Across production, our supply chain and support functions, whether in Costa Rica, India or New Zealand, our employees have gone the extra mile to keep serving our customers. With volatile demand throughout the year in many markets, our manufacturing and supply chain teams had to carefully manage stock levels and prioritise available materials to meet our customers’ requirements.
Building digital customer relationships
In 2020, we have changed the way we work and expanded digital communications to engage with customers.
In Spain, for example, we made particularly good use of digital channels to maintain close relationships with our customers. We even used these digital channels to grow our business by reaching out to a broader range of our customers.
In France, we built a whole new sales and customer service platform, making use of state-of-the-art digital tools to provide customers with up-to-date information.
Similar efforts across the Group ensured that our teams were not only able to support their existing customers during the COVID-19 crisis, but also managed to build new digital relationships with customers.
Modernising Kos International Airport
Aliaxis Greece partnered with Fraport, the operator and manager of 14 airports in the country, to provide a siphonic roof drainage system at Kos International Airport. Our team did a great job connecting with Fraport, understanding their needs and offering valuable solutions. This has already led to us winning two further projects – one at Athens International Airport, and another at a logistics warehouse.
Innovating to meet customers’ needs
We have a very disciplined approach to innovation that starts with our customers. We capture the voice of customers in many ways. Regular interactions, visiting their sites to see how products are used, and an annual global customer survey (Net Promoter Score), all help us to understand their requirements and expectations.
Building on their valuable input, we develop systems and solutions that are lighter, more efficient and sustainable, that can benefit the whole community.
Silt pit installation made easy with AdjustaPit
In New Zealand, building regulations require silt pits to be installed in a driveway to prevent the flow of debris such as silt, soil and sediment into storm drains. Traditional silt pits require three visits from a plumber during different phases of the installation, with adjustments required at each stage. Working with a customer, Laser Plumbing, we developed a user-friendly AdjustaPit solution, a patented height-adjustable and code-compliant silt pit that allows the plumber to do the installation in one go.
Co-creating new products
Aliaxis launched about 60 new products in 2020. Some of these were smart improvements – easier connections, easier installation – solving specific customer problems. Other new solutions tackle larger concerns and improve the living conditions of communities. In Latin America, we launched MaxiCanal, a new roof gutter system – designed in collaboration with customers – to cope with extreme heavy rain.
Quick and safe to install – DAV Pressure Tapping Valves
Listening to customer feedback helped our German teams to reimagine our DAV Pressure Tapping Valves, which now feature our handy Red Snap fast clamping system. It is a simplified solution that addresses the skills shortage trend across the industry. The Red Snap technology is easy, quick and safe to install – the valve does not require any screws and can be installed 50% faster.
Our research hubs / Bangalore, Paris, Toronto
During the year, we opened a new Research & Technology Centre in Bangalore, India, providing us a third global innovation hub, alongside our facilities in Toronto, Canada, and Paris, France. We are building up our team at Bangalore to reach a 60+ strong team.
Our three research hubs look into materials, new product design, water purification, and digital technology. We work on a prioritised number of projects, focusing on products with a positive impact for our customers and for society.
Rainwater harvesting innovation
Among the major innovations we brought to market in 2020 were water tanks and rainwater harvesting in India. We saw an opportunity in an adjacent segment we were not operating in and used that to drive significant business growth.
Instead of marketing a single component, we offer an end-to-end solution for rainwater harvesting, which helps customers conserve water in line with government regulations. With anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties, our water tanks also provide significant health benefits.
We are the first to offer a complete system like this in India, and there is growth potential in other geographies for similar rainwater harvesting systems.
Addressing the challenges of urbanisation
Besides addressing water management challenges, we also play a role in supporting growing urbanisation. For example, we provide advanced solutions in wastewater and drainage systems for high-rise buildings.
We work with universities to design solutions for the most difficult problems, using various testing scenarios, including pressure simulations. Using a lift tower, we carry out experiments in collaboration with the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, helping us to develop a series of unique products, ideally suited for high-rise buildings.
Our special pressure regulators help to manage water in a high-rise building – where something as simple as flushing a toilet on the 50th floor results in complicated technical challenges. That creates large pressure fluctuations, which can be difficult to manage.
Architect testimonial, a high-rise building in Colombia
“The expertise from Aliaxis in hydro sanitary facilities and the application of new technologies was very important for us. And so was the support given by Aliaxis to our engineers to make the right decision for a more efficient and reliable design of ICON 60. It is a project for multifamily housing that has 117 apartments on 24 floors, located in the city of Ibagué. We installed the Studor ventilation system, an efficient system, preventing the return of bad smells that sometimes generate discomfort for the occupants. Additionally, it is a system that does not require maintenance, eliminates ventilation pipes, which allows less space for ducts and improves installation times.”
Architect J. MAURICIO MENA S. from DYCO SAS in Colombia
The strongest, most flexible tubing in the industry
Our Kwikon® Electrical Nonmetallic Tubing (ENT) is engineered for the rugged day-to-day challenges of the construction industry – whether encased in concrete or concealed in walls or ceilings. With a corrugated construction that allows it to be bent easily by hand, Kwikon ENT was created to meet key customer needs – being quick and easy to install, and reducing labour by up to 50%.
Increased focus on green innovation and recycling
As part of our sustainability engagement, we have made progress during the year on resolving some of the hurdles around recycling. Products like Ecolotube (Canada – 50% recycled material) and HomeTech (France – 20% recycled material) have led the way.
We aim to integrate more recycled raw materials across all our operations, as it is our main lever in reducing our carbon footprint. Lighter products also provide an economical advantage, bringing a cost benefit for our customers, as well as opportunities for growth. In Italy, we have redesigned our PVC fittings to be 20% lighter, easier to transport and easier to install, with a carbon footprint that is 25% lower.
We are fully integrating the environmental impact of our products in our innovation process. This means assessing the lifecycle analysis, our CO² emissions and the impact on energy, water and materials use. These are important criteria in our new product and solution development, playing into our green innovation agenda.
Responding to the priorities of our customers and other stakeholders, we work on more environmentally friendly solutions.
RadonX™ gas venting is a completely new product application launched this year by IPEX in Canada. It focuses on the collection and evacuation of radon, a dangerous and naturally occurring soil gas, which is a significant health threat to building occupants. The venting system removes radon gas from the living space, improving the long-term air quality in the home.