Industry Leaders Forum: Warwick Lorenz, MD, Australian Pump Industries

How was 2020 for Aussie Pumps?   What were the highlights?  What were the challenges?

Frankly, we found 2020 extremely stimulating.  The challenge of having to face something as dramatic as the Coronavirus gave us opportunity to better understand the role that pressure cleaning equipment can play in hygiene.

We fast tracked engineering developments like our new hot wash Sizzler, conscious of the need for a top quality high performance hot water machine.

Single phase and built like a tank, it was put on the market for under $5,000.  That was a big breakthrough and we found it sold into a wide range of applications from aged care homes to hire companies, schools, dairies and food processing plants.

We didn’t really understand the potential until the World Health Organisation announced it that hot water at 80o and above effectively will kill the virus!

How did Aussie Pumps adapt to the impact of the pandemic?

Again, the motivation was to help people.  To deliver products fast that could effectively help to fight the virus, meant taking radical action to build production numbers up.

For example, our AB30 “Pocket Rocket” 3000psi Honda powered pressure cleaner sales went through the roof.  This Australian innovation, conceived, designed and built in Australia put cheap imports to shame.

We simply put more features into the machine and sell it at a reasonable price.  Innovations like these are driven by perceived customer needs. That drives our consistent program of surveying customer groups, particularly in the cleaning industry.

What’s the immediate focus for Aussie Pumps in 2021?

For us the big challenge really is beating the coronavirus. Although there are touted vaccines out there and even the UK has come on board with Pfizer, we think this isn’t just an Australian problem but very much one of huge international proportions.

On that basis, refining our cleaning range, particularly accessories to use with cold, hot wash and steam cleaners, make jobs easier, faster and safer. That is the priority.

Our design team is working hard finessing our existing product range and developing new products that are going to not only help us to control the virus but also delivery better results for the folk on the ground doing the cleaning.

We want customers to be able to carry out pressure washing and vacuuming safely, efficiently and of course profitably.  In fact, the profitability goes up with safety and efficiency.

For example, using a Tele wand to clean awnings or windows in the exterior of a building with a 6 metre reach, means “no ladders”.

That removed a major potential hazard.  It also means that the operator is able to reach the job more easily, thus doing a better finish and at the same time, doing it faster and with more convenience.

With our Aussie Tele Wand, we provide a harness which allows the operator to handle the lance with ease.  At the same time when the trigger is pulled, the weight goes off the lance as the pressure goes through the gun and up through the nozzle.  That makes it safer, removes any physical stress and again gets the job done faster.

Apart from that we are working on a dust suppression wand that will effectively mist dust load in sites. Again this relates to both efficiency and of course the health of the operator.

What do you expect will be the big product trends of 2021?

Again we believe this revolves around Corona.  The cleaning industry has evolved over the last 25 years in an amazing way.

Although there are some highly professional big operators out there the back bone of the industry is the people on the ground who perform a myriad of cleaning chores everything from hospitals to schools to factories and offices.

We do a lot of work with the navy and are very conscious of the need for cleanliness on warships.  Our Aussie Eco-Clean Vacs are selected because of the health and safety standard they comply with.

We are in the process of developing a 24 volt wet/dry vacuum cleaner with a Microweb 99.9% filtration system, that can be operated inside a dump truck or any mobile application where only 24 volt is available.

That means operators can clean the truck before a change of shift, again a great precaution against not only dust, germs etc but will play its part in the war against coronavirus.

Looking to the future both short and long term what do you see as far as the adjustments the global cleaning industry must embrace?

We don’t think that there is any massive new ideas coming out of cleaning. Of course all of the major manufacturers in the world are working, just like we are, to produce more efficient machines,  that get the job done faster, and at the same time provide better value for money.

Third world products have flooded the market are often found to be unreliable, poor quality and can also result in real OH&S breaches. That’s a big thing as OH&S should be the number one priority of all cleaning operators.

When it comes to pressure cleaners we fully support the new Safety Standards that mean that operators should be properly trained before using high pressure cleaning equipment.

We produce a Class A operator training course which is freely available to everybody in the industry.  What we want is safer operation and yet we often see pressure cleaners being operated by folk who have absolutely zero training!

Professional pressure cleaners, that’s not the ones you buy at big box stores, are the ones that really get the job done efficiently and safely.

Nobody wants to waste time driving a pressure cleaner for 5 or 6 hours when the job can be done in half an hour to an hour with the right equipment.

So it is training the operator to use those more capable machines in a safer way that is so important.  Mind you, you can injure yourself even with a big box store special if you’re careless and aren’t properly trained.

What is one issue the industry should urgently address in 2021?

The respect for the people who do the work on the ground is the big issue. We constantly hear stories from cleaning companies about the pressure to get jobs done within a certain time frame yet, the equipment and the training of the operators is lacking.

We see the emergence of very confident companies, BGIS is a classic example, who have operators who are trained to carry out many cleaning tasks using the right equipment and being able to get the job done fast.

That means that first of all, the customer gets minimum disruption during the cleaning process and the job is done efficiently and safely. The efficiency translates to happy customers and a happy contractors and operators.

Training is a huge factor.  That’s why we are developing training programs not just for familiarity with equipment and creating an awareness of what is available but also, with a major focus on safety.  OH&S is the big challenge for the industry.  We may think the industry is dealing with it but frankly, in our opinion we have a long way to go.

What additional advice do you have for the cleaning community?

Education – magazines like InClean can do a huge amount to advise the industry and operators, whether they are government or private, in how to get cleaning tasks done more safely and efficiently.

We can’t believe there are third world vacuum cleaners being used out there that don’t have 99.9 per cent filtration. We see cleaners generating dust off carpets and blowing half of the dust back out through the exhaust of the vac into the atmosphere.

It is a health hazard not only for the operator but for the people who work in the environment they are cleaning.  In other words, it’s a superficial clean, not a hygienic clean. We are at war with that concept. That is why all our vacuum cleaners have 99.9% Microweb homopolymer filters.

We know there will be huge opportunity for the cleaning industry to develop. Entrepreneurial operators who really understand the way the machinery is developing and appreciate what it brings will reap the benefits.

For example, our silenced 4000psi steam cleaners, diesel drive and therefore mobile, can operate within the guidelines of the EPA by practising clean and capture principles.

Even local government bodies and major contractors are using machines that are technically in breach of the EPAs regulations for pressure cleaning.

The problem is ignorance and that’s where InClean can play a major role in getting more involved with the industry. We welcome visitor to our factory, seeing what we are doing in developing and talking to our research and development engineers.

For us the challenge is always the people who use the equipment!  We want them to be safe, we want them to be efficient, and of course we want a cleaner Australia.

The cleaning industry should congratulate itself on the huge improvements that have been made over the last 25 years.

We should be confident about the future but not complacent.  We still have a long way to go in terms of improving efficiencies and reducing cost to the lot of the cleaning industry workers..

This article first appeared in the January/February issue of INCLEAN magazine

Read the original article here

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