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Scaling of a midsized patented low energy, light weight, highly efficient actuator to meet the demands of smaller and larger scale functions

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SmartAct-2-3 (Scaling of a midsized patented low energy, light weight, highly efficient actuator to meet the demands of smaller and larger scale functions)

Reporting period: 2014-10-01 to 2015-02-28

The SmartAct-2-3 Project concerns the scaling of a midsized patented low energy, light weight, highly efficient actuator to meet the demands of smaller and larger scale functions. The Key objective is to enable commercial delivery of eco-designed rescaled SACO actuator systems delivering <20Nm and >400Nm actuators with 75% improvements in efficiency to new European and global markets.
The system is proven to use 25% less copper, be 80% lighter and 75% more energy efficient than our competitors. Our technology is a game changing product capable of delivering benefits worldwide by reducing:
• the energy required to automate everyday tasks in many applications,
• the volume of raw materials, including copper and magnets, used to manufacture automated systems,
• inventory and therefore administration complexity,
• weight, thereby reducing fuel use in logistics and shipping,
• the carbon footprint in manufacturing and distribution,
• the need for sourcing manufacturing capability outside Europe.

During the Phase 1 feasibility study we have:
1. conducted a market study,
2. identified and engaged key market access partners,
3. identified the expertise required to deliver the formulaic rescale of relationship between power, number of RIFTs and control system during the Phase 2 project,
4. identified suitable large scale integration partners capable of delivering 1000s of units,
5. reviewed IP space and assessed opportunities for additional patent applications,
6. performed a full assessment of future costs and revenue streams arising from selected new markets,
7. worked closely with a business coach to complete the Phase 1 project and
8. collated the required information for the preparation of the Phase 2 proposal.

The work within Phase 1 has strengthened the business proposition and confirmed the strategic vision in terms of capturing the opportunity. We are now proceeding with the application for the Phase 2 project.
Feasibility Study
The SmartAct-2-3 Project concerns the scaling of a midsized patented, low energy, light weight, highly efficient actuator to meet the demands of smaller and larger scale functions.
Key Objective To enable commercial delivery of eco-designed rescaled SACO actuator systems delivering <20Nm and >400Nm actuators with 75% improvements in efficiency to new European and Global markets.
Below is a summary of the tasks performed and key outcomes of each. Each of the below tasks contains detailed task reports that are available on request.

Task 1: Identify Parties to Participate in Market Landscape Study
From our current distributor network and those of our competitors, identify and engage sufficient numbers of relevant, interested parties to participate in consumer surveys, product requirement capture and pilot trials.
Results: Over the course of two weeks, contacts from our existing database were contacted by telephone to assess appetite for participation in this task. As the exercise was mainly data capture, NDAs were only necessary for those partners eventually selected to participate in the Phase 2 project. The use of marketing lists from our local chamber of commerce and second tier contacts gained from the first tier companies contacted allowed us to gain introductions to the international parties we require. Parties identified were categorised into groups:
• Regulatory / Professional Bodies
• Valve manufacturers • Valve and Actuator Package Distributors
• Valve / Actuator Package Installers • End Customers
Significant crossover exists between market roles and positioning with many manufacturers functioning as Distributors, VARs and OEMs. The same is true of other categories where installers may also be distributors and even manufacturers or end customers of some products. Of the 28 companies contacted, the following were invited to participate in the voice of the customer surveys conducted under Task 2.
The British Valve and Actuator Association is a professional body supporting the UK domestic and export valve and actuator industry.
Rob Bartlett, 01295 221270
Interested in supporting UK development and promoting UK manufacturing. BVAA is a key contributor to development of standards in the industry and associated sectors and will be our route to influence legislation and standards.
Manufacturers (Potential Trial)
Mars Valves
• Manufactures metal ball valves
• Distributes several makes of actuator
• Long history
• Well-established brand
• Very good reputation
Wayne Lyons, 01432 726798
Demonstrated SmartAct-1 to its customers who provided good feedback. Interested in SmartAct-2-3. Large player in UK. US division interested in both units. Agreed to participate in trials.
ValVlave Manufacturers (Potential Trial Users)
KSB Valves
Manufacturer of a wide range of butterfly valves.
Phil Green, 01509 231872
Particularly interested in SmartAct-3 (high torque) to enable SACO products to actuate the majority of KSB Valves. Existing products only cover the smaller valves in their range. Want to test and trial product.

