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Providing a quality product in an unbelievably short time

This project highlights how our organisation identifies a customer’s requirement, pulls together as a unified team across different parts of the organisation and SBU’s, and responds to a completely diverse set of requirements to provide a quality product in an unbelievably short time.

About 15 months ago, the UK C&I team were asked to provide a prepayment solution for heat metering in a communal heating scheme. Traditionally, residents were paying for their heat supplies as part of their rent. This seemed unfair to the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham (LBBD), since people were not paying for what they consumed; they were paying in proportion to their rent.

Whilst looking for a solution, we quickly realised that we could incorporate heat metering into the Liberty system; as we do with gas, we could collect pulses from a third party heat meter. Ian Anthony assisted with the original modifications to a EU6 module, firstly to accept pulses from an external device and secondly, to control the opening and closing of the valve to the heat supply, using the SOV circuitry.

As luck would have it, our old colleague Sunil Saini happened to be visiting the UK. With his in-depth knowledge of the EU6, we were in a position to prepare a device that gave us a ‘proof of concept’. We specified a suitable latching relay and were able to give a rudimentary demonstration to both client and consultant.

The result of this was an order, probably the biggest single order for the C&I team in the UK.

The pressure was now on to produce a product in time. The client wanted to install these systems in two tower blocks, consisting of one hundred dwellings each.

We were dealing with areas that were quite alien to us

Collaboration between the UK technical support teams, both C&I and Energy, and the NPD and Application Engineering teams in India was essential. Dealing with heat and water, we were dealing with areas that were quite alien to us. Veeresh and his team worked tirelessly with us to deliver the solution. The result was the birth of a new device, Liberty Connect, which enabled us to connect third-party products (which don’t have pre-pay functionality) to the Liberty System and convert them into devices with pre-pay functionality. Also, the version of HEC at that time was designed for dual fuel, yet we needed a multi-fuel solution. Dave, Arvind and Sean in Bristol quickly made all the required changes to account for heat and water and now we have HEC3.1 with multi-fuel capability.

Once development was underway, the next problem to address was, who would operate this system once it had been installed. LBBD were talking to various organisations about this and one by one they fell by the wayside. We had no option but to introduce Utilita into the frame. This, again, was outside their comfort zone and was a whole new ball game for them too. Shaun Underwood and his team worked tirelessly with LBBD to reach an agreement. Associated with this, the equipment we were providing had to be tested by Utilita. It meant major changes to their version of the Liberty Client. Now we needed to account for four fuels and not the usual two. Paras Jain and his team quickly developed a version of Liberty Client to do this. Another crucial stage was the full system testing, which meant pressing the UK C&I team into service, particularly Steve East and the service delivery team of Steve Moody and Peter Smith. Once the test was passed, Utilita’s existing client base was migrated over to the new client.

There was no need to panic - the issue was identified; the team at Bristol did some rework and resolved it.

We were now ready to implement the system, installers were trained, manuals for both installers and residents were written. This introduced the technical documentation team into the project and high-quality manuals were produced at extremely short notice by Martin and Henry.

Production, another team crucial to the success, started rolling out deliveries of the new product. Once installation started we identified a small issue with some hubs, but there was no need to panic. The issue was identified and the team at Bristol did some rework and resolved it.

We are now at a stage where 99 per cent of equipment is installed and working; feedback from the residents is good as they are able to use their HEC to monitor and control their energy usage.

Many thanks to everyone in team Secure for the positive result in this project.

-Ian Hextall