Ongoing Innovation in the Ever-Changing World

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A Sales and Operations Manager talks about manufacturing moving with the times

08 January 2021: ForNational Operations and Sales Manager at Hawk Pumps, Troy Mokawem, no day is quite the same. As a supplier of a number of spraying and high-pressure pumping products, customer requests are often out of the ordinary. And innovation is all in a day’s work.

Troy says, “We recently received a brief from a customer in the Seychelles. And it was not your usual custom design request. The brief was to build a pressure washer that was able to clean barnacles and general dirt build-up from the hulls of yachts. The catch was, it had to be done underwater, while the yachts were docked”.

He continues, “There was nothing in our existing catalogue that was able to service this exact need. So, a bit of forward thinking and invention needed to be put into the solution. After we all put our heads together, it came to us.

An innovative answer to an unusual question

“The high-pressure cleaners and pumps we generally supply are free-standing or autonomous mobile units. But we decided that we had to think differently to solve this unusual problem. The answer turned out to be a skid-mounted, petrol-operated 21-litre per minute unit, which delivered 200 bars of pressure.

“We custom-built the unit on a stainless-steel chassis that could be mounted directly onto the customer’s boat. The unit included a header tank, hose, gun and a rotating nozzle for maximum impact. And the gun was nickel-plated on the inside to enable the diver (operator) to work underwater.

No room for complacency

“No matter what business you’re in, new ways of doing things are being invented every day. And COVID-19 has forced us all to adapt even more. The current philosophy that most organisations should be adopting in our climate is, “adapt or die”. There is no room for complacency in our ever-changing business landscape. In manufacturing, for example, the biggest challenge during the pandemic has been communicating with our customers and engaging with the public.

“Traditionally, manufacturing and production rely heavily on print media and trade shows, so that potential customers can see the products in the real world. But we had to find new ways of marketing our services. The pandemic saw many publications either shutting down or converting to fully digital platforms. And of course, all planned trade shows for this year were cancelled.

“Digital communication has become a vital tool. And we have leveraged it to showcase our products in new ways, while reaching a wider audience than ever before – even on the international stage, in countries like the Seychelles and Australia. We have adapted to using different avenues, including a PR agency. And our social media presence grows every day.

The science of agility

“As many South Africans found themselves in a position where they had to find new income streams during the pandemic – either due to job losses or loss of revenue – it has also become necessary to think about fostering entrepreneurship. With that in mind, we have adjusted our thinking to suit the conditions brought about by COVID-19.

“We created a mobile, lightweight and affordable drain cleaner to generate income for a wide variety of small business owners looking to expand their income streams during lockdown. It provides an opportunity for plumbers to boost their service offering without breaking the bank. And there is also a smaller version available for use as a mobile car wash unit.

“Now is the time to be thinking ahead. As manufacturers, we can’t rest on our laurels. We are a vital component of the national economy and it is up to us to develop customised solutions in unusual times. Innovation is not just a science. It is about making a connection with the market you serve. Let’s keep thinking and connecting any way we can”.

To find out more about Hawk’s innovative products, visit hawkpumps.co.za

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