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 WindowCleaning/Working atHeight

Reaching newheights following relocation

Ionic Systems,manufacturer of the Reach andWash system, has recently completed itsmove to a new, larger factory building inWiltshire.

Reach &Wash systems to cope with ever- increasing demand.” Among the newmachinery that Ionic has

invested is an abrasive blaster that enables stainless steel to be given a smooth, high- quality finish. “The blaster is a perfect ex- ample of how investment can lead to better products,” saidMawlam. “The blasted stainless steel surface is practically flaw- less and very robust, far superior to simple polishing. But themachinery to do that is about the size of a bus! We could never have used this technique at our smaller premises.” Ionic’s flagship product is the Zero, a

Ionic first launched the Reach &Wash sys- temat the 1997 Cleaning Show, and since then it’s fair to say that the window cleaning industry has changed almost beyond recognition. These days, especially in the commercial window cleaning world, wa- terfed pole systems are routinely used where once ladders, hydraulic access and even abseiling were employed. The growth in waterfed pole use has been

remarkably swift, and not just in the UK. Helped along by a 2005 European directive that significantly restricted working-at- height throughout EU countries, some now estimate that asmuch as 80%of all win- dow cleaning is done by pole. But according to Ionic, new regulations

have played only aminor role in this wide- spread adoption. CraigMawlam, Ionic’s founder and chairman, said: “It’s certainly true that the new European regulations have had an impact, but they have really just sped up what was happening anyway. Using waterfed poles is very obviously a safer way to work than at height, but even safety has not been the primary reason for adoption. The real driving force has been efficiency. It’s a simple fact that window cleaners work twice as fast with poles than they do working at height. Thatmeans more work completed in a day, andmore profit earned. For any window cleaning company, using a Reach &Wash system has become a no-brainer.” This rapid transformation has not been

without its difficulties.Mawlamcontinued: “When an industry changes as quickly as window cleaning has, it does cause some difficulties for those at the forefront of that change, as Ionic is. At times, it has been a challenge to cope with sheer volume, and that can have knock-on consequences. It is

24 l C&M l JUNE 2014 l

Above, Ionic’s new 22,000 sq ft factory premises in Swindon is part of a growth strategy thatwill see the company introduce awider array of products to an ever-increasing market.

Below, among the newmachinery that Ionic has invested is an abrasive blaster that enables stainless steel to be given a smooth, high-quality finish.

a constant balancing act between refining ourmanufacturing processes for our exist- ing range but at the same time innovating new products. Crucially, our new factory fa- cility will enable us tomanufacture on a bigger scale, withmore advanced,more ef- ficient production techniques, and this will make a huge difference to the development process.”

The present

Ionic’s new 22,000 sq ft factory premises in Swindon is part of a growth strategy that will see the company introduce a wider array of products to an ever-increasing market. “As we export tomore andmore countries, we now have the volume and the space to employ production techniques which require bigger industrialmachinery,” continuedMawlam. “This is already allow- ing us to scale up the production of our

Reach &Wash systemcapable of produc- ing water of significantly higher purity than has been commonly used until now. Mawlamcites the Zero as one of themain reasons for themove to a new factory: “The Zero is so advanced, we had to develop both new technologies and newmanufac- turing processes simultaneously. It has been, without a doubt, themost challeng- ing and complexmachine we have ever produced, taking three years to develop. As I had hoped, the Zero has been very popu- lar, especially the hot-water version. The only way we couldmanufacture such an advancedmachine in the quantity needed was to redesign our entire production process fromstart to finish, and so a new, bigger factory was simply essential.”

Looking forward

Although it’s now been over 17 years since the first Reach &Wash systemwas pro- duced, new products are still being devel- oped. “We’ve always placed a very high importance on innovation,” continued Mawlam. “Tome, new ideas are the lifeblood of a company. I’mhoping that we’ll be able to bring new products to the market even faster now that we have better production systems in place.” Itmight be hard to imagine what else

could possibly be produced for window cleaners that doesn’t already exist, but Mawlamis confident that there will be some surprises to come. “Window cleaning is a dynamic and vibrant industry that never stays still for long.We have several exciting things currently in development, and not just products. Advances in technology are changing the way people do business, and I believe that a customer-focused approach is going to be the only way forward.” Ionic is planning to offer a greater num-

ber of international services, fromonline ordering to customer support, inmultiple languages. “The world is a smaller place now,” concludedMawlam. “Customers everywhere quite rightly expect to be able to deal with us in a way that suits them, and importantly, in their own language. This is a considerable challenge, but as a proudly international company, we are rolling out services to do exactly that.”

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