No Detail Too Small: Why Engineers Should Think About Urinal Stickers

Steve Graysonby Steve Grayson, P.E., LEED AP BD+C

When you think of consulting engineers, what do you think of? Calculators, people hunched over drawings, and highly innovative solutions? We have and do those things, yes, but contrary to popular belief, we are also human, which means certain daily needs and functions. Now most people probably won’t make a connection between answering nature’s call and breakthrough design decisions, but I am not most people. A thought dawned on me: How can we make urinals clean and more fun at the same time?

When you think of urinals what do you think of?  And no I’m not talking about the California punk rock band from the 70’s.  Do you think of state of the art design and efficiency?  No, most people don’t think of reduced water usage and a time-savings experience; they think of dirty, smelly, wet floors.

A Simple Solution

Have you ever walked into a men’s restroom and found a sticker of a fly or a swirl inside the urinal and asked yourself, “Why in the world is that there?  Do I really need a target or some kind of entertainment while I am performing one of nature’s most basic tasks? I thought urinal targets were for toddlers to help them learn to potty train. Surely grown adults such as myself don’t need such a rudimentary device.” I can’t be the only one with such thoughts.

Turns out I’m not. You might be surprised to know that the topic of preventing splash-back and spillage has been studied by university physicists and that trials throughout the world suggest that giving men a target to aim at improves concentration thus preventing spillage. Per the article linked above, the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam reports that spillage went down by 80% when they added a sticker of a fly in each urinal.

This has some obvious benefits: reduced cleaning requirements resulting in maintenance cost savings, better user experience due to reduced smell, and, most importantly, additional safety due to reduced floor slippage. Not only are urinal targets highly functional but they can also make a man feel like a boy again making a more enjoyable restroom experience. Who doesn’t like aiming at things?

Cost savings, user experience, and safety. These are all things we engineers take into account when we’re designing mechanical and plumbing systems more noble than the humble urinal. So for all you engineers out there, next time you are selecting a plumbing fixture, remember to spec or at least recommend a urinal sticker or baked on target, because the little things can make all the difference. And for all you urinal users out there, live long and aim true.

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One Comment

  1. Posted February 10, 2015 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    I think we can do better than just a urinal sticker. Maybe something along these lines:

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