Regarding high-level window and façade cleaning, the industry has seen tremendous developments in the last couple of years. The design of modern buildings has seen more extensive use of glass in commercial buildings, mainly due to its special features and advantages. Glass could make any building look more stunning and modern. Still, these buildings need to be cleaned often to keep them looking exquisite. Also, as more and more high-rise residential and commercial buildings are constructed using glass, the need to develop safer and more effective technologies for cleaning exterior windows at heights has been evident.

The professional window cleaning industry has taken significant steps forward in window cleaning technologies over the last decade. Most of these have been focussed around pole, rope, and cradle systems, but more recently window cleaning drones were also being introduced.

Let’s look at the different methods for cleaning windows and façades at height:

Water-fed poles
Telescopic poles have been improved over the years with the invention of the water-fed pole. This combines brush, water, and pole all in one, which has significantly improved the ease and efficiency of cleaning windows at height. These have been further enhanced with the introduction of high-tech carbon fiber, and the utilization of purified water to clean the glass. Using purified water ensures that windows will dry completely clean. Tap water contains various minerals and salts and, if it is left to dry on glass, it leaves water spots and residue behind. Purified water also reduces the reliance on chemicals to produce streak-free results, a bonus for the environment!

Rope access
Rope access is a form of work positioning initially developed from techniques used in climbing and caving and then later adapted for work in industrial and commercial setups. A two-rope system is used where one rope acts as a working line, and the other rope serves as a backup in case of the unlikely failure of the main line. Although it appears unsafe, the use of this system ensures that the window cleaning technician is very safe, and proper use of the health and safety regulations ensures that the industry maintains a very high safety record. Using rope access to get to higher windows gives cleaners direct access to the glass, as opposed to using water-fed poles from further away. They can get up close to provide a thorough and professional cleaning. They can also maneuver around more easily and get to those hard-to-reach places that poles might miss.

Cradles and platforms
In some buildings, the only way to reach the windows will be to suspend a cradle over the side of the building. Modern buildings will sometimes be fitted with integrated cradle systems to make this easier and safer. When a cradle system is not suitable or not available, mounted platforms can be another option. This is when adjustable hydraulic platforms, often mounted to a truck or other large vehicle, are used to access the higher windows. They are easily controlled and maneuvered and come with safety rigs and guardrails, just like a suspended cradle.

Window cleaning drones
Water-spraying drones are the coolest technology to hit the commercial window cleaning industry. The drones are water-fed from an exceptionally long hose that remains connected to the ground. The drone can then fly up to the façade of tall buildings to wash and squeegee windows at any height. Not only are these window-cleaning drones faster than their human counterparts, but they also do an amazing job of taking away a lot of the health and safety concerns of people working at these extreme heights. The window-washing crew can stay safely on the ground and manage the hose and drone controls, while the drone goes up and takes care of everything else. This significantly reduces the risk of injury or fatalities.

These new window cleaning technologies have meant that in delivering impeccably clean windows safety concerns are reduced, and efficiency and profitability are increased.

By Shawn Northey

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