• Andy Kibblewhite, Technical Trainer

PICOTE THE DAY WITH ANDY K. Flying by the seat of my underpants

I saw the light

We travel in many countries, lots of airports and hotel rooms. It all starts to blend into one sometimes, but it’s compensated by meeting the many people out there who sell our equipment and the end users as well. We don’t just fly, sometimes we also hire cars to get us about between sites and hotels. Richard’s usually up for this challenge, and generally manages to bring smiles to those who are travelling with him as he gets into the right-hand side of the car to find someone has moved the steering wheel to the other side (every time!). He casually walks around to the other side hoping no one has seen but we’re generally on the case and stood waiting and watching. This is all good-natured humour as we all get along well and enjoy our work. Just beware at night in a foreign country, when in a hire car heading down a dark street. Seeing a single headlight coming toward you and rails in the road… “Richard, is that a tram coming towards us?”

In the dark again

Away again in another country to carry out some training on the Picote Brush Coating System™ for a customer who had purchased our Mini Miller and Mini Pump combination. Training to be carried out on a site with his engineers. The day is getting hotter and hotter, we’re out from the hotel and searching for shade to keep cool, then the ride to site arrives and off we go.

As with most sites, until it’s finished it’s a little bit difficult to find, because until it’s finished it doesn’t really exist on SATNAV yet… We are somewhere near, but all new tower blocks in the downtown area look pretty similar to each other and the taxi driver’s starting to get a little bit tired of driving around aimlessly while we’re calling the client for directions.

After a while we find a site entrance with a security guard in a little hut and following a short but complicated conversation we establish that we’re possibly in the right place and we are sent into the site, down a concrete ramp and into the dark. Several ramps and stairwells later we are in an underground car park - well I say car park, one day it will be. Imagine a multi-storey car park with no fixtures and fittings, a few lights on here and there and construction noises echoing all around. Across the floor in a corner we spy a bunch of guys stood around a pile of boxes. As we approach it feels like a scene from a movie like ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,’ some surreptitious rendezvous with an exchange of cash in a briefcase, a car about to come screeching past us with guns blazing…

Thankfully that wasn’t the case, we were in the right place and the guys were desperate to know how to use the Coating System, so we set to as quickly as possible unpacking the kit and going through our training plan with them. We ran through the components and how to set them up correctly, advising on the common mistakes and tips we’ve picked up along the way. The guys were all excited to get hands on. They had prepared a pipework set-up of various bends and straight sections on the floor for us to work on. The plastic pipework needed to be prepared, to be done using out Smart Cutter™ hub and panels. I work on a lot of comparisons to things we do in our home life; painting your car or the gloss work at home, you would sand it down first, and our system’s no different. The other thing is you wouldn’t paint in the rain, so the pipe needs to be as clean and dry as possible so the resin can adhere properly. Pipe prepared and cleared of dust with a shop vac and an airline; as with all things, preparation is key.

Next up it’s time for the resin, the handy sized cartridges in two colours so you can see what you’re coating, well that’s genius! We’re coating, I’ve got it started and handed it over to the guys to get hands-on with the kit, there’s no better way of learning in my book.

Suddenly - lights out and power off! Phones out of pockets, lights on, what’s going on? The site is finished for the day…They’ve only forgotten we are down in the depths of the basement working - you really couldn’t make it up!

A quick cure

Coating training again in another hot country around the world. We are in the customer’s workshop carrying out training and familiarisation with service guys and sales teams. Great fun to be doing this with people who are so keen to learn and see our gear in operation.

Several pallets are laid out on the floor along with a combination of pipework which looks like that game ‘Mouse Trap,’ which pipe will the Miller come out of and where? A morning of coating pipes, setting up for different pipe sizes and combinations of bends and connections.

So, the workshop has no aircon, but we’re keeping cool with the fans creating a bit of a breeze and we’re in the shade. To help keep the resin cool we’ve got it in a tub of iced water. Underneath the bowl on the pump set-up (where the resin is dispensed from the cartridge) we have a bowl of ice taped underneath. It doesn’t look pretty but it’s working! Lunch is coming up and were going to stop have some food and come back to put on the second coat. Normally it’s time for the Picote Heater to come out and blow warm air through the pipes to aid the curing process, but not here, let’s all grab a corner of the pallets and put our pipe rig outside in the sun.

I can confirm it works. We are back about an hour later and every pipe coating has cured and is ready for the next coat. Looks like I won’t be recommending they buy the heater here then!

Mr Allen Keys

On site again and ready to roll, the Power+ is the machine for the day and the Concrete Remover is at the ready. All set up and unpacking the tooling from the shipping crate. We ship our tools all over the world, but on site we need some support from the client to get some of the more standard equipment that can be locally sourced.

I ask the crowd of guys, that have gathered to see this fabulous machine save the day and clear yet another drain of concrete, do they have Allen keys? - they look blank, surely Allen keys are available? Now imagine a rugby team huddling together, 15 to 20 guys all talking in their local language for what seemed an eternity to me and the Reseller (we were looking at each other in bemusement, wondering what’s going on). Then the lead hand turns around and says “I’m sorry sir, we don’t know Allen Keys, we don’t think he works here.” Time for me to start calling them hex keys in future!

Just me and my underpants

Many countries we visit have different rules and different cultures. Saying the right things and acting in the right way is very important as we travel the world developing our business, carrying out training and promoting our brand through various international trade fairs. One country is very much culturally aware of males and females and what can be seen or done in public, or so I discovered…

After several days getting changed into my work gear in a site toilet (we do live a very glamorous life) I turned up to find it was locked and no access was available. We had been working in a basement plant room of a hotel with a group of guys, carrying out some training and working on a project with our Power+ machine cutting concrete out of a DN225 drain. This was progressing well, and the Project Managers were delighted with the progress as it would enable the long overdue opening of this hotel to become a possibility.

So as not to delay works getting underway, this lovely sunny morning I was gestured to go over in the corner and get changed. Boots off, T-shirt off, shorts off and I reach for my work trousers - just as the doors swing open. Not a single woman in the plant room for the previous few days, but when I’m stood there in just my underpants, well, you couldn’t have timed it any better - around 20-25 ladies all walk through the plant room to undergo waitress training for the opening of the hotel. Should I laugh or cry? Just standing there (heckled by a certain colleague just pointing and giggling) time stood still. So, the lesson from this is always use the loo and lock the door!

33 views0 comments