My Favourite Product: Spray Rig

In this feature, Agserv business consultant Andy Knox invites a pest control professional to talk about their favourite product. Here, he talks to Michael Shaw from MHF Termite Barriers.

 

Michael Shaw (pictured above) has been in the pest control industry in Australia for just under 40 years. He spent some time in the distribution channel and has owned and managed a couple of pest control businesses. Several of his current staff have followed him along the journey from local business (Safeguard Termite Barriers) to being purchased by a major international company and back into his own business – MHF Termite Barriers.

Mr Shaw currently employs nine technicians; two focusing on termite inspections and the remainder working in pre-construction.

His business is more than 90% pre-con, regularly focusing on concrete curing. Concrete curing is the process of maintaining adequate moisture in concrete within a proper temperature range in order to aid cement hydration at early ages. The addition of PVA glue by spray application accelerates this process, cutting curing times for the builder from three weeks down to seven days. The glue is applied using the same equipment used for pre-construction termiticides, but it can be damaging to the equipment – particularly petrol driven pumps. Given the amount of concrete curing Mr Shaw’s team undertakes, he needed a rig that made minimal noise so that his staff could work longer hours, as well as one that could withstand potential damage caused by curing compounds.

Mr Shaw approached John Rutledge of Agserv to help him find a solution. Mr Rutledge has been developing and building spray rigs for more than 15 years and he puts together 40-50 units per year designed specifically to customer specifications, taking into account performance requirements and available space.

Mr Shaw asked if he could build a 12-volt, electric motor-based, quiet but effective unit. He needed something that could run all day as current petrol-driven motors tend to be somewhat noisy, limiting the times when they can be used. He also wanted the unit to be able to run while his vehicles were closed up.

Mr Rutledge put his thinking cap on and came up with the concept of dual electric pumps running in parallel, which would increase flow rate while maintaining pressure. The system he built delivers 14 L per minute while standard petrol pumps deliver about 10 L. Also costs are significantly reduced – both with the pumps themselves, and with maintenance and running costs. The electric diaphragm pump does not generate heat like a petrol driven pump, so the curing compound does not start to set in the pump.

 

 

The one difficulty that was encountered in the first test unit was wiring up and priming the two motors. When trying to start the unit using a single switch, the twin pumps would not activate. Mr Rutledge consequently added two separate switches, one for each pump, which easily resolved the issue and added the ability to moderate the flow rate from the pumps.

Mr Shaw now runs eight of the units, with varying hose length; the units with 100-metre hoses are particularly useful for termite applications, with the longer length allowing easier access to sub-floors and harder to reach areas, while units with 50-metre hoses are great for concrete curing. The silence of the electric pumps allows him to start work on building sites at 6am rather than 7am, giving him more freedom to work undisturbed at the start of the day and leading to extra profitability.

He has two spray units in his large LDV vans and six in full aluminium-bodied Toyota HiLuxes. The electric pumping system designed and fitted onto his rigs by Agserv has become by far his favourite piece of application equipment!

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