Floor Care Vendors Focus On Product Innovation

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Floor care manufacturers are raising the bar on new introductions by enhancing the features of conventional products and bringing new cleaning systems to market.

Among the former, Panasonic has begun shipping two new floor canister models with free-moving handles and agitator attachments that make it easier to clean under furniture and other hard-to-reach places.

The units, MC-V9628 (suggested retail $499.95) and MC-V9638 (suggested retail $599.95), feature 12.0-amp motors and recessed storage areas that house four attachments — a bare floor brush, crevice tool, dusting tool and upholstery brush. Both models also have dual active edge cleaning, a 14-inch cleaning path and comfort grip handle with on/off switch.

For cleaning carpeted areas, the vacuums offer 14-inch double brush agitators; a power drive brush setting consisting of an interlocking belt and agitator shaft for non-slip brush action; and a four-level carpet height adjustment lever.

There is also a power nozzle overload protector that automatically shuts off the agitator should an obtrusive article become jammed.

The step-up model features a 360-degree swivel hose for full-circle cleaning; an extra long 28-foot auto-rewind power cord; a full bag indicator; and a bonus five-inch mini power nozzle suitable for cleaning carpeted stairs, car floor mats or removing pet fur from upholstery.

Meanwhile, Bissell and 3M have come together to launch a new deep cleaning system for carpets that cleans and protects carpeting at the same time. The system includes Bissell's new ProHeat Pro-Tech deep cleaning machine, a new Bissell fiber cleansing formula with Scotchgard protection, and a Scotchgard protector post cleaning sprayer. The system is the first consumer carpet cleaner that fulfills the requirements of Scotchgard Protection and Stain Release carpet warranties.

The ProHeat unit has 12 amps of power and a 700-watt, onboard heater that raises the temperature of hot tap water by 25 degrees. The carpet cleaner also features a five-row DirtLifter power brush, a Perfect Pass system that electronically monitors the cleaning speed for optimal cleaning performance, and an applicator tool for applying additional Scotchgard protector to the carpet surface after cleaning. The Scotchgard cleansers are also available in pet odor/soil removal and multi-allergen removal formulas.

Suggested retails are $279.99 for Bissell's ProHeat Pro-Tech and $9.99 to $12.99 for a 48-ounce bottle of fiber cleansing formula, which ships this month.

Another new floor care cleaning system is due this month from Hoover. The Maytag division has forged a strategic alliance with Reckitt Benckiser Inc., makers of Lysol brand disinfectants and Old English wood care products, that calls for the joint development and distribution of cleaning systems that combine special formulations of those cleansers with Hoover hardware.

"It is significant that the leaders in two high-volume categories, both with superior technical expertise, substantial brand equity and well-developed retailer relationships, join forces to provide the consumer with innovative new products," said Hoover president Keith Minton. "Equally significant are the opportunities for both companies' retail partners."

Details of the cleaning system, which the companies describe as a "revolutionary new product category," will be released just prior to introduction.


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