news banner

I've been in the matting industry for the last 25 years and am passionate about continuously learning everything about mats.

About four months ago, The Mat Group introduced the OBEX Tile as a solution for shopping centres that were experiencing damage to their mats and recesses from trolley chains.

I discovered this product after extensive research overseas and found it installed in many international airports and large shopping centres.

Due to its success, we installed this product in shopping centres in Sydney and Brisbane and found it outstanding at removing dirt from shoes. Only, after a few months, a few building and facility managers informed me they could not clean their mats. The dirt refused to move.

After insisting they were using power heads (the usual solution), I agreed to go onsite and inspect the situations.  

Inspection #1

The first shopping centre I visited, I met with the facility team and the cleaners. They had two vacuum cleaners (back pack), one old, one new.

We attached the power head to the old vacuum and turned it on. Some dirt was being removed but not the majority. The new vacuum cleaner (with power head) also made little difference. I then tested the pressure of both vacuums by placing the hose to the palm of my hand. One hose fell away, while the other loosely held my palm.

Inspection #2

I met with the cleaning company and operations manager at a shopping centre who were struggling to clean the OBEX Tiles after its recent installation. While they placed the blame on the OBEX Tile, I knew something wasn't right. If the OBEX Tiles were being used overseas successfully, there was no reason why they wouldn't work here.


Together with my experience, I contacted several cleaning distributors, as well as vacuum manufacturers, none of which I have any affiliation with, to find a solution.

We trialled over eighteen vacuum cleaners (back pack, upright and barrel) and none of them worked, until I recalled a brand of vacuum I used when I worked in hospitality management - Nilfisk. The housekeeping department used these vacuums every day and rarely had issues.

I contacted a trusted colleague, Chris Zammit (owner of Never 2 Clean), and he organised Nilfisk to come onsite to experiment with their vacuum cleaners. 

Troy Norris from Nilfisk came onsite with two machines – VU500 Upright Commercial Vacuum and the ES300 Self Contained Carpet Extractor.

We commenced the trial using the VU500 and I observed the difference immediately. Troy then used the ES300 and the water was black. This mat had not been cleaned for approximately four months and would take about a week to bring it back to life using the ES300

This is when I learnt about the acronym – CHAT

C             Chemical Action

H             Heat

A             Agitation

T             Time

After witnessing the success of this vacuum, I contacted a shopping centre in Brisbane to explain my findings. I was informed that they had found a vacuum cleaner that could do the job properly. It was the Nilfisk VU500.



Shopping centres and commercial buildings spend a lot of money on mats and rugs. I have a cleaning guide which I supply to all my customers, explaining the need to daily vacuum and to use a power head. I will be updating this to reflect what I have learnt.

Facility managers, building managers and operations manager all say that one of their biggest costs is the cleaning contract. I don’t blame the cleaners doing the cleaning, but when the mats get blamed for not being able to be cleaned, there is something wrong.



The entrance matting and carpets are not being cleaned to the requirements of the shopping centres, commercial buildings, and other locations that have carpet or mats. The mats and carpets are continually dirty and the lifespan of these is shortened greatly.

Action Taken

Listened to clients and conducted a trial over four months. Eighteen vacuum cleaners from four cleaning distributors were used in the trial.


The system we found success with was the Nilfisk VU500 Upright Commercial Vacuum and the ES300 Self Contained Carpet ExtractorIt also worked well on both Hydrasorb and Superguard Matting.

I am not saying this is the only system that works, but whatever system is used, make sure it meets these minimum specifications:

VACUUM RECOMMENDATIONS (extract from OBEX Grid Tiles Cleaning Guide)

Recommended vacuums:

  • Clarke 577-C, manufactured by Clarke Industries, St. Louis, MO.
  • Windsor Versamatic™, manufactured by Windsor Industries, Englewood, CO.
  • Tornado Carpet Keeper, manufactured by Breuer Tornado, Chicago, IL.

Guidelines for proposed vacuum:

  1. Top fill retrieval air-flow system.
  2. Dual motor commercial vacuum, one for the actual airflow and vacuum and another separate motor to drive the nylon-bristle brush.
  3. Filtration system (system refers to the combined effort of both the vacuum unit and the containment system) should be capable of filtering at least 95% of dust and contaminants to the 0.3-micron range.

Minimum specifications of proposed vacuum:

Total Wattage: 900 watts

Vacuum Motor: 750 watts

One horsepower

Brush Motor: 150 watts

Vacuum Performance: 69 inches of water lift

Air Volume: 91 CFM

Cable: 40 feet, 18 gauge

Bag Fill Location: Top fill

Bag Capacity: 300 cubic inches

Housing: Injection molded, high-impact ABS plastic

Filtration system: minimum 95% efficiency for dust and contaminants to 0.3 microns in size

If you like to contact me for further information, feel free to contact me via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Linkedin.

Kind Regards, 

Steve Longworth
TMG National Sales Manager