Last year High Shine decided to trial a new mop system by Unger. The strangely named erGo!, yes that’s right a shifting capital letter and an exclamation mark is a correct way to write the name, has been out on the market for a couple of years now.
Even stranger is that in some countries it is also called the Unger Excella. The term ‘S Class’ that you may see on some janitorial websites helping to describe the product relates to the ‘S’ shaped ergonomic handle. More on that handle later.
First, let us just clear up the name. I have emailed John Lombardo, Vice President of Global Sourcing at Unger Enterprises tonight and put a couple of questions to him in relation to the names on this product. I will re-edit this part of the article regarding his reply.
Right, so that’s the name dealt with let us get down to the WHY because with the cost of this product coming in at anywhere between £120 to £160 to buy this is somewhat an expensive mopping system compared to, say your standard Wilko’s mop handle!
Heck, you could probably get the Wiko’s bucket and mop head included AND then buy 20 of them for the same price. Please don’t do that. Yeah, don’t do that. It was just an illustration folks, but you get my point, right?
Fortunately, the cost is not always the main thing on the cleaning contractor’s mind because quality, design, ergonomics and last ability all play their part and trumps everything else.
So it’s all of those things? I hear you asking. The simple answer is – yes.
Let me run you through the features and give you a real test case on its effectiveness.
High Shine purchased the erGO! with the ‘S’ shaped handle. It is also available as a straight handle; both are telescopic allowing the operative to set the handle to the right height.
It is a mopping system, using Velcro microfibre pads.
Remember the Wilko buckets I mentioned earlier? Well, imagine no longer needing to carry heavy water slopping everywhere. This system comes with its own 1L floor cleaning solution capacity. Simply press the trigger at the top of the handle and out squirts a controlled amount of solution.
Compare this to the cheaper brand on the market such as the Rapid mop system. It holds less than half a litre of solution as a standard but there is no external reservoir instead the solution is held inside the staff of the system and no options to increase that capacity. It is also priced £100 cheaper than the erGO!
There is one caveat with the Rapid system, it does not have the ergonomic ‘S’ handle option and it is built with cheaper materials. People buying the erGO! have one thing high on their list and that is the well being, comfort and the RSI of the user.
That’s right! The Unger erGO! is pitched firmly at those companies looking to improve the health and safety of their staff, and the people around them. Unger literature proudly boasts its credentials with the seal of approval from AGR.
That means that this product, and I quote, “… is awarded only to products whose back-friendly design has been verified by an independent testing committee made up of experts from various medical disciplines”.
Well that’s cool, right?
So what are the features?
I mentioned the ‘S’ handle. Ergonomically designed to improve an operatives posture allowing for ease of movement when using the figure 8 mopping motion on the floor. The ‘S’ shaped handle literally swivels freely with ease allowing a smooth action helping further with any style of mopping motion.
And so feel free to break out ‘doughnuts’ on the floor without breaking a sweat.
The materials used to build this system offer a real quality feel. No cheap plastic for the Velcro plate to be seen, oh no, it is all quality metal. The grips have that firm feel with a slight spongy sensation you would expect in a quality product.
Unger claims include a 76% increase in productivity backed by yet another independent report. This would confirm a definite drive to pitch this product as safe to consumers as well as being efficient.
Unlucky cleaning operatives will get to know that the erGO! will mean extra chores after the floors have been cleaned!
The system is sold with a couple of microfibre pads to get you started. These can be costly compared to replacement mop heads for a standard mop handle.
Summary of features:
Handle swivels freely.
Easy solution trigger, simply use your thumb.
1-litre solution capacity as well as a 5L backpack.
Made of quality materials.
What are the pros and cons? Is it really 76% more efficient?
The pro – compared to using a mop and bucket there is a definite saving in the back and neck pain areas. I can also see this product winning with the types of RSI one would see in the wrists. So for me the erGO! ticked all of those boxes.
A con is also flipped quickly into a pro with the high price of the product, as it is quality built with easy functionality. The solution reservoir, for example, detaches from the main system very easily and pushes back in just as well.
The pro – It really is liberating not to carry a heavy bucket of water as the system provides just enough fluid to do the job. You can clean the same area with less water!
The con – the pads can get expensive. You can source cheaper microfiber pads that work easily as well that will fit this system. Replacement pads can cost as high as £14.00 for the Unger made pads but a little smart purchasing can get the unit costs down to a comparable price of a replacement standard mop head.
The pro – once you have found a replacement pad and have achieved the unit cost of around one or two pounds, you will confidently realise that these pads also have a re-wash capability of at least 200+ washes – with the Unger pad its 300 washes. The Unger pad is much better made, thicker and neatly stitched but really expensive. The microfibre works just as well on the cheap pads.
