Healthy working environment a ‘must’ for painters

A growing trend towards creating and sustaining healthier work places has picked up pace in the Australian painting and decorating industry, particularly in regard to the dust that professionals inhale whilst sanding surfaces in preparation for painting projects.

Mirka LEROS, the world’s first and only electric random orbital wall and ceiling sander on the market.

This is proving to be one of the most common health and occupational hazards in the industry currently, according to Tenaru Timber Finishes Managing Director, Brian Hamilton.

“Dust from sanding surfaces not only contaminates painters’ lungs, but also significantly slows down their work processes. Just how badly it affects them depends on the type of dust inhaled and where exactly in the respiratory tract it lingers,” he said.

“It is for this reason that Mirka has played an integral role in evolving this trend towards safer workplaces by being the first abrasives company in the world to develop a dust-free sanding solution. Tests have shown that Mirka’s patented abrasive, Abranet, which is optimised for use on all Mirka products, produces a miniscule amount of dust compared with conventional dry-sanding technology with extraction.”

“This innovative abrasive is unlike any other, featuring an open weave, net structure that ensures no dust particle is ever more than 0.5 millimetres away from a dust extraction hole. It is so efficient at removing potentially dangerous sanding dust, that it minimises dust contamination and creates a far healthier workplace for painting professionals.

Mirka’s dust-free sanding solution consists of an entire product family including a dust extraction system, electric sanding tools, backing pads and hand sanding blocks as well as various types of sanding accessories and special tools for sanding walls, ceilings, floors and architraves, ready for painting,” Mr Hamilton said.

Following on from its launch of dust free solutions, Tenaru has also recently gone on to launch the new Mirka LEROS, the world’s first and only electric random orbital wall and ceiling sander on the market, according to Mr Hamilton.

“This has been extremely well received by the market because demand for dust-free sanding solutions continues to grow both from trade professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike. It is also performing well due to its ergonomic properties and the high-quality finish it provides.”

Mirka’s dust-free sanding solutions, including its Abranet abrasive, have revolutionised sanding technology.

“The new Mirka LEROS is also evolving the trend towards healthier workplaces through improved ergonomics. Weighing less than 3.5 kilograms, it is the lightest wall and ceiling sander on the market, ensuring less user fatigue and strain on muscles. Furthermore, it features a 180-degree, flexible, 225 millimetres sanding head and five millimetres random orbital movement, which enables it to respond precisely to the operator’s movement. These features allow painting professionals to reach surfaces at more ergonomic angles, making it easier on the body,” he said.

Mirka’s point of difference is providing dust-free sanding solutions that have truly revolutionised sanding, according to Mr Hamilton.

“Providing revolutionised sanding solutions not only improves painters’ and decorators’ health, but it also offers significant time and cost benefits to businesses. If there is no dust, there is no need to clean. If there is no dust in the workplace, the finished products are of much better quality. If there is no dust, you need to change filters less often and a lot less people take sick leave. This is why our unique Abranet abrasive is a major leap ahead within sanding technology and ensures that all of our products make us stand out from the rest,” he said.

Despite ongoing product development and innovation by the company, Mr Hamilton said one of the primary challenges facing the market is getting painters to physically adopt the dust-free sanding solutions by making them aware of the health benefits and cost savings associated with it.

“In addition to providing a healthier work environment for employees, dust-free sanding is faster and easier, ensuring increased productivity, profitability and business development. Time and money is saved by suctioning dust from between the surface and the abrasive, faster, while working the material. Sanding without disturbing dust particles also provides better control over the work and, moreover, a better final result. You get a cleaner surface with a smoother finish,” he said.

As the Tenaru portfolio evolves, the need for a direct communication channel to the professional painter continues to grow, according to Mr Hamilton.

“Including Mirka, Tenaru’s portfolio consists of the globally established, premium products Sikkens and Hammerite. Each brand complements the others and provides a full suite of surface coating solutions for our customers and trade professionals.

Tenaru has a very experienced team, passionate about problem solving and providing the best advice for projects. We are also keen to share our expertise by working more closely with Master Painters Association (NSW) members,” he said.

In saying this, Tenaru already has plans in place to sponsor the Master Painters Association (NSW) Awards for Excellence later this year.

Monarch steps up in trade accessories and on-line

Monarch recently launched its new trade range onto the market, which includes swift brushes, roller covers, mini rollers, as well as new heavy-duty trays which are patterned by Monarch.

Paint sales have continued to remain steady over the last 12 months, according to Australian Brushware Corporation’s Marketing Manager, Michelle Wee, who said it seems the steady sales relate directly to constant growth in the accessory market.

“One thing we have also observed is that trade painters are becoming more involved in renovation projects, rather than working on new building sites of late. Continuing on from this growing trend, Monarch has enjoyed the status of being the most reliable one stop shop for all painting accessory needs, particularly amongst the trade painters,” Ms Wee said.

It is for this reason that Monarch recently launched its new trade range onto the market, which includes swift brushes, roller covers, mini rollers, as well as new heavy-duty trays patterned by Monarch.

Incredibly, the new range uplifted sales in the first month of launching. Monarch has also stepped up its online program with the launch of its most recent digital strategy, which includes an interactive website for DIY customers.

“We also recently rolled out our most recent digital strategy, and we have already received a lot of positive comments and appreciation messages from our customers regarding the new strategy. I think this is because there has never been a painting accessories organisation which focuses on end-user needs and requirements before. It is for this reason that we recently launched our ‘Renew in 2’ campaign, along with a new interactive website, as well as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest pages,” Ms Wee said.

