At first glance, a hose seems benign enough. At its core, a hose has a tube, reinforcement and a cover. Then you add on some couplings and fittings, and that's all there is to it. Right?
Well, not exactly.
Safety concerns are an enormous part of hose design and performance. Hoses can be involved in any number of potentially dangerous applications where failure can have catastrophic consequences. Whether it be in high pressure hydraulics where a rupture potentially could cause death, or used to convey dangerous chemicals where a leak could bring a variety of safety or environmental concerns, the potential stakes are enormous.
Fortunately, operations in the hose sector have changed for the better in recent decades. At a recent panel discussion of hose industry veterans talking about the importance of building a safety culture, one hose company CEO told of years in the past, where there was nothing written down, except sometime some notes hastily scribbled on a napkin. The main concern was getting product out the door.
But he and many others have worked for years along with NAHAD's Hose Safety Institute to build guidelines and specifications step by step for all the main hose types. It wasn't a quick process. They had to make definitions where there were none, they developed training programs for those entrusted with fabricating hose assemblies, and they pulled it together in a manner that could be put to use across the industry.
Of course, the education process is ever-evolving. The printed manuals and courses now are available online, and there still is a need for customer training.
The latter is because hose often is an afterthought in terms of design by the engineers putting together a product where a hose actually is a vital component. One panelist said he still walks into customer facilities where hoses are kinked and even wrapped in a lot of duct tape.
Much like people over the years discounted the amount of technology that goes into tires, the same can be said about hose assemblies. And the manufacturers and their distributors realize they've done a poor job of letting their customers know just how much they've done for them in terms of making the hose assemblies safe. One panelist quipped that the only time they tell customers how much they do for them is when they're about to be dropped for a lower-cost competitor's offering.
Digitalization is the next step in bringing safety to the hose sector. There are several crimpers on the market where the specifications are stored in the cloud, training can be done right on the machine, and new specs and other pertinent materials can be added automatically.
Gates said its newly released GC20 Cortex crimper has most of its know-how geared toward making the hose assembly process even more safe, both for the fabricators and end users. And Gates is offering the GC20 on its baseline crimper so the technology is available to a vast majority of its customer base.
That's about as far away from scribblings on a napkin as you'll find.