Hobart Warewash says that end-user customers, particularly multi-site chain buyers, are more involved in the design of its dishwashers than ever before – as will be evident when the manufacturer’s new FX undercounter machines are launched this summer.
The updated FX line is set to feature touchscreen functionality, enhanced drying performance and internet connectivity when it is released in a few months’ time, with much of the design shaped by discussions that Hobart has had with its top users.
Dave Riley, UK managing director of Hobart Warewash, said customer feedback was now an intrinsic part of the R&D process when new equipment is developed and operators are now generally involved right from the planning stages.
“We have good customer feedback sessions where we learn from what they do, learn from what they want, understand what their pain points are and launch a product that is designed around their requirements,” he explained. “It is not like the old days where people used to build a product and say to the sales team ‘go out and sell it’. Let’s build something that’s right for the market. We call it ‘customer back innovation’ – so we ask the customer what they want and we innovate our products to match the customers’ requirements.”
Mr Riley said that Hobart is expecting a good response from the market to the FX range given the level of new features built into the machines. He described it as the most “superior” under-counter range it has produced yet and represents a significant investment for the company.
“We do launches and we do facelifts – this is a launch as opposed to a facelift, a bit like the car market which refreshes models but it is the same one. This is in the sense a brand new model and it has got new controls and drying cycles, it is much more advanced and can be controlled by the SmartApp. It is an important launch for us when you see the way the market is going.”
With market conditions pretty flat following a turbulent start to the year for many chain businesses, Mr Riley admits the pressure is on warewashing manufacturers.
“I think what you’ve got to do is be innovative and different to grab market share and that is hopefully what we are doing with the launch of these new products. Energy efficiency is really important, particularly with the large chain customers who have got people that are employed to focus on and look at that, so full lifecycle cost of equipment and total cost of ownership is vital to those key big customers and those customers that repeat buy.”