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Chemicals & Dosing  - Manual Surface Cleaning & Disinfection Dosing Systems
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Chemicals & Dosing - Manual Surface Cleaning & Disinfection Dosing Systems
Date: 14-09-2016

Our previous ‘Talking Point’ article presented a clear overview of the main benefits associated with the use of chemical concentrates supported by controlled dispensing systems. As astute professional buyers in the Middle East become more aware of the commercial benefits of controlling cleaning costs in a disciplined way, rather than relying on more expensive and environmentally unsound, ready-to-use, pre-packed cleaning products, concentrated solutions supported by controlled dispensing will begin to dominate the market.

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In three follow-up blog posts to our Talking Point article, we provide further advice on the types of dosing equipment available; the critical importance of qualified engineering staff to delivering service reliability; the issues involved in assessing the viability of and effective use of chemical dosing equipment in your own business.  

Using concentrates properly: Are You Concentrating?

Many users of commercial grade chemicals incorrectly believe that if 50:1 works well then 25:1 dilution will work twice as fast or better. This is not the case. If a product has been designed to work at 50:1, it needs to be diluted as such. This is particularly true when we talk about disinfectant solutions. Chemical suppliers and their customers want staff to instinctively think ‘How little do I need to put in this bottle, sink or bucket to get a great cleaning result?’ 
Commercial-grade cleaning products are specifically designed for economy in use. It is imperative, therefore, that end users follow the recommended dilution rates from the manufacturer. Over concentration and/or over dosing of concentrates causes unnecessary problems: smearing on surfaces, residues that cause customers to slip on entry floor surfaces or table-top surfaces that can be left sticky to the touch. With increasingly luxurious properties being designed in the UAE on an ever grander scale, over dosing can cause irreparable damage to the surfaces being cleaned. Under-dosing can be equally problematic, particularly when it comes to preparing effective disinfectant solutions to prevent cross contamination in food premises or for infection control departments in healthcare premises.
A high quality controlled dosing solution (concentrate and dispenser) will offer better and more reliable performance, real cost control, reduced wastage, be suitable across a broad range of cleaning applications, safe to use and have a more environmentally positive impact. 
If it doesn’t, there can be only two reasons why:
  1. The concentrate formulation is not built sufficiently well enough to guarantee a reduction in volume usage or;
  2. Users are determined, or find easy ways to bypass the ‘system of benefits’ to free-hand- pours, thereby effectively throwing precious Dirham’s down the drain unnecessarily. 
From an operational point of view, the two key objectives of using a controlled dilution system are to deliver best-in-class, cost-effective cleaning results while ensuring that the commercial cleaning operative is working in a safe environment when using concentrated chemicals. Business owners and their staff should concentrate on making this winning formula work.  

Guaranteeing delivery of best-in-class results

There are two main types of surface cleaning and disinfection manual dosing system - human powered and systems where the chemical is automatically mixed efficiently using water pressure. In a later series of articles, we will examine the technologically superior electronic dosing system, where chemicals are auto-dosed across a wide range of high volume commercial cleaning applications. Arpal Gulf is an expert in commercial automatic dish and glass washing and automated liquid laundry chemical dosing for on-premises-laundries. Only experienced and reputable chemical suppliers will have the knowledge and know-how to do this properly.
The manual systems available, which require the user to ‘push or pull’ a button or lever to dispense a controlled amount of concentrate into a bottle, bucket or sink MUST have some form of delay mechanism preventing, or at least delaying, the likelihood of a user repeat dosing, ignoring the manufacturer’s recommended dilution instructions. We have found that some chemical suppliers have allowed their customers to over-ride this delay mechanism allowing them to put as much chemical in the bottle as they wish.
There can only be two reasons why some suppliers allow this to happen. Either the concentration of their product is not strong enough to produce an adequate cleaning solution at the dispenser dilution rate or they want the operator to use as much chemical as possible, thereby maximising chemical sales. 
This has never made sense to us and defeats the purpose of having a controlled dilution system in the first place. There may be a third reason - is the supplier providing on the ground support to ensure cleaning staff play by the rules? We cover this in next week’s post.  

Designing the right products & choosing the best system

Dispensing manufacturers know that thick, viscous products are not well suited to dosing systems. For years, we have been trying to assure customers that we can provide water-thin super concentrated formulations. Many people view the thickness of the concentrate to be a mark of its strength. This is misleading. 
Solutions with low activity can be made to look concentrated by the simple addition of salt. Arpal Gulf will never mislead our customers with this laboratory ‘trick’. We need manual dilution dispensers to allow a minimum of a 5ml dose, which into a 750 ml dilution bottle provides a straight 150:1 water/chemical solution. When you hit this mark you are talking about true super concentrates.  
The best way to prevent misuse and over-consumption is to use a water-powered mixing station or Venturi Based Dilution (VBD) system. Chemical concentrates are drawn from the container by vacuum at a pre-set dose into the water stream to provide a ready-to-go chemical solution from the tap. Not every customer’s site is a viable location for this kind of chemical. They system needs to be plumbed into a water supply and requires sufficient water pressure to ensure that the chemical can be drawn from the container and mixed with the water to provide the correct diluted solution. 
But, there is no doubt that VBD type systems are failsafe in ensuring that the right dilution is provided, eliminating user interference and guaranteeing promised savings. You can’t put 1 litre of solution into a 500 ml bottle. VBD systems are usually installed in high-traffic businesses that consume large quantities of cleaning chemicals and have sufficient space to install the equipment e.g., in-flight and large commercial kitchens, hotels, airports, shopping centres and leisure resorts. 
Part 3 in this series examines the critical importance of reliable and efficient engineering services, without which the dosing revolution cannot take hold.

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