Automated Window Façade Cleaning System Offers Safety and Savings

2 Broadway in New York City is a high-rise office tower that opened in 1959 and was renovated in 1999. As part of the renovation, a new glass curtain wall with stainless steel mullions was installed replacing operable windows.  

The original window cleaning method was completed by two window cleaners using a portable scaffold supported by a roof davit system.

Due to the various setbacks on the building, the cleaning of the entire building was difficult and resulted in excessive wear and tear on the scaffold resulting in downtime and extended cleaning cycles.

Cleaning contractor PBM decided to try an alternative window cleaning method using a self contained, remote control window washing machine built by Sky Pro Window Cleaning Systems.

“We were able to clean areas of the façade which previously had been unreachable,” said Mathew Thompson, Senior Vice President of PBM Technical Services. “We were able to reach these areas by utilizing the rolling outrigger designed. The unit cleaned all of the façade including the stainless steel mullions and windows as opposed to the traditional method in which only the windows were cleaned.”

With the new method, Robert Thomson, 2 Broadway’s manager was able to slash his cleaning budget. “We reduced our cost of window cleaning services by approximately $50,000 per year. The cost for manual window cleaning was approximately $199,000 per year. We also reduced our liability exposure by not having “bodies” over the side of the building.”

A perfectly balanced counterweight system, plus rear mounted electrical fans, keep this innovative window and facade cleaning machine parallel to the building.

While traditional window cleaning methods are viable options that are still commonly used in today’s cleaning applications, the benefits experienced with an automated system allows users to simultaneously improve safety initiatives, reduce costs and maximize cleaning results.

Manual window cleaners are challenged with the fact that each building is different, so they must decide the best course of action for each individual descent. Traditional window cleaning is a slow, steady process that necessitates precision when adjusting a boatswain’s chair or scaffolding. These adjustments must be made each time workers are ready to move on to the next section, creating additional downtime that decreases productivity,

The system that PBM chose requires only two people to operate. An operator on the roof raises and lowers the unit using a hoist motor and moves the unit and rigging as each section is cleaned. A second operator on the ground also helps move the unit from section to section. These systems eliminate the need for employees to dangle over the edge of buildings.

“With manual window cleaning, the 1.6 MM sq. ft. 2 Broadway building would take 4-6 months to clean depending on the weather. With Sky Pro, we were able to complete the window cleaning cycle in 45 days,” said Thompson.

600450 Automated Window Façade Cleaning System Offers Safety and Savings
Date: 9 June 2016

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