KOHLER, WISC. — The last week of June, trade media was invited to tour the Kohler Co.’s manufacturing facilities, and besides learning about the different manufacturing processes Kohler Co. uses, media also had the opportunity to meet with Kohler Co. President and CEO David Kohler.
According to Kohler, in 2015 there were 25 billion connected devices in the world.
“Technology is changing everything,” said Kohler. “Consumers aspire to have connected homes, which can improve the way we live in our homes. Convenience and efficiency are driving adaption of these products.”
Kohler Co. has a great variety of these tech-savvy bath products for plumbing contractors and consumers to pick from.
“On the Kohler kitchen and bath side, we have a number of products that interact with smart devices to access music, radio and podcasts, such as the Numi toilet, VibrAcoustic bath, Moxie showerhead, StereoStik speaker system and DTV+ showering system,” said Eric Moore, Kohler Design Center interior designer.
Consumers aspire to have connected homes, which can improve the way we live in our homes. Convenience and efficiency are driving adaption of these products.
Besides connected devices equating to convenience for the consumer, products that work via connected devices can also help homeowners save money via their water bills.
According to Moore, the DTV Prompt – Eco setting restricts outlet use to one, saving water by not running multiple outlets simultaneously. Plus, DTV showering systems allow consumers to time their showers to help cut back on water use by taking shorter showers, and the Numi toilet features an Eco flush to allow consumers to use only the amount of water necessary for each flush (for example, half flush vs. full flush).
Here is more information about just some of the technology-based products Kohler offers:
The new three-outlet DTV Prompt Shower System is easy to install with a sleek design and multiple water conservation settings to be used in one, two or three-outlet applications. The DTV Prompt Shower System’s state-of-the-art technology creates an intuitive user experience featuring a large LCD screen with raised buttons that allow the user to easily toggle between outlets or use them together. The shower temperature can be easily set to the user’s ideal temperature and a maximum temperature setting makes this an ideal solution for households with children.
DTV Prompt’s conservation settings are about convenience as much as eliminating water and energy waste. Each feature can be activated or deactivated to suit the user’s personal requirements.
- The Warm up & Pause setting brings the water to the desired temperature and then pauses flow until the user is ready to begin showering.
- The Pause setting temporarily halts water flow during tasks such as shaving or hair washing.
- Countdown Timer, a user-configurable setting, lets the user set the optimal shower time, from four to 12 minutes; audible feedback at two minutes and one minute remaining to notify the bather of the approaching time limit with a beep.
The DTV Prompt Digital Shower System’s aesthetic appeal reflects its tech-savvy nature: compact, yet easy to read; stylish, yet unobtrusive. With water at the touch of a button, the need for valve handles is eliminated. DTV Prompt has also been designed for ease of installation with the contractor and homeowner in mind. Without the typical in-wall components associated with mechanical valves, it is suitable for both remodels and new construction.
The DTV+ seamlessly integrates water, sound, steam and lighting elements to create true multi-sensory showering experiences.
In addition to expanded flexibility, the new DTV+ system also features pre-programmed spa experiences designed to meet these changing needs for the space.
“DTV+ elevates the act of showering to a personalized spa experience,” said Les Petch, senior product manager for performance showering at Kohler. “Showering is so much more than just getting clean. The showering space is increasingly a destination where one goes to relax, de-stress or relieve everyday aches and pains. In addition to expanded flexibility, the new DTV+ system also features pre-programmed spa experiences designed to meet these changing needs for the space.”
DTV+ features a touch screen interface allowing the user to control and customize every facet of their showering experience. The icon-based interface is intuitive and consistent with today’s popular digital devices and up to three interfaces can be connected to the system providing flexibility for multiple users and/or applications.
