January in most parts of Australia has been fairly extreme on the weather front, with high record temperatures in most capital cities, and even higher inland.
Our ‘cousins’ in parts of America have experienced something called a polar vortex; freezing the famous Niagara falls in the process. A rare event, but one I’d love to see.
The high paid tennis stars have had their hands full playing at the Australian Open recently, keeping hydrated and still maintaining a level of dignity when they collapse from the heat. I see they all had enough energy to take to twitter to express their disgust at being forced to play in such conditions. Forfeiting a game clearly wasn’t an option because that didn’t pay the bills.
Our Cricket stars fared better in the heat of course, but the visiting English cricketers from colder climates must have realized why their forbears sent their ‘unsavory’ types down under. Judging by the reception they got, I’m sure they still hold the same view.
But, what has this got to do with signage I hear you mutter. Bear with me while I try and explain myself.
The simple facts are that vinyl signage and/or vinyl colour change application also depends largely on the weather. It can make a simple application an absolute nightmare if the weather is against you.
Failing to be aware of, or simply ignoring the materials ‘ideal temperature range’, is one of the reasons we find ourselves having to redo a panel because it grabs stronger in the heat, or it shatters in the cold.
So why do we do it? Why do we ignore the manufacturer’s recommendations when working in extreme heat or cold? Answer: Because no work means no money. It is like forfeiting a game for our tennis stars. It doesn’t pay the bills.
But you know, I wonder if we actually make money in the long run anyway.
Colour change material isn’t cheap. Screwing an application to a panel can cost us dearly in material and time to redo it. Who pays for that? We do.
Digital Printing is probably worse as more labour is involved, not to mention outgassing and re laminating.
In reality we just redo it and don’t count the costs as though it is a freebie. End of the day though, the costs to redo the stuff-up comes out of the profit for the job. No profit means no money in real terms. You could have effectively forfeited the job.
Working in hot or cold extreme weather is tiring and mistakes are inevitable. Heat and/or cold fatigue is real.
According to Workcover, personal and environmental factors should be seriously considered when assessing the risk to workers’ from working in extreme environments.
Personal factors include: the level of physical activity, the amount and type of clothing worn and the duration of the exposure.
Environmental factors include: air temperature, the level of humidity and the level of air movement and radiant heat.
Of course realistically our type of jobs mean that working temps for our staff are never going to be ideal. Personally, I send my staff home when it becomes impossible to keep cool in our air conditioned office. We don’t fit at all on really hot days.
In this type of weather, we take a break during the heat of the day and go back and work later into the evening. It may not work for everyone, but I know a lot of sign shops that do it in Queensland. Working in the cooler evenings is a much better proposition. Lethargy is a byproduct of excessive heat and that is a primary cause of unproductive work practice. Lethargy and lack of productivity can be expensive in a small businesses work environment. It is worth considering other options to keep your team working efficiently.
But what about the material we work with? What do the manufacturers recommend?
Most manufacturers suggest we leave the vehicle in our factory for the day before the job is to be done to get the vehicle surface to room temperature, hot environments they suggest air conditioned premises, and cold environments need to be heated. Do we do that?
Most manufacturers suggest we keep the vehicle for a day after fitting so the application can settle. Do we do that?
I’m prepared to bet that most readers don’t. For some it just comes down to room. Storing a car for a day each side of the actual paying job isn’t feasible for some smaller shops. So, we tend to push the barriers.
Others issues arise when applicators choose to ignore the warranty criteria.
Most materials quote European or American warranty periods. All give a mathematical formula to work out the warranty period for more extreme areas.
Australia is considered an extreme area for most manufacturers.
I am amazed at how many applicators don’t know the real warranty period of the products they install.
For instance, I was up against a quote last month where my competitor quoted a warranty of 10 years for a bus wrap. The prospective client wanted me to match the warranty. I told her that 10 years was probably the life of the unprinted material, but the print wouldn’t last more than 3 or 4 years before it needed redoing. She didn’t believe me. I told her to use the other guy but get the warranty in writing first. I couldn’t honestly look her in the face and offer her a 10 year warranty on the wrap. It is not only dishonest, but it is immoral.
I doubt the other guy will be around in three years so it will not matter, but I plan on being around for a while longer and I don’t want to keep looking over my shoulder for clients looking for my head in four years’ time.
End of the day, we can’t plead ignorance for not knowing that a roof, boot and bonnet will fail/fade faster than a vertical panel. We can’t make promises that we haven’t got backed up by the manufacturer. But plenty do.
Avery, Arlon, Hexis, Mactac and 3M make excellent products; they give us the criteria in which they work best. Ignoring the criteria to help pay the bills may well cost you much more in the long run. Not forgetting that any warranty quoted by the manufacturers is under ideal conditions. We rarely work in anything near ideal conditions, and our clients certainly don’t give the maintenance of their wrap a second though 95% of the time.
To continue our analogy on cricket, the winner in business is the one with the most runs on the board. Getting caught out by not knowing the products you sell will not just lose you the ‘game’ but it may cost you credibility with both the suppliers and the general public.
3M 1080 reference .
Mactac 6600 Cast Durability
It is not easy working in weather extremes, but it is important that we know the limitations of the materials we offer, and use the one most appropriate to the job at hand.
Each application is different. But the onus is on us to know when a job can be done, and when it should be postponed.
I find it best to explain to the client when a job is booked in, what the procedure will be if the day the job is to be done, the weather is against us. The client will understand if we tell them before hand, rather than on the day when it sounds like you are making an excuse.
It is food for thought anyway.