Sunbelt Rentals Helps Customer Acquire Advanced Technology on a Rental Plan

Durcon®, a Wilsonart Company based in Taylor, TX, manufactures work surfaces, sinks, and accessory items for harsh laboratory, classroom, and research environments. Their products are known for outstanding chemical resistance, durability, and non-flammability. The consistent quality of Durcon products results from well-engineered designs, superior service, and top-notch manufacturing at their 130,000-square-foot production facility.

Familiarity breeds confidence

After a fire at their plant in December 2019, Durcon became acquainted with Sunbelt Rentals. Belfor was handling facility remediation and restoration, and contacted Sunbelt Rentals for floor scrubbers. At the time, facilities staff at Durcon used an off-brand, walk-behind floor scrubber that was undersized for the facility. They were impressed with the rental scrubber and considered buying the machine.

But Sunbelt Rentals personnel provided a long-term, flex-rental unit for the plant that proved to be an even better option than purchasing, thanks to the 24/7 maintenance and support Sunbelt Rentals provides. The local Sunbelt Rentals team quickly developed a solid relationship with Durcon, and facility managers contacted them in June 2020 when they wanted to increase floor scrubbing efficiency at their facility.

Solution requires a budget-friendly way to pay

Most products Durcon manufactures use an epoxy-based mix, which frequently splatters on the floor. Without continual scrubbing, the epoxy buildup requires a full-sized scraper to remove the resin and ensure the safety of Durcon workers.

Durcon's facilities staff initially asked for an scrubber to help with their efficiency issues. Shawn List, Sunbelt Rentals sales engineer, suggested the Tennant AMR T7 autonomous rider floor scrubber. The T7 floor scrubber is designed to boost productivity and efficiency, and maintain high cleaning standards. The unit features easy-to-use controls, cleaning performance indicators, and advanced engineering to ensure it avoids obstacles.

A Durcon team member recalled seeing a similar unit cleaning floors at a local retailer but was concerned about getting approval for a significant capital expenditure. Facilities staff also felt uneasy about introducing autonomous technology for a critical task. Still, an on-site demonstration of the machine's capabilities piqued the Durcon team's interest, especially when List emphasized that the operator could be handling higher-value tasks while the Tennant unit ran its course.

List also explained that he could put the autonomous scrubber on the same long-term, flex-rental plan the Durcon facility already had. The solution was ideal, especially because Sunbelt Rentals takes responsibility for the cost of repairs related to normal use, and for all software licensing fees. The Durcon staff could focus instead on learning to operate the autonomous technology and increasing productivity.

To train the machine, the operator (also known as a Cobot) puts it in learning mode and runs the exact path manual operation would require. The machine can store and follow more than 20 possible routes, using WiFi to find its way. Once the machine knows a route, the operator can pull it up to a placard on the wall, hit Go, and send the machine on a predetermined circuit

The scrubber is equipped with three forward, two side, and one rear camera to provide proximity alerts and avoid running into people or objects. If the machine cannot proceed, it will take a photo of the obstacle and text it to the operator’s cell phone to ask for help. If the obstacle moves in the interim, the machine continues on its way.

Any time the scrubber encounters a problem for example, if it runs out of water it contacts the operator. But usually, the unit works steadily, providing a superior cleaning even in areas of constant soil, because it always travels at the correct speed for conditions, with the right pressure on the scrubbers.

Cleaner floors quickly and cost-effectively

Durcon ultimately signed a five-year agreement to rent the autonomous scrubber. Within 45 days, Sunbelt Rentals had the unit on-site with a signed contract. Durcon's floor cleaning efficiency has increased, with an even greater boost possible after personnel overcome the learning curve associated with optimal performance. As the operator becomes more proficient, so does the machine.

At times, the best solution to a problem requires new technology but it can be costly to buy and maintain equipment and update software. With Sunbelt Rentals managing the machine, Durcon has successfully alleviated the potential hassles of owning autonomous equipment.

We were able not only to solve the customer's cleaning needs, increase their efficiency, and bring new technology to their production facility, but also offer a monetary solution to make the equipment affordable over the time needed without capital or maintenance expenses," said List.

In fact, after the autonomous scrubber proved itself, Durcon's team asked for scrapers and other equipment from Sunbelt Rentals, so they could prepare the facility floor and put the Tennant machine to work on an even larger area.

Bringing the technology to you

For facility managers and BSCs, robotic cleaning machines offer powerful benefits—everything from greater speed and consistency, to detailed performance tracking and brand enhancement. However, there is a variety of factors that go into determining if these machines are a good fit for you. It's important to speak with an experienced partner to help evaluate your situation and decide what's best for your organization. 

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