The new DTV+ modular platform allows users to decide how they want to control their DTV+ system and to choose exactly what elements they want to incorporate. Application flexibility has been increased as users are now able to select from a two-outlet, three-outlet or six-outlet digital valve to control water delivery. A further unique feature of DTV+ is the ability to add and control two valves on the system at the same time — providing the capability of delivering two different water temperatures for different outlets and showering configurations.
DTV+ was launched in 2015 with three spa experiences available for download — relaxation spa experiences help users unwind and de-stress from the daily grind. Multiple configuration options and remote valve installation makes DTV+ a great option for projects ranging from the simplest remodel to the grandest new construction.
Another technology-based product is the The Numi toilet, a great example of Kohler’s continued drive to innovate and improve the user experience. The Numi toilet has many user-friendly features, such as a Bluetooth receiver, SD card for accessing personalized playlists and ambient lighting.
Kohler’s most advanced toilet includes a sleek, interactive LCD touch-screen interface, built-in personalized bidet functionality and deodorizer, innovative dual-flush technology with 0.6 and 1.28 gallons per flush, intuitive auto-open and -close lid, and a heated seat and foot warmer.
In addition to the vast array of user options available on the Numi, several of the newer features are Bluetooth receiver for users to stream audio directly from mobile device; ambient lighting options allow users to choose to cycle through all seven colors (a color specific to each day of the week or a static color for the current use); SD card for selection of a custom playlist or personalized welcome greeting; accessible battery pack supporting up to 100 flushes ensures that in the event of a power outage, Numi will continue to flush normally; and service USB port located in rear of toilet offers easy software updates by service representatives.
World-wide water quality, conservation
During David Kohler’s media presentation he discussed the commitment Kohler Co. has to water quality and water conservation, plus he talked about the next-generation, closed-loop toilet flush system, which was developed during the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge.
The Gates Foundation approved a two-year grant to Kohler Co. to design and fabricate five closed-loop flush toilet systems for field testing in developing world locations that do not have adequate sanitation.
The Kohler team has completed design and construction of five Closed-Loop Advanced Sanitation System (CLASS) prototypes. Two units have already been installed at apartment buildings in the city of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, India. The Kohler CLASS team along with a team from Research Triangle Institute (RTI) are collecting data, performing maintenance and analyzing water samples.
We’re trying to understand the needs of the end user and the supply chain while informing technology and business development in new and existing markets.
The CLASS prototypes are stand-alone units that take in waste water, then disinfect and purify it to be reused for toilet flushing. The units are treating waste water from the building’s toilets, and the team is testing the water to ensure all pathogens have been killed in the treatment process.
By field-testing these prototypes, the Kohler team is simultaneously learning about the system’s capabilities as well as the environmental factors at the site that may affect its performance. Applying this learning supports continued research and innovation of Kohler’s treatment system.
“The data our team is collecting will guide future refinements of the CLASS system,” said Rob Zimmerman, senior manager of sustainability for Kohler. “We’re trying to understand the needs of the end user and the supply chain while informing technology and business development in new and existing markets.”
Another exciting project for Kohler Co. is the Kohler Clarity — a ceramic filtration system. Kohler is working with World Vision, iDE and Water Mission, among others, to enable people in remote regions to access safe, reliable drinking water. The system was designed to bring aspirational products to an affordable price point so NGOs and end users do not have to choose form over function.
“In our research into providing safe drinking water, we saw a way to solve a pressing social issue by improving the performance, design and distribution of the water filters currently available in developing nations,” said Tim White, business development manager for Water Technologies at Kohler. “We are working with global partners like World Vision, iDE and Water Mission, to get this product in the hands of the millions of people without safe water.”
“Our goal with Kohler Clarity is to provide a filter extremely efficient at creating safe drinking water that also becomes a fixture of convenience and dignity in a home,” said Mike Radloff, senior project manager-water technologies. “Kohler engineers and designers love a challenge and have high standards. In two years, we’ve been able to bring together teams around the world to use our expertise in plumbing to develop and bring to market this solution.”
