Monday, August 03, 2009

Toilets #452

Bonnie, SH and I took the Kohler factory tour this morning. If you like toilets and like factories and happen to be in the Milwaukee area, I highly recommend this free tour where they even give you a bottle of water. If nothing else, it will help you understand why nice bathroom and kitchen fixtures cost so much.

It did not, however, help me understand how toilets are designed -- we did not go to the toilet R&D center, which would I would have loved to see. (Why do you have to flush twice sometimes? Can't someone do something about this? Why can't I flush certain female items? Honestly. We can put a man on the moon, etc, etc.)

I love the wall of toilets and sinks.

What we did see is how vitreous china (no, I do not know what makes 'vitreous' china different from regular china and no, I am not going to look it up because they promised no pop quiz) is molded, glazed and fired, how cast-iron bathtubs are molded, enameled and fired, and how fixtures are molded and coated, all of which was very cool to me as I am a total factory nerd and love to see things being made.

My sister and I took a quick run through the Design Center on our way back from Medford and she had no hesitation about jumping into this tub.

In my past life, I was a process improvement person and data queen for a manufacturing company. This tour is probably the only time I knew something that SH did not: I know what lockout/tagout is and what NCP is and I knew what the charts that the guide*, bless his heart, did not give me enough time to read, meant. SH has seen computers being assembled but that is not the same thing at all as red-hot molten iron being poured into a die with a sand core or brass fixtures being dipped into chrome or a toilet being unmolded. Not that we did those things where I worked, but we still had big machines and a lot of danger. I even had my own steel-toed boots.

In the spirit of helpfulness, I looked for places where my suggestions would be welcome. After all, I substantially improved the inter-plant credit hold process at my old company. Surely I can come up with something at a toilet-making plant. But the only suggestion for improvement that I would make based on my two-hour tour is that ironically, they need more ladies' rooms.

I heart this sink. I heart this color. I would have this sink in my house in a second if our bathroom were not white and blue.

* Our guide was a sweetheart. He had worked for Kohler for 42 years and retired in 1996. He had a strong Milwaukee accent and would say, "OK den. We can't go over dere no more by dose guys. So."


Anonymous said...

I used to work for a vendor of Kohler's, we supplied their office furniture. The are VERY particular about who gets into their R&D areas. A group of designers came to tour that space once & even though we were escorted by a Kohler employee, at the last minute a sheaf of confidentiality agreements were produced & we all had to sign.

Anonymous said...

The Kohler Design Center is one of my favorite places on the planet....EVERY time I go to Wisconsin, I go there....I have yet, however, to ever have actually gotten in one of the tubs for a photo opp like Jenny did!!! I even took a picture of the tub she was in, in a recent trip to time, I'll take a 'walk on the wild side'...

Anonymous said...

I always thought it was "vrituous china" and that's why it was so popular...


Anonymous said...

Vitreous \Vit"re*ous\, a. [L. vitreous, from vitrum glass;
perhaps akin to videre to see (see Vision). Cf. Varnish.]
1. Consisting of, or resembling, glass; glassy; as, vitreous
[1913 Webster]

2. Of or pertaining to glass; derived from glass; as,
vitreous electricity.
[1913 Webster]

John0 Juanderlust said...

A good friend of Luke's designed many shower heads sinks and toilets for that company, and others. A young prodigy. Marsha and Luke both have sinks and shower heads he created and somehow was able to offer, gratis. Clever designs. He designed a tankless toilet for someone that uses a pump or something.
He was there for Luke's birthday recently when I had my great Seattle adventure.

class-factotum said...

John, I remember meeting him at Nicky and Mac's Christmas party and have thought of him every time I have gone to Kohler. What a cool job! I remember he got to go to Italy for inspiration.

Anonymous Mother said...

With all the TOILETS available, what's with that guy sitting in a SINK???