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How well do you know your colleagues?

Summer 2017

The march of the robots Voice technology and cloud telephony

Thermo tags in the steel industry 9 149001

ISSN 2514-149X




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The Tech Talk Show broadcast live every Thursday and available as a weekly podcast at


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FOR THE RIDE Artificial intelligence is here to stay that much is certain, but, can we keep control of it as it exceeds our human capabilities asks Breakthrough magazine’s Managing Editor, Suzanne Callander.


think we can well and truly declare 2017 as being ‘the year of Artificial Intelligence’. In my role as a reporter of technology advances throughout the manufacturing industry I have already seen so many organisations starting to employ artificial intelligence (AI) and machinelearning technologies. They are doing so to gain greater predictive insight into their processes in a bid to increase their competitiveness and to ensure they stay ahead of the curve. I was interested to see how machinelearning techniques are also being employed by the innovator’s in this issue of Breakthrough magazine. It has been used to create a solution that helps organisations identify who, among their staff, might have the best skills for a particular project; and it is also being used to make music— probably sweeter music than many of us humans could hope to achieve! As the prospect of driverless cars, and collaborative robots helping us with mundane everyday tasks, moves ever closer to becoming a reality for the masses, there are those who urge caution. The debate about whether AI might one day pose a threat to humans will surely be the subject of many ethical arguments in the years to come. While it will undoubtedly help boost productivity and efficiency, will it do this at the expense of too many jobs? Or, will it help create jobs elsewhere? A recent article in New Scientist stated that a group of over 350 AI researchers believe that there is a 50% chance that, by 2060 AI will be able to outperform humans at all tasks. Elon Musk, the billionaire inventor and entrepreneur, believes that these researchers have their calculations wrong. He says that this may happen much sooner. Surprisingly, Elon is not the world’s biggest AI fan and he has some interesting ideas about how to ensure that humans stay in charge. He is currently working on a scarily science-

fiction-esque innovation which aims to plug the human brain into its artificial counterpart. Whatever your personal view of AI, there is no doubt that it’s here to stay and for Britain this could bring opportunities. A recent report stated that we have a distinct competitive advantage in AI and are home to some of the world’s most innovative artificial intelligence companies, along with a rich ecosystem of investors, employers, developers and clients. The UK government has recognised this too and in the 2015 spending review, it earmarked £93 million for AI, as part of a £1 billion Industrial strategy fund. More and more we are all starting to interact with machines as if they were human and they are learning to act more like us and to predict our reactions and needs. Where might this end? I’m not sure that anyone can accurately call this one—maybe we need to ask a machine! However, wherever it does take us I really hope that someone is holding tightly onto the AI reins as we all set off at a gallop into the future!

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Telephone: 01233 221 538 If you know of any innovations you think should be featured please contact Paul Dunn at

Publisher Sue Nelson

Managing Editor Suzanne Callander Editor Chris Callander

Publication Manager Paul Dunn Production G and C Media Ltd

Sponsored by

breakthrough funding

The content of Breakthrough magazine does not necessarily reflect the views of the editor or publishers. The publishers accept no legal responsibility for loss arising from information in this publication and do not endorse any products or processes mentioned within it. No part of this publication may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system without the publisher’s written consent. Š Breakthrough Press. All rights reserved.


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Breakthrough magazine is published quarterly by: Breakthrough Press Breakthrough Innovation Hub 13 The Glenmore Centre Moat Way Ashford TN24 0TL



An Olympic legacy sees communities come together with powerful results

An enthusiast turned innovator is turning guitar manufacturing on its head

People power



In at the deep end

It can be difficult to get people to believe in your idea when you set out to do something differently

Changing tack A distraction turns into an award winning business


No turning back An innovative product that is causing a stir in the media, has the potential to save motorcyclist’s lives


The voice of industry Siri and Alexa’s industrial cousin takes on a new role in maintenance and inspection


Talking business Could you take advantage of cloud based telephony?

Light metal

48 Where’s the catch An innovator sheds some light on a major challenge for the global fishing industry


Hitting the right note Could an artificially created track ever top the singles chart?


Daydream believer Often, it is when we relax that we are at our most creative


How well do you know your colleagues? If the answer is not very well it could be having an impact on your organisation


A view from the bridge When you are in charge of a vessel that weighs 20,000 tonnes, being able to see where you are going is crucial


Park life Mobile phone technology is fuelling a parking revolution


Walking on air A ground-breaking product fights the crippling effects of diabetes


Lighting the way

The role lighting plays within the built environment could be set to change significantly

31 Hot stuff! Who knew that labels could have such a tough life?


Mind your own business How safe is your organisation’s intellectual property?

71 Cleaning up Every business has the potential to be innovative

98 The waiter and the lemon Breakthrough Funding’s Sue Nelson shares a story that could help make your business more productive

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TACK The idea, that has won Helen Ross several awards for entrepreneurship and innovation, came after she set herself a challenge designed to distract her with something she was passionate about, as she dealt with a difficult period in her life. Breakthrough magazine spoke to Helen to find out how, as a result, she is revolutionising the equestrian industry.



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elen's love of all things equestrian began at a young age. With a horse trainer father, she had grown up surrounded by horses. However, her parents were unable to fund a pony of her own, so they clubbed together with her aunties and uncles, to enable them to share the cost of a pony that all the kids in the family could share. Appreciating what her parents had done to make this opportunity available to her, gave Helen a level of respect for, and love of, horses that began a lifelong passion. Several years later, when her life hit a significant bump in the road, Helen decided to change the path of her career and returned to study in a field related to her passion—equine science. It was a coping mechanism for this driven woman who, rather than allowing herself to be defeated by challenges, will tackle them head on. For Helen that meant immersing herself in something that she had always loved—the equestrian world. Following her period of study, Helen went back to work and before long started a family. Unfortunately, a new challenge presented itself when her newborn son became sick. Every time he was laid down he would stop breathing. He has since been diagnosed with multiple life threatening conditions including Tracheobronchomalacia which is being managed. But, at the time, the Doctors she saw couldn't find anything wrong, and the only way he could rest was for Helen to physically hold him upright. All night, every night. Realising she couldn't just stare at four walls every night Helen decided she needed a distraction and, once again she returned to her passion for horses. This time she set herself a challenge to solve a problem her horse was experiencing, as Helen explains: "My horse had a problem, she was acting like she was in pain and discomfort when being ridden and I didn't understand why. "I started a process of elimination, review ing all my horse's tack and carrying out a significant amount of research and data analysis before I finally established the cause of the discomfort was her saddle pad and the pressure it created." Helen sourced some used saddle pads and started altering them to trial a variety of

My horse was acting like she was in pain and I didn’t understand why

The dual wing design functioned because of a cut in the saddle pad

alternative designs. Two core ideas developed, one Helen called the dual wing design and a second which was a mono version. Initially, Helen’s design ideas developed through trial and error but, as she looked into the issue more deeply, she discovered that there was a science to the approach she was developing. "The dual wing design functioned because of a cut in the saddle pad at a particular angle and gradient. If I made it too shallow, it didn't eliminate enough pressure and so was nowhere near as effective. Equally, if I made the angle too big it didn't work at all”, Helen added. "Trying to find the optimum angle and length of the wings took some time as I boiled the design down to fractions of a degree." Once Helen had fine-tuned her design as far as she could, she made some prototypes and asked friends to try them out. They proved to be a hit; her friends loved them. Helen had created a new product for the equestrian market, and a good one it seemed. It was something that nobody else had thought of before, and so Helen had to decide what to do with her design next. She started by creating a presence on social media, to see what the wider reaction to her idea was, and slowly but surely, word of the innovative saddle pad spread and interest started to emerge. Alongside her awareness building exercise, Helen concluded that she needed third-party validation of her idea—independent recognition for the positive impact that the saddle pad design could have. So she approached leading equestrian scientist Dr David Marlin to carry out some independent pressure testing. Over the coming months, the social media activity started to generate genuine enquiries, and people were getting in touch asking where they could buy the saddle pads. But the testing had been delayed, and Helen didn't have any products to meet the demand. So she had to do all she could to stall the potential customers, explaining that the saddle pads were coming soon. Alongside the steadily growing number of enquiries from interested horse owners, a major manufacturer of equestrian products approached Helen. They had seen the idea and were interested in it. However, the company

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didn't just want to purchase a few; it wanted to buy the idea. At this stage, Helen's focus wasn't really on establishing her own business. If she could sell her idea and give herself a financial cushion that left her free to concentrate on her family, that would have been perfect. Helen was understandably excited by the approach and travelled back to her native Ireland to meet the company. However, despite their initial positive interest, the meeting didn’t go well; the company's representatives tore Helen and her idea apart, citing a lack of scientific evidence. Looking back, Helen feels it was a positive experience, from which she developed a tougher, more confident approach to business, but at the time it was a big blow, and she left the meeting deflated. However, Helen refocused herself and got back in touch with Dr Marlin, to press for the evidence she badly needed. Within two weeks Dr Marlin had carried out some preliminary tests, and the initial results were looking positive. Fired up about the design again, Helen took the financial risk and commissioned Dr Marlin's team to carry out deeper research.

No other saddle pad design had been shown to create zero pressure


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Buoyed by the positive reaction from the preliminary research, and confident that she would soon have the hard scientific evidence needed to support her claims, Helen booked a stand at the BETA (British Equestrian Trade Association) International trade show and entered her saddle pad design into their innovation awards. It was a brave move—the in-depth research had not been complete, and she didn't have a manufacturing partner. But, Helen was keen to get her product idea out into the market—and deep down, a little motivated to prove a point to the company that had been so dismissive of her and her idea. Luckily, this turned out to be a good move! Spurred on by the deadline the research team delivered their findings ahead of the event. And the results were excellent, showing that using the pad eliminated any pressure on the horse's back. No other saddle pad design had been shown to create zero pressure, and the implications of this breakthrough were significant. For horses like Helen's, those that suffer from rubbing, the benefits are more obvious. But, the saddle pad design also offers advantages to sporting riders. With no pressure on them, the horse's muscles are not restricted and are freed up. This increase in movement can allow significant performance gains; so important in competition. "A horse's power comes from its hind quarters and its back, and it's carrying us on those. If you are restricting that power by causing pressure,

I’ve had customers report a 10% increase in their dressage scores when using a winged saddle pad

the horse is not able to work as effectively as it could. If you free up that power, by default you enhance the horse's performance," said Helen. "As an example, I've had customers report a 10% increase in their dressage scores when using a winged saddle pad." In between booking her place at BETA International and the event itself, Helen had also found a manufacturing partner. Her initial trials with a series of overseas manufacturers didn’t work out well, and she ended up striking up a relationship with a manufacturer based in Wales. It has proven to be ideal as the location allows for a closer working relationship and many of her customers also love the fact that her products are British made. Everything was coming together well. But the icing on the cake came on day two of the BETA trade show when Helen's winged saddle pads won the innovation award she had entered.

In itself that was a fantastic achievement but what made it all the sweeter was discovering that the runner-up in Helen's award category— the company she beat—was that Irish-based manufacturer who had dismissed her design. The BETA show and Helen's award win gave her products a fantastic kick-start. A year and a half later and the saddle pads are selling well, the equine trade press has responded positively to the product, and Helen is growing a new cohort of sponsored riders who are giving her unique design an excellent profile. However, the success of the design has presented a new challenge. One that, unfortunately, is faced in so many industries. Just six months after the BETA event no fewer than 18 other manufacturers had introduced products incorporating a design very similar to Helen's. Helen made it very clear when we spoke to her that she is not going to take this lying down, and why should she. Helen has patent applications pending and various mechanisms in place to protect her intellectual property. And so she has had to initiate legal action against the companies she feels are copying her designs. While this reflects the unsavoury side of product innovation, in particular for the individual or small business, it does show that the idea Helen came up with, in the dead of night while nursing her poorly son, has revolutionised a global industry.

HRP Equestrian

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NO TURNING BACK When we spoke to Zona’s CEO, John Hale, he was in the midst of a whirlwind of media attention around his innovative product, designed to save motorcyclists lives. News of his product had been published in the previous week’s New Scientist, and it was also featured in the highprofile motorcycling publication, Motorcycle News. So it was evident there was a lot of interest in what John was doing. But it was far from a new idea as we found out.

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ack in 2003, when John was living on the south coast of England, he commuted to work from West Sussex through to Hampshire. An experienced motorcycle rider, John still found his journey along the M27 motorway to be a challenge. A critical issue was rearward visibility. In a congested motorway environment, this is particularly critical, but John's ability to focus on what was happening behind him was hampered by issues with mirrors vibrating and his body obscuring the view. It was an age-old problem, faced by many motorcyclists. But after several close calls, he became determined to find a solution. After one particularly close call, John was having coffee with a colleague, Mark, and discussing the issue. He explained: "Initially I wasn't thinking of it as a business idea, my words at the time were 'I just want something to put on my bike and if its any good we might be able to sell a couple as well'. Mark, who had a background in physics, agreed to take the idea away and see what he could come up with." John had some key criteria. "I didn't want to change anything that I already did," he said. "I didn't want to have to replace any of my existing equipment or clothing, and it had to be entirely practical, easy to use and should not be a restraining factor in any way—it had to enhance my riding experience." What John needed was a way to see what was going on behind him without compromising his forward vision. His outline concept was for a rear facing camera that had its images projected onto a screen fitted inside the riders existing helmet which could be viewed in the periphery of their vision. This approach would give an unobstructed view while incorporating image stabilisation would overcome the issues with vibration


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After several close calls, John became determined to find a solution John's colleague wasn't a motorcyclist, and while the initial ideas were a good starting point, they didn't solve the entire issue. Going away with further feedback based on John's experience, the ideas were developed until a concept was reached that they felt was workable. Their attentions then turned to researching the idea, testing and gathering data—understanding the physics involved and the human elements. This work enabled John and his colleague to fine-tune the idea until they had what they felt was a well thought out solution. And it was around this time that the pair started to realise they may well have a product that had real potential. Unfortunately, their optimism was soon to take a significant blow. The first issue to be encountered was that display technology wasn't as advanced as it needed it to be. "There were two key issues," John continued. "The size of the display couldn't be brought down small enough for our requirements and also the costs would have been prohibitive."

