A new broom sweeps clean, according to the old saying. That old bromide regains its power in the 21st century, thanks to Schwarze Industries. The Alabama-based company applies the most advanced technology to street sweeping equipment, which is keeping our roads and parking lots debris-free and ecologically sound. Further, customers have realized both increased capability and cost savings, reports Dan Harvey.
Schwarze Industries likes to say that possibilities are infinite (it’s one of its slogans), and that’s due to its enormous range of street sweeper and road-repair products. In fact, its line is so huge that it seems to transcend the physical and approach the metaphysical. Consider: Recently, the Huntsville, Ala.-based company calculated the number of unique combinations available through its sweeper options. It came up with a number that’s hard for the mind to grasp – 8,008,797,933. But here’s something that makes the figure even more mystifying. The total contains the company’s toll-free number (800-879-7933).
But it wasn’t planned that way. Rather, it’s a coincidence that staggers the imagination – just as the extensive product line staggers the company’s customers’. That’s why the company developed an Infinite Possible Locator approach at its Web site, to make ordering much easier.
Here’s something else that boggles the mind: Schwarze Industries has been in the street sweeping business for only 35 years. Now, it’s one of the world’s largest sweeper manufacturers, offering models specifically geared to parking area cleaning, industrial sweeping, mall and shopping center sweeping, airport runway sweeping, street sweeping, milling cleanup and storm water runoff management. Further, it combines superior product with after-sale service.
AT BOTH ENDS OF THE EARTH
The company’s main production facility is located in Huntsville, a state-of-the-art setting where it produces sweeper models and their variations. “But we also have a production facility in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, which we opened in 1996,” informs Raymond Massey, Schwarze Industries’ director of sales and marketing. “It not only serves Australia but also the New Zealand, Asia and South Africa markets.”
Manufacturing in that part of the world means that Schwarze Industries can meet customers’ specific demands and accommodate local conditions. To guarantee minimum downtime, all parts are either manufactured or sourced within Australia. Currently, Schwarze machines operate in 35 countries. “We truly comprehend how machine downtime can impact an end user,” says Massey. “So, in any part of the world, we will do whatever it takes to immediately satisfy a customer.”
At its facilities, the company produces it A, M and S series of products. “In the A Series, the A stands for air,” explains Massey. “The line includes heavy duty regenerative air sweepers designed for highway, airport runway and construction sweeping. Within the series are the A4000, A7000, A8000 and A9000 models, as well as the latest addition to the line, which is the GS6 model.”
Introduced just this year, the GS6 Regenerative Air Street Sweeper initially met with great success in the European market, which led the company to distribute the model in its North and South American markets. This heavy duty, chassis-mounted sweeper was engineered with a completely new approach to sweeper frame design that dramatically reduces freight costs: It can be manufactured without the need for a chassis on site. It can then be shipped in a container to the mounting location for final installation on the chassis.
The GS6 generates a high-velocity air column of more than 17,000 CFM propelled through a 14-inch blast tube. This high-volume air blast loosens debris from pavement surfaces, transporting it into a 7.8-cubic-yard hopper via a 14-inch suction tube. The GS6 also includes a 39-inch diameter gutter brooms with optional hydraulic tilt and GEO and a 250-gallon dust suppression system. As the company reports, GS6 engineering is cutting edge with a completely new approach to sweeper frame design and auxiliary engine mounting. The Schwarze GS6 also comes with LED lighting.
In fact, to meet customer demands, Schwarze introduced standard LED lighting for all of its sweeper products, with the exception of the floodlights. According to the company, the addition of LEDs lowers the overall electric draw and increases the life expectancy of the light and alternator. Its application also reduces maintenance costs.
RUNNING THROUGH THE ALPHABET
The “M” in the M series stands for mechanical, and the line’s mechanical broom sweepers were designed for general street sweeping, milling and construction clean up. “The series includes the M5000, the M6000 which comes in various configurations of single engine or twin engine,” says Massey. “Primary customers for the A and M series include municipal and federal government as well as the U.S. military. Also, within those two series, we offer product powered by diesel engines, as well as several alternative fuel models, which run on compressed natural gas [CNG] and liquid propane gas [LPG].”
The S series represents the leading U.S. line for parking area sweeping, and it’s the first choice for private contractors and mall managers. “The series is essentially where Schwarze Industries got its start,” says Massey. “The company was built upon the S series product.”
REMEMBER THE ALAMO
Schwarze Industries was established in 1975. “It was started by Schwarze family members who built and owned the company until 2000,” relates Massey.
