Simplicity is key when introducing chemical proportioners to staff. Some systems can have four or more solution mixes available, so being clear about which products are to be mixed and used for which purposes will be important. Frequent training and reminders about product options, proper use and other best practices should always be employed.

“At the end of the day, there can be a big turnover in this business,” says Spallone. “If you keep it simple, it makes it easier to onboard the new employees in your department, while also keeping your seasoned employees on task.”

As with any piece of equipment or labeling system, consistent training will be paramount. Chemical proportioner trainings are available to help onboard new employees. In addition to training on labeling, managers should offer training on use and explanation of the equipment.

Spallone recalls the story of a large end user who had a chemical proportioner leak water throughout a campus building over a three-day weekend. Unfortunately, the dispenser was not connected properly to the water source, and the worker forgot to turn the water off before leaving the job.

“Training is essential,” says Spallone. “People need to know that the water needs to be turned off as soon as they are done using the proportioner.”

Factors To Consider

When it comes to chemical proportioners, less can be more.

Experts agree that a few strategically-placed chemical proportioners throughout a big building or collection of buildings is much better than one in every closet. Find a primary location, with enough room to maneuver and a water source where bottles are filled and another spot where mop buckets and scrubbers are filled, but not much more than that.

“These are super-concentrated products that cost a lot of money,” says Spallone. “It’s more difficult to have control over your chemical usage and labeling if these are in every closet.”

When deciding where to place the units, facility cleaning managers will want to make sure there is enough space so staff can mix chemicals safely.

“Not all custodial closets are created equal and rarely are they as big as we need them to be,” says McGarvey. “I always want my end users to have plenty of space to safely mix solution without splashing or bumping into other custodians.”

Another factor to consider when placing and choosing chemical proportioners is that water pressure can fluctuate throughout the facility, which will impact the diluted product. Because the water draws the chemical out of the chemical container, sometimes called a cartridge, the speed of the water affects the final chemical solution.

“This becomes particularly important when you are diluting out disinfectants,” says Spallone. “You need a specific amount of the chemical to meet the kill claims and if it falls below a certain part per million, it may not kill that specific pathogen.”

Many manufacturers have taken into account issues with water pressure when creating the latest models of their chemical proportioners.

“A facility cleaning manager has to factor water pressure into their purchasing decisions,” says McGarvey. “That is a valid question to ask a distributor when they bring a product in to be evaluated. Usually a distributor will have a few different options and they can do some trials in a few different dispensers in a facility to find the right fit.”

Distributors can also be counted on to help out with pilot programs to test out chemical proportioners. While these systems have been on the market for decades and the equipment itself is fairly well evolved, there are some new innovations in the chemical concentrates that could be investigated. 

NICOLE BOWMAN is a freelancer based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Choosing — And Getting The Most Value From — Chemical Proportioners
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