Every now and then a 'disruptive' new product enters the market and changes the rules of the game.
The Petzl ZigZag mechanical prusik offers a benefit package with appeal to individual tree climbers as well as aerial arb companies, potentially compounding this new products' disruptive effect on the tree climbing market during 2013.
- Standardized Configuration
- Easy to Master
- Low Maintenance
Standardized Configuration: Following in the footsteps of other height safety industries, the DbRT mechanical device marketeers have argued the 'standardized configuration' case in aerial arb for years.
No knots to stuff up, specified climbing lines for better purchasing power and common rescue techniques for ease of training and therefore safer operating procedures.
Mechanical devices also result in a general 'dumbing down' of the tree climbing equipment configuration. Perversely, this diminishes the value of the tree climber, certainly when it comes to remuneration, thereby enhancing mechanical device appeal to aerial arb companies.
ART products, like the Lockjack and Spiderjack, came close to cracking this 'standardized configuration' conundrum but ART failed to deliver on the remaining four criteria: price, ease-of-use, maintenance and perhaps more importantly ART is not Petzl (for better or worse).
Price: Petzl have obviously spent some time analyzing the market to determine the optimal entry price point for the ZigZag. The published list price (here in NZ and around the world) reflects what the market will bear, and not a simplistic 'cost-plus' on research and development.
The pricing model suggests a long term DbRT market domination strategy by Petzl rather than a quick ROI from a novelty product.
Easy to master: Climbers who have already experienced the ZigZag tell Treetools the new device is very intuitive to use - about as close as you'll get to the feel of a friction hitch.
Contrast this, with say, the ART Spiderjack, where the learning curve is very steep indeed (you might be able to climb like Mr Spiderjackery Joe Harris eventually but it will not happen overnight!).
If the early adopters are correct, and the ZigZag is easy to master, then we can expect mass appeal within a relatively short space of time.
Low maintenance: According to the Petzl's specifications, particularly with the use of stainless steel on the wear points (friction links), the Petzl ZigZag should require very little ongoing maintenance.
The Rock Exotica Unicender and the ART Spiderjack/Lockjack require replacement parts - for ART products they are not expensive but inconvenient never-the-less.
Depending on climbing style even the humble friction cord needs regular replacement if used on a daily basis.
If Petzl's promotional material can be believed then the maintenance requirements for the ZigZag should be very low indeed, appealing to the pockets of tree climbers and arb companies alike.
Petzl: love them or hate them Petzl are a significant player in professional height safety and aerial arboriculture markets. Their products, documentation and marketing provide the benchmark for all other height safety manufacturers to strive for and attain.
If any company can pull this one off, it will be Petzl.
Of course, their timing is perfect.
The market is looking for a device which offers standardized configuration (even better that it is DbRT), ease of use, low maintenance and reasonable pricing. The fact the ZigZag is from Petzl can be considered an added bonus.
The only thing missing here is extensive field trials.
Will the Petzl ZigZag stand up to the rigors of tree work?
Only time will tell - but the future certainly looks promising at this point.