Manufacturers are seeing the market for air hand dryers growing steadily, at about five to ten percent a year, worldwide. In such a slow economy this is a substantial rate. What has made the difference in the market?
Improvements in technology are numerous, making installation more attractive to more users. These innovations include faster drying—which seems to get faster and faster every year. Since more users want a quick way to dry their hands after washing, they are much more willing to use a hand dryer now that it won’t take quite so long. (We are all impatient with having to stand there drying our hands, which seems like wasted time, but we are really talking about only seconds in difference.)
Another new technology that has aided acceptance is the anti-bacterial coatings, both inside and out, that are being used by some manufacturers. Most incorporate the silver ion material into the metal casing so that it cannot wear away with long use.
Recent studies of the European market for sensors that recognize hand gestures (Gesture Recognition Technology) show that they are being incorporated more and more into hand dryers, making them more acceptable to the public. That use is expected to grow at least through 2018. (These innovations are being included in several other fixtures used in public washrooms—faucet flow regulators and flush handles, for example.) Other technical innovations that push market growth include digital motors and silencers.
2) New Market Players
There are some markets that have been a large area of growth. These are uniformly places that need to incorporate as much convenience as possible into both washroom use and maintenance. Fast food restaurants have been good customers for a long time, but now other restaurants and pubs are starting to install dryers. Schools have also been a substantial market, and institutions of higher learning are starting to be a growth area. This is probably because most students are less reluctant to try something new. Though offices have not seen any noticeable advance in usage, manufacturing has. Another significant market that is expanding are public facilities that see a lot of traffic at one time, such as airports, train stations, and entertainment venues—sports arenas, concert halls, etc.
3) Epidemic fear
A factor driving the increased market for hand dryers is the growing public awareness of person-to-person transmission of diseases such as SARS, flu, colds, MERSA, and many others. As new epidemics seem to be threatening every week, more and more facility administrators, especially in workplaces, want to encourage more hand washing. To avoid an exponential increase in maintenance of paper towel waste, they are installing hand dryers.
The health care market does, and will continue to, grow steadily. Because of the increase in suits regarding poor hygiene, hospitals especially have started to make a push to encourage, almost force, workers (especially doctors who seem to be the most non-compliant) to wash hands every time they touch a patient, or just about anything else. This means more hand washing stations and, ultimately, more hand dryers. The British Medical Journal reports that, after the Clean Your Hands campaign, institutions were buying almost three times the previous amount of hand soap and sanitizers.
Chloe is a writer who works for PHS Washrooms, a company which offer washroom supplies. She currently resides in Cardiff in the UK.