Industries shift all the time; sometimes for the benefit of consumers, and sometimes to their detriment. One such changing Industry — that is yielding undeniably positive results for Australians, countrywide — is Rainwater Harvesting. Ultimately, this Industry has matured significantly since the reintroduction of urban installations in Australia. Now, it is defined by quality products and superior installers and repairers. Though we have made leaps and bounds, it is imperative the Rainwater Harvesting Industry strives for continuous improvement as a vehicle to achieving excellence. This might be best accomplished via augmentations in products, installation and maintenance, or simply enhanced customer expectations. If any stakeholders are qualified to identify prospective improvements, it’s those businesses that are on the ground, receiving daily feedback from end users.
To secure this feedback, Rainwater Harvesting Australia (RHA) (a working group of Irrigation Australia) identified 38 businesses and individuals it believed would provide a professional response with minimal bias to an Industry Survey. Each respondent was characterised by more than five years’ experience in the Industry, with most involved since the turn of the century. Repairers and installers, as well as manufacturers and retailers, were thoughtfully selected and approached for participation. Each was telephoned prior to undertaking the Survey to discuss the Survey’s meaning and intention. A unanimous understanding was reached: that the Industry called for these participants’ impartial takes regarding areas of improvement in the Rainwater Harvesting offering for end users. The Survey was simple, taking no longer than five minutes to complete, and consisting of broad questions that invited further extended feedback.
Of the 38 people targeted to be surveyed, 24 participated, including 13 repairers/installers and 11 manufacturers/retailers. Interestingly, the results were consistent across the two major factions. There was a resounding sentiment that the industry has improved significantly since the introduction of urban rainwater tanks some 15 years ago. Respondents indicated that the products we now use and installations we now perform signify a maturing Industry, with scientific research and Industry experience having facilitated this maturation. Industry leaders are aware that progress must continue to ensure Rainwater Harvesting maintains a foothold in Australia’s ‘integrated water solution’. The main areas for improvement as at 2020 were identified, in order of priority, as—
- Lack of knowledge of the end-user and plumbers. Insufficient quality reference material for troubleshooting.
- Poor Maintenance: end-user doesn’t know they require maintenance, compounded by a lack of quality reference material from which to derive advice.
- Poor installation and sizing
- Pump and Mains Bypass Device reliability
- Poor quality products throughout the whole system
RHA has identified two projects to be started in 2021 to stimulate Industry improvements.
- Provision of a central quality resource for end-users, installers, plumbers, repairers and everyone in between. This resource will share content around maintenance, problem-solving techniques, supplier contacts and best practice. The existing Training Modules will be expanded to incorporate video instruction and advice. RHA needs to be the primary disseminator of Industry information.
- Identification of one product to be reviewed per year. RHA intends to start with the product reported to be causing the highest levels of dissatisfaction. The review would involve analysing the good’s Australian Standard, tightening this Standard and generating recommendations to engender a better Industry outcome. RHA understands this will take time, but as an industry body, is committed to continuous improvement.
RHA strives for development and advancement, equating these feats with Industry excellence. Our work with Industry professionals — listening and learning — will be ongoing. By improving product standards, research and development, and resources and education, we can enrich the user experience and heighten satisfaction. If you would like to be involved in or kept informed of this improvement process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chair — Rainwater Harvesting Australia