Wolseley PRO Pipeline Blog
Modern consumers and those in the plumbing industry have recently shifted focus to highlight hygienic product solutions.
This realized focus has led companies around the world, including LIXIL, to expand their approach to developing new products, specifically, with their American Standard brand. When speaking to James Walsh, the Global Leader for the Global Fixtures group at LIXIL, we took a deeper dive into the world of hygienic plumbing solutions and the innovations hitting the market from American Standard.
“A little more than a year ago, we saw the need to further expand our hygienic products in response to concerns by consumers and users about the spread of germs,” says Walsh. Certainly fueled by the pandemic, the push to engineer and create new products was important for the American Standard brand to remain innovative and forward-thinking.
Innovation With a Quick Timeline
American Standard quickly began the process of creating new toilets and involved a large team of experts to work on the final products. “We leveraged our international engineering teams in Asia and the Americas to develop a new and improved touchless product,” remarks Walsh, in reference to the new American Standard Studio® and Cadet® Touchless Toilets which launched early 2021.
The Cadet® Touchless Toilet configuration is what is considered to be a cost-competitive option of touchless innovation, with an exposed trap system. The Studio® Touchless Toilet, on the other hand, is more consumer-desired with a concealed trap.
Developing these two toilets took 5 months. By using existing bowls and creating new tanks, the challenge to qualify each bowl to the tank, and launch the products took a bit less time than usual. But even with the tighter turnaround, the products are still improved over previous iterations, with a better lifespan, and address concerns of the modern user.
Going Touchless One Flush at a Time
“There are more improvements over the old Activate,” acknowledges Walsh. “The housing [of the toilets] is more waterproof with O-Ring seals to protect the electronics. It uses potted circuit boards to keep moisture from damaging the circuitry. And the big change is that [the toilets] use capacitive sensing technology as opposed to battery-draining infra-red technology on the product itself.”
And on the topic of germs and keeping clean, the chinaware used in the toilet bowls are made with an antimicrobial surface to inhibit the growth of stains, odours and bacteria. This keeps the product cleaner for a longer period of time.
While American Standard is expanding on more touchless products, the focus on toilets and toilet performance was the first step. Both the Studio® and Cadet® Touchless Toilets are able to achieve a MaP score of 1000 grams of solid waste, with just 1.28 gallons per flush /4.8 Litres per flush. Considering most will never need a toilet to flush more than 300-350 grams, 1000 grams delivers above and beyond the expectations of the industry and of the user.
“[They do] what toilets should do”, says Walsh, “Improve waste, keep clean, be moisture resistant, and have an all-inclusive warranty.”
The Design and Appeal of Touchless Toilets
Both the Studio® and Cadet® Touchless Toilets serve a distinct purpose in the market. The Studio® configuration is aimed more at the consumer market because of its smoothness of the trapway and its ease of cleaning. “There are those consumers modelling their bathroom who will use this product, but also higher-end hospitality,” notes Walsh. “Anywhere there isn’t a flushometer in use.”
The Cadet® Touchless Toilet is preferred more by customers who have a budget or precise installation needs in mind when it comes to the value for money. The perfect placement for the Cadet® Toilet is in a mid-range hospitality setting, or even in a residential children’s bathroom.
With either configuration, from a public area standpoint, the toilets give the user peace of mind. “The user won’t transmit germs from a surface [they’ve touched] to a toilet handle. It reassures people that they are safe and hygienic,” adds Walsh.
The future of American Standard and LIXIL
So what does the future look like for American Standard given the recent product launches?
Spinning off the Studio® Touchless Toilet, there will be a new Studio® S Suite toilet added to showroom portfolios. This new tankless one-piece toilet will only use a gallon of water per flush, making it an innovative staple of master bathrooms.
Touchless commercial products are also being added to the American Standard portfolio this year including touchless faucets and touchless soap dispensers. Plus, there are still innovations to bring touchless faucets into the home, besides the ones that are typically found at the kitchen sink.
“We’ll expand into the convenience and touchless range, while at the same time, pushing boundaries for water conservation,” says Walsh. He notes that pushing performance is just as important as reducing consumption, and both have to be in balance.
On the connected technology side, American Standard is looking at integrating connected technology, similar to LIXIL’s GROHE Sense Guard™, where it can sense a water leak and shut off the water supply. “At the point of the toilet, can there be a Sense Guard™ as well? When there’s a leak in the toilet, can it be shut off right at the source?”
These are the questions and innovative approaches that American Standard will ask and take.
There’s also a matter of smart technology that uses sensors to help control the types of flushes a toilet can produce. The introduction of load sensing flushes will eliminate the need for the user to pick between the solid and liquid waste flush types, and instead let the technology do the thinking. “This is important, especially looking at the commercial side with guest rooms in hotels,” notes Walsh.
Ultimately, anything that can reduce wasted water and unnecessary waste is essential to the future of the plumbing industry. As Walsh reflects on the pandemic, he also recalls the benefits of the SpaLet® bidet seats and the benefits in savings.
“It’s the ultimate in hygiene and keeping clean. It’s a much better solution to wet-wash than it is to dry paper wipe...The average US family uses about $500-$700 a year on toilet paper. You can cut the use by 50-75% just by using SpaLet® products.”
With new innovations coming through the pipeline, the American Standard Studio® and Cadet® Touchless Toilets will be just one part of LIXIL’s larger push towards more hygienic, smart, and convenient bathroom technology throughout their family of brands.
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