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BAYER: PRODUCT INNOVATION, DIGITAL REVOLUTION

In this feature, we turn the spotlight onto some of the key companies within our industry. In this edition, we look at global life science company, Bayer.

Having been around for over 150 years, Bayer’s success has been in its ability to continually reinvent itself. Embracing new innovations and technologies, Bayer has moved beyond ‘just products in a bottle’ to a company that lives its mission ‘Science for a better life’.

A life science company with core competencies in health care and agriculture, Bayer has committed significant resources into developing solutions to solve the health care and food supply problems associated with a growing and ageing population. In 2017, Bayer invested over Euro 4.5 billion in research and development, backed up by nearly 100,000 employees globally across all of their businesses.

In Australia, Bayer has cemented its reputation as one Australia’s leading pest control companies, both in its own right and through its acquisition of relevant businesses along the way. In 2001, Bayer AG acquired Aventis, and together it is known today as Bayer Crop Science.

Products for a new world

According to Bayer pest control business manager, Daryle Swarz, Bayer lives its vision of ‘Science for a better life’ by its management of its product portfolios. “We are always looking at technologies that provide improved solutions with reduced environmental impact. In the past, Bayer have removed popular and profitable products from the market as soon as improved technologies have become available. Sometimes Bayer takes a hit in the short term, but these are the right calls long term, for the health of the industry and the environment.”

The relatively new Aqua K-Othrine space spray illustrates this point, Mr Swarz said. “Space sprays are traditionally solvent-based to deliver maximum performance – water evaporates too quickly to allow effective distribution of the active ingredient. However, Aqua K-Othrine is almost entirely water-based, using only a small amount of solvent – a unique alcohol anti-evaporation technology – to deliver performance equivalent to the standard solvent-based products. Performance is delivered without the negatives of odour, fire risks, surface staining and environmental impacts, that can be associated with high solvent formulations.”

Bayer spent Euro 4.5 billion on R&D in 2017

“Bayer really is an advanced formulation company,” Mr Swarz continued. “The active ingredient is important, but it’s the formulation and application technique that has to be developed to deliver optimal performance for a particular use situation. Suspend Flexx, another new Bayer product, further highlights the focus on formulation innovation.”

Using a traditional and trusted active ingredient, deltamethrin, Suspend Flexx utilises unique carrier technology to ensure long lasting performance on the most porous and aggressive surfaces, Mr Swarz explained. “Most importantly, it allows lower dose rates to be used, giving pest managers the same performance at a lower cost per application, whilst reducing environmental impact.”

“The control that can be achieved with Suspend Flexx is demonstrated in the flexibility on the label, with a range of application rates allowed, each delivering a different duration of protection. Pest managers can then select the appropriate dose for their situation.”

More than a ‘product in a bottle’

For some time now, Bayer have taken the approach that supporting their customers and the pest control industry is more than just supplying ‘product in a bottle’. “We want our customers to be successful. Often, they are small businesses with limited resources. If we can help by providing additional services and training to improve their businesses, everyone wins,” Mr Swarz said.

Embracing digital technology has been key to providing these additional services, Mr Swarz explained. “Since 2012, Bayer has offered their Amplify program, an online business support system, providing technical and marketing support to pest control businesses. Much of the content is free to any pest manager that registers, with some premium content only available to Bayer customers.”

“There are some 30-35 training courses, greatly appreciated when upskilling or bringing on board trainees, but also very useful as refresher courses. They are continually being updated, with the recently added courses on termite soil treatments and baiting proving very popular,” Mr Swarz said.

The training has also been used by several companies to upskill their office staff. “When office staff have a good understanding of the different pests and treatments, it allows them to handle enquiries effectively and make more sales. It can also reduce callbacks as they can effectively handle many post-treatment enquiries over the phone, rather than sending a technician out for a site visit.”

Bayer have recently expanded their digital offerings to the pest control industry with the launch of their Pest Partner app. “The app is designed to make life on the job easier for pest managers,” said Mr Swarz.

The app is linked to the Bayer website and has MSDS and label information, information and identification tips for the key pests, a spray application calculator and a job report tool, which allows treatment advices to be emailed directly to clients. The app is free to download and available on Apple and Android. More functionality will be coming online in the near future.

“These digital innovations illustrate how Bayer view customer support,” Mr Swarz explained. “It’s not just about providing innovative products that deliver benefits with reduced environmental impact, it’s about supporting our customers with the tools to help them succeed and improve professionalism in the industry.”