Manufacturing – Inside This OEM
Ben Bollmeyer, Branch Manager for PumpEng Adelaide, gives a progress report on the development of the Adelaide branch and the culture of PumpEng as an OEM dewatering pump manufacturer. He reflects on how the business approaches continuous improvement in underground mine dewatering.
Can you tell me the history behind the development of PumpEng's Adelaide branch?
I came on board to launch the Adelaide branch in July 2021. My first challenge was to find a suitable site. Starting with a blank canvas like this allowed me to set up the shop exactly how it needed to be successful and work properly. It allowed us to set it up to the highest safety standards and create an easy workflow.
What are the most challenging aspects of facilitating this growth for PumpEng there?
Logistics can sometimes be challenging, but we constantly change to improve that. There is much better planning and control of what we do here.
What benchmark for standards and capabilities are you and the team going after there? What's your vision?
I've always wanted to set the bar as high as possible and even set the standard for everyone else. The way the shop is structured and set up, the equipment, safety standards, and the quality and experience of people who work here. I wanted clients to walk in, be impressed at how well-equipped and well-set up the shop is, and be satisfied with everything we deliver.
I believe people from your competition are coming over to join PumpEng. What do you think attracts them to the business?
Yes, we just had a team member join us. They came from our main competitor. We have other team members who have worked with various pump companies, and there is a lot of combined pump experience within the workshop. The values of the business attract them. They can see our physical setup. At the same time, they loved what we were setting out to achieve here, both short-term and long-term. The feedback I get is all about the culture of the workplace and the people working here, our processes and systems that we have in place, all those things. They love the way we do business.
What is the main difference they highlight?
It comes down to our core values and behaviours, what we focus on and things like that. It's not just, "Oh, you broke your pump. Here is the same one." How we work with our clients and owners, and operators are more like a partnership. We develop relationships with them, and we solve their problems. We're a company that clients can rely on to deliver. The more people that come in, the more people want to be a part of it.
I know I'm focusing on Adelaide, but it's like that company-wide. That's how the company operates. That's the reason I joined. I saw the way the company operates and the values and behaviours that are at the core. Management decisions are consistent; we all know what we are trying to achieve and why.
Your promise is a good day at work for your customers, but it's also a promise you're making for employees.
Absolutely. It is for our clients, but a good day at work means different things to different people. A customer's pumps keep running, don't fail, and have no downtime or additional costs. This level of pump reliability means they're going to have a good day at work because they're getting done what they need to get done. But my guys, one of them might come in, and he will be building new pumps, or they'll be a heap of service work, and they'll set goals for themselves or have goals set for them. A good day at work means different things to different people. But at the same time, we must ensure that those people get support to deliver. So yes, creating a good day at work is everyone’s focus for each other too.
As a reputable OEM manufacturer, what advantage does this give PumpEng over its competitors?
It means that we control the quality and the assembly. We have a lot tighter control over everything we make. It means we're not just putting things together like lego kits or bringing in from another manufacturer. It allows us to produce a much better product than our competitors, using better quality parts, tighter QA controls, and the service to back up what we sell. We have more control over supply chains, which has been critical recently.
Does being a manufacturer allow you to see the potential for pump improvements and make them?
We can make changes because we can provide feedback on things through R&D. We can constantly improve the product faster than our larger competitors can. Everything is much tighter, and the right people are more closely involved. It isn't just communication flow. It is also attitude. PumpEng values innovation because that was how the business started.
How does PumpEng approach consulting on underground mine dewatering projects?
We're always working toward continuous improvement on-site. We want to ensure that every client has the right pump. It's a process of constant input with technical and engineering, BDM and sales, and site visits. It's not just a site visit saying, "Oh, this is how many pumps you've got. No worries. See you later." It's working with and supporting the client to ensure they have the right pumps to do what they need
Can you talk about your problem-solving network?
All the branch managers and technical people talk with each other regularly. That's another positive. There's a great culture of sharing information and helping each other. I spoke with Justin in the US and Dave in Queensland this morning. Our clients don't just get our branch-level input - they get our whole network with company-wide knowledge and experience.
If someone wants to upgrade their dewatering, what is the first step?
They should get in touch. They can contact the branch directly; we have in-house technical and sales here in Adelaide. We can also begin consultation. We can have a site visit and inspection. We can move to set you up with a pump to evaluate our recommendations. Supported by our pump availability, be it hire or new, we’re available to support you. It'll just be a continuing process from there. It's not just, "This is what you need. See you later." We will constantly work with the client to deliver what they need. They will have our whole team behind them.