Little Changes Can Boost Your Bottom Line

Industrial cleaning in the sewer or wastewater industry has never enjoyed a big profit margin. Toss in a dicey economy, and contractors look for every advantage to cover their costs and enjoy a modest gain.
For that reason, the development of industrial cleaning tools, water blasting, and inspection equipment has recently been driven by the economy. The development of new equipment has been modest, with companies either developing improved versions of reliable standbys or making adjustments to their existing equipment to make it work better and faster without sacrificing safety.
One company that has followed that trend is NozzTeq, of Dunedin, Florida. The company is a custom manufacturer of sewer and drain-cleaning equipment. NozzTeq’s newest product is the BL Swiper, said President and CEO Scott Paquet.
The BL Swiper was developed specifically to help contractors work more efficiently and quickly while still performing at the same high level that customers have long expected from NozzTeq equipment.
“As the economy changes, the cost to clean pipe or what the contractor gets per foot is much less,” Paquet explained. “So in order to make a profit, a nozzle that performs better so they can clean upwards of 2,000 to 4,000 feet a day is required sometimes. The general trend is that it’s getting more competitive out there for contractors, and even cities, to clean more feet per day.”
Paquet continued, “We developed the BL Swiper so we can provide that product [that] performs up most with the air channels and tube system we have always used. What’s different is the air channels and the material we make [them] out of. Also, we had the opportunity to apply for a new patent.”
The BL Swiper basically is a new, patented sewer nozzle that is designed to clean sewers and storm water pipes. The BL Swiper is constructed to “super charge” the cleaning effect “by using both the water flow from the high-pressure pump together with the jet streams. The water flow, through the pressure in the jets, creates a jet stream, and the jet streams create thrust through a number of channels,” NozzTeq explains on its website.
NozzTeq said that its tests have shown that the flow rate can be almost cut in half compared with normal flow needs. “The pressure has a direct impact on the cleaning ability of the BL Swiper. By increasing the water pressure, the thrust power will also accelerate, decreasing the total cleaning time,” the company’s promotional information claims.
Each water jet is matched with a channel; so a nozzle with four water jets has four channels, for example. By placing the channels in the center of the BL Swiper nozzle, the total force of both air and water can be directed into the pipe or tube to clean it in a cost-effective manner.
Another company, Super Products, based near Milwaukee, WI, is a leading manufacturer of the Supersucker truck-mounted industrial vacuum loaders, along with the Camel combination sewer cleaners, the Camel Jet high-pressure jetters and the hydro-excavator Mud Dog.
The company is promoting its Supersucker M-Class, which uses a modular design for what it calls its state-of-the-art vacuum technology. The modular design provides low maintenance, heavy-duty vacuum efficiency, and super airflow, and it promises the best performance in the industry, according to company literature. The M, or modular design, allows operators the flexibility to select the correct body size and the proper number of separators and bag houses to meet specific job requirements.
One of the leaders in the industry is the Elgin, IL-based Federal Signal Environmental Solutions Group, which includes Jetstream and FS Solutions.
“For water blast contractors, 2009 was a very tough year due to the overall economic turndown,” said Sales Director Tony Fuller. “Lower demand for all types of goods resulted in lower productivity at the plants. This, in turn, resulted in less need for industrial cleaning services.
“In addition, normally scheduled jobs were deferred wherever possible because maintenance budgets tightened as companies attempted to save their way to profitability. The market is more competitive than ever, both for manufacturers and contractors,” Fuller said.
As with other manufacturers, Federal Signal Environmental Products Group is finding that its customers are looking for ways to boost productivity.
“The biggest change in the market is a desire for increased productivity,” Fuller said. “Contractors are under pressure to get jobs done faster, without compromising safety or increasing price.
“Flow or GPM at a given psi correlates directly to productivity; the more water you flow, the quicker the material deposits will be removed. The limiting factor has traditionally been the human operator. Productivity is limited by the amount of water the operator can safely hold with a hand tool,” he explained.
So, how has Federal Signal responded to those changes in the industry? Fuller states that manufacturers have answered with more automated tooling that either eliminates the operator from the equation or reduces his exposure to high-pressure water devices.
“Jetstream offers a wide range of pump sizes and plunger configurations to maximize flow efficiency at every horsepower range,” he noted. “We have also worked with customers to maximize utilization of their existing equipment with gun manifolds. Multiple pumps can be easily combined for more flow when needed, so automated tooling can be used at peak GMP.”
That’s not all. “Seasonal industrial cleaning jobs [such as spring and fall shutdowns] are typically project driven,” Fuller said. “The variability in demand, increasing equipment costs, and the tightening of credit over the last couple of years has also negatively affected contractor growth.”
In response, FS Solutions has aggressively expanded its locations throughout the United States, he said. “We offer a wide range of rental programs for pumps and tooling so contractors can balance the right mix of equipment and people with less risk.”
As for the future, Fuller said FS Solutions is prepared to meet the demands of a steadily growing economy.
“As employment rolls begin to improve and the demand for qualified or certified labor and operators increases, FS Solutions locations are staffed with experts to educate and train equipment operators at all levels, in a variety of areas, including operations, safety, and productivity of both water-blasting and vacuum applications,” Fuller said. “Training is available online or can be conducted at any of our four locations through the United States with our state-of-the art, hands-on training module.”
Gary Poborsky is President of GapVax, which bills itself as “the manufacturer of the world’s most advanced industrial vacuum truck.” Based in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the company has recently introduced a hi-dump industrial vacuum truck, which Poborsky said is in direct response to requests from customers who wanted a more efficient way to do their jobs.
“We decided [to make it] because of the numerous requests we’ve had from existing customers and potentially new customers wanting to have that [hi-dump] option available. They wanted something that was more stable,” he said.
GapVax has been manufacturing industrial vacuum equipment, hydro-excavation equipment, and municipal equipment (combination machines) since 1989.
The company manufactured its industrial vacuum hi-dump in 2009, and it debuted at the Pumper Show in Louisville in 2010.
“The hi-dump was a customer request so they can dump their payloads on the jobsite instead of risking being ‘overweight’ on their way to the dump with the industrial vac truck having a full load,” he said. “This way, they can dump into a roll-off container
with the hi-dump feature and stay on the jobsite, getting more work accomplished and not risking the overweight hassles.”
Poborsky said the economy has led to tighter budgets for almost everyone. “GapVax uses the best quality materials to manufacture custom equipment to give the customer[s] exactly what they want. Our machines are reliable and last longer because they are made from such quality products. Also, we have the safest design,” he said. “When you are using the hi-dump and have a full debris body, lifting the body in the air is dangerous, but with the superior design of the GapVax Industrial Vacuum hi-dump, we ensure the safest possible positioning from the design.”
The design has been so successful that GapVax is planning on introducing a hi-dump hydro excavator and a hi-dump combination machine, Poborsky shared.
Those who build machinery for the liquid waste industry are finding that their customers are working harder to do more with less—less money, less equipment and less manpower. Their solution is to bring equipment to the market that will help customers nudge as much profit as possible from the bottom line.
“They have a need for higher quality machines, high performance, and longer lasting machines because they are a huge capital investment,” Poborsky said. “They don’t have the budgets to buy equipment every few years. They want to buy better equipment that will last longer and have better performance.”

Story by Marie Elium

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