Summary: Tom visits American Standard’s Design Center and factory to learn how the Champion 4 toilet is made.
TOM: Hi. I’m Tom Kraeutler, host of the Money Pit, and I’m in Piscataway, New Jersey at American Standards Design Center to learn what it takes to build a champion.
Greg Uhl is American Standards’ Design Director, and this is the Champion 4. So, Greg, how do we get a Champion 4 toilet? What goes into this, and how do you know what consumers want?
GREG: Well, we start with a lot of research. We talk to plumbers. We talk to building owners, and we talk to consumers and users about the product. And what they tell us is they want design, but they really want performance.
TOM: They want a toilet that really works. So how do we get there?
GREG: Well, when we go to create it, it begins in the model shop, and I’d like to show that to you.
TOM: All right. Let’s go.
GREG: This is our model shop, where products go from inspiration to innovation.
TOM: This is pretty cool. Greg, what is this, and what does it do?
GREG: This is a CNC machine. It’s a computer controlled router bit that uses robotics to cut a very precise mold.
TOM: So basically this is cutting the mold for the Champion 4 toilet?
GREG: It is. It’s the plaster mold.
TOM: So is this the computer that drives the CNC machine?
GREG: We create all the products on the computer. We, also, create the molds on the computer. So, yes, this file is telling the CNC machine what to do.
TOM: And you can actually see the path that the bit is following as it actually carves out the mold.
TOM: Now American Standard does a lot of testing on the toilets. What are we seeing being tested right here?
GREG: Well, here we’re testing the whole system for the life of the toilet.
TOM: And what is the life of a toilet?
GREG: Well, we define it as a family of four, each person flushing five times a day over a forty year period.
TOM: Forty years. All right. So this is testing the entire system, but what about the individual components, like the trip levers?
GREG: Well, those we test individually. In the case of the trip lever, we have a rig where we’ll test a number of trip levers repeatedly for thousands of times to see if there’s a wear point or any breaking.
TOM: Now, speaking of wear, what about the glaze. I mean cleanliness is really important when you own a toilet. How do you make sure that the glaze is going to stand up?
GREG: Well, sure. On our Champion 4, that’s got the EverClean anti-microbial glaze, and for that any sort of microbes that land on it die because of the glaze. To make sure that holds up over the forty years, we have a scrubber test, where we have a simulation of a sample, where we’ll scrub it back and forth for thousands of times.
TOM: So this really tests the reliability of every component on the Champion 4, but what about the actual performance? Is that tested here as well?
GREG: We do. We do that on our toilet test stand. That’s over there.
TOM: Let’s take a look.