Hose Safety Institute Helps Distributors and Customers Grow Their Businesses
NAHAD’s Hose Safety Institute has been actively engaging members and the industry since it was initiated last year, but the values and services that it champions have their origins in the early 1990s. As the Institute has continued to revamp its core benefit - the Hose Assembly Guidelines - and improve its visibility among customers and end-users, value has increased for everyone involved, often in unexpected ways.
This fall, NAHAD’s Hose Safety Institute will release its new HANDBOOK for the Design & Specification of Safe Hose Assemblies; the culmination of a two-year collaborative effort by scores of NAHAD member volunteers, following more than 10 years of hose assembly guideline development and improvement. The final draft version of the new HANDBOOK is now ready for public review and comment, prior to final publication.
NAHAD first recognized the need for hose fabrication guidelines in the early 90s. While many hose distributors utilized the RMA Hose Handbook for some general guidance, no specific information was available which defined the basic elements of safe and reliable, application-specific hose assembly fabrication.
Beginning in 1995 NAHAD assembled numerous technical committees, comprised of engineers from hose and fitting manufacturing companies, to define and develop consensus-based hose assembly specification, fabrication and design recommendations and best practices. Recognizing the need for application-specific recommendations, the committees developed guidelines for five different categories of hose: Industrial, Hydraulic, Composite, Fluoropolymer and Corrugated Metal. In response to member requests, guides for Custom-Made Hose and Ducting soon followed. Initially introduced in 2000 and revised in 2005, the NAHAD Hose Assembly Guidelines have evolved alongside changing member and industry needs.
In 2011, NAHAD introduced its Hose Safety Institute, designed to oversee the ongoing development of the Hose Assembly Guidelines and to engage end-users and industry leaders in support of hose assembly safety, quality and reliability.
Over the next few months the Hose Safety Institute’s new HANDBOOK will replace NAHAD’s current seven Hose Assembly Specification Guides, originally published in 2005. The new HANDBOOK incorporates all of the updated content from the earlier seven Guides, as well as new and expanded content, charts, graphics and photos. The new HANDBOOK is a comprehensive and powerful reference tool for employee training and recognition, as well as the basis for, or a complement to, a company’s Quality Manual.
According to NAHAD Executive Vice President, Joseph Thompson, “The new HANDBOOK will provide the perfect marketing tool for distribution sales professionals to have intelligent discussions with customers, centered around safety, quality and reliability, and NOT about price. This, in itself, will be of great value to our Institute members.”
The release of the HANDBOOK also demonstrates the Institute’s renewed focus on practical usability. The original seven Specification Guideline publications, as well as numerous other chapters of related content, are now contained within the HANDBOOK’s new three-ring binder format, selected for ease of reference in shops and warehouses.
To support the new and expanded HANDBOOK specification and design content, the Institute has revamped and updated its online exam and certificate program, set to roll out in late fall. Nearly 100 members will participate in pilot testing the five new exams this coming month. Since 1995, more than 3,000 certificates have been issued to individuals who have successfully passed the Hose Assembly Guidelines exams.
According to Thompson, the NAHAD board members expected the exams to become powerful training and recognition tools for distributors, but they didn’t anticipate the additional positive effect it would have for many member companies. The requirement that each company assign a training coordinator to facilitate the tests, for example, has led to unexpected changes. For some companies, adoption of the program marked the first time training efforts were spearheaded by a single person, which sparked the formation of formalized training programs and the creation of internal quality manuals.
The exams’ effects on employee morale also exceeded expectations. Company adoption of the program shows increased emphasis on employee development, and the recognition employees receive when they earn their certificates instills a stronger sense of appreciation and loyalty.
Thompson says end-users and customers of industrial hose assemblies are much more focused on making sure their products, especially those going into particularly hazardous environments, meet industry quality and performance standards. “The last thing customers want is a hose assembly to fail needlessly, resulting in downtime, spills, fines or personal injury. The ability to distinguish hose distributors who have a commitment to safety from those who don’t is extremely valuable to customers. Hose Safety Institute members have committed to using the HANDBOOK Guidelines and to meeting other qualifications, giving end-users more peace of mind and confidence.
In keeping with its focus on engaging end-users, a Hose Safety Institute Advisory Council has been formed, comprised of end-user representatives of key hose markets. Council members will offer advice and input about their needs, as well as work with the NAHAD Standards Committee in addressing updates and additions to the Guidelines process.
According to Thompson, “The Hose Safety Institute, and its new HANDBOOK, has one, 3-part purpose; safer hose assemblies, meeting customer needs, while improving member’s businesses – a true ‘win-win-win.’””
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