Automated Dilution Ratios
Producing cost savings and enhancing worker safety with chemical management systems.
In the roughly 20 years or so since water-driven chemical control dispensing systems became popular in the sanitary maintenance industry, there have been important improvements, both on the chemical products in these programs and the equipment that drives their dilution.
While early systems employed large, bulky dispensers that were only practical for large facilities and institutions, dispensing solutions today offer a wide range of options — both fixed and portable — to make accurate, cost-controlled proportioning available to almost any type end user, regardless of size.
Advantages of using chemical proportioning systems are clear:
- Cleaning personnel no longer need to guess as to how much concentrate needs to be diluted with water to make properly measured cleaning solutions, reducing potential to damage to surfaces and risk to worker health
- Chemical solutions are diluted at their intended ratio for the cleaning task, maximizing chemical performance
- Waste of chemical concentrates due to "glug-glugging" is eliminated, reducing overall cleaning costs
- Portable dispensing systems offer the added benefit of allowing local "point-of-use" dilution, increasing worker efficiency.
Most cleaning product manufacturers offer their chemical concentrates in one or more types of dispensing mechanisms.
Included in the most popular of these are:
- Wall-mounted, cabinet-type units offering centralized dispensing for chemicals and providing secure storage for chemical concentrates while in use
- Modular, wall-mounted systems that provide a smaller footprint on the wall while allowing for both high-flow and low-flow dispensing from the same dispenser
- Portable, "point-of-use" systems that can be placed in almost any janitorial closet for fast, easy and accurate dilutions.
One important facet of many of these systems is the incorporation of a sealing stem in the concentrate bottle that creates a closed-loop for dispensing.
Equipped either with or without metering tips, these stems help eliminate the chance that a worker can come in contact with the concentrate and create a health issue.
Originally, manufacturers offering chemical management systems as a part of their cleaning product program used traditional concentrates for use in these systems, and end users often believed that the in-use solution was too weak to perform the job task.
Today, highly concentrated chemical products for floor cleaning, degreasing, disinfection and other janitorial tasks are delivered though these dispensing systems, and the result is a consistently high level of performance.
Another important development in chemical dispensing is the introduction and use of third-party certified green formulations for cleaning in restrooms, lobbies, school classrooms and other applications.
Facility managers are challenged to deliver green cleaning programs for school districts — some of which are mandated by local and state municipalities — universities, businesses and institutions.
Of particular note, those facilities seeking certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings: Operations and Management (LEED-EBOM) rating system must employ green cleaning products as a part of their overall sustainability plan.
The use of closed-system dispensing equipment is a natural fit, promoting both worker safety and a healthier environment.
This practice also can greatly enhance both efficiency and sustainability when used with environmentally responsible cleaning chemical products.
Facility managers would be well advised to periodically evaluate the use of chemical proportioning in their buildings and determine which system would best suit their needs.
Some points of focus should include:
• Is my dispensing system maximizing worker efficiency and safety?
Be sure that your supplier offers personalized on-site training for explaining the proper use of the equipment and chemicals and provides appropriate point-of-use materials such as wall charts and labels for secondary bottles to assure program success.
• Do the chemical products in use consistently meet the task for performance?
Perform a test of the equipment and chemicals in one building or portion of your facility to determine the ease-of-use for your workers and if the proposed program increases worker performance and efficiency.
• If my facility requires the purchase and use of sustainable, green formulations, am I addressing that need?
Review any state-mandated or locally enforced standards for what products may be purchased at your facility.
If seeking LEED-EBOM status, contact the USGBC for assistance with the standard.
• Based on the in-use dilution cost for the product, does my chemical dispensing system deliver the best value for the cleaning dollar?
Evaluate overall costs based on the "in-use" dilution cost of the products.
While highly concentrated products will likely be priced higher per case than traditional products, the cost-in-use dilution difference will usually be substantial and a key in reducing overall cleaning costs.
• Am I using a controlled dispensing system for all appropriate chemical products?
Make good judgments on which products are a part of the dispensing program.
Any high-volume chemicals used in the building are better candidates for inclusion in a chemical management system.
With proper planning and implementation, a chemical proportioning system will have a positive impact on the cleaning of a facility and the staffs assigned to maintain these buildings.
Bill Smith is vice-president of marketing for National Chemical Laboratories Inc. (NCL) of Philadelphia. Smith has nearly 30 years of experience in the sanitary maintenance industry in both sales and marketing, with a focus on developing product systems and training programs for K-12 education, building service contractors and in-house facility providers. He can be contacted at WSmith@NCLOnline.com.