Trailer Magazine

Spoutvac Australia’s specialised offering

  • From the July 2015 issue.
Spoutvac Australia’s specialised offering

By factoring all possible Australian conditions into its standardised manufacturing process, Spoutvac Australia has managed to cut costs while efficiently providing its customers with the specialised equipment they require.

Running beneath our roads and cities is a system of sewers and drains that are generally not spared more than a passing thought. But those structures are integral to civilisation, and are the only focus of Victoria-based company Spoutvac Australia.

“Since 1987, we have specialised in one thing: building truck mounted sewer and drain cleaning machines for Australian conditions,” says Spoutvac Australia Technical Sales Engineer, Morten Jensen.

The machines are complex units that Spoutvac has developed from the ground up with ‘loads of small mechanisms that you don’t see’ alongside the main tanks, such as high-pressure water jets for flushing the sewers and the vacuum pumps that reach nine metres deep underground, as well as countless nozzles and indicators.

The size of the Australian sewer and drain cleaning market is on the small side, but Spoutvac has the capacity to manufacture 32-35 units in its Bendigo factory. With a considerable part of the market in hand, Morten reveals that much of Spoutvac’s recent success can be attributed to the standardisation of its manufacturing processes.

“We are now able to give the market what they want in a standard pack. It’s a more efficient process that helps us offer our products at a competitive price,” he says. However, those units that Spoutvac builds end up spread out across Australia in different areas with wildly different conditions, so they must be designed and built with different options depending on where they are going.

“There are varying environments and weight regulations across the different states. The vacuum excavation and sludge removal process handles some pretty heavy materials, with loads sometimes exceeding 7-10 tonnes, so we have to be very careful with the axle load limits and weight distribution.”

While simultaneous standardisation and location-specific customisation sounds like a contradiction, Morten explains that the combination is actually the core of the new Spoutvac manufacturing process.

“We have included all possible options in the standard; so we can take the base model and then just add on the standardised parts until it suits the purpose. Each customer has varied expectations of its units, but this way everything combines in a standard process to make a purpose-built machine,” he says – revealing that manufacturing takes place entirely in Victoria.

Because of the high costs typically experienced when manufacturing in Australia, Morten explains that the standardisation was the key to becoming cost-competitive with its competitors’ European imports. But if you ask Morten, Australian development gives Spoutvac its real competitive advantage.

“Australia has varied climates, extreme temperatures, extreme rain and conditions you just wont find in many other places in the world. The reason why we’ve been so successful is that we have developed our system for the Australian conditions.”

Morten explains that one of the biggest differences between the two continents is the level of water found in the sewers and drains. In Europe, the sewer systems are full of water, as the countries are highly populated cities with drains and sewers that are in constant use and are therefore always flowing. In Australia, the size of the country and the layout of the cities mean that most drains and sewers run dry.

“It’s a completely different method of cleaning, and it defines the whole vacuum system that we have developed,” says Morten. “One of the things that helped us to develop our complex machinery is our small group of trusted suppliers that the industry acknowledges as being the best, like Jost, who we’ve been using for 25 years. We use its hydraulic lifting cylinders, pintle hooks, combination hitches, turntables and slewing rings on all our units.”

Using quality equipment across the board is just another part of the Spoutvac standardisation process, with its suppliers held to very rigorous standards before making the cut. “We don’t build the cheapest units out there, but when you are running a complex piece of machinery for 15-20 years, you want it to keep going, and it starts with making sure the components we use are the best,” says Morten.

With the quality of the components from Jost guaranteed over its whole range and the standardised process allowing for more efficient manufacturing, Morten says that Spoutvac is looking forward to another ‘record year’ of supplying Australian made machinery built for Australian conditions.

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