by Ranger Kidwell-Ross, editor
Emerging Sweeper Technology: Sustaining or Disruptive?
Most technological advances in a given industry, including power sweeping, are sustaining in character. That means the new technology improves the performance of a product that already has an established role in the marketplace.
On the other hand, disruptive technologies are ones that bring a very different value proposition than had been available previously; i.e., they are complete 'game changers.' Our July newsletter features changes in sweeper technology that, at the very least, represent sustaining advances. Only time will tell if they prove to be disruptive of the current products in their market.
We offer information about the diesel/electric hybrid mechanical broom sweeper introduced by U.S.-based Global Environmental Products (Global). According to Global's management team, this is the first-ever purpose-built, diesel/electric hybrid for the power sweeping industry. As most readers know, hybrid cars and similar vehicles are advancing at an astonishing rate due to their many advantages. Since one of the Global hybrid model's 'talking points' is a savings in fuel usage of over 50%, Global's hybrid configuration may, over time, becomes a 'market disrupter.'
The sweeper news from the Netherlands is perhaps even more astounding. There, a town has partnered with Dutch firm Holthausen and a Finnish manufacturer, Visedo, to outfit one of its current sweepers to rely on a hydrogen fuel cell for propulsion. The operator fills the tank with hydrogen, which the machine then uses to create the electricity that drives its powertrain. The only emission from this process is pure water. Another byproduct, however, is a drastic reduction in noise from 120dBA (think thunderclap, chain saw) to 60dBA (conversation in a restaurant, office, background music, air conditioning unit at 100 feet). That sounds pretty disruptive to me.
Another entrant as a disrupter of current sweeping equipment comes from Singapore's 2013 startup sweeper manufacturer, Dream C & G. The firm makes a pathway sweeper model that offers the closest to robotic technology yet on a sweeper. Its sweeper is outfitted with a wander hose that, when in use by the operator on the ground, can trigger the sweeper to follow along behind the operator. In addition, the machine may be operated via a remote control, which is an enormous safety feature on a busy highway. Disruptive features? In my opinion, yes.
To complete the circle, our 'Not Exactly Sweeping' article this month covers the Robomow. It's a lawnmower that's much like a Roomba floor vacuum. The machine is programmed to cut ones entire lawn with no operator. Set it down and off it goes. Now, that's disruptive!
Finally, a tip o' the hat to one of Elgin Sweeper's most progressive dealers, Key Equipment & Supply Company (Key). In addition to being in the forefront of Elgin's NASCAR sweeper program, Key often includes stunning wraps on the sweepers it sells. As part of this process, it sometimes also involves its local community in designing/creating the image(s). This is at least a notable advance in sustaining technology and is also probably somewhat on the disruptive side when compared against other dealers in their area who do not offer a similar program.
Sweeping equipment has advanced significantly since I first started writing about the industry in 1988. Although Americans like to think of their country as leading the world in just about everything, our stories from elsewhere showcase the innovations in power sweeping that are occurring in other parts of the world. Through the informative power of the internet, it should take less and less time for worthwhile innovations to spread throughout the planet.
As always, if you have any news of potential interest to the power sweeping community, please let us know. Between this publication, the WorldSweeper.com website, and the World Sweeping Association, we'll be sure to get the information passed along to interested readers.
Executive Director, World Sweeping Association
PS If you haven't 'liked' our WorldSweeper Facebook page, what are you waiting for? That's where we offer industry previews and updates on an ongoing basis.
July Newsletter Contents
(Scroll down to read stories or click on links.)
- WorldSweeper and World Sweeping Association Win National Awards of Excellence
- Kansas Municipality Receives Elgin Pelican Sweeper with Environmentally-Themed Wrap
- Global Environmental Products Touts First Diesel/Electric Purpose-Built Broom Sweeper
- Dutch Town Gets Hydrogen Fuel Cell Street Sweeper
- Singapore Pathway Sweeper Nearly Robotic
- Not Exactly Sweeping: Robotic Lawn Companies Springing Up
Have you thought of the bragging rights you'll lose in the future if you don't attend the first independent sweeper conference ever held in the United States?!
Click on the logo for complete info about the World Sweeping Association's 2017 Sweeper Roundup, coming up this September 15-17.
WorldSweeper and World Sweeping Association Win National Awards of Excellence
WorldSweeper's editor, Ranger Kidwell-Ross, has been honored with an APEX Award for Publication Excellence for his travelogue written about the sweeping industry in Australia and India.
