An Exclusive Interview with Mr. Carl Stephen Patrick Hunter BA (Dunelm) Hon DSc AssocRINA MRAeS FIMarEST
1. Brief us about Coltraco
We are committed to India and committed to deliver solutions to the low labour rate environment in which fire servicing is undertaken. We do this by removing the unskilled, unreliable and inaccurate components of fire servicing and delivering for end-use customers and their assets highly accurate, reliable and repeatable means of securing the fire systems that are protecting their assets and infrastructure.
How do you currently test pressurised fixed gaseous fire suppression systems? Weighing? Shutting down the system, dismantling the cylinders and placing on scales? Once a year? Are your systems protected against accidental discharge or leakage?
After nearly 30 years, our Physicists and Mathematicians have created a range of easy-to-use portable and fixed monitoring systems for the Fire Industry across the spectrum of liquefied gaseous extinguishing systems, clean agent room testing, gaseous & sprinkler pipework corrosion, pump machinery bearing monitoring, pipework integrity. Now Coltraco offers world-leading servicing tools, e.g. Portalevel™ MAX and Portasteele™ Calculator.
We are committed to our Safesite® mission "safety for safety's sake" : aiming to supply equipment to help our customers reduce risk to life, business and facilities.
Our foundation is integrity, with family values formed over three generations since 1987. Science is at our core and leads our innovation across Research & Development tracks which will take the company into the future of integrated monitoring. www.coltraco.com/news.
2. What is Unique about your Ultrasonic Products?
To express it simply - our range is designed for the Fire Industry. Our roots are in Fire engineering and applying the mathematics to the science of fire engineering. We are the leading British designer and manufacturer of ultrasonic safety equipment.
Coltraco offer a range of handheld inspection equipment and fixed continuous monitoring systems to suit all requirements from the most technologically advanced in the world to the cheapest - for CO2, FM-200®, NOVEC™ 1230, HFC225 & 227, FE-13™, FE-25™ & FE-36™ systems.
In addition to fire safety, our technology includes airtight/watertight integrity testing for clean agent suppression room integrity testing during the process to check peak pressure and agent hold-time, ultrasonic thickness gauging for testing corrosion of pipework and gaseous containers, ultrasonic flow meter, bearing indicators for fire pumps and Portasteele™ Calculator to convert liquid level contents readings to ones of weight/mass to compare against agent fill-weights.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more or search www.coltraco.com.
We have almost 30 years' experience, operating across 19 market sectors, supplying 106 countries worldwide. Coltraco also have local partners around the world who can assist you if required and provide local expertise. If you would like to join our Global Network please email email@example.com to become a distributor.
3. Brief us about the New Portalevel™ Sensor Up Coming Product?
The new Portalevel® sensor is part of our philosophy of continuous improvement and accounting for the changing nature of the quality of fire servicing teams. We also recognise the new emerging market of the end user customer who wishes to conduct their own contents monitoring in between the annual statutory certification check. The reason is that the regulatory environment is a minimum level of compliance and end-users know perfectly well that pressurised gaseous systems can lead to accidental discharge and testing.
This is because systems exist in a dynamic state with temperature fluctuations and their intrinsic pressurisation placing constant strain on the containers and valves. If the gas is not there it will not extinguish fires which is our company's aim. The aim of this new sensor is to create something smaller and more ergonomic for the customer.
India has some great engineers. Great engineers understand the need to adapt; it is a definition of intelligence itself. Intelligence is part of the Smart Solutions within our Safesite™ technology.
It empowers us to be the best in the world and it empowers India to use it. Some of the greatest organisations in the world are in India: ONGC, NPC, Indian Railways, TATA, Indian Navy, NTPC. Many of these were our very first customers 27 years ago when I [CSPH] first began travelling to India. Some of these have been the reason behind some of our technical developments. This new sensor is one of them. Understand the need to adapt; it is a definition of intelligence itself.
Intelligence is part of the Smart Solutions within our Safesite™ technology.
It empowers us to be the best in the world and it empowers India to use it. Some of the greatest organisations in the world are in India: ONGC, NPC, Indian Railways, TATA, Indian Navy, NTPC. Many of these were our very first customers 27 years ago when I [CSPH] first began travelling to India. Some of these have been the reason behind some of our technical developments. This new sensor is one of them.
