After the awards: ControlPoint interview with Mark Pereira

Ben Crabtree, Managing Director of ControlPoint, picking up the award for Best Gas Network Improvement alongside Ian Cameron of UK Power Networks and host Jason Bradbury.

The EIC’s celebration of the best innovation in the utilities sector, The UK Energy Innovation Awards, returns in 2019. Awards are open for entries now.

ControlPoint Ltd won the EIC award for Best Gas Network Improvement in 2017. Its high-tech web app supported by an experienced team of expert inspectors won the judges praise for the resulting quality improvements and huge commercial savings.

ControlPoint is a trusted quality assurance partner for businesses in the gas, electric, and water industries. It offers a range of services to assist with quality assurance, including EUSR training.

In 2017, it entered its remote quality assurance joint manager system into the UK Energy Innovation Awards in the category of best gas network improvement. Although it has wider applications in the electricity and water sectors, the solution is used by gas engineers to capture quality data at the point of installation when installing new pipelines or attending to failures and leaks.

A Bluetooth connection links the engineers’ electrofusion boxes with the ControlPoint mobile app on their smartphones. The welder is able to take photos of their weld and these are compiled with the welding parameter data and sent via the phone’s data connection to ControlPoint.

So far, so good. But as Mark Pereira, Marketing Manager at ControlPoint, points out “Simply capturing data has limited value, because if you do nothing with that data, whilst installing non-conformant assets; you’re potentially taking significant health and safety risks and missing out on substantial cost savings and reduced asset risk.”

An Innovative Solution

What sets the ControlPoint system apart is that, once collected, the data is then sent to ControlPoint’s in-house team of inspectors. This experienced team checks the images, weld and fitting data to ensure that the work carried out conforms to industry standards.

“Utility companies are required to build a network that is fit for purpose. And ensure that work is completed right first time,” says Mark. “Our solution allows them to evidence the quality. Importantly, it also helps them to identify quickly where there are quality concerns. It helps to highlight ongoing issues, improve the visibility of the network, and track performance and best practice.”

Entering the Award

“A customer of ours, Northern Gas Networks, encouraged us to enter the award,” Mark explains. NGN is the gas distributer for the North of England, transporting gas to 2.7 million homes and businesses across the North East, Northern Cumbria and much of Yorkshire.

He continues,

“We work closely with the NGN team and they have seen considerable quality improvements and commercial savings as a result of using our solution.”

These cost savings were achieved largely through a reduction in remedial work. The speed of assessment also reduces cost in instances where remedial work is required as it can be actioned quickly and with informed targeting.

The achieved cost savings were a big factor in the judges’ decision making; they praised the commercial savings for customers and said it was a “superb entry”.

What Next?

Since winning the award in 2017, the app has found wider use in the water sector. A project with a major UK water services company is delivering savings at a value of £8m per year.

“Winning the award has been great for us,” says Mark. “It raises our profile in the industry. It has also given us something to talk about with new customers – and existing ones. Recognition like this gives people confidence in what we are doing. It demonstrates our commitment to innovation and the way we help to drive quality.”

Mark’s tips for would-be innovators

For us, the innovation is all about the end solution. ControlPoint was founded in recognition of an issue we wanted to address. It is through that development that we were innovating in the industry. We have always kept our end goal in mind. And how it will help our customers; real benefits such as the improved quality, reduced cost, minimised rework. It is never about innovation for innovation’s sake.

Innovators need a clear purpose and drive everything towards that.

Mark’s tips for would-be award entrants

Just being part of the awards is a great way to raise the profile of your business. Winning is absolutely great. It has definitely raised the profile of ControlPoint. If you’re thinking about entering the 2019 awards, just go for it.