Vacuums With Vision

Consumers demand for new features creates material challenges for vacuum OEMs.

Consumers have indicated that there’s nothing quite so satisfying as seeing a dust-filled canister after an hour’s worth of vacuuming. In turn, vacuum cleaner manufacturers are searching for new solutions in plastics as they integrate clear windows and dirt sensors in their products.

Remaining on top of the trend, Bissell, Grand Rapids, Mich., has introduced a new addition to its ProHeart[TM] deep cleaning units. The ProHeat[TM] Clearview[TM] Plus upright deep cleaner has a clear window that lets users see how well the unit does its job. Additionally, its housing is a rich, chromatic plum accented by charcoal gray trim and knobs.

To get the color produced rapidly, Steve Darcangelo, senior buyer at Bissell, calls on Clariant Masterbatches, Albion, Mich. “The housing for the ProHeat[TM] Clearview[TM] Plus has seven different parts produced on seven different machines, and it is vital that all the colors match exactly,” explains Darcangelo. “They’re all made from the same base resins, so we’re not dealing with the complexities of trying to match colors across different types of resins, but it’s still a challenge.”

Yes, Please Complain!

Believe it or not, you should want customers to complain.

Take the manufacturer of a vacuum cleaner which, when it first entered the Japanese market, was flooded with complaints that the bags leaked dirt. Management was incredulous — it had never heard about this problem from its buyers.

In fact, the Japanese were right. The cleaners did leak, and the manufacturer found and repaired the problem. In this case, the difference between a mediocre product and a better one lay in customer response to corporate behaviour.

Obviously, a Canadian has no more affection for a leaky vacuum cleaner than a Japanese. So, why did only the Japanese complain, while the Canadian buyers kept silent? The primary reason is that most Canadian firms are poorly organized to receive and act on this type of information, and their customers know it.