How Street Sweeping Machines Work

Street sweeping machines are a vital part of any city's sanitation service. The machines are used to remove trash, debris, dirt, leaves, and litter from streets, avenues, and roadways. Street sweepers are also considered effective in helping to control run-off pollutants that cling to dust particles. Industrial sweeping machines are used in factories and warehouses and in parking lots for regular cleaning and to clean up breakage and spills.

There are many types of sweeping machines, but most operate with a heavy bristled brush that sweeps debris in the projected path of a vacuum, squeegee, or conveyor that moves the dirt into a tank or bin for later disposal. "Mechanical broom sweepers" are the large workhorses that are commonly seen on city streets. These machines will pick up heavy and imbedded dirt and leaves. Regenerative air sweepers also use two brushes which push dirt and trash in front of a "pick-up head". These are generally used for medium duty work.

Street Sweeper Cycle Diagram

Modern street sweepers are designed to not only pick up dirt and debris, but to minimize the amount of dust blown into the air. The cleaning cycle begins with a powerful fan or blower that draws air from the hopper. The air is blown down and around the spiralling brushes, shaking loose dirt and debris. The action of the brushes and the air pushes this dirt in front of and into an intake. Since the intake is connected to the hopper, a vacuum is created by the blower. There are also flaps hanging in front of and behind the intake to maximize the amount of suction. The dirt is sucked into the hopper where it is lightly sprayed with water. This weighs down the dirt causing most of it to fall to the bottom of the hopper. Since air continues to be sucked by the blower the recirculated air is sucked through a screen which filters out some of the lighter objects. Even with this there will still be some dust particles in the air. To remove it, the air is then cycled through the blower where a centrifugal action causes most of the remaining dust to fall out. At this point, the air cycle begins again.

Industrial Mechanical Sweepers work largely on the same principle as their big brothers. They are effective in industrial as well as retail settings where considerable floor space must be managed and kept clean. Incredibly, street sweepers have been around for over a hundred years. Charles B. Brooks filed a patent on a mechanized street sweeper in 18961. The brushes could also be removed and scraper blades put in place so that it could be used for snow removal.

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  1. Brooks Patent


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