The Best Practices for Maintaining Escalators
Dated: 08-08-2019

To understand how the facility managers in the UAE region manage the cleaning and maintaining of escalators we interview two FM professionals. Following are excerpts from the interview:

Julian Khalil, Director - Soft Services, Farnek Services

  • Since escalators are not flat surfaces like floors or countertops, they require specific cleaning products and machines. Which method do you suggest for escalator and travelator cleaning & maintenance?

There are several elements associated with the daily cleaning of escalators. Firstly, we need to ensure the glass and stainless steel elements are cleaned by using a standard cleaning product. It’s also important to ensure all landings are mopped to keep them clean and the entrances and exits of the elevator accessible. For the steps themselves we use a specific machine which is designed to ensure all horizontal and vertical parts are cleaned. Finally, we ensure the rubber handrail is cleaned and disinfected as this is where the most bacteria is accumulated and is a critical par t of the cleaning process.

  • Most facilities prefer to clean escalators during times the building is closed to visitors, or during the slowest traffic time if open 24/7. How does your cleaning team manage this service?

Ensuring the escalator is clean throughout the day is very important. Of course, this can pose problems during busy periods. To overcome this we don’t use major or heavy equipment during this time and rather focus on cleaning elements that are relatively quick to do, such as ensuring the fingerprints on the glass are cleaned or disinfecting handrails.

  • What are the cleaning techniques? Can you explain it in brief?

There are a number of specific cleaning machine options available in the market from several different manufacturers. All the machines are equipped with brushes and sponges and are adept at going into the grooves and scrubbing the steps horizontally as well as extracting the dirty water. In recent years we have seen more sophisticated machines offering simultaneous horizontal and vertical cleaning.

  • What should be the average cleaning cycle of an escalator?

Daily routine includes cleaning of glass, stainless steel, handrails and landing. For the steps we remove any spillages daily otherwise determine the frequency based on usage. Not e very escalator has the same footfall and therefore the step cleaning frequency is determined fr om that perspective.

  • The grooves in the tread area of the step are a magnet for impacted dirt and are hard to remove. What is your take on this issue?

It’s imperative to implement dry cleaning with vacuuming machines once a week along with a wet clean once a month. This will however be dependent on the usage. A range of specific machines are used to carry this out. What are the escalator cleaning tools or equipment available in the market? There are several machines available in the market, as alluded above. Also, for quick, vertical deep cleaning there are a range of good sponge systems available, which are specifically designed for the grooves of the escalators. 

Andrea Yoko, Head – Soft Services, Idama

  • Since escalators are not flat surfaces like floors or countertops, they require specific cleaning products and machines. Which method do you suggest for escalator and travelator cleaning & maintenance?

This depends on the amount of escalators and travelators within the facility and the footfall. Historically, escalators were cleaned during downtown maintenance by removing the steps, taking them off site for pressure washing, waiting for them to dry and then reinstall them. This was effective but time consuming and costly as a result. With the introduction of escalator cleaning machines their cost was initially prohibitive therefore a specialist was outsourced. Technology has produced manual cleaning system, dry and wet systems as well as machines that also clean the risers which are now available to all.

  • Most facilities prefer to clean escalators during times the building is closed to visitors, orduring the slowest traffic time if open 24/7. How does your cleaning team manage this service?

At Idama we are sympathetic to the facility environment and try to manage cleaning schedules by minimising disruption to clients and end users. In facilities such as DIFC and malls this is carried out at night and during the da y when there are no performances at Coca Cola Arena.

  • Does the escalator cleaning call for a specialised service?

The task of cleaning escalators and travelators needs to be carried out by a trained competent team (Idama carries out this task in-house) as there is a risk to damaging the chains, bearings and electronics underneath or causing corrosion of its metal parts by normal cleaning techniques.

  • What are the cleaning techniques? Can you explain it in brief?

Dry cleaning refers to cleaning escalators without water and chemicals and is a brush action which loosens dirt which is then captured by the way of vacuuming. This process takes up to 30 minutes per escalator, and the operator is able to leave the equipment unattended to carry out surrounding cleaning tasks. It only removes dirt and does not deep clean the escalator completely. Without a cleaning solution to remove oil and moisture which spreads over the escalator, it becomes slippery. Dry brushing only can also scratch the surface of the steps. Wet cleaning refers to the application of minute quantities of a cleaning solution which the machine sprays onto the step. Rotating bristle brushes dislodge and remove the debris and the integrated vacuum system picks up the dirt during the process. These two methods can be carried out manually or with machines.

  • The grooves in the tread area of the step are a magnet for impacted dirt and are hard to remove. What is your take on this issue?

The grooves are there as a safety feature and the grooves or pits are similar to the grouting around floor tiles – they attract dust, soil and moisture which can get lodged in the grooves. The longer it is left the more stubborn and more difficult it is to clean and remove.

  • What are the escalator cleaning tools or equipment available in the market?

Dubai and the UAE are blessed with a plethora of companies that can provide a product solution to meet every need and budget.

  • Anything else you would like to highlight.

In most cases the first thing people see when entering a facility is the floor mainly because they are looking down for safety. It is here that they make a judgement about the entire facility based on the floor’s condition. Escalators and travelators fall into the same category as a floor. On an escalator you look down for safety or view the riser ste p as it ascends to the next floor. Regular cleaning restores the appearance and projects a clean and professional image. Cleaning has a positive impact on the maintenance and longevity of the escalators and supports the reduction of fire risks associated with accumulated dust.

 
 
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