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Cleaning products: Chemicals and dosing

02 August 2016

Chemical dosing systems, whether manual dispensing pumps or electronic dosing units are an established part of many professional cleaning processes. Here, Max Adam, group sales & marketing director at RP Adam (Arpal Group),argues a personal case for buyers and suppliers to work together to deliver dosing solutions in a professional, cost effective way, without sacrificing the quality of either service or product 


The dosing ‘revolution’ first started in earnest in the early 1990s following the huge expansion of food and hospitality chains, which dramatically increased the buyers’ power and awareness of cost over price. The market slowly started to realise that the use of dilution systems meant the risk of human error was reduced when it came to preparing ready-to-use cleaning and disinfection solutions.   

But the shift towards dosing was always a slow-burner. In the 1980s, the era of the 'commission-only' sales rep, I believe there was an inbuilt reluctance to provide too many benefits to the customer as personal incomes would be affected. Even today, some chemical suppliers have moved away from chemical (super) concentrates because of a lack of regular repeat purchases, creating a barrier to volume growth. 

The astute professional buyer, however, has realised the commercial and professional sense of controlling cleaning costs in a disciplined way – rather than relying on end-user freehand pouring or the continued use of expensive and environmentally unsound ready-to-use pre-packed cleaning products. And so concentrated products and dispense systems have gained more air-time.

But despite the spreadsheet savings available, the translation into the B-2-B commercial sphere shows there is still resistance from the user, despite compelling evidence that using concentrates and dosing systems can immediately deliver real businesses benefit in many areas. 

The reasons for this are complex. Customers need to cast aside the red herring of perceived higher unit price of a concentrate and focus on the in-use bottle cost instead. There has to be a mature assessment of the relative price charged for (super) concentrates suitable for controlled dilution and the actual cost-in-use. The price should also support the cost of the associated equipment and engineering support, yield a reasonable profit and deliver savings to the client. And, of course, the products need to deliver.

Getting the balance of this equation right is not as simple as many people think. It can be financially disastrous for the manufacturer if equipment cost assessment is wrong or there is a blind commitment to give the customer whatever they want – at any cost.

Buyers shouldn’t just ask the supplier for the dilution rates and slot them into their spreadsheet to contrive a theoretical savings figure. Suppliers should be taken to task, and be ready to prove their credentials in a live, unbiased trial. 

Far too many tender decisions are based on spurious claims by chemicals suppliers. The solutions need to clean no matter what the savings are. This is particularly true when it comes to liquid laundry, where many manufacturers do not deliver the dilution rates they provided on their tender submission, because if they did the results would be far from satisfactory. If the manufacturer is designing the chemical concentrate by putting as much in the bottle as possible, then the customer should be asking for proof of concentration and effectiveness. Otherwise all cost savings and performance promises cannot be fulfilled.  

Proof of disinfection in catering contracts allows for no margin for error. Concentrates which disinfect must have the appropriate certification - the BS EN 1276 or 13697 standards. People are getting so hung up on contact times nowadays they are forgetting the most important aspect – the dilution rate. A product which disinfects a surface in 15 seconds at a dilution of 200:1 in dirty conditions is a far more superior product than one which disinfects in 5 minutes at 25:1 in clean conditions. And the price will reflect this, because it is four times more effective but it won’t be four time the price.  

It is my view that an authentic chemical concentrate should work effectively at a base level of 50:1, with a super concentrate delivering the same performance at 100 to 200:1. Just because you add water to a chemical product does not constitute a proper concentrate. RP Adam manufactures a range of bulk fill, concentrates and super concentrates, which provides a full menu of choice for all types and sizes of business needs.