Innovative design concepts aim to sweep up in pavement sector

The competitive market in the UK for pavement sweepers has seen a new entrant in the form of the Schmidt

Sprinter. In this specially contributed article the company outlines the design and marketing concepts that have gone into the development of this new sweeper which was launched in the UK at IWM Torbay


Since the first generation of "walk behind and tug" vacuum pavement sweepers in the early 1980s the UK market has been dominated by such machines. They shared a number of the advantages of a vacuum cleaner as well as some of the drawbacks. These pluses were possibly related to ease of operation and ease of cleaning.

As the market leader in compact road sweepers (our design virtually invented the genre over 30 years ago) Schmidt UK has enjoyed steady world-wide popularity in both the municipal and private sectors.

The trouble was, apart from a fine old machine called the "Sweepwell" back in 1967, we have recently had to pass over opportunities for pavement sweepers as we simply did not have a product for this sector. Until now. With the launch at IWM Torbay in June of the new Schmidt Sprinter we are now re-entering the pavement sweeping sector with a vengeance.

Mechanical rather than vacuum powered, the Sprinter breaks new ground in having a platform for the operative to stand on rather than walk behind or perch on. We believe that this design has number of useful benefits in terms of safety, speed, control, accuracy of sweep and, perhaps most important of all, sheer operator satisfaction.

The design uses a clean, quiet and powerful Honda GXV 390 single-cylinder, four-stroke petrol engine.

Platform design

The design aspect is unique in the market as the Sprinter operative stands on the machine to operate it. This means no more "pushing and pulling" or bruised knees. In addition, both control and usage satisfaction are vastly improved.

Another benefit is that the brushes remain easily in view at all times, ensuring good sweeping accuracy. Visibility is excellent which is important for pedestrian and operative alike.

The Sprinter uses a simple and reliable three-brush mechanical sweeping action rather than a vacuum. We looked at the pros and cons of vacuums and decided that there were a number of drawbacks which outweighed their benefits in a pavement sweeping environment.

The biggest reported problem with vacuum machines is their inability to distinguish between detritus and paving grout or mortar. Since the introduction of the vacuum machines there are local authorities up and down the country where the highways manager is probably at loggerheads with the cleansing manager because of a suspicion that the grout between the town's cobbles or pavers has been "vacuumed away". This can lead to costly repairs.

Product Manager lan Mude puts the new Sprinter through its paces

The Sprinter design is not aggressive to the swept surface and, by using three brushes, gives a slight "scarifying" effect to the surface, just like a "man with a new brush".

The design and development team at Schmidt wanted to simplify and improve the existing design while ensuring long service life and ease of use.

One example of this approach is in the collection bag. The 100L Sprinter bag is larger than most other pavement sweepers and is easily changed in one simple operation taking around 30 seconds.

We wanted to get away from the reportedly laborious "two bag zip up" system with vacuum sweepers. Operativeswith experience of both methods say they prefer our approach. The client likes it too, as the bag fill can be checked easily, ensuring that prompt bag change, and better cleaning, are more likely to result.

The daily "clean-down" at the end of the shift is a chore that can be reduced with good design. A radical split

chassis design solution was adopted for the Sprinter. Once the hinged outer heavy duty GRP covers are raised the chassis unclips and hinges outwards at 90' allowing easy cleaning and quick access to cheek engine oil level and carry out routine maintenance. No body parts have to be removed when cleaning the machine, so turn around time at the end of the shift is very short.

The mechanical lifting mechanism is sturdy and reliable. It uses two tough endless Neoprene belts in close contact and, moving in unison to squeeze and grip the uplifted pavement rubbish, takes it to the top of a safely enclosed stainless steel box section, then drops it cleanly into the easily reached sack in front of the operative.

Dust suppression is a major concern in pedestrian sweeping operations. The best and simplest way of dealing with it is by playing a fine mist of water on to the brushes during sweeping. So this is the method we have adopted, making it available "as required" rather than "full time." By using a mechanical method most of the water stays on the pavement which has positive effect on bag life and sweeping efficiency.

Operative comfort was near the top of the list in the original design brief and with the Sprinter we have achieved a natural and commanding control position. The operator's back is working in a natural posture at all times. The new sweeper addresses the concerns of the operative by making him or her truly in charge of the machine. The design of the hand controls was ingeniously solved be redesigning a motorcycle handlebar assembly.

Ease of handling

It seems that the Sprinter handlebars are much more satisfying and precise than simple "wheelbarrow" handles. We believe that a machine which is a pleasure to use can be expected to deliver better results than one which is less nimble.

The Sprinter is available for demonstration from our Peterborough headquarters.

In all design considerations we have attempted to make safety a priority. An example of this is the positive

mechanical two-wheel brake system on the sweeper. Thanks to these, our machine stays where it is parked, even on a hill. The operative platform uses a fail safe" design so that if the control position is vacated, the Sprinter stops dead.

In engineering terms the Sprinter bears the closest scrutiny. The greatest attention was paid to providing a durable, solid, safe and well-built machine to satisfy the operator and the client.

The parts list reads like a text book of the best names in automotive and hydraulic engineering. Engine by Honda, tyres by Michelin, pumps by Danfoss, Bosch and Sauer and hydraulic brake rams by Rexroth, with extensive use of galvanised or stainless steel components on top of a fully waterproofed 12 volt electrical system.

It is features such as these that we believe will take the new Schmidt Sprinter to new levels of excellence in the pavement sweeping sector.

Author lan Mude is Product Manager, Pavement Sweepers, at Schmidt UK

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