4. What Challenges have you Faced in Brand Development? How did you overcome them?
Brand development is who we are and an expression of our values. As our capabilities change so too the brand reflects this. But that technical change does not affect our core values and in India: "Time is not measured by the passing of years but by what one does […] and what one achieves." This is a quotation from Nehru and it is how we feel about our brand too.
Our core values are reputational excellence, integrity, honesty, truth and science. In our science we believe these values are fundamental to great science and this is what we do.
The challenges to our brand are from those who question technology without understanding it and from people who do not understand ultrasound. We see the world around us with perfect vision; we smell odours that smell strongly, but without understanding that we also smell those that are odourless. We hear only a very small part of the sounds around us. At Coltraco we are using those inaudible sounds, and tracking and analysing their behaviour mathematically in the liquefied gaseous extinguishing systems.
Our brand is about bringing something we are absorbing as human beings without knowing into a realm of application in which we can see how those unheard sounds are behaving in the liquid/gas interface. It is magical. We are gifted and privileged to be able to do this.
5. What are the Latest Technologies and Solutions Equipment's that are Enabling Safety in the Industries?
Portalevel™ MAX Marine! Ships each have 100+ cylinders on-board. All have leaking cylinders and typically 3-4 per annual certification are found to be empty and another 3-4 leaking. CO2 and NOVEC™ 1230 are pressurised gases and the broad temperature conditions that ships operate across affect them as a consequence. Anything that affects a pressurised Gas can lead to its accidental discharge or leakage.The industry knows this but have not widely shared it.
Industry doesn't publicise this because finding it out and installing new cylinders in a rush when a vessel is in port is inconvenient and expensive. Recently, this is changing given the amount of life safety incidents aboard vessels and the loss of mariners at sea because of their discharge.
The fixed fire extinguishing system on-board a ship is seen as something that does not engage the regular attention of the ships Officers.
Now Lloyds Register and ABS, particularly in the USA and UK are requesting shipping companies to implement the IMO SOLAS FSS code in relation to having portable liquid level indicators, such as Portalevel™, on-board as required by the code which states: "MEANS SHALL BE PROVIDED FOR THE CREW TO SAFELY CHECK THE QUANTITY OF FIRE-EXTINGUISHING MEDIUM IN THE CONTAINERS" and in-between the annual certification check - the two should not be confused.
A ship's officers & Crew are not qualified to undertake CO2 servicing as it requires the shut-down,
Dis-mantling, weighing and re-installation of the complete system which can only be done by a licensed organisation when the ship is alongside. Unfortunately not every LR, DNV-GL or ABS Marine Surveyor knows as much about CO2 or NOVEC™ 1230 as they might. and are often misinformed by the ship's crew showing them weighing scales; yet these do not "comply".
The content of CO2 is the responsibility of each Ships Engine Dept and those Officers responsible for Safety and Fire. We invented Portalevel™ as a solution to answer this need.
6. What are your Future Investment Planning in India or Market Strategy?
We are committed to India. We have our ODA Service Stations in Calcutta and Bombay enabling Indian customers to repair, calibrate and install systems in India. We have a Strategic Fire Safety Partner and a Strategic Marine Partner. Both are Master Mariners and Former Indian Naval Officers respectively. We have recently established a highly professional member of our Asia Sales & marketing Team based in Bombay to support them. Led by our Strategic Partners and ODA Service Station, and co-ordinated by Ms Karin Singh who has kindly joined us and works closely with myself, we are aiming to developing our distribution and dealer network across India in late 2016-17.
The relationship between the UK and India are of the highest importance to us. India is a G7 country by GDP. The relationship between our countries is a long and dynamic one. India occupies a special place in our hearts, in our "very special relationship" with India.
We wish India success and happiness. In 2015 we erected a statue to Gandhi in Parliament Square in London. Our Prime Minister unveiled the statue saying "Our ties with India have remained close throughout history and continue to go from strength to strength - through mutual respect as equals, through co-operation, trade, and of course through the one-and-a-half million Indian diasporas living in Britain today who bring our two nations closer, to the benefit of both." course through the one-and-a-half million Indian diasporas living in Britain today who bring our two nations closer, to the benefit of both."
