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Engineered water, on-site generation (OSG), electrically charged water, magic water — whatever managers call the technology that converts tap water into a cleaning agent, there’s no denying that it is here to stay. More facilities are investing in OSG technology, and manufacturers are introducing new equipment all the time.

With all of these new types of equipment flooding the market — each using a different chemical process to produce the cleaning agent — it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed by the choices. Several key factors go into a decision to invest in OSG, and vendors can be relied on throughout the process.

Key Questions

As with any new equipment, facility cleaning managers will want to have a list of questions prepared for a meeting with a distributor or manufacturer of OSG technology. Because of the distinct nature of the technology and specific details regarding certifications, managers want to be very specific in their questions.

Kim Thomas, director of facilities management at the University of Georgia, Athens, and Gene Woodard, director of the building services department at the University of Washington, Seattle, are both members of the Healthy Schools Campaign Green Clean Schools Steering Committee, and have experience testing OSG at their respective educational facilities. They were recently part of a think-tank meeting with other leaders in the cleaning of educational facilities, green cleaning experts and manufacturers of OSG equipment. During that meeting, they shared a list of questions providing guidance for facility managers to ask prior to purchase:

  1. Can you provide sustainable standard examples, such as reduced water consumption, reduced energy usage, low volatile organic compounds (VOCs), etc.?
  2. What is the safety data sheet (SDS) for the final product?
  3. What are the potential public health risks of using this product?
  4. Are there exposure risks?
  5. What are the disposal needs and waste impact for this product?
  6. Is there a usage clock or counter to track operational use?
  7. What safety mechanisms are in place to protect operators?
  8. What are the efficacy ratings for the product?
  9. Have efficacy ratings been verified by certified lab results?
  10. Can product efficacy be replicated in my facility per manufacturer’s instructions?


Manufacturers Weigh In

According to Matt Montag, sales manager with CleanCore Technologies, Omaha, Nebraska, “It’s easier to switch to OSG than most facility managers realize. In fact, most buildings only need a custodial closet with a water source and a power source to make the switch.”

However, there are some limitations that would make it more challenging for a facility to adapt OSG, aside from budgetary concerns. Montag always advises facility managers to review standard operating procedures (SOP) before making any decisions.

Two elements of a SOP that can limit the facility’s ability to adapt OSG are sound and water. If the department works on daytime cleaning as a standard operating procedure, the low decibel requirements will make OSG a hard fit. At the same time, since water is a key ingredient to the end product, most OSG equipment will need to be attached to a water source.

Laura Louis, business development director with PathoSans, Glendale Heights, Illinois, says serviceability and support are also two key factors in determining whether OSG is right for the building.

“The complexity of the equipment is typically a factor in uptime (or downtime),” she says. “The more complex, the more likely failures will occur. Bells and whistles are nice, but they do add complexity.”

Louis recommends finding a technology that is simple to understand and use, and making sure that the provider has a service and support network close by.

In the quick-moving OSG marketplace, adds Louis, “You’ll also want to ask yourself if the manufacturer you choose will be in business a year from now, or five years from now.”

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