Over the last eight months Optimum staff have been visiting numerous trade shows where we have been carrying out a little of our own market research. What really came to light was just why the UK has been slow on the uptake with using dry ice blasting services, compared to the rest of Europe and the USA.
When talking to business professionals directly, we found that many (roughly 60%) of people asked had never heard of dry ice blasting. This was over many industry sectors including aerospace, energy companies, facilities management, petro-chemical, plastic manufacturing, engineering companies and automotive companies.
We realise that people who attend trade shows are usually the sales arm of any business, whereas our key target are operations managers etc, so directing questions to the right people can be tricky. On this occasion, we actually fished around to find relevant people to whom we could interrogate.
The results (even though we know are not true means tested, bone fide market data) are quite staggering:
So all in all 85% of people asked, all in key industries areas that would benefit from dry ice blasting, have never used the service. This is a massive figure. Again, not a true market analysis, but certainly a reflection of the UK market for dry ice blasting.
Of course, the 15% that do use dry ice blasting, are shared between the 5-10 companies operating the service in the UK. This is a massive amount of work for such a small band of operators and would account for the fact that most dry ice blast cleaning companies are seeing growth.
We managed to secure 20 trials from the trade shows - 12 from companies that had never heard of dry ice blasting previously and 8 from companies who knew about the process, but chose not to use it. Our trials achieved some amazing results and we received excellent feedback.
Of the 20 trials performed 15 companies booked us there and then for service. All 12 companies, who had never heard of dry ice blasting before, booked us in for work (5 from food processing, 3 from plastic mould/extrusion, 2 from printing, 1 from pharmaceutical and 1 from automotive). Not a bad effort, if I may say so myself!
In summary, we found a lot of companies resist change when it comes to machinery decontamination. The phrase ‘We’ve always done it that way’ springs to mind and breaking through that mindset can be difficult. Once companies actually see the process, the penny drops that the speed with which we can clean machinery can only aid their business.
By Ian Reynolds