Kidwell-Ross, who traveled to those places in May and June of 2016 in order to learn more about sweeping in those countries, wrote the award-winning blog series during his trip. If you haven't yet read the series of articles, here is the link to the beginning, which started with a visit to the largest sweeper trade show in Australia and includes interviews with several contractors located there.
From Australia he traveled to India, where his blog on India included a visit with sweeper manufacturer, Roots Multiclean. The travelogue offers a virtual tour of the Roots factory, as well as many sweeping-oriented travel highlights from that colorful and exotic country.
Learn more about the APEX Awards or read the WorldSweeper Australia/India sweeping travelogue starting at the beginning.
Kansas Municipality Receives Elgin Pelican Sweeper with Environmentally-Themed Wrap
During a recent event held at New Stanley Elementary school in Kansas City, Kansas, fifth-grade students Nicolas "Alex" Rincon, Diego Heraldez Dessens and Julian Bush were recognized as the winners of a contest for the design of an environmentally-themed wrap for an
Elgin Pelican street sweeper purchased by the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City.
The sweeper wrap design contest was sponsored by Key Equipment & Supply Company, an Elgin Sweeper dealer serving the municipal and contractor market in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois since 1962. Key Equipment's Jeff Miles preceded the contest start with an environmental educational presentation to the kids, as shown in the photo.
Take a look.
Global Environmental Products Touts First Diesel/Electric Purpose-Built Broom Sweeper
Global management has announced it is offering the first hybrid (diesel/electric) purpose-built sweeper configuration in the sweeping industry. The model, which is an adaptation of its M4 mechanical broom sweeper model, is called the M4Hybrid.
Although the sweeper still utilizes a diesel engine, that engine doesn't drive the sweeper. Rather, it drives a generator. Designed specifically for the sweeping application, the generator provides power to the batteries. Those, in turn, provide power to electric drive motors. Furthermore that same generator powers the sweeper's hydraulic systems, which include all the sweeping functions of the machine.
Take a look.
Dutch Town Gets Hydrogen Fuel Cell Street Sweeper
To the untrained eye, this street sweeper looks like a normal municipal vehicle. But underneath, it's a glimpse of the future – it runs on hydrogen. That means that the operator fills the tank with hydrogen, which the machine then uses to create the electricity that drives its powertrain. The only emission from this process is pure water. A day-and-a-half of sweeping can be done before refueling is needed.
The hydrogen-powered sweeper is also quieter – much quieter – than its old, diesel-powered self. With hydrogen as the fuel source, the sweepers has gone from 120dBA to 60dBA. That's like going from uncomfortably loud to a volume that's about like having a normal conversation. So, the fuel cell-powered sweeper is better for the environment in many ways.
Take a look.
Singapore Pathway Sweeper Nearly Robotic
Singapore's Dream C & G pathway sweeper offers a host of innovative features. First, it is battery-powered, which is an environmental plus. Rear-steering minimizes the radius of rotation. The main body of the sweeper has a 'robotic feature,' in that when the operator is on the ground operating the side-mounted wander hose the sweeper is able to follow along behind. That is a real timesaver compared to having to continually move the sweeper.
Finally, as you will see in the video, the operator can run the sweeper via use of a remote control. This would be especially useful in high-traffic areas where the chance of an accident is higher. Rather than be on the sweeper in traffic, the operator is able to walk a distance away and use the remote's keypad to maneuver the sweeper. All-in-all, the sweeper appears to be extremely well designed and capable. We invite you to watch a 5-minute video produced by the Dream C & G organization.
Check out Dream C & G's great 5-minute video.
Robotic Lawn Mowing Companies Springing Up
A Charlotte, NC, lawn care veteran has made a big bet on robots when he launched HomeVP. Like others in the lawn care industry, HomeVP will cover all the bases for your lawn care needs: mowing, trimming, fertilization, disease and pest control, weeding, pruning, etc. However, what makes them stand out from the rest is they use a robot – kind of like a Roomba – to mow your lawn.
The bi-monthly service starts at $99/month and goes up from there. The Robomow, which weighs about 50 pounds and is about as quiet as a box fan, is provided by HomeVP for its customer to hang onto in their garage. It's programmed to mow your lawn twice a week, with each mow taking about 6 hours total because it is covering random patterns of mowing within the perimeter of your yard.
Take a look at the Robomower article.