4 essential tips to reduce maintenance costs in a public toilet
To save money, people are willing to pay any price”
-From the movie Lawrence of Arabia-
Airports, shopping centers, hotels, museums, office buildings, nursing homes, health centers, administrative buildings, schools, universities or hospitals: the list of places that can have public or semi-public toilets is practically endless.
All these bathrooms have a common denominator: a high frequency of users and, therefore, intensive use. This means, economically, incurring really high maintenance costs.
When we talk about maintenance costs within public or semi-public toilets, we are referring to the costs of cleaning, disinfection, replacement of consumables, repair of equipment, management of the waste generated, etc. Therefore, and given the facts, the key question that immediately comes to mind is: how can we reduce maintenance costs in a public or semi-public bathroom while maintaining optimal hygiene and quality standards at all times?
At Mediclinics, S.A., as specialists in the design, manufacture and marketing of electric hand dryers and bathroom accessories for collectivities, we want to help all those responsible for the management and maintenance of public or semi-public toilets to save money in maintenance, by following these four tips:
TIP Nº 1: to use automatic equipment and elements
The use of automatic equipment and elements in the bathroom will help us save money from the maintenance point of view. However, before explaining how we will achieve these savings, we should define the "automatic" concept applied to a piece of equipment or an element present in any collective bathroom.
The Oxford English Dictionary, defines the word “automatic”, in its first meaning, as:
“(of a device or process) working by itself with little or no direct human control”.
Therefore, we can say that an automated element, extrapolated to a collective bathroom, is one that can function without someone operating it directly. This element works based on sensors that are prepared to detect stimuli and when they do, they activate a specific function that they already know they have to carry out. In the case of an automatic hand dryer, for example, the user places his hands just below a sensor that immediately detects them and starts the machine. When the user removes his hands from the sensor's zone of influence, the dryer automatically stops working. The same would happen with automatic soap dispensers, paper dispensers or automatic water taps.
With automation, therefore, it is possible to reduce the waste of electrical energy and water, improve hygiene and comfort, avoid cross-contamination by contact and, also, reduce recurrent maintenance since the automated elements work just the right time, that is to say, only when they are being used. This means less wear on the element in question and, therefore, it needs to be maintained less frequently
TIP Nº 2: to use energy-efficient electric hand dryers instead of paper.
Using paper towel in a bathroom means giving rise to higher maintenance. Let’s develop this point. Using paper towels means: having to order frequently (administrative costs), storing a certain stock (costs and storage space), replenishing the paper in the dispenser with a certain frequency (replacement costs) and properly disposing of wet and dirty paper (reverse logistics costs).
Instead, using an electric hand dryer means: having a device that works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year without the need for any type of logistics associated with its operation. Therefore, the operating costs are, in this case, only those derived from electricity consumption, there are no management or logistics costs.
But, in addition to requiring more maintenance, using paper to dry your hands is much less sustainable and much more expensive than using an electric hand dryer. An example: let´s say that on a daily basis, in an office bathroom your 50 employees wash their hands 3 times a day. This amounts to a total of 150 hand washing and drying per day. If they use an average of 3 paper towels in each drying and we assume a cost of € 0.008 per towel, the total monthly expenditure on paper will be € 108. It is very important to point out that this cost is exclusively that of paper. The administrative, storage and replacement costs haven´t been taken into account, nor the cost of the management of the waste generated.
That same bathroom, with a Machflow hand dryer unit, for instance, set to maximum power (1,100W) and able to dry hands in 10 seconds, will only have as an operating expense the associated with the consumption of electrical energy. We are talking about an approximate cost of € 1.4 per month (calculations made with the Mediclinics Online Calculator). Therefore, we achieve a monthly saving of € 107 in relation to the cost of the use of paper to dry hands. This, translated into annual numbers, means a saving of more than € 1,300 and the payback period for this Machflow hand dryer unit is less than four months.
TIP Nº 3: to use electric hand dryers with brushless motors
Brushless motors are becoming more and more popular and have gained wide acceptance in recent years. They are used in major industrial sectors such as automotive, aerospace or medical. They are also used in the automation and instrumentation industries.
The key feature of these motors is the total absence of brushes, which avoids the friction problem between them and the commutator. This, in practice, means that these motors have a much longer service life than a brushed motor and are practically maintenance-free as there are no brushes to change periodically. We are basically saying that the lifespan of the brushless motors of all our hand dryers featuring this type of motor is greater than 5,000 hours.
In addition to requiring practically no maintenance, hand dryers with brushless motors do not release carbon (much more hygienic), have a higher performance (much more efficient) and generate less noise when they are operating (less noise pollution).
TIP Nº 4: to use equipment and elements that facilitate installation and maintenance and are of the highest quality
SMED is the English acronym for “Single Minute Exchange of Die”. This is a Lean Manufacturing technique that allows large reductions in set-up times for a machine or equipment. This technique seeks to simplify and optimize all the operations involved in each set-up of a machine or equipment.
This philosophy, extrapolated to a device or equipment installed in a public bathroom and its maintenance, is understood as the ability to facilitate its installation and reduce maintenance times.
An example of the application of the SMED philosophy to an equipment for public bathrooms is our “Plug-In” system for the Machflow hand dryer. It is a system that allows the hand dryer to be installed and removed from the wall easily, quickly, comfortably and safely, making its maintenance much more effective and efficient, thus reducing its costs. In the following video we show how this technology works:
With Machflow's “Plug in” technology, the hand dryer can be installed in just three very quick steps, it can be replaced in less than 10 seconds by anyone (it does not need to be a specialized technician), the maintenance of the dryer does not have to be performed in the same bathroom where it is installed, it can be carried out in the actual maintenance workshop and it is totally safe against electric shocks. All this translates into a reduction in maintenance costs since installing, uninstalling and maintaining the dryer requires far less time and is much easier.
Another very important aspect is that the equipment and elements installed in the bathroom are of the highest quality. Having quality products means having far fewer breakdowns, greater reliability and a much longer service life. This also reduces the maintenance bill, since we have less costs derived from the maintenance of this equipment.
As manufacturers, we are very aware that the quality of all our products is vital and for this reason, for more than 20 years, we have implemented a complete Quality Management system of our own, certified according to the ISO 9001 standard, to guarantee the highest quality, reliability and customer security. All our products and processes go through rigorous controls, from manufacturing to the delivery to the customer.
We do not wish to end this post without highlighting that maintenance is a very necessary and essential part of the management of any building or infrastructure and that, at the same time, it can also represent one of the most expensive budget items in the business. It is for this reason that it is becoming, without a doubt, one of the focuses of attention for managers, who see it as an unrepeatable and unique opportunity to improve their results. The time has therefore come to address improvements in the maintenance of all buildings and all infrastructures, both at an organizational and at a technical level, in order to reduce costs, without undermining good service. It is here, at the technical level, where solutions such as low-consumption automatic hand dryers with brushless motor, automatic soaps and paper dispensers,automatic water taps or the Machflow Plug-In system itself, provided by Mediclinics, SA, can help in this improvement of maintenance and in a reduction of its costs, maintaining the optimal hygiene and service standards in public toilets.