IFSJ Exclusive: Advanced Technology Delivered Simply

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Ed Chivers, Global Product and Certification Director at Reacton, talks about competency, common component concept and plans for Intersec and beyond

Even though Reacton were incorporated in June of 1996, Reacton has roots going back 50 years and is one of the pioneering companies for the burst tube technology, specialising in the manufacture of automatic fire suppression systems. The organisation has a great foundation and supporting businesses that position it to develop and understand the market in detail, with connections in the waste and recycling sector and its sister company that installs these systems.

These connections have enabled Reacton to quickly understand the demands of the market from both design and durability, to fast response times and a close feedback cycle that allows it to bring brilliant products to the market in exceptionally quick timescales.

Fast forward to today and Reacton is a true leader and global manufacturer of critical asset fire protection through highly innovative suppression systems. At the heart of Reacton is its word class talent that provides its leading service on show today.

Ed Chivers, Global Product and Certification Director, is responsible for implementing and delivering Reacton’s global certification initiative that has his sights on becoming the most approved pre-engineered pneumatic tube-based manufacturer in the world. IFSJ sat down with Ed to find out about his background in the industry, Reacton’s common component concept and its plans for Intersec and beyond.

Can you tell me about yourself, your professional background?

I’ve been in the fire industry for over 20 years and worked with some of the biggest fire suppression OEM’s in the market. I’ve held roles from design engineer and technical manager through to sales manager and general manager which has allowed me to gain invaluable experience in all aspects of fire protection. During my career I’ve contributed to the ongoing development of fire suppression products, industry-related documents and articles, innovative web-based systems and sales tools, whilst having trained many companies worldwide.

Today’s role is extremely varied and demanding but very rewarding, working closely with the leading laboratories from across world, putting products through their paces and seeing them perform. Having great performing and approved products is only one part of the process, I have always had the vison of allowing these products to be understood and supported easily, this is what we see in the technical and supporting documentation from Reacton. Advanced technology delivered simply.

I also sit on certain trade association working groups that assist the industry, I am honoured to work with some of the best minds in the industry who all share the same passion which is to strive for a safer industry. We do this by creating guidance, key stakeholders and assisting on current and future standards/legislation.

Are there any trends in the industry that have been impacting your business and your product development?

Competency: as we introduce more approved products to the markets, ensuring that they’re delivered and installed to our strict requirements becomes essential. We have great innovative online tools to make sure that people can remain compliant, especially when the world has changed through Covid and face-to-face training was not an option. This goes back to our focus of clear and concise supporting information, we need our customers and partners to demonstrate a high level of knowledge and qualification of their expertise is essential, these are life safety products and command the correct approach.

Another important one is supply. As Reacton are a global leader of the manufacturing of automatic fire suppression systems, maintaining uninterrupted supply is vital. We’ve invested a significant amount in becoming self-sufficient through multiple means wherever possible. This includes specialised machines to make our components, state-of-the-art test equipment, larger stocks, and having multiple high-quality suppliers to ensure continuous supply through full redundancy. All of the time ensuring we can meet or exceed Reacton’s exceptionally high standards as this is something we would never compromise on.

Are there any solutions you have created that you think will become more prominent in the years ahead?

My general feeling is that there is a global shift in our market. Our market is the direct and indirect technology utilising pneumatic detection tube. That’s a global shift from only utilising the more traditional total flooding systems. This is mainly due to people becoming much more aware of the risks that are on their premises, education via manufacturers along with more insurance lead requirements. People are moving towards protecting the risk itself, not just configuring a system that protects the entire room which holds the risk. We’re looking at targeting the risk and protecting it at its earlier stages when the fire is as small as possible, extinguishing it before it has an opportunity to spread.

People understand that this delivers protection that is much more cost-effective, as the total cost of ownership of that system is reduced because we’re using a much smaller system which can be put back up and online again much faster. There is still a place for those total flood systems and a lot of the time people actually use them in conjunction, which means if there’s a fire then you’re not having to deliver hundreds of kilos of extinguishing agent which has a cost associated with it, you’re only delivering a few kilos right where the problem exists.