John and Mark both had some experience of bringing new products to market and the costs that can be involved, and with these considerations, alongside the excessive component costs, the pair were not confident that they could make their project financially viable. The idea simply wasn't a practical solution, certainly from a commercial perspective, and so it was put on the back burner. It was six years before the project would surface again. Both John and Mark had been watching the sector and knew that the issues with rearward visibility remained. By this time John was based in the North East and, by chance, he became aware of an EU-backed initiative called JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises). JEREMIE provided investment funding to SMEs and gave John and Mark an opportunity to fund their proof of concept and prototyping work, and move the project to the next stage. At the same time, further investigations showed that display technology had improved and both the size and cost of the components needed were much more realistic. What wasn't available, however, were the optics needed to allow a rider to focus on a screen inside their helmet, in extremely close proximity to their eyes. Teaming up with a University that had a specialist optics division, it was hoped that they could develop a solution that met the project requirements. Disappointingly, the partnership didn't meet expectations. It ran

on for two years longer than intended and the final result simply wasn't fit for purpose. This outcome was another blow for the project. The funding was running low, and so the pair had to find other sources of paid work to support themselves while allowing the project to keep ticking over. And they still had to find an alternative solution to their optics challenge. "It was frustrating," said John. "We had built up a lot of momentum, and we lost that as the project was forced to slow again." Thankfully, by 2015 the pair had overcome the barrier created by the optical requirements. Fired up by their progress John started to work on raising finance to move the project to its next stage—taking the product into production. In early 2016 the process accelerated as the first investors came on board. John then spent the rest of 2016 focussed wholly on identifying and engaging additional investors. That work all paid off, and by the end of the year, they had met their investment target— entirely from individual investors. The most high profile of which was Carl 'Foggy' Fogarty, the most successful World Superbike racer of all time. Carl wasn't involved in the project as just a celebrity endorsement, he had a genuine interest in the concept and provided a wealth of valuable input. Even at this stage with all the support they had gained, John knew it wasn't going to be easy. Other companies had launched rear view camera systems for motorcyclists and failed. But John



Carl Foggarty wasn’t involved in the project as just a celebrity endorsement, he had a genuine interest in the concept and provided a wealth of valuable input was confident he knew why. They all had a major flaw; they required you to use their helmets. Right back in the early days of the project, John had seen this, and it was why his initial criteria included a minimal change in rider equipment— the development of a retrofit solution. Helmets are a significant consideration for the majority of riders. They are a critical safety element, and a good fit is essential. John realised that asking

someone to compromise, even for the benefits that improved rear visibility can offer, was going to be nigh on impossible. Bringing us back up to date, John and the team are working with a UK based manufacturing partner to get the product ready for shipping to customers in the summer of this year. They have shown the Zona system at several exhibitions this year. The reaction has been extremely positive, and they have hundreds of advance orders as a result. And of course, there has been the positive response in the press that John was handling when we caught up with him. So, while having to wait to realise the Zona concept was not an ideal scenario, the product has a far greater chance of success today than it would have had in 2005. It would not have worked at the price point John and Mark needed to sell it at then. It would not have been as effective or user-friendly as the evolved technology means it can be today. And Foggy wouldn't have been able to get involved, as he was busy running a team in the World Superbike Championships.



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THE VOICE OF INDUSTRY The introduction of Siri back in 2011 has been the trigger for a massive growth in the use of voice control on the smart devices we interact with. Alexa and Google Assistant have followed hot on Siri’s heels, and today it is possible to talk to your television, your car and a host of other devices— even ones you don’t need to. But you may not be aware that the use of voice as a man-machine interface has been common in the distribution sector, where Voice Beyond lead the way, for many years. The firm is now taking its knowledge and expertise into a new area, maintenance and inspection, as Breakthrough magazine found out.

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oice technology has been employed in the distribution industry for over 20 years. Walmart, the US retail giant, was among the first to adopt the technology when the company spotted the advantages it could bring to their logistics operations. In the distribution sector, voice-controlled interaction offers many benefits over the traditional methods; such as handheld scanners or even paper-based documentation. Of course, it is hands-free which in itself can help speed up operations. There are also health and safety advantages, through minimised visual distractions; the time to learn new routines is reduced through the use of clear guidance; and staff flexibility is improved as operators can switch tasks more quickly or indeed staff that might otherwise face a language barrier are no longer restricted. One of the key advantages of a voice guided system, however, is its ability to improve accuracy. Users are given, and respond with, clear voice instructions. There is no scope for forgetting steps in a process and mistakes can be picked up as they happen. So, voice can almost entirely eliminate operator errors. In a distribution environment small errors can have a significant impact, as Mark Batchelour, Voice Beyond Europe’s Managing Director, explained: “If you have 100 items, being sent in batches of ten each to ten customers, incorrectly picking one item

“ 20

does not result in simply a 1% error rate. “One customer has an incorrect order, so 10% of the overall orders are wrong. But then another customer’s order will also be wrong, so there is, in fact, a 20% error rate. It's easy to see how a small error can have a big impact. And that’s before you consider the knock-on impact. If stock levels are wrong while waiting for the mis-shipped item to return, the business may not be able to meet other orders,” continued Mark. While minimising errors can bring huge cost savings, the improved efficiencies offered by a voice-based system can open up valuable revenue streams. When an online retailer introduced a voice-based picking system into its distribution centre, it was able to extend the last order deadline from 5pm to 7pm. Two extra hours shopping was valuable, but they are also the two hours after most people leave work—so many more customers were able to use their online store. The impact on sales was significant, and it made a major difference to the profitability of the business. But as already explained that the technology is over 20 years old so you may be asking when we will get to the innovative part of the story? Well, it is in new applications for the technology, in a discipline where voice-based technologies had previously been impractical—maintenance and inspection (M&I). M&I was, in fact, the first area where the technology was

It’s easy to see how a small error can have a big impact

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trialled over 20 years ago—with Ford and GM. But it wasn’t efficient at the time, and so it quickly moved to, and took hold in, the distribution and retail space when Walmart adopted it. But today, enabling technology has caught up, making voice technology a realistic, and indeed valuable, option in the M&I sector. The technology hadn’t taken off in the M&I industry because typically, more than just simple voice interaction is needed to carry out an inspection. In most cases, technicians need to capture their observations and findings as a separate process from the actual inspection or maintenance procedure. A richer series of information is required beyond voice instruction, such as the ability to view images or call up information; exploded diagrams or torque settings, for example. That is hard to do with a standard voice system without a screen. So, to overcome the barrier, Voice Beyond has now integrated tablet based devices into its voice systems. This new approach means users no longer have to refer to manuals for technical specifications. All information requirements can be accessed through the tablet integrated into the system, which can align the details with the inspection or maintenance procedure— calling it up at the appropriate time. The voice functionality can then be used to guide the inspection task through carefully defined steps, allowing the user to record their findings and observations by speaking into a headset. It means no more going back and forth to a laptop or to manually record results on paper. Many of the advantages are the same as within the distribution sector—efficiency, improved accuracy and precise guidance. But in the M&I industry, there are other

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If there had been an accident on one of theses days, the implications for our customer would have been significant

benefits too. Compliance in this sector is critical, where inspections may be carried out on aircraft engines for example. Not only does the based voice system ensure accurate records are captured and archived, but it can also ensure correct procedure is followed. Mark explained how this was the case: “A high-street retailer runs a large fleet of delivery vehicles, and its drivers are required to carry out safety inspections on their vehicle before each shift. When investigating the process , it became apparent that on days when the weather was bad, some drivers were completing their checklist forms in the warmth of their dry staffroom—before even going out to the vehicle. “If there had been an accident on one of theses days, the implications for our customer would have been significant. To minimise this risk, we program the voice system with contextual information. So, if the lights need to be checked on one of the large vehicles, the system will know that you can't walk around the vehicle in under five seconds. The system can also capture GPS data, or a barcode over a wheel arch, so it also knows where the inspection took place. Now users can’t rush through the checklist from a different location and get away with it. And all this information will be captured on the company's servers. So a record is always available for scrutiny.”

The ability to integrate the established voice systems with new technologies has opened up a new market, and in the future, Mark can see voice technology extending into an even broader range of applications, fuelled by the ever growing capability of the technologies that surround it. Augmented reality (AR) is an example. It can't be used for applications like inspection and maintenance on its own. But AR can replace the functions delivered by the tablet today, and work in tandem with voice's unique ability to offer instruction in an even more practical way. New sectors could open up to the existing technology as well. In the US, voice technology is being increasingly used in healthcare settings, where the ability to control processes such as health checks, and then easily capture and store the information that results, is a real advantage. As of course is the evidence the voice-based approach captures. The next few years promise to be interesting for Voice Beyond, as Siri and its colleagues bring voice based interaction to a growing audience and other enabling technologies advance. At Breakthrough magazine, we are looking forward to hearing how the comapny brings its technology and its many advantages to new, voice savvy, sectors and customers.

Voice Beyond Ltd breakthrough, Summer 2017



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TALKING BUSINESS It seems like everything is moving into the cloud these days—cloud storage, cloud accounting and cloud software. Cloud telephony is no exception but, as we found out when we spoke to Bryan Davis from Connect it, there are some significant reasons why you should be giving this serious consideration if you haven’t already.


ryan, many people will have heard of cloud-based technologies, can you explain what it means when used in a telephony context? I think the simplest way to describe the cloud is to imagine the computer you have in your office being moved somewhere else, but you still have a direct link to everything on it. But, because that connection is across the Internet you have a direct link wherever you happen to be—at work, home or while travelling. Of course, the computer you are accessing is also likely to be a lot larger and more powerful than the PC in your office, and it will be in an extremely secure location. Cloud telephony, or hosted telephony, is very similar. Where a business with multiple users may have a phone system in their office building, a hosted solution takes the functionality of their system—typically a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) that manages the lines within a

business—and moves it outside the business premises and connects to it over the Internet. What advantages does a hosted telephony solution offer a business over a more traditional PBX-based system? There are a range of advantages—lower costs, greater business continuity, significant flexibility, the ease at which a hosted system can be scaled and a whole raft of easily accessible functions. How are the costs better than with a traditional approach? There are several areas. If you are starting from scratch, the cost of setting up a hosted system is much lower than with a PBX-based system. There is considerably less hardware required on site, and, as a result, the setup time is often much faster. Plus, a common Internet connection can handle five concurrent calls. You would need to install three ISDN2 lines to give the same number.

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Then, on an ongoing basis, the maintenance costs are a lot less. A PBX system will need routine maintenance and upgrades, typically part of a supplier’s maintenance plan. With a hosted system, this is all done remotely by the provider, wherever the system is hosted. It is no longer the end user’s responsibility, and it means their system is always up to date. And how is business continuity enhanced? Better continuity is derived from the remote nature of where a hosted system is based. A PBX system relies on the phone lines coming into the business where it is based, and of course the power supply in that building. If either goes down, the phone system does too. It won't become available until the phone lines and, or, power is restored.

It is easy to track call volumes, call length, response times and other metrics

With a hosted approach, the critical systems are running in a secure data centre with sophisticated power and connectivity backup protocols in place, so power outages are very unlikely to happen in that context. And if the broadband connection to your offices goes down, yes you would lose the ability to access your phone system over it, but, you could quickly access it through another Internet connection—in another building perhaps or over a mobile connection. The flexibility comes into play in that scenario too. Any user, or maybe a system administrator at the business, can log onto their phone system through any Internet connection and make a number of changes. They could reroute the unreachable numbers to another number or office, or set up recorded messages, for example. In fact, a user may not even need to do that. The system could be programmed to do it automatically if at any time it detects a line is unavailable. With a traditional system, using phone lines, you have to call the supplier and ask them to divert the calls. They can only redirect them to a single mobile number, and it can take some time to set up. So you can ensure you never become unreachable. That’s a significant advantage. What other functionality can a hosted system offer over a traditional one? The detailed call monitoring that is available through a hosted system is one of the more


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popular features. It provides a number of benefits. For example, in sales and customer service environments it is easy to track call volumes, call length, response times and other metrics. You can see details of any calls that were missed, and whether they have been called back, so calls need never fall through the cracks. And all of this can be tracked and reported by user, department or number dialled. The reporting can also be tied in with unique numbers which can be set up to track things like responses to adverts. We did this for a client recently, and we contacted them to see how it was running a few days into the campaign. They didn’t think the advert was working very well. But when we looked into the reports we could see that they were getting, and missing, a number of calls between 8.30 and 9.00am, before their team started work. A quick change to their team hours and the advert was suddenly working very well for them. In the marketing tracking scenario, you can also see the caller’s location. That can be a real benefit in identifying where an advert has performed at its best. I can see there are many advantages to a hosted system. But, there must be drawbacks too? The quality of the Internet connection is the factor that has the greatest impact on the service. And it is this experience that tends to put people off. However, we find that in most cases, it’s not as big an issue as people think it is. We have been helping clients with hosted services since 2009, and it was available before that. In the early days, Internet connections were not as good as they are today. Most people’s experience of something similar to a hosted solution is with a service like Skype. If they tried that for a video call, especially a few years ago, they might not have had a great experience. That can put people off. The reality is different, especially today. Firstly, a video call uses significantly more bandwidth than a voice call. And connections will often prioritise data types. Video data and things like emails can ‘bully’ call data and push it to one side, reducing its quality. But when we set up a system, we can ensure a portion of the connection is ring fenced for the call data, so nothing else will reduce its quality. Secondly, overall connection speeds have improved since 2009. The average broadband connection speed is around 6Mbps today. A hosted call only takes around 150 kilobits, so it's a tiny proportion and common broadband connections today can handle several concurrent calls with ease.

