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Get washroom priorities right

07 March 2013

What matters most to today's washroom managers when choosing their washroom systems? Is it hygiene? Style? Sustainability, low maintenance or cost in use? SCA Tissue Europe's Charlotte Branwhite looks at the factors influencing decision-makers

What matters most to today's washroom managers when choosing their washroom systems? Is it hygiene? Style? Sustainability, low maintenance or cost in use? SCA Tissue Europe's Charlotte Branwhite looks at the factors influencing decision-makers

Washrooms have come to be viewed as a window on the business or institution they serve.As a nation we have become less tolerant of sub-standard washrooms and are more ready to complain about facilities that fail to come up to scratch.The continuing success of the British Toilet Association's Loo of the Year Awards has highlighted the effect that loo facilities can have on people's perception of a restaurant or hotel.Managers have realised that a pleasant washroom can create a favourable impression - while a dirty one may deter a customer from coming back.

But possibly one of the most important recent influences on washroom priorities is the advent of swine flu.This has made us all aware of our vulnerability to disease and how easily potentially lethal infections and viruses can be passed on via unwashed hands.

Suddenly the profile of hand hygiene has been significantly raised.

Swine flu, colds and other kinds of flu, can be transferred from the hands to objects such as door handles, taps and washroom dispensers, where they can live for up to 24 hours.The fact that this is now common knowledge means that automatic taps and toilet flush systems are increasingly in demand - while we believe that textile towels and bar soaps are all but dying out.

Touchy subject Washroom users rarely need to touch a dispenser at all these days.

Whether by sensor-driven action or design, most of today's good hand towel and toilet roll dispensers prevent the user from having to touch anything but the length of paper they use.At the same time, the basic design of washrooms is changing to avoid the need for handles on outer doors.Traditional doors are being replaced by a swing door or partition that shields the washroom without actually closing it off.

Another issue high on our priority list is sustainability. It has become second nature to most of us to recycle packaging and reduce waste in the home. At the same time companies are increasingly demanding environmentally-friendly products from sustainable suppliers.This is a 'win win situation'. Companies can feel comfortable about their ethics while cutting down on waste disposal costs and increasing product capacity on supply lorries. By reducing the number of deliveries, a customer can reduce its carbon footprint and save on transport costs. But during a recession the issue of overall cost remains a high priority. So while companies are seeking to equip their washrooms in a hygienic and sustainable way, they are also looking to save money.This seems like a tall order since the cheapest products are often the most functional and basic.

However, yesterday's 'cheap'washroom solutions, actually resulted in a great deal of waste. Soap bars were seldom completely used up and loo rolls needed constant replenishing because many were either pilfered or thrown on the floor to become unusable. Besides wasting product, this situation also required high levels of maintenance. In some cases washroom attendants were employed to clean up the mess generated by wet soap bars and unravelled toilet rolls. In others there was a need for regular maintenance checks to deter vandals and pilferers and to keep supplies of soaps, loo rolls and hand towels replenished.

Turn up the volume In the low-traffic washrooms of smaller offices, shops and pubs this may not have presented a major problem. But the trend today is towards larger office building and facilities where labour costs constitute a significant proportion of the overall bottom line. Hightraffic washrooms require new solutions that combine easy maintenance with a high degree of functionality.

High-volume products such as our own Tork Hand Towel Roll,Tork Compact Auto Shift toilet tissue system and Tork Liquid soap systems fulfil this brief. Both these systems house large quantities of paper or soap which reduces the amount of time spent refilling the dispenser, cutting maintenance costs.All dispensers are also designed to discourage the user from taking out more paper or soap than they need, reducing consumption. Besides offering cost advantages this also reduces the volume of waste increasing sustainability.

Looking to the future it seems likely that high-volume, lowmaintenance systems will become increasingly important in large, high-traffic facilities.There will probably also be greater demand for no-touch and automatic systems as hygiene continues to be a major concern. Lastly, image will continue to be important as clients strive to differentiate their washrooms from those of their competitors.

Visit www.tork.co.uk or call the number in the box.