An Insulation Evolution is upon us in Insulate Magazine Issue 13. Q-bot a Robot that applies sprayfoam insulation under floors is set to take the insulation world by storm. Also features compelling articles from regular columnists and insulation experts.
The only independent insulation industry trade magazine Q-Bot Insulation Evolution Mathew Holloway from innovators Q-Bot talks about their robot for insulating under floors - and how BBA Certification will help them gain prominence in the market place. Introducing an impressive new product that considerably reduces the cost outlay when people are considering underfloor insulation. Such an operation traditionally necessitates the complete removal of the flooring so that insulation materials can be installed and then the floor re- laid afterwards. This can be a nightmare for Housing Associations commissioning this kind of work as residents often need to be temporarily rehoused, which amounts to another not inconsiderable cost implication. Q-Bot Chief Executive Mathew Holloway explains: “To insulate underfloor space in the UK you need to remove all carpets and flooring to access the void, then cut insulation panels by hand between the joists and roll mats of insulation in between, working to a degree of accuracy of 1mm, which is really quite difficult. If there are any gaps left between the insulation and the joists the insulation is not effective. “The method is very disruptive and difficult to do well. And of course, once it’s done you have to put your home back together and redecorate. It’s usually enough of a barrier to stop anyone wanting to do it.” The new procedure takes one or two days at a fraction of the cost and performs just as well as traditional methods. This is a particularly welcome innovation for Housing Associations as it minimises disruption to residents who also benefit from lower heating bills. “Specifically, costs are typically half the alternatives and £150 per year is saved on heating bills. It also reduces the temperature stratification – the difference from your feet to your head, creating warm feet, which is a significant factor in keeping warm. “An independent case study with the Leeds Beckett University showed that the heat loss in the building was reduced by 25% - that’s a huge amount – meaning more than a quarter of heat loss was from the floor.” Another feature of the robot is that it records the whole process and provides real time feedback of the thickness of the insulation, so that the operator can make sure the job is completed correctly and the required depth of insulation is applied. The fact that the process can be monitored and recorded also incentivises installers to take pride in their work and removes the temptation to cut corners. “Generally, the built environment has got a problem with accountability and quality control. The BBA is trying to address this, and Q-Bot is bringing smarter tools that 8 www.insulatenetwork.com
www.insulatenetwork.com have quality control built in. Our robot records what happens using cameras and sensors to build a 3D map of the void before and after the install. We monitor the area and depth of insulation, take measurements during the process, and the installers know that what they do is being monitored and recorded. That gives them the motivation to do a better job. “People can be very negative when it comes to new technology at first, but eventually they see that this means they can take pride when working in the built environment. It allows installers to differentiate themselves from others and demonstrate they can do a good job. That philosophy also helped assure the BBA that we were minimising risk.” The BBA’s specific focus was to test the polyurethane foam insulation materials and the spraying process for efficiency and safety. “We set up an area in BBA Test Services at Watford to demonstrate the application process. This was watched and monitored, with readings taken to see how deep the insulation was. “Then the BBA came and visited us to check what happened onsite. They also came to see our training and even went and talked to our customers. We went through a really stringent set of tests.” BBA Certification is well-known for sealing a new product’s reputation in the market place, leveraging brands and providing specifier and consumer confidence. Mathew explained why the UK’s leading construction certification body was so important for Q-Bot. “When you’re a small organisation but one that is rapidly growing with the potential to change the world and have a really big impact, you have to make sure you do everything properly in order to be taken seriously. You need to punch above your weight. The BBA is a very well-respected mark and organisation. Audits improve your control system which gives you a lot of credibility and helps show customers that there are processes in place that ensure the quality and scalability of the service. “Because this is a relatively new product and solution, we were unsure as to whether the BBA would even consider approving something like this as it’s simply not been done like this before. We are obviously very pleased that the BBA took it seriously. “It’s a great relief to finally get our certificate because it shows the outside world that what we’ve been saying is true. An independent party is happy to say yes, this is a process that has quality control built in.” Q-Bot has been busy all over the south coast, from Hastings all the way up to the north of Scotland, through England, Wales and Scotland. Trials have also been done overseas, in the US and France. With the blessing of the British Board of Agrément, this smart little newcomer to the insulation industry looks set to make its mark in the built environment, throughout the UK and beyond. www.insulatenetwork.com 9