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In around three years, Openreach are planning to stop installing standard phone lines as we know them today

So the issues people may have experienced in the past are a lot less likely to be there today? Absolutely, if someone did try this approach a few years ago and didn’t find it worked well for them I would certainly recommend that they take another look. Obviously, there are still some people who struggle with the capacity of their broadband connection, particularly if they need capacity for multiple concurrent calls. But there are some Government-backed schemes available that can help with grants and tax relief for the installation of dedicated leased lines. The technology has come on a long way in recent years, then. How do you see it developing in the coming years? Well, in around three years, Openreach are planning to stop installing standard phone lines as we know them today. The new lines will essentially be like a broadband connection and as a result, all phones, including home phones, will work more like a hosted phone does now. It will be a phased transition, so it will take time to filter across the entire network. But it will see a change in the capability of all phone systems. When that happens, I think the move we see today—away from fixed line phones to mobile connections even for home use—may reverse somewhat. It will be driven by the flexibility and functionality that mobile, and hosted systems, have today being available through home numbers. So our ‘home’ numbers will become much more personal and transportable, alongside the opening up of a host of new functions? Yes, exactly. Couple that with the different ways the younger generations are communicating, and the growth in demand for faster access to information, and I think there are exciting times ahead.

Connect it


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breakthrough, Summer 2017


STUFF Have you ever taken the time to think about plant tags? The ones wrapped around the stems and stuck into the pots of the rows and rows of plants stacked in your local garden centre. No? Neither had we. That was until we spoke to Neil Dunn from IML Labels and gained a whole new appreciation for what these unassuming labels, and their more industrial relatives, have to withstand.

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heffield based IML Labels came to life in 1936, initially to serve the local steel industry. Today, the steel industry still makes up a large part of the company’s business, albeit as a global business rather than a local one. The company also provides products for the chemical and horticulture industry, alongside a range of other sectors. But common to all of its work, and where IML's expertise lies, is developing and supplying labels and tags for use in harsh environments. Which brings us back to the plant tags. Let's give them a bit more thought. First, they are soaked every day, sometimes more than once. They can be subjected to extremes of heat as they move from greenhouses


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The answer came out of left-field when the team saw the materials being used for lorry side curtains to the depth of a British winter. And the can be submitted to constant, bright, sunlight doing its best to bleach all pigment out of them. That's before you start to consider the stress they come under from thorns, tangling and clumsy gardeners tugging at them. They don’t survive all that by accident. They do so because considerable research and development has been put into the materials they are made from, the inks used to print on them, how the ink

is applied, and the way the labels are attached. It was taking into account all the potential hazards that could be encountered by a label that enabled IML to develop two products that it believes are unique in the steel industry— highly resilient rip-proof tags and an extreme temperature thermo-tag range. Both solutions were designed to help identify and track raw steel as it goes through the supply chain; from initial manufacture through

various stages of processing and on to distribution. This can all take place within the same plant or could be a journey that spans across continents. And so the labels and tags IML produce have to be able to withstand extreme temperatures and prolonged exposure in stockyards and distribution warehouses. If the identifying information is lost at any point in the journey, it could have serious, and expensive, consequences. If a large 20-tonne slab of steel has to be recycled because it can no longer be traced, the cost can run to tens of thousands of pounds. So it is easy to see how important it is for the tags to stay where they are and remain legible.

The concept for the rip proof tags was originally developed in the 1980s. At the time, the IML team saw a gap in the market for a label that could withstand significant rough handling without damage and never become detached from its product, and the hunt for suitable materials began. The answer came out of leftfield when the team saw the materials being used for lorry side curtains as they received deliveries at their factory. The IML team realised that if that material could withstand the lorry environment— continuously being pulled and tensioned as they were opened and closed, and the abuse they got from goods being pressed into them—it could well work for their application. It wasn't

quite as simple as that, of course. A great deal of testing and development work went into adapting the base material to suit the application. The Thermo-Tag labels came to life in a similar way. Being able to label raw steel at the most appropriate stage in its production is key. Any delays can lead to misidentification with the cost implications already mentioned. IML already had a metal label that could withstand 1000°C, but there were applications where a label only had to handle 600°C. The cost of the higher temperature labels was excessive in these situations, but the rip-proof tags could not survive. So, once again the team set about identifying a suitable material.

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breakthrough, Summer 2017

This time the answer was found in conveyor belts used in food manufacturing facilities. Where the conveyors carried products through tunnel ovens, the conveyor had to withstand high temperatures, similar to those required of the Thermo-Tag. IML took the basic material and, with support from its manufacturer developed it and fine-tuned it to meet the application. Important in this case was the ability to print on it with a thermal transfer printer which would enable the information and barcodes printed on the tags to survive the harsh environments. To do so required a matt surface, so a coating had to be identified, one that could cope with the heat. The whole development process took around two years. But the effort was worthwhile as the Thermo-tags are now being supplied to steel producers worldwide. Meeting high standards The business is innovating in its other key sectors as well. In the chemical industry, for example, they have just released a new product that has solved a long-

standing issue. In essence, it is a colour laser printer, developed from the technology similar to that used in your home or office printer. But it is used for printing chemical hazard labels. Labels for use in harsh applications have to meet an extremely stringent standard, BS5609. The standard covers a specification for labels in marine use and includes durability criteria for adhesives, the print and a label's abrasion resistance. If a large chemical container is lost over the side of a ship at sea, it can drift for days, or weeks, before it washes ashore. When recovered, it is critical that any hazard information relating to the container's contents is still visible. For these reasons, it is an extremely tough standard to meet, and significant work has gone into the development of the labels themselves, and the inks they are printed with. Previously, to meet the standard, labels would be produced, pre-printed, by specialist label manufacturers and the chemical producers would have to adapt them to suit their requirements. This was always a compromise and

Thermo-tags are now being supplied to steel producers worldwide

a time-consuming approach. Now they can print labels in-house, designed entirely to meet their specific needs. This new solution means labels can be printed on demand and in low or high volumes, offering chemical producers significant improvement in their workflows. Neil firmly credits the success of the business to its innovative approach and a strategic decision, made a decade and a half ago, to focus on core sectors and ensure that the business is leading the way within them. As we mentioned earlier, IML does serve a broad number of industries; however, steel, horticulture and the chemical industry make up over 80% of their business. The company’s innovationled approach means it has expanded its business globally by leading the way in the technologies they develop. The steel industry is an example of how important this approach has been. No longer is IML serving just the local steel business in the UK; now it is working with steel companies across the globe because it can offer products designed to address the challenges faced by the industry. And looking at how the UK steel industry is faring today, Neil feels sure that, if the business hadn’t made the decision to excel in its core areas some 15 years ago, it may very well not be around today.

IML Labels & Systems Ltd

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Anyone working within manufacturing or engineering knows the importance of inventions, designs and research. However knowing the best way of protecting these isn’t always apparent. We spoke to intellectual property law specialist, Cleveland Scott York IP, to find out what needs to be considered.


or any business owner or managing director, being able to recognise what constitutes your intellectual property portfolio is an essential part of protecting your competitive advantage and revenue streams. Carrying out an audit of the company’s existing assets may uncover surprising elements which have never been considered as valuable IP before. Intellectual Property breaks down into four main areas:

• • • •

Copyright Trade marks Designs Patents

Each of these have a different legal focus and require a different approach. Copyright is where an author has exclusive rights to an original piece of work. These exclusive rights allow the author to make and sell


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copies of the work, as well as limiting what others can do with it. To claim copyright the author or writer needs records showing the original creation of the work and should include a copyright statement that shows the author and the date. Trade marks are a recognisable sign, design, or expression which identifies products or services of a particular organisation or product that differentiates it from those of others. There are three different types of trade marks: registered trade marks, service marks and unregistered trade marks. Registered trademarks are registered with the UK or EU trade mark office. Service marks are used for services rather than products, and are registered in a similar way to products and unregistered

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trademarks have some limited cover under trade secrets or “passing off�. Designs refer to the characteristics of any shape, configuration, pattern or ornament, and registering the design is done in order to protect the external appearance of a product, package or article. Patents, meanwhile are the exclusive right granted by a government authority or licence to have the right to manufacture, import, use or sell an invention and to exclude others from making, using or selling it. So what IP should the business be considering? The key aspect of protecting intellectual property is to ensure the organisation retains its competitive advantage and safeguards future revenues. The types of IP that the organisation should be considering include: Copyright of software, animations, corporate videos, corporate songs, articles, brochures, newsletters and web content. Copyrights last for the original author's lifetime, plus up to a hundred years beyond his or her death. Remembering to include the original date is therefore a useful tool to reinforcing copyright.


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The key aspect of protecting intellectual property is to ensure the organisation retains its competitive advantage and safeguards future revenues Trade marks include: product names, logos, jingles brand names—in fact almost everything within your brand or corporate identity toolkit. The service marks also cover the services your organisation provides to prevent repetition or replication by competitors. Failure to trademark can severely impact on your brand. Designs refer to the product appearance, packaging designs and include shape, packaging, patterns, colours and decorations.

These follow the same approach as trade marks in becoming registered. Patents refer to equipment, inventions, technical processes and products that the company has invented, created or produced. The UK operates on the ‘first-to-file’ principle—which means that companies need to be proactive when it comes protecting their intellectual property. It is costly and timeconsuming to try and re-establish ownership of IP if you have failed to register or protect it in the first place. For any organisation without a structured intellectual property strategy, Andrew Mackenzie, Partner at Cleveland Scott York IP, suggests businesses initially consider:

• How do I protect my brand? • Can I get a competitive advantage with my products?

• Which countries do I need to register in? • Where, geographically, are products or • •

services provided under the brand now and in the future? Where am I manufacturing products? Where do I suspect copyists will operate, in

the case of products?

• How do I stop competitor products looking like mine?

• Why do I need a patent, trade mark or registered design?

The business owner or managing director also needs to consider if the business is currently infringing another organisation or individual’s intellectual property. For example copying images from the web may infringe copyright law particularly if the image is not attributed or a request to use has not been made. So why is IP important? How essential is your brand to generating revenues? Are you able to survive if a competitor creates an almost identical product, brand or packaging that make it easy for customers to mis-buy believing they are purchasing yours? Investing in the right intellectual property protection makes financial sense.

Cleveland Scott York

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After the 2012 Olympics, there was much talk about its legacy. It is something rarely done well following a games. However, The Great Outdoor Gym Company are on a mission to single-handedly achieve a primary objective from the London games—to increase physical activity in the UK population—with a powerfully innovative approach to engaging communities with exercise.



breakthrough, Summer 2017

breakthrough, Summer 2017



he driving forces behind The Great Outdoor Gym Company (TGO) are husband and wife team Matt and Georgie Delaney. The success the business is experiencing today stems from their shared belief that, as well as the traditional health benefits, exercise has the power to bring communities together and improve wellbeing. Matt and Georgie met in the early 2000’s while working for Sport England and both were involved in the lead-up to the London Olympics. While working on the Olympic programme, Matt was heavily focussed on its legacy. One objective, which may seem modest, but was not going to be simple to achieve, was to generate a 1% increase in physical activity in the UK population, each year. Georgie recalls the inspirational time spent at Sport England: “We had access to a wealth of statistical information on the barriers to activity. They showed time, cost and access as being the most significant obstacles, but also that there were a lot of emotional hurdles too. This included people’s perceptions of going to a gym and how a lack of confidence stopped many from stepping into that type of environment.” The level of increased activity targeted for the UK had already been achieved in China following the Beijing Olympics. A team from the Beijing Sports Bureau were invited to the UK to share their experience, which, it turned out, centred around the introduction of outdoor gyms into public spaces. “It made perfect sense,” continued Georgie. “The outdoor gym concept was very democratic, inclusive and accessible. I also had a passion for outdoor architecture, and so the concept was of real interest to me.” Matt and Georgie could see a fantastic opportunity. TGO was formed, with Georgie working entirely in the business, while Matt helped out in his spare time. Their mission was to use the London Olympics to get the nation active.


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The project was a huge success and brought the concept to the attention of the Department of Education The business was working well, bringing outdoor exercise equipment in from China and setting up outdoor exercise spaces across the UK. However, a couple of years later, in 2009, the business saw a significant boost when they won a contract to work with Adidas on a project that would be dubbed the AdiZone. Olympic momentum was growing, and Adidas were about to announce its sponsorship of the forthcoming games. The sponsor was looking for a way to leverage its involvement, and the AdiZone idea fitted the bill. Built around Matt and Georgie’s passion for extending outdoor gyms into a more community-focussed role, AdiZone was developed to create a space similar to an outdoor youth club. The AdiZones were designed as multi-sport facilities in the shape of the London 2012 logo. They featured a large gym, a climbing wall, a tennis wall, basketball and football areas plus freestyle spaces for activities such as dance, martial arts, etc. Adidas loved the concept, which acted as a great corporate social responsibility project, and TGO was commissioned to develop one for each of the five London boroughs hosting the Olympic games. The project was a huge success and brought the concept to the attention of the Department of Education which opened up funding to extend the reach. It was a huge boost for TGO, and at

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the end of the funding programme, there were 70 AdiZones across the country. Of course, the scale of the project meant TGO needed more resources. Alongside the core installation, each AdiZone site required significant project management, including planning applications and stakeholder liaison. To meet these increased demands, Matt made the decision to leave his role at Sport England and join TGO full time. Taking a bold step The AdiZone project gave TGO a financial boost that enabled Matt and Georgie to take another bold step forward within the business. The equipment they were bringing in from China served their initial needs, but there was an element of compromise. The Chinese equipment was aimed primarily at older users and so was not as well suited to Matt and Georgie’s broader, inclusive, community focus. They also believed that there was an opportunity to improve the overall quality of the equipment, not least of all because it reflected on the brand they were building. So, the pair made the decision to move from importing devices to designing and manufacturing their own range of equipment, here in the UK.


