impact on reducing the cleaning needs of the entire facility. All casinos should have a high-performance matting system in place. High performance typically refers to higher-quality mats that last longer, made to be more effective at removing soils and collecting moisture. These are usually not rented but purchased from a supplier or manufacturer.
The matting system should be comprised of three types of mats and be a total of 15 feet long. This is long enough to catch 70 percent or more of soils/moisture off of shoe bottoms, preventing them from being walked into the casino. According to Adam Strizzi, marketing manager for Crown Matting Technologies, a leading matting manufacturer, the three types of mats are the following:
Scraper mats. As the name implies, these mats scrape larger soils off of shoe bottoms. They are placed outside of entries.
Wiper/scraper mats. Many facilities have a vestibule area directly inside their entries. This is a perfect place for a wiper/scraper mat; this mat removes more of the larger soils as well as moisture.
Wiper mats. Often called the final line of defense, the wiper mat further wipes shoe bottoms clean and removes moisture.
“Matting is so important in keeping a facility clean and healthy that it is now required in order for a facility to be LEED certified,” said Strizzi. “This is because mats can help reduce the cleaning needs of a facility, which means fewer cleaning solutions may be necessary, reducing cleaning’s impact on the environment.”
MORE THAN A CLEAN SWEEP
Along with a high-performance matting system, the following are the three types of cleaning procedures involved in effective floorcare:
Daily Cleaning—We have already referenced some of the daily cleaning methods: sweeping, vacuuming, and dust and damp mopping. If your audit finds that a finish has been applied to a floor, it should be damp mopped using a neutral-pH cleaner. This will help clean the floor without harming the finish.
One thing that is recommended is transferring to vacuuming instead of sweeping or dust mopping floors. Sweeping/dust mopping generates a lot of airborne particles that can be harmful to the cleaning worker and casino users, plus these methods have a tendency to push dust and debris from one floor area to another. While oil-treated dust mops can help reduce airborne dust, they tend to lose their effectiveness as they are used.
According to Sean Martschinke, marketing manager for Tornado, makers of professional cleaning equipment, “a new generation of light and comfortable backpack [vacuum cleaners] have been introduced that pull soil and debris from the floor instead of pushing them around. This is healthier for the cleaning worker and building users and more effective as well.”
Martschinke also suggests that on larger floor areas, rather than damp mopping, use an automatic scrubber is needed. A fully automatic floor scrubber is designed to apply cleaning solution to the floor, agitate or scrub it, wet-vacuum it, and then squeegee it dry, all automatically and all in one pass. “This means the floor is almost dry as soon as the machine has moved over it, helping to promote safety. Along with being more effective than damp mopping, an automatic scrubber improves worker productivity and reduces labor costs significantly.”
Interim Cleaning—Interim cleaning is necessary on floors when a sealant and/or finish is applied. A sealant/finish helps prevent soils and moisture from working their way into the pores and grout of the floor. If a high-speed floor finish has been applied to the floor, a burnisher can be used to polish and clean it. (Please note that some finishes are made to be polished with a high-speed burnisher and others with a low-speed floor machine; it is very important that the audit notes what type of finish has been applied to the floor.) The machine removes surface-level marks and soils and leaves a “wet look” shine to the floor. While they come in different sizes and with varying features, according to Martschinke an effective burnisher for larger commercial locations like a casino would have the following attributes:
2,500 RPMs (rotations per minute);
Adjustable pad pressure (up to 30 pounds); more pad pressure may be needed to remove difficult soils;
Variable speed control, to address the needs of different floors and finishes;
A built-in vacuum, to help prevent dust from being released into the environment;
Battery powered for greater flexibility, maneuverability, and safety; and
Auto-motion propulsion, which provides assistance in operating the machine, reducing worker fatigue and improving worker productivity
Restorative Maintenance—Restorative maintenance is what we try to avoid because it can be so disruptive to everyday operations, labor intensive, and costly. If an effective daily and interim cleaning system is in place, you can usually delay restorative maintenance. However, when a floor needs to be restored, typically a low-speed floor machine (175 RPMs or 350 RPMs) is used to strip and remove finish (or sealant) from the floor. It is an involved process with many steps; however, once it is completed, the floor should look much as it did the day it was installed but without the shine.
The next step is to reapply sealant or finish. In most cases, if a sealant is used, two or three thin applications are necessary. Once the sealant has thoroughly dried, three to six thin coats of floor finish can be applied on top of the sealant. This produces the shine.
The goal of an effective floor care program is to keep floors looking their best at all times and to ensure patron safety. Without an effective floor care program in place, this will be difficult to do. If floor cleaning is not performed effectively on a scheduled basis, floors can become much more difficult to clean and maintain and casino operations can be disrupted. View an effective floor care program as key to your casino’s total operation.
Why a Sealant?
As many maintenance professionals know, sealants are not used as often today because most floor finishes are designed to work well and protect the floor without a sealant. However, for a heavily trafficked area like a casino, it should be considered. A sealant adds an extra layer of protection over the floor and can make it easier to maintain the floor.