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All part of the system30th of June 2011
How large a part does the dispenser play in a successful wiping system? And do the benefits offered by a dispenser in terms of consumption control and product protection offset the investment costs involved? ECJ finds out.
Wipers are vital to the smooth running of a whole range of businesses. Industrial spills in a factory should be cleaned up swiftly; healthcare environments need to be kept hygienically clean, and catering surfaces must be kept free from organic matter to avoid cross-contamination.
Wiper manufacturers place a significant emphasis on the dispensers in which these wipers are housed. In fact if one were to believe them, the dispensing system would seem to be at least as important to the smooth running of a workplace as the wipers themselves.
But a dispenser may add to the factory’s overall costs while also taking up workspace. So are manufacturers simply promoting their dispensers because these are a valuable add-on for them? In fact manufacturers argue that dispensers can actually save a company money while smartening up their premises.
According to Metsä Tissue’s away-from-home workplace category manager Christian Tanzer: “Without a dispenser the wiper rolls can become dirty, wet and damaged and this can result in wasted product and wasted budget. The rolls can also become contaminated and this contamination will be passed from surface to surface. A dispenser will overcome these issues.”
He claims that using a dispenser makes everyone aware where the product actually is. “Having a portable product might seem like a good idea, but wipers can go missing and valuable time may be wasted looking for the roll – or the rolls may be pilfered for alternative use,” he said.
Metsä offers floor-standing dispensers and wall stands that can also be fitted inside vehicles for mobile applications.
A dispenser will ensure an improved return on investment for the product, according to Tanzer. “Having allocated products in the right dispensers means that the right product is being put to the right use and is available to hand at all times,” he said. “Consumption is much more easily controlled from a dispenser too, since free-hand dispensing almost always results in too much product being taken because it is difficult to gauge how much you have in your hand.”
Wiper dispensers have a range of vital uses according to international marketing executive of Brightwell Dispensers Suzanne Gardent. “A loose roll might sound like an easy way of distributing wipes, but it brings many problems that a wiper dispenser prevents,” she said.
“For example, a dispenser for industrial wipers will help the factory or industrial environment retain a clean image. And a simple pop-and-grab lid system ensures an easy and hygienic wiper supply since there will be no dirty hands grabbing the loose roll.”
She concedes that wiper dispensers require some initial investment on the part of the customer. “However, this investment will pay off very quickly since the dispenser will prevent thefts while helping to control consumption and reduce transport costs,” she said. “Employees will also spend less time looking for wipes if they are supplied through a dedicated dispenser on the wall.”
Brightwell’s Modular Wet Wipe dispenser is designed for use in hygiene-critical environments such as healthcare facilities, leisure centres, catering units and industrial workplaces. The dispenser can be permanently wall-mounted in a designated location.
“Wall-mounting a wet wipe dispenser avoids the issue of wet wipe tubs ‘walking away’ and makes the wipes easier to find,” said Gardent. “A dispenser also enables the user to take out just one wipe at a time, which helps to prevent waste and additional ongoing costs.
“A wet wipe dispenser, too, usually has some kind of closure that prevents the wipes from drying out. For example our systems have sealed pouches with an automatic ‘pop-and-grab’ lid closure.”
She claims this system also generates less waste and takes up less space than plastic wet wipe tubs. “This is an environmental advantage and one that also helps to reduce transport and logistical costs,” said Gardent.
Michel le Borgne, EMEA wiper category manager at Kimberly Clark, concedes that a dispenser is not always strictly necessary for a wiping system. “However, different issues must be considered depending on the industry and workplace environment,” he said. “For example, manufacturers need to protect wipers against external conditions so that they don’t become dirty. Also, when not using a dispenser there is often the potential for increased usage and waste and therefore greater disposal costs.”
He says manufacturers in today’s economic environment are constantly seeking ways to increase the productivity and profitability of their processes. “Wiping dispensing solutions can help do both,” he said.
Lack of control
Loose rolls offer no control over how many wipers are taken, claims le Borgne. “They are also messy and do not reflect a professional work environment when it comes to health and safety issues,” he said.
According to le Borgne the main benefits of a dispenser system are protection, consumption control and a cleaner image. “However, cost control and product efficiency are also major benefits,” he said. “For example, some dispensing systems have a one-handed feature so that users can access them more easily in the workplace. Dispenser systems are also very efficient because they can be integrated within a workspace so users always know where they are.”
He claims that any cost involved with installing a dispensing system can be offset by the savings and value gained from the dispensing unit itself. “It is well worth a customer’s while to opt for a wiper in a dispenser rather than a loose roll since the dispenser provides the end-user with so many benefits compared to using a loose product,” he said.
Kimberly-Clark offers wiper dispensers as well as packaging solutions that incorporate an integral dispensing system. “Both types of dispenser protect the wipers and control usage while reducing waste,” says le Borgne.
One company that has recently invested in a new range of dispensers for industrial wipers is Tork manufacturer SCA. The Tork Performance range was launched after extensive market research into what was actually required from a wiper dispenser from a customer’s point of view.
“Before developing the range we conducted an extensive market research study to better understand our customers’ needs,” said SCA product and segment manager Mark Riley. “We discovered that many customers were not using a dispenser and that wipers were being spoiled or wasted because there was no protection for them.”
He said loose wiper rolls could often be found lying on work surfaces and food counters where they could potentially become contaminated with dirt, grime or bacteria. In one workshop an oilcan had spilled on to the work surface and the lower half of the wiper roll had soaked up the mess, making the roll unusable.
“In some cases we were told that several loose rolls were currently in use but we were unable to locate any of them,” said Riley. “Presumably staff would have the same issue and productivity would suffer while they hunted around the premises when a wiper was needed.”
According to Riley where wiper dispensers were actually in use, most were performing a useful function – but added that in some cases they were not. “In one kitchen we came across a plastic wiper dispenser that had cracked which meant that the paper roll inside was exposed to foodborne contamination in the atmosphere,” he said.
“Key-lockable dispensers could also be a problem. These are designed to prevent pilferage but we came across dispensers where the key had long since been lost which meant that staff had had to break into the dispenser in order to use it.”
Protect from contamination
He said SCA had considered all these potential issues before developing the Tork Performance range. “Our dispensers are durable and easy to load and all our lockable units have a push-button option so that the key can be discarded if required,” said Riley.
He agrees with other manufacturers that a good dispensing system can save the customer money since it will protect wipers from contamination before use - an issue that could lead to loose rolls having to be thrown away.
“Dispensers can also help to control consumption since they tend to present wipers one at a time and discourage over-use,” he said. “The dispensers themselves are also free on loan provided customers buy our products, so no initial outlay is required.”
According to Riley a good wiper dispensing system is so important that it can actually form part of a successful business model. “One of the most commonly-used business models of the last 20 years has been the Japanese 5S methodology which decrees that premises should be clean and uncluttered while promoting a consistent workflow,” he said.
“A good dispensing system can help to achieve this. It will keep cloths and wipers protected and out of the way, but in a convenient place where they are easy to locate when needed. And it also avoids the issue of wiper rolls and solvent-soaked cloths left to clutter up the workplace which can cause a safety hazard and present an unsightly appearance.”