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Getting the equipment they wanted was by no means a small undertaking and it took TGO around two years to achieve, working with a range of specialists. The equipment is widely used unsupervised, and of course, it needed to withstand being outside in all elements. What Matt and Georgie wanted to create was equipment much closer in function to what you would find in a gym, rather than the more basic equipment that had been coming in from China. So they worked with personal trainers and fitness experts to develop the functionality of the equipment, safety specialists to ensure it could be used unsupervised without risk, and engineers to develop the equipment to hold up to the rigours of the elements and potential misuse. “This was a major project for us,” explained Matt. “We started from scratch. We didn’t base anything on the Chinese equipment as we didn’t want to replicate it in any way. In fact, we wanted to be as far from it as we could, in terms of both design and quality. “We felt that the market in the UK, and as it turned out internationally, wanted something that worked well functionally while being suitable for all users—from beginners through to fitness fanatics. Trying to cater for that broad church turned out to be quite a challenge.”

There was an idea in the back of my head around giving energy, in a similar way to how we give blood

Although they didn’t realise it at the outset, this huge endeavour would lead to TGO’s most significant innovation to date—a breakthrough that has the potential to change the shape of outdoor fitness. “There was an idea in the back of my head around giving energy, in a similar way to how we give blood. I had been playing around with how we could create human energy banks, but it had never actually gone anywhere,” explained Matt. “It was while we were working on the designs for our equipment that the idea hit us, initially as a way to overcome one of the engineering challenges we were facing.” In designing exercise equipment, ensuring it will not break is a major consideration. Engineers have to work out how the energy being put into the equipment by its user can dissipate back out again.

A lot of playgrounds these days have evolved to become more static, as moving parts are where maintenance is required, and breakages are more likely to happen. But TGO could not do this, their equipment needed to move. While some of the energy is lost as heat, the bulk is kinetic. Engineers would traditionally design in paths for this energy to take through the equipment and into the ground through ground anchors. In a eureka moment, Matt and Georgie realised that if they could capture that energy, they would solve the engineering challenge and create the energy bank that Matt had envisioned. Incorporating this idea it into the new equipment was far from straightforward, however. The design team’s biggest challenge was the way the energy is created by the users. The energy does not come in a smooth flow; rather there are continuous spikes as people go through bursts of fast-paced exercise and then slow down. Georgie explained: “Energy management was a huge challenge. We had to ensure the spikes didn’t cause overloading issues and that the lows didn’t result in systems running out. We had to design a way to smooth out the spikes.” First, the concept had to be made to work on the test bench, which took a significant amount

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of research and development time. But, possibly even more challenging was taking the proof of concept and making that work in the equipment’s typical harsh environment. Designing and building a piece of mechanical equipment to cope with the elements and potential rough treatment is one thing, but bring electronics into that dynamic and a whole new set of challenges emerge. However, the TGO team delivered. They produced a range of outdoor exercise equipment that generates electricity as the user works out. This was a real coup for the business as this technology was not available from anyone else. The first application for the new technology was to use the generated electricity to charge mobile devices, such as phones and tablets. As well as the green credentials, which are so important to TGO, the charging stations are a great way to engage a new tranche of users, typically younger users, who love the opportunity to charge their devices. A relatively small amount of effort is all it takes to generate the 15 or so watts required to charge a phone at the same rate as a standard mains charger. The limiting factor is in the phones themselves, so, while average users of the exercise equipment will be generating around 50 watts they can’t charge their equipment any faster. Realising there was excess energy being produced in the charging equipment, for their next application TGO developed a way to store the unused energy. The solution was a stand-alone energy display unit that incorporates two deep-cycle batteries to harness the energy. Up to eight pieces of the exercise equipment can be connected to a single unit, which then stores the energy generated by all the equipment users. The stored energy is used in one of two ways. Firstly, TGO has developed the Glow system. This links the stored energy to a series of LED flood lights. These are being used to light the gym areas for night time use, illuminate pathways around the gyms and in some installations football and basketball pitches sited alongside the gyms. In TGOs third evolution of the technology, the stored energy is being put back into adjacent buildings. Serving a similar role as a solar panel, the energy can be fed into a building’s ring main. One customer that is using the energy for power across four sites has saved an average of £2,500 on their yearly energy bills. This is not entirely as a result of replacing the energy supplied. Some of the benefit has come from an increased awareness generated by the project and a greater consciousness around energy usage as a result. But, it is a significant net benefit.


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Because people are physically producing the energy, they realise the effort it takes

“One of the unique features of our energy gyms is the fact that not only do they generate energy but they also educate people about energy consumption,” Matt added. “Because people are physically producing the energy, they realise the effort it takes. They appreciate that to boil a kettle they have to work out for half an hour or more.” You’d think Matt and Georgie had achieved enough, but this is just the beginning for them. “We have installed our gyms at 800 sites over the last ten years, but in the next five years we plan to deliver 1,000 more,” Georgie added. “We will do this by extending the gym concept further into the community-building space. This is reflected in how our mission has evolved into one of raising physical activity and increasing wellbeing while promoting sustainability.” The concept of community focussed destination spaces was influenced by the AdiZones. The latest project for TGO is designed to deliver this mission through the development of an app to work alongside the gyms. The app aims to support the idea of the gyms acting as a hub for a much wider range of local activities. Working in partnership with local authorities the app will serve as a mechanism where the community can see what is going on in their local area—the activities happening in and around their public spaces. For example, personal trainers and boot camps can list their classes, but, they will need to be registered which gives users a level of confidence. Beyond fitness activities, the app could also carry details of a whole range of activities and events—from dog walking groups to beach clean-up days, for example—all of which is designed to engage the community and bring it together. “The idea is that people will go down to the gym because it is a social space where many things are going on,” added Matt. “The physical activity is almost a by-product. People might visit for one reason and discover there is something else going on that they might enjoy. As a result, we believe the concept will combat isolation and loneliness issues.” Through the app, gym users will also be able to track their activity and see information including how much energy they have generated. The motivational benefits of this approach are already proven through the growth of fitness apps.

The hope is that similar benefits will be seen in awareness of energy usage. Local authorities will also gain a helicopter view of what their gym sites are achieving. They will be able to see how much energy is being generated and what other activities are going on. From this, they can develop strategies and promotional activity to drive greater usage of any that are underperforming. The last ten years have seen Matt, Georgie and the TGO team go on an incredible journey. From importing equipment, then redesigning it and bringing manufacturing to the UK, through to creating equipment that generates electricity and then utilising it to build smart gyms that bring communities together. We can only begin to guess what the next ten years may hold for them.

The Great Outdoor Gym Company

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Overfishing and bycatch are huge global issues in the commercial fishing industry. Thankfully, during his final year at university, design engineer, Dan Watson, had a lightbulb moment—literally—which has the potential to eliminate the problem completely.


ccording to UN estimates, around onein-five of all fish caught by commercial fishing fleets are discarded. That equates to 27 million tonnes every year. These fish are either bycatch—fish and marine species caught by fleets aiming for other fish—or are the result of overfishing—where fleets seeking to maximise their quota exceed the limits to avoid coming in under them. While regulation is going some way towards tackling the issue, it isn’t enough, and it also creates unintended consequences. For example, legislation was recently introduced in the EU that bans fleets from discarding their bycatch. But, bringing it back to shore for processing takes up valuable space in the fishing vessel’s hold. That could mean 20% of the space previously available for fish that could be sold for profit is no longer available on each boat. Dan’s lightbulb moment, well to be strictly accurate his LED moment, uses modern technology to answer this age-old problem. Although


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this in itself is a challenge in an industry that is slow to adopt modern practices and equipment, preferring to believe in tradition. The idea that would go on to be known as PISCES came out of Dan’s final year university project. While looking for a project idea, he came across a news article about a group of fishermen that had been arrested for throwing excess catch back into the sea. The fishermen were claiming there was no way for them to avoid the overcatch, as the technology wasn’t there to help. Dan saw this as an opportunity for his project, and he explained how the idea evolved: “Further investigation led me to a series of scientific articles, some going back to the 1970s, which were looking at different ways to elicit predictable, or different, behaviours in fish. LED light sources had been tested in some examples, but nothing had been done with the resulting insights. “So, I started to think about how these ideas could be taken

further, and this formed the basis of my work.” The first product Dan developed was relatively straightforward, operating on the principle that in its simplest form, light can attract fish. The device was an illuminated ring that is attached to the mesh of a net. Firstly, the ring holds the hole in the net open, so it doesn’t collapse under tension and become too small for a fish to get through. Then the light illuminated by the ring acts as a beacon, showing the fish where an escape route is. It works because when you get to around 30 metres in depth 90% of natural light is lost, and at night there is none in the first place! As the fish move through the water, trapped in a net, they often can’t work out what is going on around them. You could say the light acts an emergency exit sign for the fish. This first prototype presented some challenges, but they helped inform future designs. The biggest issue was with water ingress, and after a few trawls, the light died. But not before they had generated

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some positive test results. Fuelled by this early success, and having learned that new production methods were needed, Dan moved on to a second evolution of the experimental technology. His next version took the principles of the initial prototype further, introducing the ability to change various properties of the light emitted. The colour of the light could be changed, as could its polarisation and the light could be made to pulse at a range of frequencies. This development opened up a whole new set of options and applications, allowing the devices to be fine-tuned for specific situations. The lights took on a range of forms too. Some are like ropes; some are solid discs. And they can be used to attract a particular species or repel them, even moving them up or down in the water column depending on the specific situation. Dan explained how this might work: “We carried out experiments in Norway, working with a crew of cod fishermen. Cod eat krill, and krill glow a specific shade of blue when they luminesce—for communication and attraction.


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So the light devices were set to emit light in this particular blue and were attached to the cod pots. The blue light attracted the krill to the pot, and they were followed in by the cod which were trying to eat them.” The ability to repel fish comes into play when looking to reduce bycatch. In a particular geographical area, there may be a fish that is the most likely bycatch. The light properties of the device can be set to one that the bycatch do not like, something linked with a predator for example, and they will be encouraged away from the area. Funding the future This project has been part of Dan’s life for eight years now and funding the research and development has been hard. He has had support from high profile commercial partners, like Young’s Seafood and Wahaca, and has won a James Dyson Award. However, accessing seed funding from

more traditional areas is proving difficult, so the team havedecided to launch a crowdfunding campaign on the Indiegogo platform. The aim is to use the funds raised to produce 100 of the PISCES devices, which will be given to fishing crews and scientists. Dan and his colleagues will then gather data from these test users to further their, and the industry’s, understanding and to inform the development of the product ahead of the next phase— taking the devices into full commercial production. What they learn will help build on the capability of the devices and will contribute to a database of fishing scenarios and settings that can support the users. So, a final commercial version aims to allow fishing crews to input their intended catch and the devices will work out various parameters such as where they are in the ocean, what time of day it is and what equipment is being used. Then, using all this information, the units will set themselves to the most appropriate light frequencies and set up for the situation. When the device is fully commercially available, Dan estimates the cost to a typical commercial vessel will be around £1,000. This investment could easily be paid back in just one day’s fishing. And of course, the environmental benefits will be enormous too.

