CORDIS - EU research results

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

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

Reporting period: 2016-08-01 to 2017-07-31

In 2010, whilst working to resolve control issues in the integration of actuators in food processing, James O’Donnell (SmartAct® Technical Director) discovered he could configure the actuator power supply to reduce electrical draw down by ~75%. In doing so, he created the RIFT (Reduced Induction Field Torque) Drives upon which our disruptive, SmartAct® Actuators are based.
We have since protected our invention with patents and trademarks, and been awarded several national awards. Crucially, sales of SmartAct®-1 (Medium Actuator) have delivered two phases of high growth with export orders from USA, Germany, Australia and South Africa now feeding 90% of pre-booked production capacity 3 years out. With SmartAct®-1 seeing the product established in the market in early 2014, we have now developed our growth strategy for the next 5 years around becoming a global actuator brand with a minimum of 2.5% of the market by 2020 -building a business with revenues of $250m+ per annum.
Whilst an ambitious vision; the quality and size of distributor scale customers applying to work with us to deliver this Phase 2 project to demonstrate that the product can be successfully scaled both up and down, confirms it is entirely realistic. Our Phase 1 project confirmed no global competitors can deliver reduce energy consumption and material costs in line with SmartAct®-1 which currently averages 75% reduction in both criteria. A paradigm shift for the sector of this magnitude with the advantage of 3 stock keeping units (SKUs) covering the full scale of applications, global distributors could reduce their inventory/stock of actuators by over 14 to 1. Phase 1 Voice of the customer surveys and the last 2 years of experience demonstrate the irresistible value of this proposition. Indeed, distributors have suggested 2.5% is a lowly target given SmartAct®-1 performance. Distributor demand to participate in this project was so high we have had to limit participant numbers and turn distributors away.
At a time when management of energy consumption is increasingly important, the SmartAct®-1 electric actuator has the lowest energy consumption of any system available today. Comparative tests against many competitor models demonstrate a 75% or greater reduction in energy use for the same work load. Given the high cost of energy today, SmartAct®-1 has a 'lifetime cost' lower than other manufacturers.
This can be summarised as follows,
1 Initial engagement with 12 Customer Partners that represent a good cross section of local national and international distribution and sales companies for electric valve actuators.

2 These are,

Severn Glocon UK & Global Subsea Oil & Gas + Water treatment & Distribution
Wolseley Group Plumb & Pipe Centres UK + Ferguson in USA
Georg Fischer Swiss & Global Largest plastic valve manufacturer in World
Aliaxis FIP Italy & Global 2nd Largest plastic valve manufacturer in World
SAFI Valves France & Global Plastic Valves for Agriculture & Specialist applications
Dirchsen Denmark & Scandinavia. Specialist valve package distributor
Ebora Holland & North-Western Europe. Specialist package distributor
Zoedale UK Specialist valve & actuator package distributor
Zipson UK Specialist valve & actuator package distributor
Eurovalve UK & Europe Specialist valve & actuator package distributor

3 Prepare detailed specifications for Small & Large Actuators following collaborative meetings with the above 12 companies. In addition, a specification for a Subsea version of the large actuator following meetings with Severn Glocon in particular. So, 3 new products in total have been developed. Namely Small, Large and Large Subsea

4 Design & 3D Print prototypes for the Small Actuator

5 Design & 3d Print prototypes for the Large Actuator

6 Originally, to design and fabricate from metal and acrylic prototypes for the Subsea version of the Large Actuator. Hyperbolic test this to 80 metres working depth. This has now been tested by LB Bentley, a subsidiary of Severn Glocon, to 800 Metres.

7 Second round of meetings with the 12 Partners to further explore pricing, quantity commitments, market positioning, agree campaigns, and in some cases look at own branding by SmartAct® for their sale & distribution.

8 To date the orders placed for Q4 2017 delivery amount to approximately €1.35 Million from these 12 Partner companies. Severn Glocon have introduced a client who has forward ordered for supply of Subsea units worth approximately €2 Million per year for at least the next 10 years.

9 Potential for 3 new Patents and 1 new trademark has been identified so far through the project.

10 Originally the objective was to interview for, select and employ 6 new staff. These were full time positions and include one new Director of Sales. We have also engaged two new part time staff who will work towards becoming full time over the next 12 months. In Q2 of 2017 a further four Apprentices were engaged. Two in R&D and two in Sales & Marketing. A fifth Apprentice was appointed in July 2017. Total people on the company payroll is now 15 with 4 regular sub-contractors.

11 Preview the 3 new products at various meetings, conferences, trade shows and exhibitions through the year. This has been reported in detail elsewhere including forward bookings for Phase 3.

12 Engage with a number of other major customer clients through this activity. These include,

Praher Plastics of Austria who also trade extensively in Asia
HORA of Germany who also trade in mainland China & India
Cambrian Valves in the UK who are major suppliers of fire safety systems in Europe
Apreco in the UK who are major suppliers of HVAC and fire safety systems in Europe
Project Fire in the UK who are world leading suppliers of fire safety systems
Emerson Electric, US based global manufacturer/supplier of electric machines
Assured Automation, Based in New Jersey, US, suppliers of low energy valve & actuator packages
Valves On Line, the largest valve and actuator package supplier in UK
The raising profile of the company has lead to us being approached by a number of interested parties to develop our core technologies for the use in other industries, these include automotive and wind power applications.

In April 2017 SmartAct® (The Smart Actuator Company) were awarded the Queens Award (QA) for Enterprise in Innovation for 2017. This is the highest honour that any UK manufacturing company can be awarded. On 1st September 2017, the Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire will formally present the Queens Award Rose Bowl to our staff at our factory. The main QA publicity will start then and run for the next 5 years. We have already had many approaches from potential commercial partners and distributors around the world and anticipate an even greater number when the full publicity appears from September onwards.
Small Actuator Model Bottom
Small Actuator Model Top
Small Actuator Concept Model