As the industry prepares for AMP 6, a key player in the evolution of third party certificated security products to ‘harden’ UK water infrastructure is approaching its own landmark.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Technocover, the leading specialist in physical access security, is as committed as ever to the mission of protecting UK water assets and water quality.
Managing director, Michael Miles, explains.
Technocover were the innovators of the first twin skin access cover.
|LPCB high security door with vision panel.
|Cage and mesh systems are among the latest LPCB tested and approved products from Technocover.
|Walk-in modular LPCB building system.
Matters of security should be handled with care. But it’s safe to say that standards of physical security and asset protection in the UK water industry lead the world and set a tough benchmark for any sector of the utilities.
As it marks 20 years in the business of secure access, Technocover can look back at a track record of innovation, quality and cooperation that has helped pave the way to these world class standards.
The industry has undergone a quiet revolution since the government introduced its first legislation on water reservoir security in the late nineties. Water asset protection in the UK has evolved across all areas of the supply network, providing the robust, multi-layered and risk-appropriate defence we have today. It has been a huge undertaking for the water companies. Alongside their many AMP commitments, they have delivered successive phases of asset hardening and driven through wide-scale security improvements above and beyond their legislative duty.
The UK’s achievements have also been shaped by the adoption of security products - access covers, doors, enclosures and allied systems – with third party approval to the rigorous regime of LPCB (Loss Prevention Certification Board). As a designer and manufacturer of the largest range of LPCB water security products today, Technocover’s story is inextricably linked with the ethos of quality and LPCB assurance.
Formed in 1993, Technocover quickly built a reputation for service, manufacturing quality and problem-solving with its range of water engineering covers. In the mid nineties, the company responded to a call from government for manufacturers to submit prototype reservoir covers resilient to the risk of terrorist infiltration and contamination. Of the three manufacturers whose blueprints were approved - the others being Strataform (which Technocover acquired in 2004) and Midas Engineering Ltd - Technocover remains the only one manufacturing LPCB approved products today.
In developing this and future products to meet the industry’s enhanced security needs, we recognised the importance of committing to designing and manufacturing to the rigorous security certification of LPCB adopted by Water UK.
A globally respected mark of security, LPCB tests products to the tough performance requirements of LPS 1175 and certifies them for a range of security levels (up to anti-terrorist security rating SR 8). Even more important, for the industry is the fact that it provides on-going audit of design conformity rather than just a one-off test. This means that LPCB products coming off manufacturing lines comply with the approved product specification and, therefore, embody the same performance certified by the original security testing.
From our first UltraSecure reservoir cover, Technocover’s LPCB product range has responded to and anticipated the water companies’ security needs through AMP 3, 4 and now 5. Not surprisingly, there have been many firsts along the way.
We were first to devise a reservoir upstand cover with an outer and inner leaf. And we were first to introduce single person operation to both of these leaves in line with manual handling guidelines.
The company was also quick to expand its offer in LPCB level 4 access covers, padlocking doors and vents for potable water storage as security programmes ramped up.
By 2003 and ahead of the pack, we were already developing LPCB level 2, 3 and 4 products to enable water companies to roll out security upgrades into other areas. This added LPCB cabinets and frequent access doors to the range for water treatment installations, chlorine dosing, telemetry, alarm systems and other sensitive plant.
By AMP 5, water companies were implementing extra layers and the finer detail of security in areas such as chemical storage and sampling facilities as Water UK guidelines evolved.
Technocover responded with yet another raft of LPCB products. More variations in key entry doors were introduced, plus water sampling and telemetry cabinets, cylinder clamps, isolator housings, enclosures, cages and modular buildings.
While LPCB has been an important factor in Technocover’s success, the company has maintained its lead by pushing the envelope in other areas. We realised early on that solutions should integrate a wide range of site specific, logistical and operational requirements in maximising customer satisfaction.
This led to ‘Total Service’ – our joined-up approach to water security installation which makes sure that all possible needs are met or anticipated in the product solution, from concept to commissioning and beyond.
It includes a comprehensive range of support: from risk assessment, site survey and product adaptation to suit operational efficiency and site logistics, to scheduled delivery, system installation and in-service maintenance.
Such consistent and close scrutiny of products from site to site underpins product development and has inspired many of our operational and health and safety innovations. Developed closely with customers, these include one-person manual handling, fall protection, slip-resistant finishes, and anti-trip padlock housings among others.
Total Service not only ensures high levels of customer satisfaction. It also guarantees that the best value solution is recommended, avoiding under- or over-specification. It is a major reason why customers trust the Technocover name.
Hundreds of Variations
Currently, the Technocover portfolio includes no less than 23 generic LPCB products with hundreds of variations based on different security levels, sizes and formats. More recent extension of our LPCB range has been focused on the hardening of gas stores and buildings utilising modular enclosures, mesh gates, mesh cages, mesh partitions and window bars. We also manufacture a growing number of security solutions for other areas of critical national infrastructure, notably telecoms, rail and energy.
In the last three months, the company has completed £ multi-million programmes of work with eight of the fourteen major UK water companies, as well as bespoke projects with most of the remaining water companies. The numbers and range of products supplied, together with support services including security consultation and site installation, perfectly illustrate the Technocover capability.
A major advantage for customers is our flexibility and willingness to adapt to different ways of working, whether dealing direct with the water company, their contracting partners or subcontractors. The focus is always on close cooperation, listening to needs, and dovetailing our products and site services to make life as easy as possible for clients and the relevant delivery team.
Capacity also matters when it comes to water companies fulfilling their capital and maintenance programmes. Our extensive manufacturing base in the Welsh Marches and nationwide support services have proven capability in delivering large volumes of product, on time, and in line with often complex schedules. This scale of resource underpins customer confidence in awarding business to us – we currently have frameworks with 10 water companies, four of which are exclusive.
Technocover anticipates sustained growth as we refine, differentiate and strengthen our capability in anticipation of AMP 6.
While water companies are focused on SEMD programmes up to and beyond 2015, AMP 6 is likely to set further challenges in product security, operational safety and efficiency for LPCB manufacturers.
With the support of the Ensor Group, which we joined in Jan 2012, Technocover is underway with an intensive 12 month programme of R&D. We plan to bring no less than 10 new products to market this year to fulfil current AMP 5, forthcoming AMP 6 and other emerging needs. Involving significant investment in design, prototyping and the complex process of LPCB testing and certification, this ambitious programme will reinforce Technocover’s position as No 1 in water security solutions.
In responding to the ever-changing needs and targets of water security, Technocover remains flexible, forward-thinking and committed to pushing standards in product design and the ways in which the industry works. Whatever the challenges ahead, we intend to remain a key player in water protection for many years to come.