SAFI Valves
Manufactures a wide range of plastic valves both ball and butterfly. Assembles its own actuators and also uses a range of small to medium actuators on its valves.
Steven Cook, 01202 624618
Interested in SmartAct-2 which could actuate most of firm’s valves. Has a specific customer in mind (John Deere sprayers) which uses 30k small actuators a year but suffers a high failure rate in use. Has a test centre in France where the company has agreed to conduct tests and trials on SmartAct-2. (Conducted similar trials on SmartAct-1 for multiple applications).

Manufactures high end electric actuators for a range of applications, A high quality German manufacturer with a very good reputation.
Paul Hopkins & Steve Penney,
Interested in both new product developments and willing to undertake tests and trials on both units, particularly SmartAct-2. Would complement SmartAct-1 and allow firm to supply small actuators.
Valve Manufacturer Commercial Customers
Automa (Korea) Manufactures pneumatic actuators but has a history of valve manufacture and acts as a valve and actuator distributor in SEA.
Kim Eun-Kwang, 82-(0)32-653-6477
Currently manufactures pneumatic actuators. Wants to supplement its range with SmartAct-2-3 when proven.
Seeking to import to the Korean marketplace for supply to South East Asia.

Manufacturers large end valves using multi-turn actuators through gearboxes to produce very high torque values. Part of the Regal Motors group.
Keith Rush, 07768 395715
Primary focus is on the larger model SmartAct-3 as this will allow substitution of existing actuators for ours. Currently our existing model only covers the very bottom range of their products.

Manufacture of products for heating ventilation and air conditioning particularly adjustable venting and stairwell systems.
Mike Hodges, 01885 485070
Very interested in the SmartAct-2 small sized unit as this will fit within many existing heating ventilation and air conditioning systems.

Manufactures hydro-electric actuators and a wide range of pumps.
Gary Jacobson, 01613 454777
Interested in SmartAct-2-3 if Atex capable.
Seeking to have versions of both products tailored to this certification path to enable use in core customer markets of oil, gas and mining.
Valve and Actuator Package Distributors
Distributes valves and actuators in Africa from South Africa to a wide range of industries.
Roger Stark,
Very interested in both product developments for rapid growth and installation of infrastructure in Africa.

Steel producer. Installs and distributes wide range of pipelines, valves and actuators in many African/South African industries.
Rowan Blomquist
Interested in both product developments. As firm primarily buys KSB valves, it would allow the use of one range of actuators throughout the valve ranges supplied.

Supports framework agreements in UK water industry. Provides valves /actuators for Biogas/Fracking.
Use multi manufacturers kit.
Dave Warner, 01952 225890
Interested in both new products and keen to conduct tests and trials. Has a particular interest in bus communications.

Valve Stock
(Wolseley Group)
Domestic automation through its Plumb Centres and commercial/industrial through Pipe Centres. The Wolseley Group is one of the largest suppliers of packaged valves and actuators in the UK market.
Marcus Sampson, 01329 283425
Particularly interested in SmartAct-2 to enable substitution in Plumb Centre portfolio. Existing range meets some Pipe Centre requirement. Interested in energy efficiency and ability to reduce number of stock items. Domestic market for actuators is very price sensitive but large volume.
Happy to conduct tests and trials.

Valve Universe
Online retailer specialising in valve and actuator packages.
Tonya O’Donnell, 07766667702
SmartAct-2-3 of interest to assist in developing online product sales range.

A Actuated Solutions Ltd
Online retailer of valve and actuator packages.
Paul Slaughter, 01243 827469
Currently sells a very competitively priced small unit so interested in the SmartAct-2 features for when their existing units cannot meet the requirements.
Valve &uator Package Installers
Global Valves
Global Valves & Engineering is an Australian installer of valve and actuator packages which also functions as a distributor.
Paul Earl, 006129620799
Operates in the oil, gas and mining sectors so has great use for the larger torque units.

Severn Subsea
Operates within the marine industry supporting a wide range of offshore applications. Uses valves and actuators in a number of projects.
Brian Green,
01209 312000
Interested in units capable of operating in submerged environments/extreme weather. High spec systems using bus communication or modulation. Involved in high profile marine applications for alternative energy generation.