SafetyNet Technologies


The blue light attracted the krill to the pot, and they were followed in by the cod


HITTING THE RIGHT NOTE If you have never had a musical bent, creating music may seem like some form of alchemy. A work of magic that only a select group of individuals with a very special set of skills, and a unique creativity, can ever master. So, to many, learning that a machine can create music—good music that to the untrained ear has nothing artificial about it—will no doubt seem like something out of a science fiction story. But that is exactly what tech startup called Jukedeck has done, as Breakthrough magazine found out.


breakthrough, Summer 2017

breakthrough, Summer 2017



n its simplest form, Jukedeck is an app that can generate unique pieces of music, based on a series of selectable styles and to any pre-defined length. Users are also able to select the point in the composition where the music reaches its peak, controlling the emphasis it can give. The inspiration for the app came when co-founder, Ed Newton-Rex, found himself accompanying his girlfriend to a computer science lecture—a subject he had had no previous exposure to. A trained musician and published composer, Ed was blown away by the potential that computer science offered. Ed knew that music was essentially a very mathematical art and so an area likely to be suited to the very ordered world of computer science. He was also aware that Ada Lovelace— who is widely credited with writing the first computer programme in the mid-1800s— had prophesied that one day computers would write music. Ed set himself the task of learning to code and to better understand the potential that algorithms offered alongside how they could be developed. Inspired by the potential to blend his passion for music with a new found interest in computer science, the idea for Jukedeck was formed and, in 2012, the journey began. It would be three years before a working app would be released to the public—a period that saw a huge amount of development. At the heart of Jukedeck are machine learning algorithms developed by Ed and his

An artificially created music track is never going to top the singles chart—is it? team. The algorithms analyse massive quantities of data from copyright free music of the style it is studying. From this analysis, it identifies statistical significances that help it learn how pieces in the music style are structured. Analysing a series of classical pieces the algorithm may, for example, establish that 70% of pieces start with a tonic chord or that on 80% of the pieces, they end on a perfect cadence. From this, the system learns what was going through the composer's brain when the tracks were written, and it can develop rules that apply to the music style. If it only studied a few pieces in each style, there would be a danger that all new tracks would be relatively similar in sound and style. But, the algorithm is trained with tens of thousands of pieces in each style. The knowledge developed from this learning process is then used to shape the first stage of the creation of a new piece of music in the style—the composition. At this stage, the notes are created to make the piece of music. The sheet music if you like. A significant part of the development journey has been spent identifying and preparing data for the app to use. The more data the algorithm has had to learn from, the greater its

Computationally this is a hugely complex task that takes millions, if not billions, of calculations 54

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ability to create original pieces that suit the style Once the composition stage is complete, Jukedeck moves on to its second stage— synthesis. Here production systems developed by the Jukedeck team use other rules to add dimension to the original composition. This will include instrument choice and what sounds to use, what dynamics and accents should apply and other effects like reverb and compression. The result is then converted to an mp3 file, ready for the app's user to download and use as they wish. Computationally this is a hugely complex task that takes millions, if not billions, of calculations. And yet, a typical track will take around 30 seconds to generate. But why did Ed want to create music in this way? An artificially created music track is never going to top the singles chart— is it? Well, it may well do. But that is not how the music is intended to be used. If you have watched many videos online, particularly corporate ones, you will no doubt have winced at some of the backing tracks! So many sound the same, and the quality is often far from good. That is largely down to the cost of creating or licensing unique, copyrightfree, music, for commercial use. Traditionally, good tracks have been expensive, beyond the budget of all but the largest companies. Smaller operations are forced to compromise on quality or choose something that was widely used, to keep the price down.

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Of course, the use of video as a medium, both commercially and by individuals, is growing, fast—and that growth shows no signs of slowing down. Jukedeck has grasped this opportunity in how it makes the app available. Organisations with less than ten employees can create and download a track for just 99 pence. For that, they get a unique piece of music that is of the exact length and style that their video requires. Something else which has traditionally made finding a suitable track difficult.


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Over one million tracks have been created and downloaded Larger organisations pay more, of course, but the JukeDeck team believe this is a fair way to approach the market. Those that can pay, and are likely to get more value from the piece of music, do. The team has also opened up the technology though an API (application programming interface). Developers of

other platforms can take the Jukedeck API and pull music into their own apps. This enables them to offer the benefits of Jukedeck to their customer base. Overall, it's an approach that seems to be working well. Revenues in the business are split relatively evenly between the direct downloads and API

agreements. While, on the download side of the business model, the proportion of tracks created by brands, as opposed to casual YouTubers, is showing healthy growth. Since the app was formally launched at the end of 2015 over one million tracks have been created and downloaded. And Jukedeck has a client base that includes Google, Sotheby's and Coca-Cola. If it continues to grow as it has, and the commercial aspect of its customer base is expanded, then the business has a bright future.

So what’s next for the app? The 20 strong team behind JukeDeck are currently working on a series of enhancements; functions that are designed to make the music even more valuable to users. In the future, when creating a track, users will be able to control more areas including the selection of instruments, changing sections of a track and defining a narrative arc. And will we ever see a Jukedeck track in the charts? Well as suggested earlier, that may not be as far away as

it seems. A YouTuber called Princess Rizu has taken JukeDeck tracks and recorded lyrics over the top. She has hundreds of thousands of views, and more YouTubers are following suit. So, it's not a huge stretch to see it moving to the next level. It's likely to be when, rather than if. But when it does happen, do you think you will be able to tell the difference?


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DAYDREAM BELIEVER Often, when we relax we are at our most creative. That was certainly the case for Ecospin founder, Paul Loomes. We found out how daydreaming on his anual holiday led to the creation of a business that has serveral international police forces amongst its customers.



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breakthrough, Summer 2017



aul Loomes spent 30 years working in the car design industry on both sides of the Atlantic. He’s had a hand in the design of some of the most familiar icons, including the Porsche Boxster and the original 3 Series BMW; plus a host of other vehicles from companies such as Rolls Royce, Ford and Jaguar. But Paul’s leap into entrepreneurship has led to the creation of a vehicle unlike anything he has worked on before. Back in 2009, Paul was taking a break and enjoying some contemplation time. It was while floating in his hotel pool one day that his mind turned to electric personal vehicles (EPVs), an area that had interested him for some time. The most widely known vehicle in this category was the Segway, a product Paul loved. But, as he ran his designer's mind over it, he couldn't help spotting the flaws in the Segway concept, particularly regarding its use in a utility application rather than purely for leisure. Paul could see the advantages that a naturally balancing vehicle would have for many users and also how the addition of proper brakes and steering would also be an advantage in many scenarios. He had the beginnings of an idea, that would eventually go on to become the Raptor. Refreshed from his holiday, and excited by his idea, Paul began to explore the EPV market in more depth. He quickly established that a large part of the market was in patrol and security applications. He also realised the market was


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huge and was one well worth entering if he could come up with the right product. With this further insight, Paul started to develop his idea and set the design criteria. The most important requirement was that the vehicle was robust. It would ultimately be a tool; its users would not be treating it gently, and it certainly could not let them down. This was something Paul went to great lengths to ensure in the design of the vehicle. All elements needed to take ruggedness and reliability into consideration with the principal areas such as the choice of frame materials and body composites being critical. For its intended customer base, the vehicle also had to be relatively conservative in shape. Spoilers and fairings were not something that would be appropriate for a work tool. Other requirements included security features. Lockable compartments—which could not be accessed if the vehicle was left unattended— were required to secure items such as firearms and evidence. Flexibility was also vital, with a need to be able to incorporate additional elements like sirens, lighting and, in some applications, automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras. This required capability in the electrical wiring loom and the ability to physically mount a broad range of equipment onto the vehicle. Then, with nothing suitable available offthe-shelf, the entire powertrain—the batteries,

The biggest challenge Paul faced, came when he made the bold decision to take the Raptor through EU type approval motors and their controllers—had to be designed specifically for the Raptor. The batteries needed to be modular and easily changed. The Raptor can hold up to three batteries to offer a balance between cost, range and speed. One battery may be sufficient for patrolling somewhere small at a walking pace. While to reach the full speed of 25mph and the maximum range of 45 miles, a complete set of three batteries are needed. Being able to swap batteries easily means the Raptor can continually be utilised, where required—perhaps for shift use. Instead of having to plug the vehicle in when it has used up the charge in its batteries, they can be swapped for a new set while the exhausted set is charged off the vehicle. However, probably the biggest challenge Paul faced, came when he made the bold decision to take the Raptor through EU type approval, which

was required to allow the Raptor to be driven on public roads. The vehicle would be the only one in its class to have this approval and so would have a significant advantage over competitive vehicles. However, type approval is not a simple undertaking. It is what all car manufacturers have to go through when they develop a new vehicle. The Raptor had to go through the same testing regime as the latest model from Ford. The type approval is carried out by an organisation called MIRA, and the Raptor ended up spending a year at the test facility. It was subjected to every test a car goes through. The highly comprehensive programme checks areas that you would expect such as braking efficiency and acceleration. It also examines components such as the chassis and wheels for their ability to manage stress forces. And it even checks the vehicle's response to electromagnetic waves—to ensure interference will not cause a dangerous reaction. The process doesn't end with the testing at MIRA's facility. Operations at the manufacturing site are also assessed, to ensure that all vehicles manufactured at the facility will be to the same standard as the one tested. The Raptor eventually achieved its approval, and after a four-year period of intensive design and development, it was launched in 2016. Since then the Raptor's client list has attracted some high profile names, including Google, Gatwick Airport, Media City and even Coronation Street,

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The crime rate in the area tested had dropped by 11% when electric personal vehicles had been used. and vehicles have been sold in 10 countries. But, sales have not come from the areas Paul initially expected them to. While the decision to go for type approval cost Paul well into six figures, it has proven to be a worthwhile move. Rather bizarrely though, despite being an approval for the EU, its biggest impact came from the Johannesburg Police in South Africa. They adopted EU type approval as their standard in 2001 and so the only ESV they can use is the Raptor. This is just one of several markets that gaining approval has opened up for the company. So far, the UK makes up only a small part of the Raptor's sales. Paul is still trying hard to crack the UK police forces, customers who were high on his mind throughout the design process. It's incredibly frustrating for Paul. Financial pressures are often cited, which he appreciates, but, there is clear evidence that the use of EPVs can ultimately bring savings. An average beat bobby will walk eight miles on their beat. A test in France compared three months of patrolling with an EPV with three months without. The study showed the officers had covered five times the distance over the period, but even more significantly that the crime rate in the area tested had dropped by 11% when EPVs had been used. While Paul may not be selling many Raptors in his home country, he is sourcing as many


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components as possible, over 80% in fact, from here in the UK. It makes practical sense for the business, but, as you can imagine, as a manufacturer of electric vehicles, the business's carbon footprint is important to Paul too. Drawing on his experience in the car industry, Paul follows a similar production model to that of many vehicle manufacturers; having components made further up the supply chain, ordering them on a just-in-time basis and then carrying out the assembly, testing and shipping from his facility in Leicester. Again, this is a good approach from a business perspective, giving the company flexibility to react to fluctuations in demand. But it also made achieving type approval easier by having in-house control over the production processes that MIRA needed to asses. It's clear from our conversation that Paul's experience in the car industry has been a real benefit to the Raptor project, but some areas have presented a steep learning curve. The sales and marketing aspect of launching a product is the area where Paul feels he has had to learn the most. He admits that perhaps he didn't appreciate how much it cost to sell vehicles when he set out on his journey. So his tip to others embarking on their journey would be to ensure they fully understand their route to market, how their business model will work and what will be required to make sales. And never to underestimate it. Paul's approach is enabling his business to take on big players in his sector. There are several multi-million-pound competitors—including Segway—where the Raptor is winning orders they simply can't get. What does Paul put that down to? Hard work, perseverance and innovation.

Ecospin Ltd

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breakthrough, Summer 2017

If the answer is not very well it could be having an impact on the effectiveness of your organisation. But thanks to a new software platform from tech startup, Profinda, there is an answer—one that combines machine learning and tehnology from the online dating industry, as we found out.

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magine you’re sitting at your desk, and a new tender opportunity arrives in your inbox. It's a complex project, but you are pretty sure your firm can deliver. However, the tender document calls for a whole host of information that is beyond your expertise. What do you do? Do you ask the same half a dozen people you always do? Yes, there are scores more people in your organisation, but you don’t know them. Perhaps you spend time searching your company intranet. Or you start sending out random emails in the hope that you reach someone in the organisation that can help. You’ve just wasted hours, and you still can’t answer all the questions in the tender document. And the deadline is


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ProFinda employs sophisticated machine learning to identify, extract and understand relevant information from other company systems now one-day closer. It's a common problem. Research suggests that the average employee wastes 20 working days every single year trying to identify the correct internal skills to support them on projects. The evolution in how people work today can also make it harder to identify who is best placed to carry out a task or contribute their expertise. A

move to more employee-centric models within organisations— where there is less emphasis on strict job titles, roles and locations—mean it is no longer as simple as identifying the right department to approach. A new product from a company called ProFinda, which sits in a new genre of business tools, believes it offers the answer to these problems, and it does so by drawing

on the growing capability of machine learning. ProFinda aims to enable the right people to be linked to a problem-solving task at the right time, something that can be surprisingly difficult to achieve naturally in a larger organisation—and also in many smaller ones! It accomplishes this feat through two core functions—capturing a detailed view of the skills, knowledge and capabilities available across an organisation and then matching demand for attributes with the people who have them. The starting point for the software tool is to aggregate and consolidate all the existing information held within an organisation's ordered systems. An enormous amount of information will already exist in CRM (Client Relationship

Management) systems, HR databases, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) platforms and other company data stores. With ProFinda, these systems can be interrogated and profiles created for each member of staff—and if wanted, associates and even retirees. However, existing knowledge is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cataloguing the legacy skills, experience and knowledge within an organisation. So ProFinda employs sophisticated machine

learning to identify, extract and understand relevant information from other company systems on an ongoing basis. These can include email and social platforms—such as Yammer and Jive—articles and blogs An individual's profile will be enhanced as data from linked channels are fed into ProFinda. When the system identifies relevant information, it then provides skills suggestions to add to profiles based on what it determines that people might know,

The information gathered by ProFinda is then used to match a problem to a solution

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continuously building on its knowledge-base. The information gathered by ProFinda is then used to match a problem to a solution. You could think of it as similar to an online dating app, matching the wants and needs of a project to the attributes it has identified across the staff. To run a query, users describe their problem or task requirements in free text. To make this step as intuitive as possible, natural language processing has been employed to overcome the fact that individuals will often use language differently, and some users of the software may not even know clearly what they are looking for. The system is self-learning, so the more it is used, the more it can develop. It can understand that words like elevator and lift mean the same thing and even go to the depth of establishing that the role of Programme Director, for example, may be different at two separate organisations. To develop the matching technology behind the ProFinda tool, the company looked at advanced dating systems like eHarmony. The biggest challenge in developing the software application came in the development of the machine learning required to capture, learn and interpret information to inform the matching. This was a critical task—the system needed to be able to take tacit knowledge and make it explicit. Inspiration for this came from the pharmaceutical sector, which had spent years working on methods to codify documentation and had been employing artificial intelligence into its processes. ProFinda wanted to look at how the approaches used in the pharmaceutical industry could be applied to real-time data and information. Essentially turning the thesis into reality, the machine


