Detectortesters is on an exciting journey. With a Queen’s Award for Enterprise under its belt, the fire detector testing equipment maker is enhancing its hardware with data-led software to help clients be more efficient and boost safety.
Fire safety is a critical issue for building owners and maintenance teams. Testing fire detectors typically involves a ladder, a manual check, and a handwritten result. This process is time-consuming, can be prone to human error, and is ill-equipped to furnish audit trails or meaningful data.
Detectortesters is revolutionising all that. In the business of fire safety since inception, the firm is innovating and has just launched a new detector tester which will use an ‘Internet of Things’ approach to drive people away from inefficient manual testing and towards connected products that save time, automatically generate records and allow clients to control all the aspects of testing and so gain full ownership of the safety testing.
It’s an exciting development. “The connected product will help us accelerate the shift away from older aerosol testing towards modern electronic testing solutions and software, which is where we want to direct our business in the next few years,” enthuses Robert Campbell, CEO of the business.
He explains that Detectortesters was previously restricted in terms of investment, but that a buyout led by Inflexion in 2021 brought capital and expertise to grow faster and smarter. “We knew the direction we wanted to take but couldn’t get there quick enough as we didn’t have the capital. In the last 18 months however, we’ve really leaned into software and worked with external support to help us get there quicker. We’re now in-sourcing this talent to manage our own digital development going forward.”
Behind the scenes, the firm has been also taking its new technology and retrofitting it into its core electronic range to upgrade the existing products to benefit from traceability. “It will bring our legacy products into the 21st century, and from a business perspective, enables us to offer our services via subscription,” Robert says.
Enhancing the offering
With the guidance of Inflexion’s value acceleration team, Detectortesters has established a solid plan for its digital transformation. The digital team supported the technology development and value proposition, while the commercial team ensured that the new pricing model is aligned with customers’ expectations and will also lead to better quality of earnings, including the subscription model for the new data products.
The new software-led product is at a premium to the traditional aerosol product. However, Robert explains the new offering provides far more than an individual test, as was the case previously. It improves engineer efficiency, reduces manual paper processing, brings maintenance costs down over time, and gives users real ownership of the entire process. “The fire market is risk averse and slow to change. Only very recently can data be exported into the cloud, but I think over the coming years it’ll prove transformational for the fire market.”
Willingness to make the initial investment may be driven by external pressures to focus more on data and accountability, with tragic events such as Grenfell putting pressure on firms to have an audit trail around safety, and therefore evolving the mindset around tech in the fire market. A push towards efficiency is also coming from a relatively new shortage of skilled test engineers following events of the last few years, namely Brexit and the pandemic.
Robert is convinced the uptake will be strong. “A requirement for more data and records, along with inflationary pressure, means we need to drive productivity. The connected product creates a permanent digital record which is uploaded to service providers and building owners portals providing assurance of compliance.”
It’s more than testing, it’s a tool for efficiency across many processes which adds further value through deep data insights. I’m incredibly confident that we’re providing multiple efficiency gains to the end user.
The connected product is creating a new offering for Detectortesters, too. “We’ll be gathering large amounts of data globally, so we expect to bring out a set of data suites with additional features based on what people are doing in the field. It will be a subscription people can pay for as they understand the value. We are already receiving inbound requests from existing software providers who don’t have our deep coverage of the service market who want access to the rich data we will collect.”