“The ‘Renew in 2’ campaign identifies the ‘two’ most crucial elements of each painting project, including projects with two people, two products, two days etc. Each project comes with a complete video guide, along with downloadable step-by-step instructions and a list of items required for that specific project,” she said.

The digital strategies were particularly necessary after several American companies attempted to make their mark on the Australian hardware space and increased competition in the local market.

“Unfortunately, due to unique weather conditions and consumer buying behaviour in Australia, which is different from the rest of the world, the products manufactured for the Australian market will always be superior to imports designed for the rest of the world,” Ms Wee said. She also pointed out that this makes it even more difficult to compete in a highly competitive market.

“There should be tougher quality checks for goods imported in to Australia. We are definitely seeing more low cost, low quality products. Consumers are compromising on quality to save a few dollars. Instead, they go through replacing the cheap products more often, which is costing them more in the long term.”

“Another primary issue the paint accessory market is facing is an ongoing consumer shift towards spray paint from craftsmanship. Even though most of the work is done by the machine to save time, that perfect finish from cutting in can only be achieved with a paint brush,” she said.

Today, Ms Wee believes Monarch is the only premium quality brand which provides state-of-the-art long-lasting products, as well as after sales services to its customers and end users.

“It is with this unique after sales service that we innovate the market by providing our customers with better products based on their feedback. Monarch is so much more than high-quality painting and decorating tools. We are a team of professional painters who know what it takes to turn inspiration into extraordinary. With Monarch tools, tips and know-how you can transform your fear factor into professional wow factor,” she said.

PPE for paint

Sequence Australia recently announced its new partnership with Techware/Maxisafe, now offering comprehensive personal protective equipment (PPE) specific to the paint industry.

Sequence Australia recently announced its new partnership with Techware/Maxisafe, now offering comprehensive personal protective equipment (PPE) specific to the paint industry.[/caption]Sequence Australia recently announced its new partnership with Techware/Maxisafe, now offering comprehensive personal protective equipment (PPE) specific to the paint industry.[/caption]Sequence Australia recently announced its new partnership with Techware/Maxisafe, offering comprehensive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that specifically caters to the paint specialty market.

Sequence National Sales Director, Peter Clausen, believes many paint specialty retailers have a disjointed range of personal protective equipment, relying on three and four suppliers to meet market demands, while also complicating the offer to retail customers, making this critical area cumbersome to manage.

Mr Clausen believes that Sequence/Maxisafe’s offer covers all facets of PPE requirements for the paint specialty market, incorporating stepped price points while also covering DIY/disposable to premium multiuse for professionals.

“The Maxisafe range offers unparalleled quality and value incorporating gloves, eye, hearing, respiratory, head protection, safety vest plus many more,” he said.

Mr Clausen sees the PPE category as a critical category, and expects this area to grow and become an integral part of the Sequence offer to the paint specialty market.

Sequence also announced that is has secured the rights to the original Pro-Series polyester roller sleeves manufactured in Indonesia. This cover was manufactured by P.T Ace for Oldfields in 1996 and has fast become the highest volume roller cover in the country, as well as the ‘go-to’ product for professional contractors.

Many wholesalers have tried to introduce similar products, but have been unable to replicate the quality and performance of the original, according to Mr Clausen. The product is set to be branded ‘AAA Ace Applicators – Pro Series’ and will be available in all common sizes and naps.

Modular construction and pre-fabrication set to disrupt paint industry

It is predicted that 10 per cent of all Australian homes will be built and assembled off-site, over the next ten years, particularly as the move to modular and pre-fabricated construction increases, according to a recent report by the National Painting and Decorating Institute. But how will this affect the painting industry? The increase in pre-fabricated construction will see a large percentage of the painting industry become part of a home manufacturing industry, instead of the building industry, according to the report.

“Think about the vehicle industry. In the early 1900s cars were assembled and built by hand, often custom-made. Henry Ford introduced the assembly-line concept in the 1920s, greatly reducing the cost of building cars, and ensuring a consistent quality at a mass-produced scale. Assembly-line workers, who would often do the same repetitive work every day, replaced tradespeople. Pre-fabricated construction uses the same concept but applies it to buildings,” according to the report.

Phil Alviano from the Master Builders Association Victoria said the Victorian government now supports the establishment of a modular construction industry in Victoria, because it is another tactic in reducing the cost of housing, and several companies have already set up house ‘factories’ in Victoria, to produce the high quality buildings, according to the National Painting and Decorating Institute report.

After speaking to several manufacturers, it seems that many components are now being factory finished, instead of painted in situ. For example, standard doors and windows are sprayed in virtual ‘factories’ and then simply installed in standardised modules. Even walls are factory finished by spray, according to the report.

Although, Nigel Goreman from Aussie Painters Network said that the unions will not allow unlicensed workers to do work that requires a license in Queensland, such as painting.

Today, entire homes are still being built and assembled in China, and shipped to Queensland to be assembled on-site, boasting high quality workmanship and all materials meeting Australian Standards. A new Modular Construction Code was also recently developed to address the need for new standards.

As the building and construction industries continue to change, professional painters will need to maintain awareness of changes within their industry, so they can upskill accordingly. This may lead painters to become multi-skilled, or brush up on their current skills so they remain attractive to potential employees.

In saying this, contractors who stick to maintenance painting will not be affected as much, according to the report, as all buildings require painting maintenance, whether they are built using traditional or modern building methods.