We’re seeing people becoming much more exposed and clearer on that product line whereas before it wasn’t as well adopted. That’s where we see this is going to be increasing as the years go on and Reacton are positioned extremely well for that. We want to set the standard for the industry that approved systems are the way forward, we must all be adopting this stance which provides official, independent scrutiny of the products and systems. Therefore, superior quality, reliability and performance is a natural by-product of this process.

What has Reacton been working on recently?

We’ve been working on our suite of internationally approved products through testing laboratories across the world, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), the Building Research Establishment (BRE) and The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to name a few. Developing our systems to become one of the most approved and versatile, whilst keeping the product range easy and simple to install.

We’ve been working on the approvals for ours clean agent systems, but just as important as all the testing that goes on behind the scenes is the documentation and training that allows people to understand the product. We’ve created a product that we believe is extremely effective but is delivered with simplicity. Our technical manuals, training, any sales collateral will be extremely easy to use.

One of the main concepts of our product is that we use the same valve throughout the product range, but we also have just one nozzle that is used across the range of systems which range from one kilo all the way up to an 18 kilo system when used on our clean agent system. Customers don’t have to worry about whether they are installing the right nozzle or having to stock different types of nozzles, there is only one nozzle that they will use.

Are there any regions you’re currently focused on working in/increasing your presence in?

With our latest suite of approvals coming online we’re going to be opening up the American market in a much bigger way. We have an office there, but we’ve got some key partners who will now have an approved product that’s going to expand with huge traction.

The Middle East is a significant focus for us, our CEO of the business moved out there due to the demand and potential we have with our product, and we won one of the biggest bus tenders ever given to protect buses across the UAE. We’re also expanding in Australia with our latest testing and approvals which open up the large mining sector. We’re focusing on trying to increase our awareness globally.

One thing Reacton is very good at is trying to make sure we’re very transparent with what goes into developing a system. We’re not one of those companies that will sit back and say ‘here’s our certificate, that’s all you need to know’. We’re very open and show people how we arrive at that product, what’s actually involved with the testing – we’ll share videos of the vibration testing, climatic chambers, corrosion testing results, the fire tests we record – we’ll show all the information of what those fires look like, what you’ll have to put out, and the capabilities of the system.

What is your focus for Intersec? Is there anything specific you’re showcasing or hoping to achieve?

 The Middle East is extremely driven by approved systems. We’re going to be launching some clean agent systems at the show. We’ll be showcasing that new product line and also discussing certain parts of our lithium-ion battery suppression technology. We’re showcasing our approved clean agent systems which we’ve developed using 3M™ Novec™ 1230 fire protection fluid and FM-200™ Waterless Fire Suppression from Chemours.

We’re hoping to achieve awareness of the product and the fact that you can have an approved system that can be accessible to all markets. We’ve always prided ourselves on being able to have a product line which has an extremely high level of quality and high precision parts, and we try to deliver that at a price point that’s accessible to everyone. We don’t feel that anyone should be excluded from having fire suppression just because of price.

Looking ahead, what is next for Reacton? What are your aims for the years ahead?

One of the key parts that differentiates Reacton from other companies is that we have a common component concept. Instrumental to the current and ongoing success of the entire Reacton brand is our intentional common component concept. This approach allows us to rapidly upscale our business. We have a product line which covers electrical panels, wind turbines, CNC machines, heavy plant vehicles, bus market, kitchens – the product range is large, but we use common components throughout, which allows us to deliver approvals in a much faster fashion.

The great thing about the years ahead is that we’ve gone through a lot of the tough testing on those components now. We will be rapidly delivering more approvals in a much faster timescale than we have been because the components that are used throughout have already gone through the harsh environmental tests. It allows customers to hold fewer parts, there are fewer parts to control and support and the documentation they need. We can provide literature much faster and it is more economical to create because it’s got the common component. We can bring new approvals online much, much faster.

That’s what the future looks like for us – more approvals, coming much faster than we have done before. We are not stopping – we’re going to be delivering more and more approvals until we are the most approved pre-engineered direct and indirect system manufacturer in the market. We’re looking to forge partnerships with key partners across the world now that we have all the approvals that have come online.

This article was originally published in the January edition of IFSJ. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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