That is 40+ working days compared to a weekly change out of a standard mop head (traffic/footfall depending).
So if these figures are to be believed one cheaper pad at say £2 per pad per 40 days versus the same £2 for 5 days! Let us explore that cost example.
Here is the bomb. Set up, to get started with any microfibre mopping system will cost more initially for pads compared to standard mop heads.
When you begin to use those microfiber pads, depending on the traffic and footfall of the area you could be swapping out a pad several times for a fresh one on the same clean per day.
Depending on the area and usage of the floor cleaned (dictating the number of pads) BOOM. You begin to see how shopping smart helps. Unger pads can turn out expensive.
So how does this translate?
For an average small to medium floor area, you may need to leave 10 to 20 microfibre pads in the cleaners cupboard on the first day. That’s an upfront cost of around £20.00. If you have shopped smart.
And the other extra effort in all of this is laundry. Oh man, extra work?
You will have to set up a ‘pick up and drop off’ schedule for each contract supplying fresh microfibre pads. Not forgetting, and completely committing to the schedule for the cleaning team because if that breaks down, the cleaners will start cracking out the mop and bucket.
If you work out the math, a cleaner might use 4 pads per day, which is straight away the 20 supplied pads initially. You will have to replace that with another 20 each week, for example.
Whereas a standard mop head would cost around £8.00 per month changed out weekly, you would have to supply 80 pads costing £160 to achieve similar for the same period.
However, in this example, you would spend around £100 per year on mop heads. In pads, you would spend £160 in around 17 months with 200 washes. This would make pads around £20 per year more expensive compared to standard mop heads.
Not bad if your goal is health and safety. (Disclaimer – prices for products can differ. Prices quoted are achievable examples) these prices have not included Unger’s higher pad price.
Unger states that, “…Unger erGO! [cleaning system] has been independently verified to clean and seal floors twice as fast as traditional methods.”
John Lombardo also states on Bunzl’s website that, “At Unger, our focus is making tools that get the job done faster and keep employees safer. Unger erGO! has a unique design that allows users to use the latest technology and cut labour time in half,” John Lombardo, VP global sales and marketing for Unger. He goes on to say… “The patent-pending elements of the Unger erGO! all but eliminate strain and stress on the user and keep them moving at top speed.
The Unger erGO! is suitable for use on all hard floor surfaces and for spot mopping, wet mopping, dusting and floor finishing applications. A 0.5L bottle, 1L bottle and 5L backpack allows you to scale your floor cleaning to match the environment”.
Knowing John Lombardo well, sharing meals and time together with him along with Mark Unger, and knowing Unger as a company over the years and reading the feedback I have seen online along with my own company experiences I can say this. Unger knows I don’t sugar coat stuff. I have immense respect for their global company.
But I have to be honest.
Do I like erGO! system?
Do my staff?
Yes. I love the erGO! System. It does not cost much more than standard mop heads over the year if you shop right on the pads for the consumable element of it, but it does cost to buy the initial gear – to me, that’s worth it when you consider the quality of the build and why they built it in the first place addressing safety and efficiency.
I see the greater outlay on the main product initially as a down payment on risk and health and safety. I know that in the long run, it costs a little more to use compared to the traditional mop and bucket. But, only a fraction more with smart shopping of the pads.
Like any health and safety element, a degree of commitment to your staff is required.
As with the laundry High Shine has a bank of internal washing machines and dryers at our site depot and so to facilitate a pickup and drop off system to support this product is no hassle at all.
I do see this system working well as a super reactive cleaning system quickly clearing up instant spills in a jiffy for those sites requiring round the clock reactive cleaning.
Do my staff enjoy the system? I get mixed reactions if I am honest, but the consensus is happiness that we as management are thinking about the team in this way. At the end of the day, asking the team to adapt to new equipment will undoubtedly receive a mixed response. We all arrive at the same point eventually, but not all us travel at the same speed. It is up to us as managers and CEO’s to convince our team that this will be better for them in the long run.
My quick case study. An example if you like!
I wanted to share this with you. We have a cleaning operative that works on a client’s site, a car showroom actually. We introduced him to the erGO! System.
We discovered that he had filled the reservoir with ‘really hot water’ I don’t want to say boiling and added a small drop of Lemon Floor Gel.
The reservoir was super hot to touch. He applied it to an area that is usually mopped daily.
We all know that mopping floors alone in most cases is not sufficient and that a deep clean schedule is required either machine scrubbed or steamed, to support the task and area.
Check the picture out for yourself. The major difference using the erGO! mopping system super impressed our client. This daily clean just got deep cleaned in a short space of time, in the one shift actually. That my friends, I count as a massive PRO.