Several million people in the UK have physical disabilities or restricted mobility, and many more are unsure how to turn off the main gas supply to their home in an emergency. But in an uncontrolled gas situation, every second counts.
The team at OPD has a shared goal: through our work, we seek to make things better - safer, more efficient, more effective and more inclusive. So back in November 2018, when we came across a call for innovation from the Energy Innovation Centre (EIC), to develop a safe and simple way to turn off a gas supply in the home, aimed in particular at helping those who require support due to their personal circumstances, we were keen to get involved.
Precious time can be wasted when customers don’t know how to disconnect their gas supply, or when they lack the strength or ability to do so. At present, a customer in an emergency or who can smell gas needs to know the location of their emergency control valve, to understand how it operates and to have the physical strength to turn the handle.
Put simply, EasyAssist™ is a ‘clockwork’ mechanism that fits directly onto the emergency control valve on a mains domestic gas pipe. It is designed to support customers in the event of a gas leak by enabling them to easily switch off the gas supply with the push of a button, while they wait for help to arrive. It can be installed by gas engineers in minutes, and is a safe, cost effective, technology free solution.
We were honoured to be selected by the EIC to work alongside Cadent, the UK’s largest gas distribution network, to develop our innovation. The project has been a great fit for us at OPD, with our experience in high spec industrial products and dynamic mechanisms. For us, it has been a delight to take the design from a sketched concept all the way through to a fully engineered product. We look forward to the next steps of approvals and mass production, where the product will start to have the reach and impact it was designed to achieve.
The project was funded by gas customers via Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) which supports projects that have the potential to deliver benefits to customers. Find out more here.
We would like to extend a big thank you to the EIC, and to the whole team at Cadent for their partnership and for so generously sharing their knowledge, experience and insight. The elegance and effectiveness of EasyAssist is in no small part thanks to their collaborative approach. Special mention must go to Jo Giles, safeguarding lead, to Becky Payne who project managed Cadent’s role in the process, and to Earl Richards, Cadent’s technical engineering expert.
We are in the process of securing a patent for EasyAssist™ and Cadent will begin rolling the product out to their Priority Services Register (PSR) customers beginning in 2021 once we've ensured the design meets the required standard. We’re keen to work with other gas distribution networks across the globe, in order to maximise the reach and impact of this work.
If you would like to find out more about EasyAssist and the other projects that we are working on for the gas industry, please visit the website or simply get in touch. We look forward to working with you.