22 January 2019
L&Q, a regulated charitable housing association which houses around 250,000 people in more than 92,000 homes, primarily across London and the South East, was one of 50 different Partners who were invited to be part of the development process for Potterton’s Assure boiler range. They were joined by a large number of contractors and specifiers from around the UK, to ensure the product would not only meet the needs of everyone, including the engineers who would be installing and maintaining them. The results from focus groups were collated and classified into varying levels of importance to determine which features were essential, nice-to-have or unnecessary, using robust modelling techniques.
Gas Service Manager, Steve Chambers explains: “The fact that our wants and wishes were taken into consideration was really refreshing. It also helped that everybody was brought together - contractors and other landlords – as it generated some healthy debate about what was good, or not so good.
L&Q are now fitting the boilers as part of its maintenance programme. Steve explains:
“We have 45,000 individual gas properties in our portfolio. Assuming the lifecycle of a boiler is 15 years, this equates to 3,000 new boilers each year to keep pace with age and keep your stock up to date. This year we are averaging 3,300 boilers, however, we expect this number to rise following our recent merger with East Thames housing which has resulted in us acquiring 6000-plus homes.”
L&Q works with several contractor partners, including Smith & Byford and K&T Heating, both of which were involved in the initial development.
Mark Akers, Operational Installation Manager at K&T Heating, commented:
“I’m from an installation background, so during the Assure development process I prioritised features which would make this process much quicker and easier for the team. For example, its compact size and light weight makes it easier to lift and place in small spaces, whilst the pipes behind facility enables a tidy installation in a kitchen cupboard.
“We’re now fitting between 40-50 Assure boilers per month on average, depending on the client’s schedule. Although, L&Q have always had good investment levels in their stock, so this number is usually quite consistent.”
Sandy Meechan, Field Installs Manager at Smith and Byford, said:
“As a close partner of Potterton I was invited to give feedback on key features of the boiler and make recommendations on the design. One of the features I specified was a space frame - usually we would have to pay extra for this so it’s a nice bonus to have it included with the boiler.
“It made a nice change to be asked for my input at the design stage and my clients appreciated being brought along to see the whole product development process. We currently fit on average 50 boilers a month and have received great feedback. The engineers are particularly pleased that the boiler is lightweight, compact and reasonably easy to fit.”