Quality Matters for Safety, Efficiency and Lifetime Value
Making an informed decision about your next drain jetter can be complex. How can you ensure you purchase a system that is high quality, efficient and fit for purpose?
When purchasing a drain jetter, there are many considerations to ensure the system you buy is of the highest possible quality and backed up by professional customer service. Considerations not just about whether it will execute an efficient job in all applications and demonstrate value for money throughout its lifetime, but also how reliable and safe will it be for the operator to use?
Evolving customers’ needs have traditionally driven jetter manufacturers’ product development and quality enhancement programmes. However, legislation and regulations are increasingly playing a significant role. Now that the high pressure jetting industry has matured, it has appeared on the radar of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and they are taking a much greater interest in the industry’s workplaces, working practices and the equipment used.
Recently, a well-known national company was issued with a prohibition notice for using a high pressure jetting hose that was worn, with wire braid showing through. In the notice, the HSE Inspector made reference to BS EN 1829:2 which is one of the British Standards covering hoses used in jetting operations. This clearly demonstrates that the HSE are aware of and checking on our industry.
Under PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations), employers are responsible for providing their employees with work equipment that is safe and suitable for its intended use, only used by operators who have received adequate information, instruction and training and who are conversant with the safety measures required.
Some machines on the market today fall short of these requirements and, although they may carry a CE mark inferring compliance with the necessary directives, a simple investigation can highlight areas where they do not comply. Purchasing below par equipment can put employees at risk and exposes companies, their directors and managers to prosecution by the HSE.
So, what do you need to take into account during the selection and procurement process that will help you to make an informed decision about the quality of your next drain jetter?
First, in order to choose the correct machine, you need to clearly identify the specification you require, including:
- Pressure and flow from the machine.
- Maximum allowable weight of the machine.
- Details of the towing/carrying vehicle.
- Whether one man operation is required.
- List of accessories required, including safety equipment.
Choosing a Supplier
When the specification has been set, it is necessary to choose a manufacturer that can build the system to the right quality, price and delivery time. This choice should be based on the following factors:
- Compliance with regulations.
- Quality of product.
- Training and on-going technical advice.
- Lifetime cost of ownership.
- Reputation of manufacturer
- Past experience.
Compliance with regulations is the most important of these as, without this, the equipment must not be offered for sale. Manufacturers should provide a comprehensive operator manual with every machine that includes an EC declaration of conformity detailing the directives with which the machine complies. This should be signed by a competent person from the supplying company.
Preferably, the supplier will operate an externally audited quality system and a purchaser should ask to see a copy of the current certificate. Quality conscious manufacturers will operate a quality system that meets BS EN ISO9001 and requires that they are externally audited twice a year. Quality systems force companies to operate in a structured way with procedures and processes that can be checked and repeated. They indicate that the manufacturer has a disciplined approach and that equipment is likely to be of a consistent and repeatable quality.
Check also for active membership of any trade associations. Trade associations often work closely with the HSE and can provide practical advice on the application of relevant standards.
Pressure, flow, water capacity and weight are generally considered to be the most important criteria when
considering machine purchase. We can now see that regulatory compliance must come before all of these. Once machine compliance has been assured, contractual considerations should be taken into account. It may be necessary that machines on certain contracts require a certain flow and pressure combination. Where no such restrictions exist, the choice of machine performance is likely to be set by:
- Type of work to be undertaken
- Weight and towing restrictions
- Noise restrictions
- Previous experience
Cost of Ownership
Initial purchase price is important but lifetime cost of ownership indicates the real value of the jetter and should take into account the following items:
- Purchase price – including accessories, fitting and delivery.
- Fuel costs – petrol v diesel.
- Warranty terms – parts & labour.
- National after-sales service provision.
- Residual value – estimate of the future value.
- Disposal costs.
When considering warranty terms, it is advisable to obtain a copy of the manufacturer’s terms and conditions of sale and warranty policy. This can normally be found on the company website. If it is not there, request a copy.
Ask how the manufacturer provides after-sales service on a national basis and what response time can be expected. Will they offer a fixed price service package and will they travel to your site? How do they ensure that their engineers are competent?
Ask about residual values and expect manufacturers that offer such deals to also require machinery is serviced by them at specified intervals. This maintains compliance with the directives.
Consideration of all these items will help develop a balanced business case for your jetter purchase by ensuring that the equipment sourced is quality compliant, fit for purpose and represents best value for money.
Flowplant has recently published an impartial ‘Guide to Purchasing Drain Jetters’ which covers all the above in more detail. Available to download free from www.flowplant.co.uk, the guide also includes a purchasing decision matrix to help you check products are quality compliant and rate competitive systems before you commit to purchase.