Having embarked upon his career at Crawley based cleaning specialists Pressure Clean 18 years ago, sales director Gary Fielding has seen technology in the pressure washing sector come a long way.
Starting in the office after he finished school and then moving to parts and spares, engineering and finally looking after the sales, Mr Fielding has a sound working knowledge of the sector and strives to find the right machines for his customers around the South East, from Margate to Portsmouth, up to Basingstoke, to the top of the M25 and even in to south Essex.
“I have been working with Kärcher machines from the start,” explained Mr Fielding. “Kärcher approached Pressure Clean when they first came over to the UK, and so we became one of the first British dealers to stock the machines.”
Ongoing investment into research, development and product testing has allowed Kärcher to lead the sector forward and they remain the global market leader. “As a manufacturer Kärcher also sets the standard for proactive quality control and this really puts them at the top of the pressure cleaning game. “The factory in Germany has machines set up to be ruggedly tested for prolonged periods, so you know the final product is going to be reliable.”
The latest trigger gun is a classic example of the value added from Kärcher’s research, both in terms of usability and durability. “Anyone who uses one of the EASY!Force guns instantly knows Kärcher is in a different league,” explained Mr Fielding. “They have moved the trigger to the back of the gun so once you have pressed the safety lock, the force of the water pushes the gun into the ball of your hand and you can carry on operating without the strain of gripping with your fingers.”
The equipment has been designed with the operator in mind at every stage. “The whole experience is no longer restricted by hand and finger fatigue or cramps and is ideal for both frequent users and those who perhaps haven’t got the grip strength for prolonged use.”
Switching between accessories has also been simplified by Kärcher’s EASY!Lock quadruple trapezoidal screw thread. “Anyone with a traditional machine will understand that changing the accessories over can be time consuming,” explained Mr Fielding. “But the new thread system means that instead of turning continuously, accessories will only need to be tuned once for them to be fully screwed and locked into place.”
A total of 476 accessories have been converted to the new screw thread system, and while the new trigger guns come as default with all new machines, special adaptors mean current owners looking to upgrade will not need to start their accessory collection from scratch.
“Kärcher are good at investing to make the pressure washing process more user friendly, but, with the right tools, you could also be saving money too. Over the past two years, for instance, we have seen a huge boost in the number of foam accessory sales. The foam uses around 50% less chemical per application and cleans more efficiently because of the increased contact time the chemical has on dirt. It also makes it quicker for the operator as instead of having to do a section at a time before the chemical runs off, you can apply the foam all over, then brush and rinse.”
Inside, the gun has also seen a makeover. “In the past, Kärcher would only have ceramic inside the really heavy duty trigger guns,” said Mr Fielding. “But they have now extended this to all models, so where you would have had stainless steel before, you will now find a more hardwearing, durable ceramic ball bearing and seat.”
Those looking to take advantage of Kärcher’s EASY!Force and EASY!Lock concepts are being well rewarded. “Until the end of September 2017, customers will be able to get up to £500 cash back on new Kärcher machines. It varies by model, but for the cold machines you can expect around £50, or £150 with the hot machines.”
One of the most popular machines which goes out to Pressure Clean’s agricultural customers is the HDS 10/20-4 M. This medium class hot water cleaner is equipped with three phase power supply for higher performance, a four pole electric motor with three piston axial pump, two detergent tanks, and a highly efficient eco setting which operates at the most economical temperate range and has optimised burner cycles to reduce fuel consumption by up to 20%.
Those looking for more freedom and flexibility from a machine can also benefit from Kärcher’s industrial range. “Skid machines are very useful for the agricultural sector,” said Mr Fielding. “Farmers often like them because there are no restrictions on where you can use them. They have no limits with power: they’re diesel so you can take them anywhere, and you don’t need a tap or running water supply either as they’re capable of drawing from a trough or a barrel.”
If you’ve ever wondered where the bright yellow went, that was also due to Kärcher led research and development to improve the user experience. “The body of commercial machines – Kärcher’s Professional Range – is now anthracite, a shade of grey. “Anything that the operator needs to touch, or press, or turn, is in the classic yellow, which makes all Kärcher machines very simple and easy to use. Even on the inside, only the parts the operator should be checking are yellow, and anything light grey is something which will need servicing.”
With confidence to back up the quality testing, Kärcher is also offering extended warranty for up to three years for any machines purchased with a maintenance agreement before the end of September. “The research and effort put into design makes Kärcher machines very serviceable. We go out to the customer to service usually twice a year, although this can be up to four times a year for heavy use machines. There’s a basic service, which includes pump oil, burner service and a portable appliance safety test, followed later by a full service which would include a full pump rebuild.” Maintaining the machines through agreements may seem like an added cost, but proper upkeep can prevent performance from deteriorating over time and can increase a machine’s life. “With good care and servicing, a Kärcher should last well over 10 years,” said Mr Fielding. “There are wear parts in the pump and the accessories and as the hole that the water is travelling through widens with use, you will eventually start to notice a loss in pressure and consequently in performance.”