Provides support services for the UK rail industry.
Lee Powell, 01214 219196
Need for high torque, robust units for rolling stock applications mean the SmartAct3 meets the requirements of a number of applications the firm currently supports.

WG Tanker Services
Provides support services to tanker fleets for a range of clients.
Gareth Ashton, 01538 308008
Need for high torque, robust units for rolling stock applications mean the SmartAct3 meets the requirements of a number of applications the firm currently supports.
End-Users & Potential Customers
Off shore power generation.
Nigel Croft, +44 1326 214 603
Trialling SmartAct1 units for offshore wave power generation and has further applications for SmartAct2-3. Energy efficiency and carbon footprint of manufacture are key to overall efficiency of Seatricity power generation.

Hanson Cement
Large manufacturer of cement. Uses a range of industrial automation solutions in plants.

Heidelberg Cement
Has an interest in energy usage within its plants. The high torques required in many of the applications within Hanson make the SmartAct3 of particular use.

Nimbus 2000
Supplier of fire engines/firefighting equipment. Modifies vehicles to carry fire fighting equipment utilising micron spraying techniques for very efficient water usage.
Richard Baker, +447798821048
Energy efficiency and size for portable equipment are of importance so the SmartAct2 has suitability to their application.

Task 2: Identify and Engage Key Market Access Partners
Using direct client contact and a ‘Voice of the Customer’ survey, capture potential system uses and requirements by interacting with parties identified in Task 1. From the results, identify and carry out initial assessment of up to four applicable market sectors for each model (SmartAct-2 & SmartAct-3). Recommend primary target market and gain expressions of interest for demonstration trials from at least one key participant in each sector.
‘Voice of Customer’ Survey
Following face-to-face interviews with the parties identified in Task 1 and participation as an exhibitor at Valve World (one of the largest trade shows in our sector), a range of questions were developed based on the priorities identified. Questions were broadly grouped in to a number of main category areas, reflected in the principle strategic objectives: broadly price, aesthetics, functionality, reliability, standards and environmental factors.
Survey Questions
Q1. How important are these costs?
a. Purchase Price
b. Electricity Energy Usage
c. Lifetime Cost
d. Carbon Footprint of Manufacture
e. Shipping Cost (Weight)
Q2. How important are the following aesthetics?
a. Size
b. Weight
c. Colour
d. Overall Aesthetics
e. Product Housing Material
f. Packaging
Q3. How important are these operational issues?
a. Ease of wiring
b. Setting valve zero position
c. Setting valve span
d. End of travel conformation
Q4. How important are these standards to you?
a. CE / EC Conformity
b. Electrical Safety (RF)
c. Explosion Protection (ATEX)
d. Intrinsic Safety Levels (SIL)
Q5.Which safety systems are important to your market?
a. Failsafe
b. Mechanical Failsafe (Springs or Pressure)
c. Electrical Failsafe (Battery)
Q6. How important are the following control methods?
a. Power Open / Close
b. Analogue Signal Control (4 – 20ma)
c. Modbus
d. Profibus
Q7. How important are the following actuator speeds?
a. Slow (60 seconds +)
b. Fast (less than 4 seconds)
c. Variable
Q8. Please indicate the importance of mounting between valve and actuator?
a. Direct mount
b. Mounting plate
c. Bespoke mounting kit
d. High temperature extension
Q9. How important are these environmental factors?
a. Low temperature
b. High temperature
c. Shock
d. Vibration Splash proof (IP67)
e. Water proof (5m IP68)
f. Explosive atmosphere (ATEX / Exd)
Q10. How important are these power inputs to you?
a. 12v DC
b. 24v DC
c. 24v AC
d. 110v AC
e. 240v AC
f. Off Grid (Renewables)
g. Off Grid (Battery/Generator)

Survey Results
Q1 Purchase price is of prime importance followed by lifetime cost and energy usage.
Q2 Size, weight and aesthetics are equally as important.
Q3 Ease of use and ease of installation to the development are key.
Q4 Certification should be focused on CE conformity and SIL safety levels testing.
Q5 Need for failsafe functionality confirmed, illustrating statistical preference from mechanical to electrical.
Q6 Power open/close with modulation are core requirements however this may be reflected in the partners engaged being in those industries outside of the bus (data communication protocols) communication industries.
Q7 High speed operation and variable speed operation are key.
Q8 The actuator must direct mount to as many valves as possible.
Q9 Ability to function in high temperatures and IP67 is a requirement although waterproofing and explosive atmosphere ratings are valuable markets as they are niche. This raises the issue of fire-proof materials.
Q10 24V DC is a prime requirement with other voltages less so; priority is 24V DC then 110V AC then 240V AC. Not as much interest in off grid functionality but this may be because the market is not used to it.

