The Secret agents and superheroes of action movies and comic books rely on backroom boffins and ingenious inventors to supply them with gadgets and gizmos to fight supervillains. Here’s the real life story of how Cadent’s very own ‘Q’ branch helps develop the latest innovations to help deal with gas emergencies.
Name: Rebecca Payne
Job Title: Innovation Project Manager, East of England
Helping develop innovative technologies, tools and equipment for use in the gas emergency service to enable smarter and less disruptive ways of working.
Sum up what you do:
We’re at the forefront of Cadent’s innovation work to develop new products. Our gas network is often beneath busy roads and pavements running through already congested urban areas, so any work to it can be disruptive for the public. We work to develop new products which will enable our staff to keep the gas flowing in ways which are smarter and less disruptive. This in turn benefits the public as the more we innovate the less inconvenience they are likely to experience.
How do you come up with innovations?
First of we’ll talk to our field force to find out what they need and discuss any ideas they may have for innovations. We’ll also run problem solving exercises and engage with suppliers. We’ll then do a ‘deep dive’ to examine the issues in detail and how innovation could help. We can then work with the supply chain, our partners at the EIC (Energy Innovation Centre) along with innovators and relevant business representatives to look at developing solutions. There may be a product which is market ready or one which needs further development, or we may be dealing with an entirely new concept. Once we’re on board with a project we will look at how we can support it with trials and funding.
How do you decide which innovations to develop?
Our teams have focus areas which we work on to identify issues. What we take forward will be depend on our analysis and the funding options available. The proactive focus for us in the East Region this year is keeping the gas flowing, repairing PE (polyethylene) pipe and digging smaller holes. Ongoing things we’re working on include reducing the risk of accidentally hitting cables while excavating and looking for market ready solutions to support safe digging.
Any notable successes?
Recent examples would be our Top-Tee Siphon Adaptor (TTSA) which provides a quick and easy way to siphon water out of gas pipes , the Bonded Saddle which gives quick and easy access to large diameter gas mains and Serviboost™ which boosts low gas pressures to maintain supplies. These innovations help maintain safe and reliable gas supplies and reduce disruption and all three of them were nominated for awards.
We’ve also been working with Cadent’s official charity Alzheimer’s Society and the EIC and we have held an interactive event to encourage innovation. There was a great response to this and as a result we have some great potential new products in the pipeline.
Would you recommend the job?
Definitely. It’s exciting to be at the cutting edge of innovation. There’s a lot of variety and you get to work with all manner of people from engineers, to innovators and charities and businesses. It’s a very rewarding job and it’s always great to see a product you’ve helped develop make a positive difference to people’s lives.