Chris Hardy, UK Marketing Manger, Intergas Heating, discusses the importance of boiler design, simplicity and a little motivation.
In the years after Richard Trevithick invented the first high pressure steam engine in 1803, the 'locomotives' that followed all had the problem of using too much coal and being slow and unreliable. By 1829 it was clear that new ideas were needed; the directors of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company launched the Rainhill Trials, offering a purse of £500 to anyone who could improve efficiency on the railway line between Liverpool and Manchester.
The thought of winning such an amount was all the motivation locomotive builder George Stephenson and his son Robert needed. Then developing the now-famous ‘Rocket’, Stephenson made three design innovations:
• efficiency was increased by using a multi-tube boiler (25 copper tubes), instead of a single or twin flue
• a blast pipe increased the draught to the fire by concentrating exhaust steam at the base of the chimney, generating more power (steam), so Rocket could go faster
• a simplified connecting rod system which linked the wheels and the cylinders improved the drive and reduced breakdowns
Going like a rocket
When Stephenson's turn in the Trial came, Rocket went like a rocket, reaching speeds of 24mph (the average speed of locomotives was 10mph at that time). Most of the other competitors were forced to withdraw due to breakdowns and Stephenson received fame, fortune and future work far beyond the prize money.
Like the directors of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company, Housing Associations are continually looking for more energy efficient and reliable heating and hot water solutions for their customers. And the motivation? Reduced call-outs and service and maintenance costs, improved duty of care, lower energy bills for customers and peace of mind for everyone. And, as can be seen from the success of Rocket, the solution always comes down to good design.
“Design is not just what it looks like or feels like. Design is how it works”
When Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple and tech visionary, said this, he was stating his view that whether a product has great tactile qualities or looks amazing, it must be functional. And, let’s face it, no one’s going to hug a boiler or deliberately put it on view but, when it comes to installation, maintenance and operation, Intergas is in a class of its own.
We work with many local authorities, social landlords and housing associations, and know that cost control and customer satisfaction are key objectives that must be met by their suppliers. Last year we were delighted to receive the National Energy Efficiency & Healthy Homes Award for ‘Supplier of the Year 2017’, which recognised the work that we do to keep breakdowns to a minimum and energy bills as low as possible. But we know that both objectives could never have been met if it weren’t for the design of the Intergas two-in-one heat exchanger. Apart from the very important fact that it has never had a mechanical failure since it was first designed over 20 years ago, it also has dispensed with the need for all the components in a boiler that stick, leak and let you down. There’s no heat exchanger, no diverter valve, no auto air vent and no valve motor and, with only 12 components in total, including four moving parts, there’s less to go wrong.
Our boilers are now being used in new build and retrofit across the country, and here’s what’s being said about them:
“This Eco RF combines everything Halton Housing is looking for in a boiler. First, it’s incredibly robust and only has 12 components in total, so it’s going to be more reliable than some of the brands we’ve used in the past, and that’s going to save us a lot of money in servicing and maintenance costs.”
- Colin Knox, Compliance Manager, Halton Housing
“It was the heat exchanger that sold it to me. It really was revolutionary, and its design looks like it will last without breaking down. We’re in a hard water area, so I was keen to see what it could do.”
- Stephen Tillman, Heating Surveyor, Ashford Borough Council.
“Boilers these days just breakdown with increasing regularity and with Intergas’s uniquely designed heat exchanger and 10-year warranty we are more confident with the reliability. When there’s a shortage of qualified heating engineers in the UK, it makes sense to install boilers that are not going to let you and the user down.”
- Les Finucane, Business Development Director, BSW Heating.
“Working in partnership with Intergas, tenants benefit from lower energy bills, and we can address the issues of climate change and protect the environment by employing efficient solutions that allow us to keep maintenance costs low.”
- Haley Barsby, Director of Communities, Mansfield District Council