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Exclusive: Mitsubishi Electric on its Jet Towel technology

14 May 2014

Fawn Litchfield, business development manager at Mitsubishi Electric, talks jet towels

Many FMs will be surprised to hear the technology behind high-speed hand dryers is approaching its 25th birthday. Developed in Japan by Mitsubishi Electric, PFM asks Fawn Litchfield about the latest advances that are keeping Jet Towel at the front of the pack.

Twenty-five years ago the marvels of the age were cordless phones and cassette Walkmans; cars of that era are now classics or bangers. How has the Mitsubishi Electric Jet Towel fared in that time?
Jet Towel represented a whole new concept, using an air curtain to scrape moisture from hands rather than heat to evaporate it. It was revolutionary and the Japanese public embraced the idea immediately. In fact, the production line was so busy that the global rollout had to be taken slowly and Europe didn’t get to see its first Jet Towel for some years. To pick up on one of your analogies, cars have been around for a long time, but people still get very excited about the latest Aston Martins. Jet Towel is now on its Mark 8 version; it’s quieter, more energy-efficient and more hygienic than ever, thanks to Mitsubishi’s commitment to constant development and refinement. It’s the original and best!

No one can argue with ‘original’. But ‘best’ is always going to be a contentious claim. Why do you think Jet Towel is better than the rest?
Mitsubishi Electric is a large global corporation, built on 100 years of research and innovation. It has the sort of pedigree that other companies can only dream of. Original thinking is part of its DNA, so for instance a completely new type of motor was developed for the Jet Towel; it’s very energy-efficient, whisper quiet and engineered so that it accelerates up to its very high working RPM in the blink of an eye. Other attributes of the Mitsubishi design philosophy include attention to detail and not forgetting the basics. For instance, Jet Towel has a drip tray for disposal of the moisture coming off users’ hands. It amazes me that some competitor dryers don’t have this, leading to moisture dripping onto the floor and forming a combined slip and bacterial hazard. I also like the elegant discreteness of its appearance. Jet Towel fits into just about any interior decor; it’s not trying to make a ‘look-at-me’ statement. It also fits into just about any space, being notably more compact than most comparable dryers, which is a significant concern in many installations.

Your engineers are obviously doing a great job keeping Jet Towel at the cutting edge of technology, but FM is increasingly about defined standards for hygiene and other performance parameters. How does the Jet Towel size up when it comes to conformance and certification?
I sound like an overly competitive mum at the school Prize Day when I reel off the approvals Jet Towel has attained. These include: the Noise Abatement Society’s Quiet Mark, which  recognises Jet Towel’s 58-61dB operation compared to typically 80–90dB for other dryers; NSF/ANSI 169 certification by NSF International (NSF) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which confirms its suitability for use in healthcare, catering and other situations where sanitation is a primary concern, and GreenSpec approval in both the UK and the US, following a rigorous assessment of its energy conservation and waste-free operation.

From a personal perspective, why do you have so much passion for your product?
The best thing is the variety. I get to go where Jet Towel goes, and that’s literally anywhere. I’ve taken it into primary schools and Oxbridge colleges, fine dining and fast food restaurants, medical facilities, the mucky end of zoos, hotels, conference centres, civic offices, cinemas, museums, etc. I also love the contact with Jet Towel managers in other countries. Their installations sometimes seem to be even more exotic than mine!

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