"Engineers don't want to think about it upfront," Nitz said. "In an hydraulics system, it's the last part to get designed in. We're the experts, so we go out there and make sure they're doing it right, and make sure they have those best practices in place."
He added there also is a duty to warn end users about the inherent danger that can accompany working with hose. "We align ourselves with our distributor partners to make sure we warn of the risks associated with these products, and work with distributors to make sure end users know what they're getting into," he said. "It's not just a hose. A lot more goes into it."
Norm Fye, general manager of distributor Summers Rubber Co., is newer to the hose industry, but concurs that hoses often are overlooked on a daily basis. He told of going into some plant operations and seeing kinked and bent hoses in place, even an occasional hose with a tremendous about of duct tape on it.
Summers sees an obligation to forward its knowledge onto the customers, versus just selling them hose.
"We provide a lot of training for our customers," Fye said. "A lot of them mandate new employees be sent to hose training 101. This class gives them an education on basic hose handling and safety aspects."
Nitz also said the OnGuard hose tracker system, offered by Summers and other distributors that are part of Singer Equities, is an excellent asset in terms of maintaining a hose from beginning of life to end. "It adds a lot of safety value to the customers, and limits maintenance and downtime."
Rob Lyons, president of distributor Tipco Technologies Inc., a former NAHAD president and longtime member of the firm's Standards Committee, said the focus on safety has been a game changer for his company.
"Culture doesn't happen overnight," he said. "Culture is driven each and every day. When we onboard a new fabricating employee, it's a must that they pass the Hose Safety Institute testing protocol."
The adherence to the HSI practices also helped Tipco recently become certified to ISO. "Customers today want to know where you have it written and where you have it referred to," Lyons said. "From a litigious standpoint, we owe that to them and the employees to whom we're responsible."
He added that companies in the hose business fundamentally do a poor job of communicating how safety is an essential part of their products and services. "We tend to tell them all we do for them after they say they're going to fire us," he said. "We need to do a better job of proactively informing and educating the customers on what we do for them to protect the environment and their employees."
Summers also is ISO-certified, and while that dictates a lot of documentation, Fye said the ISO certification is based around the NAHAD standards.