Millions of visitors every year
Cologne Zoo is one of the main attractions of the cathedral city, with 10,000 animals across an area of 20 hectares, countless species of plants and 1.4 million visitors annually. Every day, guests both big and small bring not only their excitement for the zoo, but often also leave dirt and rubbish on the paths. Demands placed on the whole system are high: cleanliness, along with the variety of species, the play areas and restaurants, is one of the main criteria for keeping the park appealing to visitors. The animal enclosures and green areas must therefore be cared for and the paths regularly cleaned. This presents a difficult financial challenge for Cologne Zoological Garden.
When cleaning the zoo, care must be taken not to disturb the animals – especially those sensitive to unusual sounds. Using loud machines increases the risk that the sensitive animals' instinct to flee leads them to hurt themselves. They may try to hide in surrounding bushes and trees without paying attention to the fences which surround the enclosure. The location of Cologne Zoo itself makes quiet cleaning necessary, since it is surrounded by a residential area. As far as possible, the necessary work should avoid disturbing the residents. And of course visitors to the zoo also want any necessary renovation, cleaning and servicing not to affect their enjoyment of the zoo. Many tasks around the zoo are therefore carried out before opening time.
Quiet cleaning for sensitive animal ears
In order to guarantee the paths are cleaned quickly and thoroughly, a compact vehicle is used. Thomas Titz, head gardener at Cologne Zoo, decided to purchase a new implement carrier. Since the zoo has already had good experiences with Kärcher machines, the MIC 34 municipal vehicle has been ensuring cleanliness since the beginning of the year.
A key factor in choosing the machine was the low working volume, which ensures that even sensitive animals are left undisturbed. With a low noise level of just 75 db(A), the machine is also gentle on the driver's ears. The low-wear system uses a vacuum to pick up to 0.5 m³ of waste. Since the vacuum is generated underneath the machine and the water tank is sound-proofed, the resulting noise level is very low. Full suction power is achieved with the motor running at just three-quarter power – this also guarantees a low noise level.
Clear paths for zoo visitors big and small
Another decisive factor in choosing the machine was its compact dimensions. Since the paths in the zoo vary in width, manoeuvrability is called for in order to remove coarse dirt and fine dust from awkward corners. If an area is not accessible, an easy-to-remove manual suction hose can be used. This is used in Cologne Zoo to vacuum up piles of leaves in autumn, for example. The narrow 110 cm MIC 34 C features articulated steering with an inner turning circle of just 75 cm. This allows the Cologne team to drive round tight corners. The rear part of the vehicle always follows the tracks of the front part of the machine, thus ensuring obstacles can be circumvented without hitting anything.
High working performance for an attractive zoo
The machine works in a very efficient manner: full suction power is achieved with the motor running at just three-quarter power. Fuel consumption and emissions are also reduced compared to full-load operation. This is good for the environment and reduces operating costs. The implement carrier features four-wheel drive and a 24 kW diesel engine which meets category IIIa of the European exhaust emissions standard. It reaches a driving speed of up to 20 km/h and can effortlessly scale gradients of up to 25%. The final aspect was particularly important in the elephant enclosure with neighbouring viewing platform, since the machine must also be able to clean the steep path leading to the platform.
Clean green areas all year round
The municipal vehicle can be fitted with a wide range of different implements, allowing it to be used all year round for a variety of cleaning, green care and winter service tasks. With its brush system, suction mouth and rubbish bin, this makes it a valuable vacuum sweeper as far as Cologne is concerned. The unit is supplemented with a third side brush, extending the sweeping width to 2 m and making cleaning underneath park benches and around kerbstones easier.
A snowplough is used at Cologne Zoo for winter service, which is mounted without tools in just a few simple steps. The machine features a disc spreader for spreading grit, attached to the rear of the machine.
The MIC therefore handles several tasks at once, making it an economically viable alternative. "Procuring two machines for cleaning paths and winter service would entail significant costs. This solution allows us to carry out two important tasks at once," explains Titz.
The MIC 34 is fitted with a simple trailer coupling, meaning it can also be used as a towing vehicle. With the help of a trailer, this allows waste from the enclosures, placed in sacks along the pathways by employees in the morning, to be quickly and easily transported to the service yard.
Comfortable operation for a working day at the zoo
The 360-degree glazed cabin with roof light gives operators good visibility, allowing them to clean thoroughly right up to the edges. Heating and air conditioning provide increased comfort on hot and cold days. After the work is complete, the contents of the rubbish bin is disposed of in the zoo's service yard. Thanks to hydraulic high container emptying, this is carried out without physical exertion – the operator can control the procedure from inside the driver cabin.
"As a zoo, we are always having to up our game to keep things interesting for visitors. Cleanliness of the facilities is a basic requirement to ensure that the zoo remains attractive. With the new vehicle, we can work efficiently without disturbing the animals. Their wellbeing is our highest priority whenever we purchase new equipment," says Titz.
Cleanliness is one of the main criteria for maintaining the attractiveness of the zoo. The paths must therefore also be cleaned regularly.
Cologne Zoo is known for its elephant park. It attracts countless visitors, who bring dirt and rubbish into the zoo. The implement carrier is therefore also used to clean around the friendly pachyderms' enclosure.
Learning how to use the MIC 34 is quick and easy thanks to self-explanatory symbols.