Featured CEO Interview
We meet “The LoRaWAN Man” Rob Cartwright, MD of Wadebridge-based Ver Facil Limited.
What is the background of the company?
We set up the company in 2009 to focus on high level integration of communication protocols across Building Energy Management systems. Essentially we design, manufacture and install heating & ventilation control panels and over the years we have designed out the need to visit site through the smart use of Virtual Private Network (VPN) remote connectivity. The combination of our secure VPN knowledge, our communication protocol skills and our recent investment into low power long range sensor technology has us leading the deployment of commercial Internet of Things solutions.
So, what is this new technology you have invested so much time and effort into?
Four years ago we were looking for a wireless sensor solution to replace the need for cabling on our BEMS installations. Most existing wireless technologies only covered short distances whereas we were looking to replace 1000 mtr long cable runs internally across complex buildings. I came across a new radio technology being promoted in Amsterdam called LoRaWAN so took a flight out to the city to find out more. Fast forward three and half years and over £250,000 investment we have built a team here in Cornwall dedicated to the design, deployment and management of remote monitoring solutions based on this amazing low power tech.
Are you creating new jobs?
Yes. In fact just as the county went into lockdown last year we took on an Office Manager who worked from home throughout the restrictions and during lockdown we took on an IT Engineer who is now our LoRaWAN expert and heads up our Tech Support. This was shortly followed by a Field Service Technician (FST) and more recently a Senior Project Manager and now in that last few weeks a full time Electronics Engineer who has taken up the Product Development role. We are currently recruiting for a workshop technician and soon another FST as our order book is filling.
Where are you deploying this LoRaWAN technology?
We are working with the University of Exeter and their Tevi project deploying environmental sensors across Cornwall and similar too for Westcountry Rivers Trust. We have a project running with Cornwall College’s Unlocking Potential called “LoRaWAN for EVERY town in Cornwall”, just started a roll out of sensors at Cornwall Airport Newquay and The Lost Gardens Heligan. The project we are very excited to be part of is “Smart Kernow” by Cornwall Council which sees us deploying outdoor air quality sensors, flood monitoring and car park sensors across several towns as a pilot towards a full scale Duchy wide installation.
Do you plan to develop your own products?
We already do! We have a range of products that we manufacture on repeat orders for clients which our new Electronic Engineer is re-designing as Printed Circuit Boards.
How important is sustainability to you?
I see this in two ways. First is sustainability for the planet and we have signed up to the University of Exeter’s Tevi programme to seek advice on how best to manage our business operations with this in mind as well “Circular Economy” thinking too. My second thought on this is sustainability of the business itself. We have a culture of innovation here at Ver Facil Limited and our strategic ambition is for the team to maintain the business going forward without reliance on the founder, ultimately sustainable scaling new ideas on the edge of the core business and even changing the offer as time goes on.