That year, the business was purchased by the Alamo Group, a Texas-based corporation that specializes in the design, manufacture, distribution and service of high-quality equipment for right-of-way maintenance and agriculture. The company was established in 1969, but through an aggressive and strategic acquisition approach, it bought some companies that have been in business for more than a century. Its rapid development was spurred by about 25 acquisitions.
Alamo products – which include tractor and truck-mounted mowers, vegetation maintenance equipment, excavators, street sweepers, vacuum trucks, snow removal equipment, pothole patchers, agricultural attachments and related after market parts and services – are sold through the group’s marketing organizations and its extensive independent worldwide dealer networks under various trademarks and trade names. Besides Schwarze, these names include Alamo Industrial, Tiger, Gradall, VacAll, Nite-Hawk, Henke Manufacturing, Schulte, Bush Hog, Rhino, M&W, SMC, Herschel, Valu-Bilt, Bomford, Spearhead, McConnel, Twose, SMA, Forges Gorce, Faucheux, and Rousseau, among others.
The Alamo Group produces and assembles products in 18 main production facilities located in the United States, England, France, Canada and Australia.
“The Alamo-Schwarze connection creates great synergy,” says Massey. “The parent company provides us with the funds we need to complete the research and development of new products and projects, which translates into new technology for the sweeper and asphalt patching sectors.”
The Alamo Group’s extensive global presence also provides a decided advantage. “The distribution network creates new opportunities for us,” says Massey. “We can play off some of our sister companies’ strengths and bring our products to some particularly strong dealers in particularly strong markets, thus increasing our own market share.”
Also, the Alamo conglomerate represents strength in numbers, as far as purchasing key components and materials. “This enables us to reduce our overall costs, which translates into customer savings in the long run,” says Massey. “For example, all of the Alamo companies buy their steel together. With so many companies involved, we get a better price.”
LEADER OF THE PACK
Cost-effective solutions are just one way that Schwarze Industries differentiates itself from the competition. Ongoing product development is another. “We continually strive to improve existing product, to increase customers’ production capabilities,” says Massey. “This effort further reduces overall cost of equipment ownership and operation and allows end users to enhance their profits.”
That points to another strong differentiator: open lines of communication. “We’re able to make these successful upgrades by listening to our customers and our dealers. Their input directs us to make the appropriate adjustments to improve operation for the end user,” adds Massey.
And, of course, the most substantial differentiator is the product offering. “In the United States, we have one of the broadest lines of sweeper and asphalt patching equipment,” says Massey. “Our line far exceeds competitors’ offerings, as our equipment can meet the need of any application that’s out there.”
So, essentially, Schwarze says, “Bring it on!”
As far as asphalt equipment, the company’s premiere products – the RoadPatcher and Spraypatcher – provide safe, consistent, cost-effective asphalt repair from a piece of equipment that only requires one operator. Plus, as with its street sweepers, Schwarze continually improves the equipment. For instance, in June, it introduced the upgraded SP-550 Spraypatcher, which already included exclusive features such as a power-assisted broom and fully shrouded unit. The redesign also has a larger blower to increase airflow, delivering more aggregate for faster repairs. It also boasts an upgraded air intake for the blower, stronger shrouding and an improved hydraulic pump.
In 2008, Schwarze introduced its latest street sweeper innovation – the DXR model, which features a waterless and dustless design, making it an environmentally friendly, year-round sweeping solution. “It’s the way of the future, with water become an increasingly larger focal point in the industry and in the world,” observes Massey.
This is how the DXR works: It contains and traps very fine particulate matter, including “PM-10 fines” known to contain a high percentage of heavy metals, phosphates, and other pollutants, according to the company. If neglected, such pollutants will end up in storm water runoff and eventually find their way into a city’s sewers. From there, they’ll reach rivers, lakes and bays.
STAYING THE COURSE
With its remarkable success, Schwarze Industries needn’t modify its approach very much. “It has been our aim to constantly look at new advancements – such as Can-Bus systems, alternative fuel-based engines, and water-less equipment – and this will keep us at the cusp of technological development, which will enable us to offer our customers the highest performance products at the most cost-effective price,” says Massey. “With our engineering capabilities, we’ve placed ourselves at the forefront of technological development and can readily adapt these advances into our products and our customer requirements.”
And above all, Schwarze Industries will keep communication lines open with these customers. That way, it will assure itself that its always moving in the right direction.