How Sweeping Up Plastic Shrink Damages a Sweeper

Plastic Shrink Damages a Sweeper Updated on Thursday, May 26, 2022

Plastic Shrink Damages a SweeperMost people assume that a sweeper is a machine that will pick up anything that is on the floor or road. A sweeper by design is a very complicated piece of machinery that comes in all types of sizes & power configurations. The internal mechanisms of a sweeper are quite sensitive to damage that is both expensive and time-consuming to repair should it fail.

Every product has a weak area. A sweeper is no different. So too Superman. A sweeper’s kryptonite is string, strapping, plastic, and rope. If you sweep up these items you are guaranteed to damage the machine and have a surprisingly expensive repair bill to pay to repair it.

People don’t realize just how strong plastic is. Plastic, rope, and cable once wound into a machine can become as strong as steel and can cut any bearing in half in just a matter of weeks. Traditional Sweepers have 2 groups of brooms on them. 

The first is the side broom, the second is the main broom. These motors spin at 400 RPM.

The side broom is used to sweep along the edges of a wall or racking to remove debris from hard-to-reach areas. This debris is then swept into the path of the sweeper. The main broom (located under the machine) is then used to scoop this debris into the hopper.

These brooms are designed to sweep dust, rock, paper & grime into the machine. It’s not uncommon for excess plastic or strapping to be spread on floor areas. If the sweeper comes into contact with plastic, shrink wrap, rope, or cable this material is then spun at a high rpm into the brooms which then get embedded into the brooms. These brooms are powered by either electric or hydraulic motors.

As the plastic strapping is picked up, this material gets tighter and tighter moving higher up the brush until it gets caught in the broom motors. All broom motors have bearings in them. This rope or plastic material then causes the bearings to break.

Worse still, the plastic strap (caught in the brushes) keeps spinning at high rpm causing the plastic to break the machine’s hydraulic oil seal kits. Once these seals get broken the motors start leaking leaving hydraulic oil on the floor. Hydraulic oil on the floor is a big issue as it turns the floor into a dangerous & slippery ice rink. Should you own a battery machine, the swept-up plastic will damage the whole motor. The only remedy to this is to replace the complete motor.

The second main point about picking up plastic is that all the brooms on sweepers have bristles on them like a traditional push broom. Plastic will get wrapped on the bristle of the brooms to the point where they become unusable. It’s a bit like spinning cotton around your finger. This jamming of the broom with plastic then leads to a poor sweeping result and creates premature and excessive broom replacement. 

ASC’s point is that all operators should visually check all brushes before and after use. They should cut off any accidental pick-up of plastic immediately after use. This will ensure a perfectly functioning machine that not only sweeps well but runs at a minimal cost.