(photo: Mitsubishi Electric, Mitsubishi Jet Towel)
24.02.2016, 08:19

A Quarter of a Century as Technology Leader

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Mitsubishi Electric is launching two new versions of its Jet Towel high speed hand dryer, "Jet Towel Smart" and "Jet Towel Slim", which build on hand drying technology it originated almost 25 years ago.

Mitsubishi Electric is launching two new versions of its Jet Towel high speed hand dryer, "Jet Towel Smart" and "Jet Towel Slim", which build on hand drying technology it originated almost 25 years ago.



Many people think of high speed air jet hand dryers as a fairly new idea, perhaps dating back five years and still only found in special locations. However, the fundamental concept was developed nearly a quarter of a century ago and has been constantly refined ever since.

While this sort of on-going technical development is not unusual, what is almost unique about air jet dryer technology is that most of the developments have been lead by one company, the originator Mitsubishi Electric.

Jet Towel, the original air jet hand dryer was designed by Mitsubishi Electric in 1992 and introduced to the Japanese market the following year. Instead of producing a bubble of hot air to evaporate water from the users’ hands, it works by producing two high speed laminar jets of air which force water off the hands, comparable to a squeegee wiping the water off a window as it is pulled across the pane.

Jet Towel proved an almost instant hit in Japan, where users noted that drying times were far faster than for conventional hot air dryers. There were many other advantages too - these were less obvious to the users but critically important to facilities managers and owners. For instance, they are very quiet in operation so not disturbing to other people; their eco-credentials are strong because energy consumption is far lower than conventional hand dryers, while their running costs are low compared to the need to buy and dispose of paper towels or to launder linen towels.

With the concept proven and the product selling well in Japan, Mitsubishi Electric set itself two new objectives: to roll out Jet Towel across the world and to continue developing the technology so that it became better and better.

One of the great advantages of Jet Towel is that it is completely non-contact in operation. It has sensors that detect when hands are inserted into the drying area and automatically start the jet flow. A jet of air on either side of the hands blows the water off as the hands are drawn upwards. Any drips of water are directed into a drain, avoiding wet walls and puddles that can plague other dryers. Thus germs neither spread nor breed and maximum hygiene is achieved.

From Day One the Jet Towel has been recognised for its low noise operation. Producing only about 56dB, it is often described as whisper quiet, has been awarded a QuietMark by the Noise Abatement Society and has proved a favourite for use in theatres, hotels, libraries and conference venues when quietness is essential. Notably, normal conversations can be conducted while using a Jet Towel.

Another advantage of Jet Towel is that it dries hands in about one-third the time of a hot air dryer, which has two major benefits. Firstly, it encourages user to dry their hands completely rather than only partially, which can spread germs and lead to skin irritations. Secondly, the faster throughput means Jet Towel is better able to cope with sudden rushes of users, as might be experienced in say a theatre at the interval, at seminars or transportation interchanges.

The Jet Towel hand dryer was designed to reduce energy and operating costs for washrooms operators. Jet Towel employs advanced motor technology and optimum airflow design to ensure energy consumption about one-tenth that of a hot air dryer and therefore reduced running costs. Also Jet Towel requires minimal maintenance and offers a long operational life. The latest generation of Jet Towel hand dryer has optimised speed and efficiency making it the most environmentally friendly hand dryer available today.

Over the years many prestigious institutions have chosen to install Jet Towel, often citing one or more of its advantages as being the main benefit for their particular situation. For instance, any classical music venue’s hand dryers must be quiet in operation and have the ability to deal with interval rushes. Additionally many auditoria have a definite style to their interior design, which Jet Towel complements with its understated elegance and choice of colour finishes.

A somewhat different institution, the California Academy of Sciences has also adopted Jet Towel, liking its standard-defining eco-performance and quiet operation. The Academy is committed to cutting-edge research, educational outreach, and finding new ways to engage the public. Its bespoke high tech yet very green headquarters in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is the largest building in the world to win the top Platinum rating for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

For the Cotswold Wildlife Park, hand hygiene is critical. Many of the visitors are children who need encouragement to wash and dry their hands before eating picnics or going to the on-site restaurant. Fortunately, children love the novelty and speed of Jet Towels, while the park benefits from the low running costs and ease of servicing and appreciates that their low noise is unlikely to upset even the most nervous of animals.

Several primary schools have adopted Jet Towels, mainly because they are quiet, but also because they dry hands fast enough for busy children and they minimise bacterial transfer. Typically, a primary school will see energy savings of £500–£1,500 per year with Jet Towels compared to hot air dryers.

Elsewhere, a mental health charity in London installed Jet Towels in its drop-in centre because their quiet operation did not disturb the calm atmosphere it tries to create for its clients. The charity also reports favourably on energy bill reductions, improved hygiene and a reduced carbon footprint.

Each use of a Jet Towel represents a small cost saving to the facility operator compared to other hand drying alternatives, and these can add up significantly. The Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel in Chicago can accommodate more than 6,400 people at a time and hosts hundreds of events each year. Needless to say, the restroom facilities must function reliably and efficiently at all times. The management are happy to acknowledge that installing Jet Towels has saved thousands of dollars a year in running costs alone. Similarly UK conference venues have adopted Jet Towels in preference to other dryers, as have stately homes, council chambers, universities, and libraries.

Sustainability is a fundamental requirement for the owners of ¿Por Que No?, one of Oregon’s funkiest taco restaurants. To this end they fuel their delivery van with used frying oil, source all ingredients locally, compost all waste and use solar power to heat their water. So it is little wonder that they set the standard high when it came to hand dryers and went for the Jet Towel, which uses a fraction of the energy of evaporative units. Many other restaurants have also discovered the benefits of Jet Towel, from the uber-prestigious Panoramic 34 in Liverpool, to Pizza Huts across the West Midlands.

Jet Towel has redefined standards for hand drying, raising the bar in terms of hygiene, speed, energy efficiency and cost of ownership. Its simple clean-lined design has also won it many plaudits.


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