We have worked in India for nearly 30 years. One of our first customers in India was the NPCI subsequently ONGC and more recently the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard. Today in Coltraco we have several young Indian Engineering undergraduates who are studying in England and working with us.
7. What Role does your R & D Team Plays in Order to Enhance your Products?
Our R&D Team are fundamental to our company. It is where Science in our company emanates. We are focused on exploring technologies in ultrasonic, acoustics, magnetism, and have aspirations towards the deployment of light and radar in our technologies. We are fortunate that we can move from the Science to a concept and on to a prototype and take that through to industrial design and manufacture.
We began as a 1 product manufacturer, and today have over 18 products and systems. However, we do not believe in "ivory towers". We try hard to integrate R&D into the fabric of our Commercial teams.
It is in this integrated approach where we shine. We are blessed to have some of the brightest and most talented Graduates and Postgraduates in the UK working with us from diverse backgrounds and nationalities. We have special links to some of the great British universities at Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh and Warwick.
Our Scientists and Technologists, together with our bright and dynamic Arts and Social Sciences graduations form an integrated team, which is fit to support our friends and colleagues in India.
8. Any Guidelines for the Readers or any Message.
We are indebted to people in India who have guided and nurtured us over many years: Mr. Rusi Modi, formerly Chairman of TATA Iron & Steel Company and former Chairman of Air India who was one of the 4 great mentors in my professional life, Mr. Aditya Kashyap, both now sadly passed, and today Captain Amit and Commander Vikesh, Mrs. Sreya Mukharjee, Mr. Basu, Ms. Karin Singh, also formerly of Air India and Mr. Jimmy Modi.
I am proud to have travelled across the Sub-Continent, and I feel “at home" in glorious India, especially at the Taj [Palace Hotel] which remains my "home from home". Know too that you have good friends in us here in London.
Happy Independence Day to you and, as they say in the Indian Navy, Sham no Varuna (Trans: May the Lord of the Oceans be auspicious unto us)!
Background Information on Regulations
•EXTRACT FROM IMO & FSS CODES: International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) International Fire Safety Systems (FSS) Code Chapter 5 - fixed gas fire-extinguishing systems 22.214.171.124: means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of
fire-extinguishing medium in the containers.
•ISO 14520 Gaseous Fire Extinguishing Systems states in 126.96.36.199: Means shall be provided to indicate that each container is correctly charged. Annex F states that for liquefied gases, check weigh or use a liquid level indicator to verify correct content of container; replace or refill any showing a loss of more than 5%.
•CO2 UK Marine Equipment Directive (MED) UK/EU legislation with US Coast Guard Mutual Recognition 188.8.131.52: "Means should be provided to verify the liquid level in all the cylinders, either by weighing the cylinders or by using a suitable liquid level detector."
•United States Coast Guard Marine Safety Alert - May 27, 2015 : "Receive adequate training to perform routine inspections of their vessel's fixed CO2 systems and fully understand their operation, particularly those protecting large spaces or multiple areas.”
•NFPA Code 2001: articles 7.1.1 through 7.1.3 and Chapter 8.
About the Author
Carl Stephen Patrick Hunter is CEO and Managing Director of Coltraco Ultrasonics, a designer and manufacturer of portable instruments and fixed monitoring systems for the naval, shipping, offshore, energy and fire industries. He is a former Green jacket Officer and an Honorary Doctor of Science, Fellow of the Institute of Marine Engineers and Member of the Royal Aeronautical Society,
the Royal Institution of Naval Architects, Royal Institute for International Affairs, Royal Society of Asian Affairs and Royal United Services Institute. Dr. Hunter is also a member of the Export Council of the Fire Industry Association and ISO 14520 Working Group Gases which is the Lead UK Fire delegate organisation to British Standards and an active member of the Society of Maritime Industries the lead marine organisation and voice of the marine industry in the UK. His interests are in Physics, International Business, the Constitution, South Asia, International & Strategic affairs, Defence and the British Commonwealth. Dr. Carl lives in London and Somerset, travels extensively in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, has been married for 27 years and is a proud Father of four Children.
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