The filter underwent initial laboratory evaluation, and field testing began with World Vision in India and Africa in November 2015. Production began in December 2015, and it was released in January of this year to partners like World Vision, iDE and Water Mission. In March 2015, Kohler Co. shipped the first order of its ceramic filtration system to Water Mission, a nonprofit, Christian engineering organization that provides sustainable safe water solutions to people in developing countries and disasters. Water Mission distributed filters in small communities in Haiti, Honduras and Peru.
Designed following global health leader PATH’s C1 filter guidelines, Kohler Clarity is incredibly simple considering the potential global impact. The filter works on gravity alone, no electricity or water infrastructure is needed. The filter holds 11 liters (2.9 gallons) of dirty water that flows into a 12-liter (3.1-gallon) reservoir, where the clean water is stored to avoid recontamination.
Kohler Clarity removes over 99 percent of bacteria and protozoa to meet the World Health Organization’s interim-level water quality guidelines. Additionally, studies show that safe drinking water and storage, such as filtering, reduces the risk of certain water-borne illnesses by 45 percent.
The filtration system is simple to assemble, use and maintain, with flush lines and smooth surfaces for easy cleaning. Kohler Clarity can filter up to 40 liters (10.5 gallons) of water per day, meeting the drinking water needs of a typical family. With an estimate ceramic filter life of up to one year, Clarity costs less than 1 cent per person per day to operate. At the end of the filter’s useful life, the cartridge can be easily removed and replaced, eliminating the need to purchase a new system.
In keeping with Kohler’s sustainable product development mindset, the lid, base and nut contain recycled plastics from toilet seat production. The corrugated box, designed to minimize non-biodegradable packing material, is shaped to optimally fill a shipping container to reduce shipping costs and can be worn on the back for easy transport.
Also during the Kohler facilities tour, media learned about Kohler generators. Kohler Power Equipment is expanding its portable generator offering with the introduction of enCUBE (energy cube), a battery-powered, indoor/outdoor inverter generator ideal for camping, tailgating, backup at home, light construction sites and most other locations where clean and reliable power is needed.
enCUBE provides 1,440 watts of continuous power and can surge up to 3,600 watts for thee milliseconds or 1,800 watts for 10 minutes to support motor starting. enCUBE comes with multiple outlets, including a pair each of USB ports for smaller electronic devices, 12V DC ports for medium-sized electronics, and 120V AC outlets for large electronics, appliances and an assortment of tools. The new generator can be charged with a standard 120V AC wall outlet or any solar panel. It offers silent operation, requires no fuel, and produces zero emissions.
“Producing zero emissions is a significant benefit because — in addition to being a more sustainable option — it offers the flexibility of being able to use the unit both indoors and outdoors,” said Dan Giampetroni, senior channel manager for Kohler Power Equipment. “enCUBE is a compact power plant on wheels. Whether it’s powering a refrigerator during an outage or a circular saw at a worksite, the unit provides fast and easy access to clean power in a manner that’s easier on the environment. We anticipate strong response to enCUBE from the growing number of building professionals and consumers who are seeking green products and other sustainable solutions for the home or jobsite.”
enCUBE is an ideal alternative to popular 2000 watt engine-driven generator models. It has a comparable price, but eliminates the noise, gasoline, toxic emissions, and oil changes required with those units. enCUBE was designed around safety and convenience. In addition to being safe for the environment, it also protects users with built-in GFCI and guards against overloading and overheating for safe and reliable performance.
enCUBE is easy to move and position due to two large built-in rubber wheels, a retractable pull handle, and recessed lifting handles. In addition to its mobility and variety of power options, enCUBE incorporates a number of other unique features, such as a built-in storage lid for keys, power cords and other personal items. The unit also integrates an LED screen, which provides continuous details about charging input, power output, battery status and run-time to help users maximize performance.
Kohler Power Systems has delivered energy solutions for markets worldwide since 1920. For more information, visit www.kohlerpower.com.