It’s all in the research

It’s all in the research

Energy efficiency, reliability and simplicity are three things that make a great boiler. Dr Elaine Lancaster explains why manufacturers should take an installer-centric approach.

It’s all in the research

Boilers today are impressive pieces of technology. They’re easy to install and maintain, highly efficient, and very reliable. This isn’t down to luck or accident, a lot of work goes into making these compact white units found on our walls.
As Director of Research and Development (R & D), Dr Elaine Lancaster is responsible for the launch, development and continuous improvement of Ideal Boilers.
“With programme and project managers, design engineers, the development team, research, application and testing, the electronics team, not to mention the calibration/instrumentation engineers and technical illustrators, it’s clear there’s a lot going on in Research and Development.
“Installers are at the heart of the boiler design process because they’re the ones working with them every day. We ask them for their suggestions on how we can improve the products, and make them easier to fit and service. Their opinions are really important.
“Using the Logic+ as an example, reliability was the most important specification in the development process. It was important the finished product would be simple and straightforward to fit, easy to service, and contain a reduced number of parts.  We also wanted to produce a compact ‘cupboard fit’ boiler.”
Energy efficiency
Efficiency is important for any heating system, especially with rising energy prices continuing to make headlines. So how do manufacturers ensure boilers are both efficient and comply with regulations?
“Energy efficiency is the main focus for homeowners. A modern gas condensing boiler is almost at the limits of what we can do in terms of efficiency.
“But there are further energy efficiencies to be had from the overall system, like passive flue gas heat recovery.
“The emerging trend to control heating remotely will continue – especially as the focus on smart devices grows. Homeowners are increasingly looking to monitor and control their boiler operation and energy consumption.
“Other efficiencies are driven by regulation and legislation – such as the forthcoming EU legislative requirements to meet the ERP Directive on reducing electricity consumption, which is due to come into force in 2015. Ideal will be implementing new low energy index pumps, which will be incorporated into the next generation of boilers.
“Even with advances in alternative heating systems such as renewables, condensing boilers are still a good option for replacing old boilers in older, less well-insulated homes. Heat pumps, for example, need to be installed in a well-insulated property to be cost effective for the owner because of the high cost of electricity compared to gas.”
Hundreds of checks
For installers, reliability is priority number one. When they recommend a product, they’re putting their reputation on the line. If the boiler breaks down after six months, the customer won’t be happy and may not trust the boiler or tradesman in the future.
That’s why manufacturers rigorously test their boilers before they’re sent to merchants in order to make sure there aren’t any faults.
“Throughout the design and manufacturing process we’re checking quality, process capability, assembly, and that every boiler functions safely and is working correctly.”.
“The production process is designed on a ‘no fault forward’ basis. This means we have clear guidance at every stage of the process, so that every product is repeatedly built to its stringent manufacturing procedures.
“During the assembly, checks are in place to ensure components are sited correctly through the use of jigs. Cameras ensure the correct parts are installed and pressure checks are carried out make sure there aren’t any gaps between components, which would lead to leaks.
“Then there’s a final function test on safety and integrity to make sure the boiler’s modulating correctly, and then the case is sealed properly before it’s allowed to leave the factory.
“R & D defines the requirements for these checks, and works with the production engineers to ensure we deliver a properly assembled, tested and fully functioning boiler, every time.”
For more information about Ideal Boilers and its award-winning product range, visit www.idealboilers.com