Selection of four applicable market sectors
The four main market sectors we have selected are: Process Control, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), Mining Oil and Gas and Water Treatment. These are the key markets in the electric valve actuation industry and are valuable to our market sales.
Key Strategic Needs
Following the VOC survey we can confirm the importance of the 10 key strategic needs:
• Price • Modulation
• Size / Aesthetics • Variable Speed/ High Speed
• Ease of Installation • Direct Mount
• CE / SIL Conformity • High Temperature / Environmental
• Failsafe • Voltage Range (24V DC + 110-240V AC)

Task 3: Rescale Actions and Technical Expertise Assessment
Detailed assessment to understand and define such scale up/down actions as are required to adapt SmartAct-1 for other scales and identify necessary technical expertise to develop these with us. This was split into the subtasks:
• Identify actions needed to scale up/down SmartAct-1 and the expertise require to perform those actions.
• Identify expertise to deliver formulaic rescale of relationship between power, number of RIFTs and control. The relationships are not linear and depend on multiple variables.

Actions required to scale up/down SmartAct-1
Feasibility Study The key features and functions were identified as part of the ‘Voice of Customer’ survey conducted in Task 2. These are:
• Price • Modulation
• Size / Aesthetics • Variable Speed/ High Speed
• Ease of Installation • Direct Mount
• CE / SIL Conformity • High Temperature / Environmental
• Failsafe • Voltage Range (24V DC + 110-240V AC)

Specification A general specification document should be written using information gained from the ‘Voice of the Customer’ survey (WP2) and existing market knowledge. This general specification should include:
• Identification of suitable materials
• Target overall product weight and overall size including maximum / minimum ranges
• ‘Must have’ and ‘would like to have’ features
• Target manufacture cost in small/medium and large volumes (10s, 100s, 1000s) including max./min. range

From the general specification, a more detailed specification document can be written which should include a more detailed target costing for each sub component. This detailed specification can be broken down to include a number of specific aspects. A software specification will be inclu
ded within the electronics
The SmartAct-2-3 project concerns the scaling of a midsized patented low energy, light weight, highly efficient actuator to meet the demands of smaller and larger scale functions. The objective is to enable commercial delivery of eco-designed rescaled actuator systems delivering <20Nm and >400Nm actuators with 75% improvements in efficiency to new European and global markets. The main features are:
• We can match to a specific valve for that purpose in that environment, thus reducing maintenance.
• Reduced CO2 due to low power consumption
• Lubrication free gear box (allows multiple orientation installation)
• Increased reliability due to in-build redundancy
We have confidence in the re-scaled products as volume of sales, enquiries and quotations for our base model SmartAct®-1, launched in 2014, are growing at an excellent rate. Our current order book is expanding and we are quoting 4 to 6 weeks delivery whereas in January 2015 we were quoting from stock. In late 2014 orders were ‘starter’ quantities of 5s and 10s for distributor stock with low value production and process control applications at approximately €200 per unit. Recent orders are for subsea, biogas and fracking applications using the full feature set of the actuator with orders for 20-30 units with a €2000 average selling price. Almost without exception our distributors have given us feedback that once we can fill their requirement for small, medium and large actuators they will switch purchasing from their existing suppliers who are dominated by Far East manufacturers. They can’t switch completely now because we can’t supply their full product range requirement.
The potential, given the global prevalence of electrical actuators in commercial and industrial applications, is huge with an estimated 5 million units in operation in the UK alone, The global market for all electric actuators was ~$20 billion in 2012 with anticipated growth of 8% y/y. The EU Directive 2012/27/EU 25 October 2012 calls for the community to use energy more efficiently at all stages of the energy chain from the transformation of energy, its distribution, the development of energy efficient technologies, through to final consumption. Our Smart Actuators can not only help achieve the targets, they are in the market and proving their place as a technology for use now, during transition to common energy policies and in the future.