Washroom dispensers - boxing clever

28th of October 2011
Washroom dispensers - boxing clever

What do customers most want from a washroom hygiene dispenser? ECJ asks manufacturers their views.

Today’s washroom dispensers offer a number of important features and benefits for the customer. Some are lockable to prevent the contents from being stolen; others limit the amount of paper or soap being used. Meanwhile, tight housings and strong seals protect the contents from contamination while attractive casings create a smart, upmarket impression for the end-user.

So which of these features are appreciated most by the customer? According to SCA’s product manager dispensers James Lowry this depends greatly on the customer’s business. “In healthcare, for instance, hygiene is a priority whereas design and style may be more important in a casino,” he said.

“Value for money has always been crucial and customers have become more engaged with their purchasing decisions over recent years. They now expect dispensers to look as good as the latest consumer products - the days of plain white boxes are gone.

“All our customers require a reliable system that is also hassle free, and our Tork Elevation dispensers incorporate features that make dispensing easier,” said Lowry. “For example, the Tork lock can be used either as a simple push-button or as a secure lock depending on the customer needs.”

Unspoken needs

According to Lowry SCA talks to its customers to find out their needs. “We listen to what they have to say but we also take the time to observe how they work to meet their unspoken needs,” he said. “For example we noticed cleaners preferred to open a dispenser from the side rather than from the top, so we integrated this function into our Tork Elevation Interfold Hand Towel dispenser.

“We have also seen a growing demand for improved user experience, and for that reason our new foam soap dispenser has been designed with a 'soft push' button that makes it easy for children and the elderly and disabled to use.”

Kimberly-Clark Professional’s customers like their washroom dispensers to have an attractive design and form part of a cohesive range, according to category washroom manager Jonathan Green.

“This provides that all-important first impression,” he said. “Customers then look for benefits such as good cost control and security of contents. We’re also seeing an interest in smaller, more compact systems that help save space on the wall.” The company’s new Slimroll hand towel system is said to offer the same capacity as a normal rolled towel despite its small format.

Hygiene is a major issue for customers today so a design with no 'dirt traps' is important, says Green. “More and more customers are looking for some sort of customisation, too, either through different colours or by integrating their logos or messages,” he said.

Consumption and cost control have always been important to the customer, says Green. “All our paper systems are designed to control consumption by allowing single sheet dispensing, whilst our soap dispensers use a cassette with an integral pump to control usage,” he says.

Metsä Tissue’s sales director UK and Ireland Mark Dewick agrees that consumption control is a key issue for customers. “Protection from theft is part of the same argument,” he said. “In years gone by, theft was factored into the cost equation but today's dispensing systems must have a locking capability - and the option to lock or not lock is often well received. In organisations with public access and staff washrooms it is often helpful to be able to lock in some areas but not in others.”

He says time spent on maintenance and refilling needs to be taken into account. “Customers look for paper products that provide optimum usage with minimal product  - for example, in an ideal scenario it should take only one sheet to dry your hands and not five,” he said.

“This reduces time spent filling the dispenser, which represents a considerable percentage of the cost consideration. A consistent set of keys across dispensers is also critical because while the lock is important, the last thing you need is cleaning staff being slowed down by having to search through keys and trying to match them to the device.

“Finally, an ability to see at a glance whether a refill is necessary – and to maximise the quantity of paper in a dispenser without overfilling - will reduce resource overheads.”

He says minimising contamination is another major factor, especially in the light of recent pandemic scares.  And customers also want their dispensers to present a clean, hygienic image.

“Design features such as colour and base material are important for top quality hotels, restaurants and health clubs,” he said. “Matching the ambience of the environment is important – and it speaks volumes about your organisation.”

Strong and reliable

Key requirement for Brightwell customers is that dispensers should be robust and reliable to keep maintenance and replacement costs to a minimum according to international marketing executive Suzanne Gardent. “Our components and pumps make our dispensers very reliable and we offer free compatibility testing to certify that our chemical dispensing systems are free from problems,” she said.

“It is also important for dispensers to be attractive to enhance the image of the dispenser-plus-chemical package they offer to end-customers.”

According to Gardent, Brightwell customers like their dispensing systems to be flexible.  “Our Modular and Mercury soap dispensers have very different styles and can be used with either a pouch or reservoir container and a range of pumps including liquid, foam and spray,” she said. “The containers and pumps are all interchangeable and this helps our customers to simplify their stock management and broaden their offer.”

She says the company carries out research to help fulfil its customers’ requirements. “We also build bespoke dispensing systems designed to fit their needs and blend in with their branding.”

According to Hagleitner’s washroom hygiene product manager Nicole Wolfbeisz most customers require a dispenser that is hygienic and easy to use while also offering anti-theft protection and consumption control.

“A good dispensing system should combine all these elements while protecting the contents from contamination,” she said. “It should be attractive in design, too, since it is becoming increasingly important to differentiate ourselves from the competition. And dispensers should be ‘never empty’ –  in other words the toilet paper or soap must not run out between maintenance checks.”

Has to work

According to international vice-president of Bobrick Washroom Equipment Andrew Sweibel reliability is the customer’s top consideration. “The dispenser must work in the selected environment so that the building owner receives the right product functionality, aesthetic appearance and the right life-cycle cost for the facility,” he said.

Consumption control and cost savings are also key requirements in today’s struggling economy, says Sweibel. “What customers need to remember is that the least expensive system to install is not always the least expensive option over the lifespan of the product,” he added. “For example, free dispensers provided by paper companies in return for long-term proprietary paper contracts can end up costing the building owner significantly more in the long run.”

According to Vectair marketing manager Matt Wonnacott most customers want a dispensing system that is cost-effective, aesthetically pleasing, secure and durable.

“A good system combines all these elements at affordable prices,” he said. “The trick is to use an innovative design while at the same time making the dispenser simple for the end user.”

He says other key requirements are that a dispenser should be environmentally-friendly, easy to service and intelligent while offering different programming choices depending on the location. Vectair products include the Omniscent Large Space Fragrancing System which uses a biodegradable ceramic cartridge to provide fragrance for areas up to 500 cubic metres in size.

According to Wonnacott the company provides the customers with what they want by listening closely to their needs. “We talk to customers, consider what is currently on the market and look at the ways in which we can improve our current forms of dispensing,” he said. “The most important thing a manufacturer can do is to actually ask customers what they want from a dispenser - and go with the feedback given.”


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