Whenever you see electrical work being done on large public or private spaces, you can guarantee that they’re looking at lighting controls and energy saving considerations. And that’s where Open Technology comes in.
The company is a leading specialist in the design, manufacture and commissioning of intelligent lighting control systems, tailoring their solutions to the many different types of projects they get. You’ll see them at work in universities, Parliament buildings, train stations and more.
Managing these projects can be a big task, beginning with counting takeoffs and providing quotations. We recently caught up with Kevin Strudley, a Business Development Manager for Open Technology. The company has been using Countfire for a while now and we talked about how our takeoff software has helped Kevin save over half his time when he does his takeoffs:
About Open Technology
Kevin joined a few years ago and brings years of lighting industry experience to the team. “Before I got into lighting controls I was in the lighting industry and before that I was an apprentice electrical engineer. Since joining my first lighting company as an estimator I've learned how the products are designed and manufactured so, from an estimator's point of view, I was able to cost all my bespoke and standard lighting products to know exactly how luminaires are manufactured and tested,” he says.
Open Technology was established in 2008 and has developed an excellent reputation for delivering energy and carbon savings through lighting controls. Their innovative LiGO+ lighting control system has been installed in buildings all over the world.
“I was in the lighting industry for over 25 years and then decided to change and get into lighting controls, and this is where Open Technology came in. They took me on and I've been with them since March 2016.”
What is Kevin’s role?
"I'm a Business Development Manager - it's a role with many different elements where I'm a bit like a bespoke sales manager as each project is tailored to suit the building’s controls requirements,” he says. “I'm on the road a lot, selling to the professional market (consulting engineers, end users, electrical contractors, construction companies) - anyone who uses lighting controls and energy saving. It's a broad net who I call upon in the professional industry.”
The company has achieved some major milestones, particularly in terms of netting high-profile projects. “We have secured several major railway projects, plus many well-established universities and Parliament buildings,” says Kevin.
"We've been heavily involved with Network Rail. I did the new part of Waterloo Station - platforms 21- 24 - plus all of the Network Rail offices. We also worked on the new London Bridge Station; two really big contracts,” he says.
“Part of the work means being involved with the engineers, companies like Skanska and electrical contractors. When we did this work we didn't know about Countfire and we painstakingly had to count all the devices on the drawings manually. It was a lot of work.”
Kevin had been very used to manual counting of takeoffs for lighting projects over the years. He wasn’t looking for any sort of alternative, but he met our co-founder, Will, by chance.
"I found out about Countfire when I went to a contractor's office opening day; DES Electrical had just opened a new office in London. Will from Countfire was there and I had a chat with him,” says Kevin.
The idea of automated takeoff software was one Kevin could really see the benefits of, so he took the idea back to Open Technology. “It took me a bit of time for me to get Open Technology to start using it, but it was worth it and we now have two licences,” he says.
Open Technology haven’t looked back, using Countfire to help them count takeoffs on their many large projects. "We've used Countfire ever since and it works so well for every job we do,” Kevin says.
“We've used Countfire on so many projects - Parliament buildings, universities, car showrooms, railway stations, warehouses and offices. We use it all the time on a range of buildings. Commercial lighting is everywhere, and when clients want energy saving, lighting controls will be there.”
Saving time on quoting and checking
Two of the main benefits Open Technology have enjoyed have been time saved to count takeoffs as well as to check for accuracy. "An example of us using Countfire is when we quoted for a project at a large university, one with large buildings that have extensive new build and refurbishments,” Kevins says.
“If I were doing manual takeoffs on one of these buildings - which can have twelve floors, with various teaching rooms and lecture theatres - it could take around three to four days to do, and that's before I've started the quote. When I use Countfire, I can do my takeoffs in a day and a half, saving more than half the time,” says Kevin. "Countfire is a great tool for us, even though it's made for electrical estimators instead of lighting controls. It makes everything quicker, much quicker than doing it manually.”
One part of the job that also takes a lot of time under a manual system is checking for accuracy or making any requested revisions. If you’re counting manually, then it’s a manual check once again. Countfire makes it easy to check or revise your stored projects and quickly see whether all elements have been counted.
"We go back to the information stored in Countfire, especially when there are revisions,” Kevin says. “But when it comes to getting our orders, we don't really need to go back to Countfire to do anything else; we're a lighting controls company so as long as we get our count done correctly we can quote correctly then commission it all once the project is near to handover.”
That doesn’t mean they have no cause to re-check their projects. “It's good to keep a copy of it. Some contractors will call us - one who uses Countfire too phoned me to query my quantities,” Kevin says. “I said 'I'd be surprised, as I'm using Countfire,' and he said 'we're using Countfire as well.’ So, I went through the drawings with him, but he'd missed out a drawing! Countfire helps us to be able to look back on work we've done if we need to.”
Helping achieve goals
What are some major goals that Kevin has which Countfire can assist with? “I’d like to win the the National Lottery,” he jokes. Will Countfire help? “Not a chance.”
More seriously from a business perspective, Kevin needs to be able to manage his time more effectively by using Countfire:
"A business goal for me is to save time. I'm out on the road a lot of the time, so I don't have the time to print out endless A3 drawings and to mark off all the light fittings and switches every time I do a quotation,” Kevin says. “Using Countfire means I have more time to go out and see my customers.”
"My favourite thing about Countfire is the way it itemises all the device types,” he says. “When I was in the lighting industry I used to do my quotations by having to count all the different types and then write it all down. Countfire does all of that for me and I can now see how many different types there are. Even though that doesn't matter so much for me it's still great to see all the different types are there. A luminaire or PIR etc to me is a device that needs to be counted.”
If someone were on the fence about signing up for Countfire, what would Kevin tell them? “I would say that it does save time and the process is fairly straightforward,” he says.
“Countfire saves time to quantify and the software is really easy to use. The printout is itemised, the counts include the totals and they're collated in an easy to see format,” says Kevin. “Plus, there is no need to print of dozens of drawings!”
Ready to give Countfire a go? Start a free trial here.