A restroom is one of the last places you might expect to see a major new innovation. But in a perfect example of how new technology permeates every part of our lives, Menomonee Falls-based Bradley Corp. has recently released its Advocate Lavatory System, a brand new, all-in-one, soap dispenser, sink and hand-drying unit for commercial bathrooms.
“We definitely saw a need for a product like this,” said Jason Renner, senior product manager of the plumbing fixtures division at Bradley Corp. “People (in commercial bathrooms) are always waiting around, reaching over or under other restroom guests for the soap or dripping water on the floor to get to the paper towels. It can become a really big mess. We wanted to offer a completely integrated restroom experience.”
The Advocate Lavatory System contains the soap dispenser, the water faucet and a high speed dual hand dryer all in one unit, and all hands free, Renner said. Restroom users can easily and quickly perform all aspects of hand washing in a restroom within 30 inches and without reaching over one another.
“One of the important parts hygiene-wise is the hands-free activation technology,” Renner said. “It (hands free) is not new technology, but the design we’ve created has improved ease-of use and the singular system provides a one-of-a-kind integrated solution for improved cleanliness and safety in commercial restrooms.”
Bradley Corp. partnered with Madison-based Design Concepts Inc., an innovation and product design consulting firm, on the design of the Advocate Lavatory System.
“We relied heavily on the Design Concepts team to get the look and the style to match the technology aspect,” Renner said. “We worked with them to not only make sure the technology was showcased, but that the finished product was both intuitive and attractive.”
Bradley, in partnership with Design Concepts, has spent the last year testing this product out in the field, and the response, according to Renner, has been positive.
“Our team spent a lot of time testing different prototypes as well as looking at different nozzle designs, air flow levels and water flow levels to make sure we could help produce a first-in-class product for Bradley,” said Dave Franchino, president and principal of Design Concepts. “There was great collaboration between us and the Bradley team of engineers, and we are very excited to have played a role in the development of this product.”
Design Concepts specializes in research and development, industrial design and strategy to help its clients’ ideas become reality, Franchino said.
The Advocate Lavatory System is designed to ergonomically work for users to go from left to right conveniently and also allows for easy access for cleaning crews.
Controlled water flow, the elimination of paper towels in the restrooms with the Advocate system, as well as the potential ability to reduce the amount of cleaning time in a commercial bathroom could all result in cost savings for a business, Renner said.
The Advocate Lavatory System is available in one, two or three bank units.
Bradley sees strong use for the product within the food and food processing industry, health care industry, retail industry and other commercial restrooms or facilities that see a high volume of use on a consistent basis.
The system is already installed in the Mullet Ice Center in Hartland and a few other testing locations nationwide.
The unit will cost relatively the same amount as purchasing each piece of equipment individually, Renner said. The color can also be customized for each space.
Renner expects his sales crew to be able to start offering the Advocate Lavatory System to customers this fall. They’ve already filled a few orders, he said.
“We have pretty big expectations for the product once it’s available commercially,” he said. “It’s universally appealing and there are a lot of environmentally-friendly, sustainable components as well as safety and efficiency methods that will play a role in the successful sale of these units.” n