Getting the best qualities and skills

By Jeff Winke

Operating a sweeper machine requires a special set of skills, experience, and qualities. In today’s world, street sweepers come in all flavors. There are all electric, plug-in electric, mechanical, regenerative air, and vacuum sweepers, so it’s not simply a matter of hopping into the cab of a pick-up. “When hiring a sweeper machine operator, you need to look for a clean DMV record and a minimum of five years driving experience,” stated Raymond Massey, central regional sales manager at Schwarze Industries, LLC, Huntsville, Alabama. “The candidate also needs to be able to work independently, have good communication skills, and must be dependable and able to follow company policy. They should also possess basic mechanical skills and must be very flexible…able to adjust a schedule to a customer’s needs on a daily basis.”

Massey continued: “You want a heavy equipment operator, not a dump truck driver, so they can be trained to meet the daily needs of customers and someone who can take on particular routes. You want them to adopt a sense of ownership by being able to maintain daily preventive maintenance requirements on each unit they operate, including a willingness to wash the sweepers, change filters, lubricate grease points, etc.”

With sweeper technology changing and evolving, it also helps if the sweeper operator is comfortable with apps found on smart phones, since some machines can receive software updates and enhancements, just like an app or a smart phone update.

“It is important to know about your fleet and your sweeper’s or sweepers’ requirements before even addressing hiring an operator,” stated Cindy Meshenky, marketing brand manager at Elgin Sweeper Co., Elgin, Illinois. “For example, some of our sweepers do not require a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). That makes a big difference in the hiring pool between CDL and non-CDL. Determining licensing is a crucial first step in the hiring process for operators.”

Machine manufacturers typically offer training on their sweeping equipment to help the customer company and its machine operators become comfortable with their new equipment

“Having access to a training program can be tremendously beneficial, so even if an operator isn’t experienced on that particular sweeper, they can get up-to-speed quickly,” Meshenky said. “Manufacturers may offer classes at their factory location in addition to the training that dealers might offer at their locations or at a customer’s work site. Proper training also helps keep the operators safe and efficient. Being trained on a particular sweeper helps the operator understand proper speeds, turning, how the load affects slowing down, what to do in different weather, how to work around obstacles and many more specifics that they’ll need to understand to operate the sweeper effectively.”

Much of the innovations incorporated in new commercial sweepers are designed to make the machine operator more comfortable and productive. The machine cabs are as comfortable as luxury sedans or pick-ups. A variety of intuitive, operator-friendly features help the operator do the job efficiently and productively.

The future for commercial sweeper machine operators definitely looks brighter, safer, and more productive.