Hitting the road with the ‘little cleaning beasts’

Two Cleango 500 sweepers keep Lucerne’s roads clean

Carnival in Lucerne is a one-of-a-kind spectacle. The historical town on the banks of Lake Lucerne transforms into a bubbling cauldron of jesters and clowns. As one of the largest Carnival events in Switzerland, the annual festival welcomes up to 40,000 visitors to the narrow alleys of the old town. It’s the time to shine for the ‘Putzüüfeli’ (‘little cleaning beasts’), as the sweepers here are affectionately called. Together with four other sweepers from the Swingo series, these two monsters in the 4 m3 class from Aebi Schmidt took the rear of the parades on Fat Thursday and Carnival Monday. Up to 110 tonnes of refuse and confetti were sucked up by the machines over the five days of Carnival.

MFH CS550 Luzern_001_retDuring the year, the two Cleango sweepers are deployed from Monday to Friday. ‘The tour begins every morning by the railway station and heads along the lake promenade,’ says operator Fritz Bärtschi. With 41 years of experience in municipal service and nine years running the sweeper, he knows more about street cleaning than anyone else. ‘I’ve handled more than a few sweepers, and I’ve never had a better overview or been able to clean better than with Cleango. It’s very straightforward and intuitive to use. It’s even easy for colleagues who drive less frequently or are standing in for someone else to get to know the machine. So far, everyone who has sat behind the wheel has driven straight off to make a round. Less is sometimes more.’

The compact sweepers are deployed in Lucerne for up to 1,600 hours every year, while the Cleango performs about 1,200 hours. ‘We extensively tested various models during the selection process,’ reflects Beat Bienz, workshop manager at the municipal maintenance depot. ‘In addition to the clear operating concept, we were particularly impressed by the low noise level and spacious cockpit. Our drivers also rave about the legroom – which isn’t exactly a given in these types of vehicle. I was also pleasantly surprised by how reliable the sweeper has proven to be. It is certainly much better than any model we have had before. I am the workshop manager and have been with the organisation for 31 years, so I know what I’m talking about.’

DSC_2875Fritz Bärtschi is also very satisfied with his equipment. He routinely steers the vehicle and sweeping unit at once. The operator is regularly impressed with the high suction performance when he fishes out wallets, key rings and portable phones along with empty bottles from the hopper. He’s even literally swept up an entire briefcase. Mr Bärtschi naturally brings these items to the lost property office, to their owners’ delight. They have Lucerne’s ‘little cleaning beasts’ to thank.