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The system is self-learning, so the more it is used, the more it can develop learning was initially developed to look at emails and ensure it was able to understand them, before being pushed out to do the same with a broad range of other data sources. After an intense development period, ProFinda was launched in 2011 and is now being employed across a range of sectors and scenarios. Initially, it was aimed at professional services businesses—in the legal, accountancy and advertising sectors—where the tool added value to knowledgebased businesses whose work is carried out on a project basis. However, the tool has also been adopted in the manufacturing and engineering industries, where accessing specialist experience and knowledge can be key—but difficult to achieve. One user, international building and infrastructure contractor, Multiplex, rolled out the ProFinda tool to its staff in 2014. Within just four weeks it had the involvement of all employees, and over the following year, the organisation recorded a 74% decrease in the time staff spent looking for help. Another key feature Multiplex benefitted from was the ability to assess whether new tenders were worth pursuing—much faster than it had been able to before. Inputting the tender’s details into the software helped to quickly identify whether the organisation had the experience and skills needed to deliver the contract. But perhaps the most surprising example of ProFinda’s power came when a colleague at Multiplex asked the system who, within the company, had expertise in

cyber security. The system came back suggesting someone in a junior support role, to which the initial reaction was that it had got it wrong. But on further investigation, it turned out that employee had recently completed a PhD in cyber security and was only temping at the organisation! Despite success stories like these, getting buy-in to ProFinda’s concept is not always as easy. Because it is an entirely new genre of business tool, finding the area of a large organisation to take ownership can be a challenge. As can identifying a budget for the tool, as it does not fall under any single department's remit. Then, as you might expect, some people may be nervous about their knowledge and information being captured. Although users can review their profiles on an ongoing basis and can confirm or indeed hide elements of the information that the system is using. ProFinda’s approach may be a new concept that is trying to define its place in the corporate structure. However, it is clear to see that its position is only going to get stronger over time. By 2025 estimates suggest that 75% of the global workforce will be millennials. They will be workers that demand a different way of working, and they thrive on the way shared information can make their lives easier. Businesses are going to have to adapt if they want to remain successful and meet those demands. And ProFinda may well have the answer.

ProFinda Ltd

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breakthrough, Summer 2017

CLEANING UP We come across innovation stories every day here at Breakthrough magazine. The vast majority relate to new products or services; often they are ideas that exploit the latest technologies and trends or provide an answer to a problem that is so simple that it makes us wonder how it could have been overlooked for so long. We know that what an organisation creates and delivers can bring enormous value, but we should never ignore the fact that how a business operates can be equally impactful.


very business has the potential to be innovative in its processes and procedures. Be that operationally, through the tools and equipment its uses and how they are employed, or in other areas such as marketing, where an innovative approach can help to open up new markets or deliver a stand-out presence. It was exactly this type of innovation that caught our attention recently when we were introduced to cleaning firm, Cleanology. Cleanology operates in the highly competitive contract cleaning market. In the 15 years since the business was formed, it has grown into one of the top

50 cleaning companies in the UK, with a staff of 500. The sector is extremely price-sensitive making it hard for businesses to get a return on significant investment in innovation. However, the cleaning market is also changing as workplaces evolve, with trends towards flexible working and the current desire for open spaces, with a raw and industrial themed design. And so, for a business like Cleanology, remaining competitive means innovation is essential, to continually evolve how they work to stay ahead of an ever-changing landscape. For Cleanology, innovation manifests itself in a number of ways. The company is

Robot cleaners are becoming a more widely used tool in the cleaning sector

constantly reviewing the latest technologies and equipment for ways to more efficiently and competitively deliver value to its clients. Robot technology has been on its radar for some time. Robot cleaners are becoming a more widely used tool in the cleaning sector, but to date, they are typically utilised on large scale projects; large open spaces where they can work unhindered. Cleanology were the first to use them on smaller sites of up to 3,000 sqm, where it has employed the domestically focused Roomba. The cleaner does have its limitations, but where a cleaning contract includes open spaces the cleaning operative can set it about its task while they concentrate on other aspects of the contract. Of course, this means a job can be carried out in less time. Other innovations embraced by Cleanology have come in


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response to changes in the sector. The growing trend towards ‘funky’ office spaces— modelled on Google’s slides, breakout areas and meeting pods—has seen a significant change in office design trends. Gone are the white-tiled suspended ceilings, replaced by exposed pipework and industrial style fittings. They look great and create exciting environments. That is until you have to think about how they will be cleaned. To combat this change, a recent addition to the Cleanology armoury is the SkyVac; a machine designed for vacuuming at extreme height. It has a series of extendable tubes that attach to the vacuum unit, allowing it to reach up to 12m. With the pipes made of carbon fibre, it is lightweight and easy for a single cleaner to operate. Coupled with a set of attachments designed to cope with various shapes— like a banana shaped tool for cleaning the top of pipes—the SkyVac is ideal for this new trend in interiors. Again, this use of innovative solutions offers the business and its clients real benefits. On a recent contract, with exposed pipework suspended from the ceiling over a stairwell, it would previously have needed to use two cleaners, ladders and a range of safety equipment. With the SkyVac one cleaner can do the same job. It’s easier, faster and so cheaper for the client; and of course safer for the cleaner. One of the innovations set to have the greatest impact on Cleanology is one it has developed itself. The company has been using bio-cleaning products in the business for some time. Indeed it was one of the first commercial cleaners to adopt them. Bio-cleaning products use good bacteria that produce enzymes to digest chemical


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The small change in how Cleanology packages its cleaning products has allowed it to make considerable savings and organic waste material. The by-product is harmless water and carbon dioxide. As well as their immediate cleaning power, bio-cleaning products can continue to work for hours or even days after they have been applied. In addition to their cleaning power, these products are typically safer for the user and the environment, and they are increasing in popularity. The Cleanology team, however, identified an issue when using these new cleaning products. The cleaners were overdosing the cleaning solutions. The staff thought that was a good thing, using the logic that ‘if one cap is good, two caps must be better’. But that’s not the case, particularly with bio-cleaning products. The overdosing didn’t cause any harm for the cleaners, or the areas they were cleaning, but, the waste was costing the company a significant amount of money. Needing to find a solution that enabled Cleanology to control the dosing of the cleaning products, it hit on the answer with packaging. It identified a company that was able to take bio-cleaning products in bulk form and re-package them into single dose sachets. An elegantly simple idea, it meant the exact dose could be used, and as an additional benefit, they were lightweight, easy to transport and easy to store. This packaging approach also enabled Cleanology to tackle another issue, which was caused by the proliferation of mobile devices. Desktop computers and phones all

remain in the office at the close of business and so can be cleaned. However, items like mobile phones, laptops and tablets are taken home at the end of the day—missing out on the cleaning routine. When you discover that several studies have shown that mobile phones carry significantly more bacteria than public toilets—including MRSA and E. coli—it becomes apparent that these devices can need cleaning the most. To tackle the problem, Cleanology took its packaging idea a stage further and included sachets containing wipes impregnated with cleaning solution. The single use wipes could be left on client’s desks for staff to use with their mobile devices when they were in the office. The small change in how Cleanology packages its cleaning products has allowed it to make considerable savings, while the introduction of the wipes is giving them a significant competitive advantage. The sachets are not going to be marketed as a product, but the company is using its own innovations to benefit the business and those of its customers. And it's a strategy that appears to be working well. So, next time you turn your thoughts to innovation in your business, don’t ignore the potential to change the tools that you use and to change how you do what you do.


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breakthrough, Summer 2017

LIGHT HEAVY METAL Andy Holt, Drewman Guitars’ founder, didn’t need to spend years honing his woodworking skills to become a guitar maker as he set out to carve a different path, creating guitars from a non-traditional material—aluminium. We spoke to Andy to find out why.


n 2015 Andy took the radical step of moving from being an avid guitar collector to his current role as a guitar manufacturer, when, pondering what to add to his guitar collection next, the urge to create something himself hit him. Many of the product development journeys we cover in Breakthrough magazine span years. But certainly not this one! Andy sketched out a design idea for an electric guitar on the back of a proverbial fag packet in November of 2015 and

quickly moved on to have CAD files produced. A prototype was ready by February the following year, and by April the first production run was made. The crux of Andy’s idea and the reason behind his choice to mill a guitar body from aluminium was the resonance or tonal frequency. Aluminium is a consistent material, and so it is possible to tune the frequency of the final body piece at the design stage. More traditional materials, such as

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wood, have varying densities, and so tuning a guitar body can only be done as it is made, fine tuning and adjusting the body as its frequency develops. This is a skill that can take years to sucessfully master. The tuning of Andy’s aluminium guitars is achieved by a specialist he works with. Using specially designed software a heat map of the body design can be produced which identifies areas of the guitar body where material needs to be removed. The result of this approach is a guitar body that can be tuned to any note, typically an open E as there are two on a traditionally tuned guitar. The best way to see the results of the tuning process is to hold the body lightly and give it a tap. The

The result of this approach is a guitar body that can be tuned to any note


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sound that results is like a bell ringing to the note it has been tuned to. Now, purists may be cynical about the advantages that the tuned body can offer, especially once all the other necessary components have been attached. But Andy’s design has gained positive feedback from some high profile musicians. Steve Hackett, Genesis lead guitarist in the 1970s, loved the sound when he tried the guitars—so there is certainly something in it. However, tunability is a trait of many materials. So why choose aluminium? What the metal also offered was a weight advantage, with a milled aluminium guitar weighing around the same as a wooden one. But, where most wooden electric guitar bodies are solid, save for the areas carved out for the components, Andy’s design is predominantly hollow. This makes room for additional electronics—built-in effects for example. Plus the guitar can be customised to suit the specific needs of its owner, with relative ease. For example, simply drill a hole in the case, and a switch or dial can be added.

The milling process for the guitar body begins with a 35 Kg block of billet aluminium. It takes around 100 minutes for a sophisticated five-axis milling machine to shape the inside of the guitar body, complete with all the necessary mounting points. The aluminium piece is then turned over so that, over another 100 minutes, the face of the body can be milled. This stage adds a curve to the front face of the body and a trademark radial fan design which has been added, in part, to reduce the impact of fingerprints and smudge marks on the bare aluminium body. For the milling, Andy partnered with an engineering firm with a strong track record in Formula 1 and the aviation industry. But despite their experience, the milling task proved to be far from straightforward. The engineering firm discovered that once the inside of the body had been milled, it became unstable when turned over to work on the face. This was due to its light weight. A new approach was required, and the firm ended up developing a bespoke form that mirrored the inside of the milled body. The body being machined was then

Andy spent considerable time trying to source a neck that matched up to the quality of his body design placed on the form which, due to its greater weight, made the whole piece stable enough for the face to be successfully milled. The success of the guitar is not entirely down to the unique body design. Fairly early in the development journey, Andy realised the important role the neck plays in the final instrument. When Steve Hackett was testing the guitar, he could instantly tell that, while the sound from the body was excellent, the quality of the neck was not great. To remedy this, Andy spent some considerable time trying to source a neck that matched up to the quality of his body design. This wasn’t an easy task as high-quality guitar necks are not easy to source. However, he eventually found, and developed a partnership with, Paul Stevens. Paul is a highly regarded designer of wooden guitars with an impressive client list that includes Jeff Beck, Iron Maiden and Muse. With his experience, Paul was able to produce highquality necks to match with Andy’s aluminium guitar bodies. With his product perfected, Andy’s focus today is on raising the profile of his innovative guitars—no easy task in what is essentially a very traditional market, with longstanding expectations around how things are done. So, coming into the market with a groundbreaking approach is often viewed with some scepticism. Andy is also up against the personal nature of guitar choice. Some iconic guitars—a Gibson Les Paul or a Stratocaster, for example—sell themselves. But outside the high profile models, prospective buyers have to feel a guitar and play it to decide whether it is a good fit for them. Andy has found that once someone has played one of his guitars they love it. So, if you happen across a local guitar show, and a quick online search reveals there are many more of these events than one might think, there’s every chance you will find Andy, there, showing off his innovative aluminium design.

Drewman Guitars

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breakthrough, Summer 2017

DEEP END It can be difficult to get people to believe in your idea or approach when you set out to do something differently in business, something which breaks with the norm. But, to be successful often you need to take bold steps. That is exactly what Patrick Crawford did when he started his business, Utility ROV Services, as Breakthrough magazine found out.


tility ROV Services (UTROV) can best be described, to those outside its industry as a construction company. But one that works at sea, at depths of up to 3,000m. The company's core work is in support of the growing renewables industry—removing boulders and debris around offshore wind farms—and on a range of decommissioning projects removing pipelines, cables and other equipment from the seabed. However, the businesses novel approach to this was born out of a different sector—salvage. Patrick was brought up in the marine salvage business. He joined his father’s salvage company at a young age and served his apprenticeship working with remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs). Much of the work involved reclaiming non-ferrous metals—such as copper, tin, gold and silver—from ships that had sunk during the First and Second World Wars. There were thousands of wrecks to work on but over time the value of the materials on each one reduced, as the most lucrative were salvaged. So for a business that worked on a ‘no cure no pay’ basis—where the reward was linked to the value of salvage—it meant the company had to manage its costs extremely well and needed to find ways of becoming increasingly more efficient.

