You really don’t need frustrations with paper towel dispensers

October 2020

November 2019


Why is it that just when you really need to dry your hands fast, the paper won’t dispense properly and you end up with a little bit of torn paper to dry your hands on?

Either the mechanism on your manual roll towel dispenser has jammed and you have to advance it manually, or your battery operated dispenser has just run out of battery power (right when you are in an audit), or someone has just refilled your interleaved paper dispenser and the weight of the extra packs means the paper gets jammed, or you end up with a whole clump of paper…  I am sure there are many of you who can relate to this and wonder why something so simple as a paper towel has to be so frustrating.

Well it doesn’t have to be, as we have concluded after asking many customers what they are really looking for in a paper towel dispenser and it can be summarised in 5 points:

  1. Need paper fast; With often a lot of staff coming off shift at one time, they need paper quick as they don’t want to waste precious minutes of their break lining up in the washroom.
  2. The right amount of paper each time; With high staff numbers you also don’t want wastage as the cost can add up very fast, but neither do you want to skimp too much as some workers in the likes of meat processing plants need to dry right up to their shoulders
  3. Good quality paper; in a food factory, cheapest is not always best so having something that has good wet strength and won’t end up in bits on the floor or get transferred to product is important.  Blue is preferable for most as it goes purple when wet and stands out against most foodstuffs
  4. Not refilling all the time; The dispenser has to have good capacity so they are not requiring replenishment too regularly in a busy area
  5. No batteries; Battery operated dispensers are good in theory but in practise they chew through batteries and the sensors are not all that reliable; if there was a good alternative, customers would rather keep away from battery powered dispensers.

So what dispensers and paper are the best combination for a busy food factory?  Firstly I will explain the traditional options available and what customers have told us about them so you know what NOT to go with:

  1. Centre pull paper towels; these are generally the cheapest towels you will find on the market and are often sold in 1 ply format to those economising purchasing officers who don’t actually use them in the factory.  Although cheap per metre of paper, in use it isn’t so as there is no restriction built in, so users (even if not trying to be wasteful), end up pulling metres of paper out to dry their hands.  This is in part due to the natural arm movement pulling down from the dispenser but also because of the fact it comes out like a ‘rope’, which is largely unusable to dry hands so they resort to a certain bulk of paper to get the job done.  The cores are also tricky to remove to start the roll off and the sharp teeth under the dispenser can be a health and safety hazard.
  2. Interfold paper towels; these come in various options, Z fold, M fold and C fold (the same size towel folded in different ways to suit various dispenser types), however they all dispense in a similar way.  When the dispenser is freshly loaded up, the weight of the towels on the bottom one you are trying to dispense makes it jam up and you end up with little bits of towel or at least an awkward tug of war.  Also, regardless of how full the dispenser, you often end up getting a whole clump of towels out at a time, which is wasteful and not very useful. To manufacture towels in this way is a more expensive process than roll format so does not end up very good cost in use
  3. Roll towels; these are where the roll sits horizontally in the dispenser and whilst this is our preferred option for reasons we set out below, there are some fundamental flaws in many of the dispenser options out there to be aware of.  Firstly, battery operated versions, as described above, they can be expensive to maintain with many replacement batteries required per year and Murphy’s Law says that it is always when the auditor is about to dry their hands the battery dies.  Secondly, the concept of ‘touch-free’ is a bit of a fallacy that they are more hygienic than a non-battery version, as you are not touching the dispenser after you have washed and dried your hands anyway, so there is no risk of cross contamination.  Lastly with the non-battery powered manual version of the roll towel dispenser, we have experienced a large number of dispensers out there (including some of our earlier ones), where the mechanism is clunky and involves you trying to manually wind a little wheel on the side to try to get the paper to dispense properly.  Also the serrated cutting blades in the dispenser often clog up with paper residue between the serrations, causing jamming to occur.

So with all those frustrations that I am sure most of you will relate to, you will be pleased to know that there is a winning combination out there of quality paper towels and robust, hassle-free dispensers that work every time without fail and both are designed specifically for the food processing industry.

To learn more, contact us on the form below to find out about our patented straight cut roll towel dispenser made in Switzerland and our very cost effective but high quality three ply blue paper towels that are getting rave reviews in your industry.


Post by Nathan Senior