Placement And Uniformity

Essential to keep in mind is that numerous requirements can affect dispenser choices, says Joe Waite, vice president of sales at Hill & Markes, Inc., Amsterdam, New York. Gender-related requirements are obvious factors, he says, albeit adding that since many facilities are now accommodating gender-neutral spaces, this has become less of a consideration. That still leaves handicap, height, LEED certification and in some cases, electrical requirements to factor in.

"It is always important to ask where the electrical and water lines are and if it is acceptable to drill into a surface," says Waite. "The last thing we want to do during an install is to drill into a water line. Dispensers can be mounted with adhesive in situations where drilling isn't possible. However, there's an increased risk for them to fall."

Distributors should also consider whether dispenser placement will allow doors to open fully, says Waite.

There should be a logic to dispenser placement, as sometimes people won't wash their hands because the dispensers aren't conveniently situated. The sequencing should flow thusly: soap, sink, towel dispenser and then trash, says Allen.

He also advises keeping dispensers consistent throughout the facility in terms of the product they use as this simplifies operations and saves costs. Cadell agrees, saying this strategy offers several advantages to facilities.

"Source a soap or towel system that is available in compact size, as well as regular size, manual and electronic – all with the same refill," says Cadell. "It makes it easier on the customer to have the type of dispenser needed in each restroom, but at the same time, not have to keep different refill items for each dispenser."

The impact of having a hodgepodge of dispenser brands in-use throughout the facility could mean that when product runs out in one, janitors may not be able to fill it with stock from a different brand. End users hoping to avoid this problem then must stock more product, costing money and taking up storage space. Plus, using the same brand of dispensers throughout means facilities will only have to deal with one manufacturer, one install crew and one maintenance service provider if problems arise, says Waite.

Maintaining dispenser consistency within each specific restroom is also more aesthetically pleasing.

"Mismatched dispensers can give the appearance of being unkempt, even if the restroom is regularly cleaned," says Cadell. "This is particularly true in the restaurant, hospitality and retail industries where the facility has an image to portray."

Cadell's opinion is that it's best to restrict high-volume dispensers to heavily-trafficked areas rather than placing them in "non-high-volume" restrooms – unless these are few in numbers and doing so allows for dispenser uniformity. However, Waite feels high-capacity dispensers are the safest bet regardless of usage volume, since they offer greater efficiencies.

"These are easier to manage in a facility with minimal staff," says Waite. "This theory would coincide with manual dispensers to prevent an increase in battery usage, which ultimately would lead to having to replace those as well."

IoT Considerations

For large facilities with high traffic levels where the need to keep restrooms fully stocked is present, Cadell believes IoT (Internet of Things) dispensers are the best option. This newer technology provides data that can be used to enhance the user experience – worthwhile only if that information gets used.

Thiakos agrees and believes that in order to maximize value from this somewhat pricey technology, the data generated must get used. Otherwise, facilities aren't realizing the full benefit.

High-traffic venues can benefit from IoT dispensers that alert end users when product inventory is starting to run low, allowing soap and paper towels to be refilled before it's too late. These systems will also provide an alert for low-battery conditions. The only caveat is that an IoT system will require a reliable internet/infrastructure. Without that support, users could encounter performance issues resulting in a poor user experience.

Experts also caution against placing IoT dispensers in facilities where they're likely to get abused and need frequent replacement. In such environments, options such as manual, hands-free or controlled dispensers may prove the better, less costly choice.

Pamela Mills-Senn is a freelance writer from Long Beach, California.

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Using Data To Determine Dispenser Setups