To do this Patrick and his father developed tools that could enable their ROVs to do more than one job. Tools that meant the ROVs were modular, as opposed to the industry norm of having separate ROVs for each task. This novel approach meant that the business could be more agile and capable than competitors and as a result helped to keep the costs low. The birth of UTROV came several years later, when, after working in the offshore oil and gas industry for a period, Patrick returned to the salvage sector to the role of Salvage Master, leading another firm. Patrick could quickly see the salvage industry was as competitive as ever and remained an area where it was becoming increasingly difficult to make a return. He approached the firm’s backers and explained how, if he were running the business, he would focus on developing the equipment and move away from salvage, into the emerging renewables sector and the better supported decommissioning industry. His vision was well received, and the business’s backers handed Patrick the reigns, giving him the responsibility to take the business in an entirely new direction. Patrick's plan for the firm was to develop the modular ROV concept he had worked on with his

 breakthrough, Summer 2017


Ships, permanently fitted with ROVs for a particular task could cost £100,000 or more per day father, to create a range of adaptable equipment that the business could own and operate. He also wanted to make his system transferrable, so it could be fitted to the most appropriate vessel for the task required and to overcome the need to pay more than was necessary for a particular job. The norm in offshore construction was for contractors to hire expensive, dedicated, equipment for each task. Ships, permanently fitted with ROVs for a particular task could cost £100,000 or more per day. This approach had several drawbacks. Aside from the cost, they were inflexible. If something unforeseen emerged on a particular job, as it often did, then a change of equipment was possibly needed. This situation would introduce delays, and further increase costs. Smaller vessels, adequate for the task, could be fitted with the modular ROV system that was easy to adapt and, at a fraction of the cost. As long as Patrick could convince the market that this was a viable option, then it had to be a success. The way the UTROV system works can be visualised by thinking of a tractor. At its heart is a remotely operated tool carrier—think of it as the tractor itself. It has thrusters that enable it to be manoeuvred during operations, operator feedback comes from cameras and lights mounted on the Carrier, and it is linked to the surface by an umbilical cord that carries power and communication lines as well as tethering it to the ship. The carrier also holds hydraulic power units. These units can power a range of tools, all designed to attach to the carrier—much like a tractor can be adapted to carry out a host of different tasks. The first tools to be developed were grabbing tools. Tine grabs, which are suited to grasping a solid object, clamshell grabs for bulk loose materials, and a shear grab ideal for subsea demolition, can all be used to pick up boulders and other obstructions to clear a path on the seabed for pipelines and cables. Patrick and his team have also built a massflow excavator. This tool is used for non-contact


breakthrough, Summer 2017

dredging, clearing sediment from subsea structures, essentially, by blowing it out of the way. These devices have, traditionally, been powered from the surface by the vessel operating them. However hydraulic pressure is lost as it travels down to the device, and as a result they are not suitable for deep water operations. With the UTROV system powering its dredging attachment from the carrier, this issue has been eliminated, making the tool unique. The latest addition to the UTROV’s toolbox is a mattress recovery tool. Concrete mattresses are used extensively in subsea applications, to cover and protect cables and pipelines running along the seabed. The ‘mattress’ is, in fact, a mesh of concrete blocks which are difficult to handle. Patrick and his team have developed a dedicated tool for their removal in a safe and controlled manner. Thankfully Patrick was able to convince these new markets that his novel approach was viable, and indeed valuable, and his vision has brought real success for the business. But it has also fuelled a desire to stretch UTROV’s capabilities even further, in more ways than one. The latest technology advancement Patrick is working on will enable the equipment he has developed to work beyond its current limit of 3,000m, all the way down to 6,000m. This is being made possible by a novel approach to the design of the umbilicals, which are also used to provide the equipment’s lifting capacity. Historically they have included steel armoured wire on the outside—to protect the power and communication cables and provide the strength needed to allow the surface vessel to lift the required weight. As you can imagine, 3,000m of steel wire rope is heavy, so much so that as its length increases, its weight eats into the equipment's lifting capacity, until there is essentially none left. A new fibre based umbilical with cables wound round the fibre rope completely negate this issue. Once the team can reach 6,000m, it opens up a new opportunities, such as deepsea mining. Rich sources of precious metals can be found in areas around vents, sometimes referred to as smokers. Again, it’s a field in which the operating costs are usually high. But, UTROV and its innovative approach, will once again mean that the company can be extremely competitive. So, you could say that Patrick is plumbing new depths. Not something that most people want to hear, but for Patrick, this is a compliment!

Utility ROV Services

breakthrough, Summer 2017


A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE When you are in charge of a vessel that weighs 20,000 tonnes, being able to see where you are going is crucial. If that vessel is a passenger ferry, sailing in bad weather—with spray lashing the ship—an effective set of wipers is a must. And yet it’s an area that has not seen much development over the years. One company, DuroWipers, is standing out though, with a solution that is set to save lives, as Breakthrough magazine found out.


n the marine sector, there are three designs of wiper used to keep the windows clear on commercial vessels. Round wipers, known as clear view screens, are the oldest and potentially simplest design. They are fitted within the glass and rotate to clear an area typically a foot in diameter. Straight line wipers have a mechanism that usually runs across the full width of the top of the window, moving the suspended wiper blade across the glass in a straight line. The third type, pantograph wipers, use a pair of parallel arms for the blade. The geometry of the arms can transfer the rotational motion of a motor powering it, to a linear sweep of the blade. As a result, the wiper can cover the majority of the window. Each design has disadvantages. The round wipers are relatively small, clearing a limited


breakthrough, Summer 2017

portion of the window they are fitted to. While they are effective at clearing the screen, they have bulky motors and a rim which are attached to the glass, creating an obstruction. The straight line design is probably the most common wiper in use today. But they are often expensive to maintain. Because the mechanism is fixed on the outside of the vessel it is exposed to water—corrosive saltwater—and potentially sand. Due to the design of a straight line wiper, this can get into the mechanism and over a relatively short space of time can cause issues. The pantograph is a relatively basic design and is often not as effective as the straight line wipers. They have remained undeveloped for around 50 years, and so have a poor reputation. But, that is now changing thanks to DuroWipers.

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DuroWipers’ was founded by Noel Gould, an engineer who, before starting the business, had worked within the marine sector on a few occasions. When he discovered that the performance of all of the wiping options left something to be desired, he realised there was an opportunity. Noel explained why the pantograph design was chosen as a starting point: “I wanted to create something that was better than anything on the market at that time. I felt the pantograph design had the most potential as it was so underdeveloped. Plus the fact that the bulk of the mechanism could be fitted inside the vessel meant that it would be much easier to manage the issues faced by straight line wipers.” At the heart of the DuroWipers design is what sounds like a simple development, but it is something that makes a big difference. On traditional pantograph wipers, only one of the two arms is powered. The second arm is passive. All it does is perform the geometric function needed for the wiper blade’s movement. Noel decided to power both arms. It was a seemingly simple change but one that brought many advantages. Firstly the design generates a more powerful stroke, overcoming one of the weaknesses of the traditional pantograph. The stroke is also smoother because the passive arm on the traditional design is being pushed and pulled by


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its powered partner. On the DuroWipers design, thanks to both arms being powered, the whole mechanism comes to an almost imperceptible pause as it reaches the end of a stroke. As well as a quieter mechanism—an advantage on a vessel where the crew work in shifts and some may be trying to sleep—this smoother operation has a positive effect on maintenance requirements because less stress is placed on the components. Eliminating maintenance requirements was high on the list of criteria for the design, and this was helped further by the use of two identical arms, rather than the traditional approach of having a more flimsy item for the passive arm. Noel and his colleague then decided to take all adjustment options out of the arms and opted to make each set of wipers to order. Taking out this adjustability has the effect of removing weak spots and areas that can wear over time.

DuroWipers is so confident in the quality of its product that it has given the Royal Navy a lifetime warranty

The resulting design has, in fact, enabled DuroWipers to offer a three-year warranty as standard on all its systems. This is unheard of in the marine sector, and it is the only company that does this. It is this reliability that has helped DuroWipers to gain an impressive client list which includes the Royal Navy, the RNLI and ferry operators such as DFDS. Noel believes that the DFDS contract highlights an interesting trend. He said: “We find that it is the vessel operators that want our products rather than the builders of the ships. While our DuroWipers are not particularly expensive, shipbuilders are always looking for the lowest cost option with less relevance being given to longer term benefits. The operators, however, place much more importance on the impact of maintenance.” For DFDS the advantages were clear. Its ferries serving the Dover to Dunkirk route work around the clock with only 45 minutes in port between sailings. So the only time that maintenance on wipers could be carried out is during a vessel’s scheduled annual maintenance. For the Royal Navy, the reduced maintenance requirements helped with its need to carry enough spares to be able to operate for extended periods of time without returning to a home port. Indeed, DuroWipers is so confident in the quality of its product that it has given the Royal Navy

It took three years of testing for the RNLI to satisfy itself about of the performance and reliability something no other company in the industry is able to—a lifetime warranty. The warranty has also been extended for the RNLI, on a contract that was not at all easy to win. It took three years of testing for the RNLI to satisfy itself about of the performance and reliability of the DuroWipers product, and now the wipers are specified on the new Shannon class lifeboat, of which 57 are planned to be built in the coming years. Hearing the DuroWipers story makes you stop and think about how many other products are underperforming, but are tolerated because ‘that’s the way it’s always been’. All it takes is a fresh perspective and the desire to improve on what has become the accepted norm.


breakthrough, Summer 2017




breakthrough, Summer 2017

When Control Freq’s founder, Noel Sesto, first tried to take his technology to market in 2007 the sector wasn’t ready, and he was forced to change tack. However, ten years later he’s come full circle and is part of a revolution with the potential to change the parking market in a similar way that Airbnb is changing the hotel sector. We spoke to Noel to learn more.

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oel’s expertise lies in using mobile technology based on GSM networks—the same ones that mobile phones use—in non-traditional applications. Around ten years ago, while living in Australia, he was working in the access control industry and would spend a significant amount of his time visiting customers to reprogramme or replace the key fobs required to open the gates. Noel quickly realised there were too many different systems on the market causing endless access problems for many people: “I began to consider how one universal device could be used, where regardless of the site conditions it could be made to work. There had to be a solution whereby the access system could be controlled remotely, without the Internet. It struck me that the one device that most people carried was a mobile phone.” Noel worked on his idea until he felt he had a solution that would work. He then found a manufacturer to create the electronics and developed the software required. With all this in place, he built a system that allowed a mobile phone to call a GSM enabled control box and open a gate. Next, Noel began to take his idea to property managers. However, this was before the first iPhone had been released, and the power of the mobile device wasn’t yet fully appreciated. They all said ‘no thanks’, it will never take off and it’s not for us. Noel even took the concept to the security gate manufacturers and distributors themselves, but they couldn’t see past the lucrative sales of replacement fobs, so they weren’t interested in the idea either. “Reluctantly I conceded that the market wasn’t ready and I went back to the drawing board,” said Noel.


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There are thousands of empty spaces in secure parking facilities Determined to exploit the benefits that mobile technology could offer, however, he redeveloped his idea and created GSM enabled intercoms which used the same core technology—connecting both ends of the intercom via a mobile phone call. This product was well received, in part because the technology in use was essentially invisible. This approach went on to form the core of Control Freq’s business for some years. The concept was evolved to create Taxi call systems, information call points, and a range of door entry systems. It even became part of alarm monitoring systems—for traditional building alarms and also for monitoring plant and equipment and a range of other devices. Then, around 18 months ago, Noel saw his technology take a new path, much closer to the one he had originally intended. This breakthrough came when Noel was able to link his GSMenabled devices to the Internet and more specifically, to communicate with web servers. It has required significant development of firmware, creation of APIs (application programming interfaces) and other technical advancements but Noel’s core technology is now able to access web servers which has opened up a whole new range of possibilities. A major project that is utilising this new connectivity is fuelled by the growth in the sharing economy. ‘Just Park’ and ‘Your Parking Space’ are platforms that match unused parking spaces with people who need somewhere to leave their cars. They are part of the sharing

economy that operate in a similar way to the well-known room finding service Airbnb. Initially, these parking services worked with individuals, with driveways and other spaces that were available. But right across the country, there are also thousands of empty spaces in secure parking facilities. When they are not being used for their primary purpose—staff parking perhaps—they can offer valuable parking real estate. However, such parking facilities often have security gates and access systems in place. The owners do not want to give out entry codes or fobs which would compromise security, so, traditionally they have not formed part of this new shared-parking ecosystem. At least until the parking platforms started working with Noel and his technology. Hardware that can open and secure the parking area’s gates can now be installed at the site and connected to the Internet via a SIM card. Now, when a customer goes to the parking platform and books a parking space, they are sent a unique access code. On arrival at the parking venue, they enter the code and can gain access, thanks to the hardware’s ability to check details with the parking platform’s web servers. There are many securitybased benefits to this approach. Firstly, the platform has captured the driver’s details, including their registration and payment card information. The systems can log when a driver arrives and then leaves. They can even limit the times during which the

The risks remain very low as the users are vetted

access code is valid and ensure it is only used for the period booked. And, of course, once the parking period has elapsed, the code will no longer work. With these far greater levels of security, this new approach opens up valuable revenue streams to site owners, particularly in city centres where parking costs can be sky-high. “It might not suit everyone,” Noel continued. “There will always be a few facilities where the risk profile won’t merit the additional revenue, such as a bank’s underground car park, but, for the most part, the risks remain very low as the users are vetted, have prepaid and their access is logged to the second.”

