For our April Quick Hits, I interviewed Bradley Drury, project manager at Hydro Systems, about the company’s new ICS 8900 series (being used at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, at right), and learned more than I ever imagined about the technical aspects of cleaning public areas. He filled me in on how it’s done right, how it’s done wrong, and all the different areas that need cleaning. Here’s an extended portion of our conversation.
On how Hydro Systems got into the attractions industry: “We launched the ICS 8900 system in fall of 2007. Last year was our first full year of marketing, and our original target market was education and health care—that still represents the bulk of our sales. The more we got involved, the more we realized the theme park market would be a good fit. By the time we formed our relationship with Six Flags, it was the end of the season.
Then we decided to become members of IAAPA because when we looked at industries that were making use of the ICS—people buy them for two different reasons: looking to improve their productivity or looking to improve their sanitary standards and the ICS will do both.”
On the common challenges and issues of cleaning public areas: “Restrooms are the number-one source of complaints that facility managers continually struggle with. Nobody wants to do it so they get in and out of there as quickly as possible. If you’re not careful, you’ll get someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing when they clean and it won’t get done properly.
The benefits of touchless cleaning is that it takes an unpleasant task and makes it much less of a demotivator—it’s far more likely that it’ll get done properly and it also helps control staff turnover. There’s undoubtedly a cost benefit associated with training staff and reducing the turnover in that specific area.
What’s unique to the environments which need the most cleaning—parks, cruise ships, and fitness facilities, for example—is that each has a high occurrence of multiple people sharing the same facility. A lot of people will use the same shower or exercise equipment and that’s where staff outbreaks tend to occur.
If the technology and chemicals exist, why are there still outbreaks? We believe it’s because the tools are available but people don’t use them properly. Since our product is easy to use and not unpleasant, people tend to use it properly—allowing the appropriate dwell/contact time between the chemical and the surface (i.e. not wiping it off immediately). With traditional cleaning, people don’t allow that—most chemicals need a dwell time of at least five minutes.”
On how the ICS 8900 Works: “Hydro Systems is a manufacturer of chemical dosing and distributing systems. Ninety-nine percent of the products we sell get mounted on the wall, so we thought, ‘Let’s take that technology and put it in a mobile system.’
Staffers can wheel the ICS to where they want to clean and not the other way around. In less than a second, the ICS coats the entire surface through a spray gun attached to a pressure hose. Fill it up with fresh water and up to four cleaning chemicals—detergents, degreasers, sanitizers, etc.—and meanwhile, water is the only liquid that enters or leaves the water tank—it’s always fresh for the rinse setting. The cart does the work of what many parks are already trying to do with hand sanitizer stations. Most of the time, after dispensing the cleaner, the surface can air dry—what’s dispensed is a fine mist, not soaking water. Rides that have recently been cleaned don’t need to be out of commission for a while. You can use the ICS wherever you currently use a mop or a spray bottle: tile, metal, etc. There’s an advantage for us in not selling the chemical—it doesn’t require the facility to change their chemical provider. There’s no re-training of different chemicals. Whatever they’re comfortable with, they can stick with. Our inspiration was to bring the dispenser to the dirt.”
Learn more about Hydro Systems at www.hydrosystemsco.com.