Flexciton: Improving the efficiency of rotating equipment, reducing costs and CO2 emissions
Jamie Potter is the founder of Flexciton, a software application that advises machine operators on how to best plan the operations and maintenance of their machines, thereby reducing energy expenditure and CO2 emissions. Flexciton came in a very close second in the judges’ vote at TechPitch 4.5 last month. We asked Jamie to tell us a bit about the evolution of Flexciton and how it developed.
I graduated top of my year for Maths & Statistics at the University of Oxford and while I was there I realised I really wanted my future career to use my statistical skills. When I graduated I started consulting in the energy market and built different kinds of statistical software that help organisations such as DECC and National Grid make the multi-billion dollar decisions that shape our energy market.
Throughout this I knew I had a real passion for entrepreneurship. I would work on various ideas in my spare time before deciding to commit to entrepreneurship full time. I joined Entrepreneur First, the leading tech accelerator in Europe. There I met my Flexciton co-founder Dennis.
Reducing energy spend by 10%
The idea stems for Flexciton stems from Dennis’s published research. He spent five years at Imperial College London researching how to optimise rotating equipment to reduce operational costs. Whilst doing this he collaborated with some of the biggest names in industry, BASF and Statoil, where he saw the problems first hand. When we discussed the problem I knew straight away that it was something I had to get involved in and that my statistical knowledge and energy experience could add value. With the cost of electricity dramatically rising and increasing pressure to reduce CO2 emissions, large energy users simply have to reduce their energy consumption. An industrial plant can spend over £100m per year on energy consumed by their rotating equipment. We believe we can reduce this by as much as 10%.
Flexciton is a software application that advises machine operators how best to plan the operations and maintenance of their machines. We apply statistical algorithms to data recorded from machine sensors to truly understand their operation. Then we apply mathematical optimisation to determine the decisions operators should make. The output is a schedule for equipment operation and maintenance.
Only the recent dramatic increase in the amount of data recorded about machine operation has actually made this technology possible. Also the profit margins in Oil & Gas (our initial target market) used to be around 50-60% and so they weren’t so concerned with efficiency. However, due to the recent oil price crisis these profit margins are now as low as 3% and so efficiency improvements are desperately needed!
Operating in the most efficient way
Flexciton is unique in the market because competitors only focus on providing the operators with information about the condition of their machines. We always hear from operators that they just don’t know what to do with that information. Our software not only understands the condition of machines, but can tell operators exactly what to do with that information, such as how to operate and maintain their machines in the most efficient way.
We made sure we built what customers wanted
Before we got started building the software, the first thing we did was research the market to make sure this was a big problem to a lot of different companies, and it really is! Once we knew we were building something people really wanted, we lined up our first trial user and we began building our MVP whilst constantly discussing features with potential customers to make sure we were building what customers wanted.
Scaling to other industries
We’re also looking at and having discussions about how our technology can be applied to a range of different industries – for example, planning of operations and maintenance of the trains on the railway.
We raised money through the Entrepreneur First programme and we raised some more from investors at the end of the programme. We are currently raising a further round now and expect to close that very soon.
Jamie Potter is the co-founder of Flexciton.
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