It started with a kiss …..!
Not really! It started with an idea, a simple idea: if you are collecting data wouldn’t it have more meaning if it was available in real-time? So we investigated creating something that could transfer water parameter readings from a sensor on site and deliver that data directly to the customer wherever they were in the world – simply, securely, accurately and timely. Two years later and this idea has grown larger than we could ever have expected. vanwalt CONNECT systems can now be found all over the world from the deserts of Sudan to the hustle and bustle of London City. And the future - we’re not stopping there! vanwalt CONNECT is evolving in every way, we are delighted to be receiving regular requests for new and exciting jobs that require us to think about how we can modify vanwalt CONNECT to suit specific project requirements. Developments to date have included adding a new sensor to measure different parameters, adding control relays so you can switch devices on and off remotely and alarms that monitor water levels in an adjacent river to allow a business to proactively react to potential flooding scenarios rather that reacting to So where do we go from here?
damage to property. We believe the real beauty of the vanwalt CONNECT system is it can be modified to suit any project - you just need to ask. We have also looked at giving the system longevity in the field so we developed a solar powered option so we were no longer restricted by the life of a battery. This has proved invaluable for sites where data uploads are required every 15 minutes in order to protect property and place. vanwalt CONNECT was one of our first R&D projects at Van Walt and continues to be an on-going programme of development but it certainly could never be classed as our last. In response to customers wanting to improve the accuracy of their water quality data we recently designed a base plate for our YSIs. It was brought to Van Walt’s attention that some of our customers were using the YSI flow cell lying down when taking water quality measurements, this is incorrect. A flow cell should always be used upright otherwise results will almost certainly be wrong as air will come into contact with the electrodes. Having recognised the problem, we designed a base plate that will keep the flow cell upright; we have included this handy item in all our YSI
rental packages and updated our Quick Start Guides to make it clear on how to obtain the most accurate results. Van Walt prides itself on listening to customers and reacting to their needs, that’s why we have recently added a Bluetooth system to our growing equipment list. The BLE485 is a Bluetooth-low-energy wireless adapter that connects to all our groundwater level loggers like the LevelSCOUT and water quality sensors like the PT2X, to a customer’s laptop or tablet device. This short range telemetry system is perfect for remote and hard to reach areas such as central reservations and restricted access sites. The BLE485 will be used in the Save the Children’s project in Somalia to ensure valuable data is available to the teams responsible for child safety to give them more time to evacuate the children in their care, if there is the potential for life-threatening flooding – saving time, savings lives. It is a misconception that research and development is purely the investigative activities a business conducts to broaden the number and type of new products and services in its portfolio. At Van Walt we tend to view it slightly differently: we harness the skills of our R&D team to not only develop new equipment but also to improve existing products and procedures or to sign-post new developments for future products, services and procedures from our suppliers. We have worked extensively with many of our suppliers to improve the equipment we supply. With much of our core rental equipment we have built up many years’ experience and expertise on how it works and how best to maintain it. As part of the R&D process we regularly share our concerns, best practice and ideas for improvement with our colleagues from as far afield as the US & New Zealand. This has led to improvements in equipment software; improved parts used in the manufacture of items, enhanced packaging and support material to make it easier for a customer onsite to get the most from the equipment. We don’t actually think of this as R&D but much more about business improvement. Albert Einstein said: “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” At Van Walt we like to think we are working on R&D not because we don’t know what we are doing but because we want to do it better!
Lewis Irvine, Van Walt Ltd
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