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Washroom dispensers: better filling, less spilling28th of October 2013
A washroom dispenser should function well for the end user – but it should also be quick and easy for the cleaner to fill and maintain. We ask manufacturers about their dispensing systems that have been designed with ease of use in mind.
Washroom dispensers come in all shapes and sizes and in a whole host of finishes to enhance the décor of away-from-home toilets. But perhaps the most important attribute of any dispenser is its ability to function well and in an intuitive way. This will not only help the user; it will also make life easier for the cleaner whose job it is to refill and maintain these units.
Manufacturers understand this and many engineer their dispensers to be easy to mount, refill and use. Tork manufacturer SCA, for instance, incorporates loading guides in pictogram format inside the dispenser casing. The larger Tork Elevation dispensers also feature built-in spirit-levels to make the units easier to mount on the wall, says product and segment manager Charlotte Branwhite.
According to Branwhite factors such as ease of mounting, maintenance and use are all crucial when developing washroom dispensers. “Soaps and hand towels are key to good hand hygiene regimes so it is obviously important to make them easy for everyone to use.
”Making them quick and easy to maintain also means soap and towels are less likely to run out which again maximises hygiene. And since labour is the largest expense in the facilities sector, it also makes sense to offer dispensers that make life easier for the cleaner.”
Tork Elevation and Tork Wave washroom dispensers also have an optional locking function, says Branwhite.
She adds that the dispensers have also been designed for ease of use by the washroom visitor. “Rounded teeth in our Tork Elevation jumbo roll dispensers allow the paper to be torn away without scratching the hands, for example. And our Tork Elevation foam soap dispenser has been designed to be easy to access even for people with low hand strength.”
Metsä Tissue’s Katrin dispensers also feature an optional lock according to UK and Ireland sales director Mark Dewick. “The entire Katrin dispenser range uses the same key,” he said. “A viewing window allows the cleaner to tell at a glance which dispensers need topping up, and load and unload instructions are provided in a simple, graphic format where required so language is not an issue.” All Katrin soap refills are housed in closed cartridges to avoid spillage.
According to Dewick it is highly important that washroom hygiene systems are both easy to clean and refill. “Labour accounts for the lion’s share of washroom costs and the more complex the cleaning and refilling process, the longer the process takes and the greater the costs incurred,” he said.
He adds that when refilling is too complex, consumables may be wasted and other problems may occur. “Staff may become frustrated and their job satisfaction will be low – which means that staff turnover will be high. The task may not be carried out properly, either, which means end users will not have access to the consumables they need. But worse than that, poorly maintained washrooms may negatively impact on the brand of the organisation.”
According to Dewick recent research carried out by Metsä revealed that 73 per cent of washroom users would not return to a restaurant where the washroom had made a dirty, unpleasant impression.
“However, all customers want their dispensers to function and deliver an impression of cleanliness and hygiene – regardless of style, colour or cost,” he said. “A beautifully designed, painted and well-appointed dispenser serves no purpose if it is empty. And users will be disdainful if they have to reach inside the dispenser to find toilet paper, or if the openings are grubby and have obviously been touched by everyone using them.”
Vice president of Bobrick Washroom Equipment Andrew Sweibel says the company’s B-824 Liquid and B-828 Foam SureFlo Automatic Universal Soap Dispensers both offer top filling for the convenience of staff. “They also have an over-sized locking orifice that eliminates the need for filling containers or replacing cartridges under the counter,” he said. “Working under the counter is often carried out without adequate lighting, while SureFlo dispensers provide a convenient back flush feature.”
Easier life for cleaner
According to Sweibel, Bobrick’s dispenser liners also make life easier for the cleaner. “LinerMates are an easily-installed accessory that helps to keep waste receptacles tidy while facilitating quicker liner changeovers,” he said.
Sweibel adds that the efficient maintenance of a washroom is vitally important. “Regardless of how visually attractive the dispensers are, if they don’t function the user will be left with a negative impression,” he said.
Gojo’s European marketing manager Suzanne De Maine agrees with this view. “Employers who are committed to enhancing the wellbeing of their workforces should choose dispensers and formulations that are accessible, attractive and a pleasure to use,” she said. “By selecting products that help to reduce the spread of infections - and dispensers that are quick and easy to refill - time and money will be saved.”
Gojo’s touch-free LTX dispensers use a patent-pending system to hold their shape while emptying, says De Maine. “The bottles remain flat to the surface of the large windows at the front of the units which makes it easy to monitor soap levels at a glance, but in a more attractive way,” she said. “This ensures the dispensers are refilled promptly.”
The soap is housed in factory-sealed units and a fresh valve is included in each refill. “The hygiene and health benefits of this are obvious, but the system also creates time savings for hard-pressed maintenance staff because they are so much simpler to replace,” she said.
Hagleitner’s Xibu dispensers have also been designed to be easy to fill says head of product management Dr Georg Steiner. “An LED signal on the front of the dispenser shows the filling level, and when the display is flashing green/red it means the refill level is low but there is still a reserve supply of paper or soap,” he said.
“Every dispenser has a reserve: for example, the foam soap dispenser’s reserve tank holds 2,000 shots of soap and the hand towel and toilet paper dispensers contains two rolls of paper. When one is nearly empty, the other roll is used automatically.”
All refilling is intuitive and refills are drip-free, claims Steiner. “It is very important that dispensers are easy to use because of the time savings that can be achieved,” he said. “Where refilling can be carried out quickly and easily this frees up the staff and allows them to occupy themselves with other cleaning tasks.”
Madeleine Pilpin says CWS-boco dispensers for soaps, air fragrances, disinfectants and towels have also been developed with ease of use in mind. “We offer no-touch dispensers with sensors plus units with special pumping systems, some of which can be operated with the elbow,” she said.
She says all CWS-boco soap dispensers are designed to be non-drip. “This keeps the surroundings clean while the upside-down bottles ensure the soaps can be fully used. And the ‘click-in-bottle’ system makes refilling as easy as possible.”
Among the company’s latest products is the CWS Washroom Information Service for cotton towel dispensers. This collects data such as dispenser identification and refill level status and uses text messages to alert cleaners and facility managers when a refill is due. A radio module in the dispenser uses a mobile phone network gateway to send the data to CWS-boco every 15 minutes.
“The data is then processed into real-time information with messages such as: ‘dispenser almost empty’ or ‘dispenser empty’, and these are sent to the relevant operators so they can react and refill immediately,” said Pilpin.