The use of GSM technology has enabled this connectivity where other methods are not practical or reliable enough. Remote locations are often difficult to connect to the Internet by cable, and the structure of many of the facilities does not suit the use of Wi-Fi because signal interference and unreliability could cause system outages. Mobile (3G) technology is far easier to implement and is more reliable. An external antenna may be required, but this is rare, especially in cities, so installation is straightforward. The systems can run on any SIM card including multinetwork SIM cards that will always connect to the strongest

of the major networks—so lost connections are unlikely. Noel now sees the evolving 3G mobile technology opening up even more capabilities for his systems in the future. “As the networks improve and we get fully reliable 4G, and then 5G, our systems will be able to use streaming video and face recognition. However, the connections would need to be super fast, and the high-speed connections would have to be more reliable than they currently are,” he concluded. However, having learned the pitfalls of being too far ahead of the curve, Noel has put these additional capabilities on his ‘to-do one day’ list, preferring to focus on the core original idea of mobile access control systems.

Control Freq

breakthrough, Summer 2017



breakthrough, Summer 2017

WALKING ON AIR Diabetes is an increasing problem worldwide and, shockingly, every 20 seconds someone in the world has part of their leg amputated due to the disease. An innovative product, born out of a partnership between an innovation specialist, Morgan IAT, and medical device company, Pulseflow Technologies, looks set to reduce that figure. Breakthrough magazine found out how.


breakthrough, Summer 2017



iabetic foot ulcers develop because of poor blood flow and loss of feeling in the limbs, particularly the legs. This means that it is easy for even a small foot injury to develop and become infected. The ulcers are slow and difficult to heal, and they represent a serious health challenge to the diabetic, as a non-healing ulcer can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream with potentially fatal consequences. Amputation of the affected limb is often the best option to stop gangrene spreading to the rest of the body.


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A new product, which was the brainchild of Pulsflow's CEO Les Lindsay, is helping users to fight the threat of foot ulcers. The PulseflowDF is what is known as an offloading boot and was devised to reduce pressure, shear and friction forces on an ulcer site, which allows healing to take place. The concept behind the design was twofold. Firstly, it needed to more evenly spread weight and pressure (the offloading), to reduce further damage. Then, periodic inflation of an air bladder under the arch of the foot helps to maintain sufficient blood flow for the body’s healing processes. It was the combination of a pneumatic pump, offloading footwear and the special way they interact that formed the unique basis of the product, something the company has gone on to patent successfully. Morgan IAT became involved in the product when Les first approached the company late in 2012. He had his idea down on paper along with a 3D rendering. Morgan IAT founder, Howard Clarke, explained: “Pulseflow emailed asking about options for a new medical device, and contract manufacturing in the UK. They had done some design work through a couple of design houses but needed help and, very quickly, we took the whole project over.” It turned out to be an ideal partnership—while Pulseflow had the ideas for how the product needed to develop, Morgan IAT was able to bring the engineering skills to put them into practice. Morgan IAT was also able to help ensure the project worked financially. It does this with a number of partners, negotiating deals based around gaining a return from royalties, a share in the IP rights or manufacturing agreements. Keen to get ahead with commercialisation, Pulseflow also asked Morgan IAT to help it obtain CE Mark Class 2A certification. The innovation specialists led the process to ensure that safety and other tests were undertaken to the required standards and authored the final application. Clinical trials were the next step in the development journey, but it didn’t all go smoothly. The first tests hit a snag when the product broke! The team had planned to carry out walking trials with 40 users but, after just a few, the product had to be withdrawn due to an issue. A metal offloader, the piece of steel that runs down

the shin and connects to the sole of the boot, was failing due to the enormous pressures it was undertaking. The teams from Morgan and Pulseflow came together and worked on the problem. The offloader was breaking due to the stresses the human body puts on it. They changed the size, design and structure of the offloader's parts to improve its reliability. With a reworked product, ready for testing, Pulseflow approached an international footwear testing company, but they could not accommodate all of the tests needed by the device. The product was more than just footwear. It had so many parts and issues that a brand new test rig would have been needed, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds. So Pulseflow turned to Morgan IAT once again, who designed them a bespoke test rig. Having the rig turned out to be a significant advantage, as the team were able to see whether the changes they were making to the product were appropriate much faster than if they were sending it out for testing. Having produced three versions of the prototype for modification, in 2015, they agreed on just one that they were going to use. In the final version, a pumping mechanism inflates a bladder underneath the arch of the foot; it compresses the plantar veins once every twenty seconds, giving an increased blood flow back up the veins of the leg as a result. This helps transport immune cells to damaged/infected tissue, removes cellular waste, and carries oxygen and nutrients for the healing process. The mechanism for inflating an air bladder needed to be designed from scratch and the housing for this is sculpted in shape so that it can be concealed under trousers for less obtrusive treatment. The pumping mechanism is designed to give approximately 12 weeks of therapy, after when the boots can be worn as a standard pair of shoes. The product also has a data collection system that gives a health professional the ability to work with the patient, to ensure maximum wear time during the 12-week therapy period. The unit’s serial number, battery voltage, the number of treatment cycles, the total treatment period and available memory (for the on-board data logger) are accessible when the device is connected to a PC. Proof of concept With the final design chosen, the team needed to obtain official proof of concept. An initial pilot study was carried out by the Royal Free Hospital, London. Then Pulseflow commissioned a full proof of concept study by Professor Alexander Seifalian, in the Division of Surgery and

Proof of Concept was the gateway to everything that the company has achieved since Interventional Science at the University College London, to assess the effects of PulseflowDF. Although it was conducted on just a small number of volunteers, the study found that the pump action of the PulseflowDF produced statistically significant increases in both oxygenation and flow of venous blood from the foot. The results demonstrated that improvements in blood flow—the underlying design objectives of the PulseflowDF pump system—had been met. Proof of Concept was the gateway to everything that the company has achieved since. With a CE Mark Class 2A approval already under their belt, the product went straight into production in September 2015. Then, to support Pulsflow's desire to commercialise the product globally, FDA approval was the next target—a necessary regulatory permission required to market a product in the USA. This proved far more challenging than UK approvals and took some months, with the final application totalling thousands of pages. Although Pulseflow went to a specialist regulatory body in America, again the majority of the information was predicated on work already prepared by Morgan IAT, which is also an FDA approved company and so was ready and able to manufacture the product for Pulseflow. Already a successful business, Pulseflow has plans to grow its market share in the UK and worldwide, to improve the lives of diabetics, reduce the number of operations for foot ulcers and, of course, to increase the financial returns for its investors. The company sees the PulseflowDF as just the start. Version two will shortly be under development, and they are investigating new applications for their technology, for example for treating oedema (fluid retention) or new techniques for wound care.

Morgan IAT Pulseflow Technologies

breakthrough, Summer 2017



breakthrough, Summer 2017

LIGHTING THE WAY As homes, workplaces and public spaces become smarter and more connected, the role of lighting within the built environment looks set to change significantly. Optelma Architectural Lighting is at the heart of this evolution, where innovation is taking different forms to those you might expect. Optelma’s Director, Julian Birch, told Breakthrough magazine more.


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ighting is often taken for granted. It is there, and, often, as long it illuminates the area adequately it is rarely given much more thought. But it is, in fact, a sector where a significant amount of innovation is taking place. Now UK-based, the industrial and commercial lighting manufacturer, Optelma, were originally founded in Switzerland over 60 years ago. Today, the company is developing sector leading innovations with some high-profile projects for blue-chip clients such as Bose, The National Theatre and Habitat. On a typical project Optelma will need to consider the requirements of an architect, a lighting design consultant and the end user. It is also often a complex balance between the visual aesthetics, legislative compliance and, of course, cost—with the company's role being to make those competing dynamics work. Julian explained how the relationships work. "An architect will typically start with a vision for a space, and we will have to create that feel for them. A recent example at Bloomingdales in Kuwait called for a moving ceiling that was tunable, in colour terms, to simulate the exterior lighting. The architect wanted to make the ceiling look like a giant skylight window and mask the fact that it was, in effect, underground. "But technically we also have to meet a range of standards that may conflict with the architect's vision. The Bloomingdales example was a retail environment, so, the lighting also had to support the practical requirements of the space and its users. Then regardless of the project, we also need to bring in the control and efficiency requirements. Optelma’s role is to ensure all these areas come together to satisfy all the stakeholders, keeping the need for compromise to a minimum." The more well-known aspects of innovation in lighting involve the introduction and development of LED technologies, which has had a massive impact on the sector with both the energy and cost savings it can offer. Increasingly, however, control technology is also bringing new capabilities into the sector,

Bloomingdales in Kuwait called for a moving ceiling that was tunable, in colour terms, to simulate the exterior lighting.


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and this is also the focus of a lot of innovation activity. A widely used control technology, known as DALI (digital addressable lighting interface) has traditionally been hard-wired. Today, it is increasingly being given Bluetooth connectivity, to enable remote control. This capability is a particular advantage for installations in spaces where adding additional cabling is an issue— perhaps due to it being a listed building. This type of development, where the lighting takes on a more connected form, opens up a potential role for lighting that may be less obvious—integration with other smart systems. This move builds on the fact that lighting systems can also provide an ideal carrier for other technologies and functions within a building. They are powered, so can also supply the power for other systems more easily and cost-effectively than running new supplies. Plus, lighting systems are already widespread in a typical building, offering a broad range of locations for integrated systems. This integration was first employed by Optelma on a project for the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. Julian explains: "We incorporated passive infrared detectors into the light fittings at the library. Initially, the technology gave the library the ability to only light where it was needed— switching off the fittings in empty rooms and areas of the building. "But, the detectors were also able to capture valuable information about how visitors were using the library, as they tracked traffic flows around the site. This helped to inform how the library laid its books out and structured visitor flow around the space." Another project that involved integrating the lighting with other systems—for entirely different reasons—was lighting the concourse as part of the refurbishment of Paddington Station. The design of the station incorporates many hard materials. This is a real advantage regarding fire safety, an aspect that is an important criterion for well-used public spaces. However, an unintended consequence the material choice can have is the impact on the site's acoustics. This has a significant knock-on impact on the tannoy systems, which of course are a vital aspect of a busy transport hub. The contractors working on behalf of Crossrail approached Optelma and asked the company to investigate how acoustic deadening could be incorporated within the luminaires they were due to manufacture and install across the concourse. The luminaires already had a complex lighting function to perform. But, on top of this, Optelma's designers had to spend a lot of time working with an acoustics company to understand how they should incorporate baffling materials, looking

at how much should be open to the air and how much could be integrated inside the light fittings. The design project took two years to complete, but eventually, the overarching aims were achieved. Acoustics is an issue that is becoming increasingly prevalent as architectural trends move towards an industrial theme and elements that helped—such as suspended ceilings—are used less often. The Crossrail project gave Optelma a new level of understanding in this area and helped it develop new capabilities it is now able to take to other projects where similar problems arise. The trend for integration of other services within the lighting systems in buildings is one that Justin

sees continuing. As buildings become smarter, and as technologies become more closely connected—led in part by the growth of the Internet of things—he believes we should expect to see our lighting cover an increasing number of additional functions. So, next time you are in your office, or a well lit retail space perhaps, take a moment to think about what could be going on inside those light fittings. The chances are it’s a lot more than you might think.

Optelma Architectural Lighting

breakthrough, Summer 2017



AND THE LEMON Breakthrough Funding’s Sue Nelson shares a story that could help make your business more productive


hen life gives you lemons, what do you do? The old adage says you should make lemonade, but at Pizza Express waiters don’t make lemonade they just serve it. They do have to slice them thinly for their client’s gin or vodka though. Well they used to. Company policy dictated that as the waiters had to make drinks, they also had to cut up the lemons. Drink preparation is for waiters—food preparation is for chefs. In this time of lingering economic uncertainty, it’s still hard to fill a restaurant, so efficiency and cost control are essential to success. The guys at Pizza Express were keen to analyse their operations and look for key financial savings wherever they could. We’re all doing that at the moment, trying to ensure we’re efficient and effective across our companies, re-engineering processes if we need to. But what’s that got to do with lemons? The problem with splitting drink and food preparation between types of staff led to incredible inefficiency. Knife-wielding pizza chefs are chopping things all the time and are dressed and trained accordingly. Waiters aren’t. If you’re laying tables, smoothing out napkins and polishing glasses, the lemon cutting interrupts your routine. Off you go to wash your hands, clear a workspace, find the chopping board and sharpen the knife. You get going with the slicing and then clean up afterwards and put all the equipment back. If you think about it, it’s completely mad. It must take at least 10 minutes maybe more. For a chef with his workspace prepared, his knife at the ready? Probably less than 30 seconds. By spotting this and simply having their chefs chop lemons instead, the restaurant chain has apparently made “significant financial savings.”


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That’s according to Pizza Express Chief Executive Richard Hodgson in an interview with the BBC. If you think about it, it’s completely mad. It mus The pizza chain’s simplistic reassignment of the master of lemons is an idea that should speak to all business owners – the concept of increasing staff efficiency wherever possible can only be good for the economy, and an even greater help to a small business owner trying to improve the bottom line. Remember this lemon story and constantly question your processes and staff roles whether you run a factory, office or have multiple staff on the road or on site. Everybody, most especially those who are operational or client facing, should be encouraged to make suggestions for improvements. Small gains in time management or productivity can go a long way to setting a company on their way to success, but you have to be constantly vigilant.

breakthrough, Summer 2017


If your company is involved in manufacturing, toolmaking, engineering design or developing new products, you should be getting government cash for all that hard work. Some people call it R&D tax credits, we just call it “cash for innovation”.

Get what you’re owed at


breakthrough, Summer 2017

Breakthrough magazine - Issue three  

Breakthrough Magazine aims to highlight the unsung heroes of the manufacturing and engineering world. The engineers and business owners who...

Breakthrough magazine - Issue three  

Breakthrough Magazine aims to highlight the unsung heroes of the manufacturing and engineering world. The engineers and business owners who...