TESTING, QUALITY

High standards of quality and reliability are vital in the development and manufacture of today’s high efficiency boilers for commercial and domestic applications. Alister Maclachlan, Product Director at Vokèra by Riello, looks at the five key stages of quality testing in the journey from product concept through to market launch and beyond.

1. Research and development
Technology is constantly innovating and evolving all around us and the heating industry is no exception. As a result of significant investment in research and development by manufacturers, modern gas boilers are more reliable than they’ve ever been. Now accounting for around 80% of the domestic boiler market the combination boiler, for example, has come a long way since it was first launched in the UK over 30 years ago. The perceived vulnerabilities in earlier generations of this popular appliance were addressed through intense quality testing of individual components and overall design. And it is this commitment to optimum quality and reliability that has given manufacturers the confidence to offer much longer warranties on their products, which is great news for installers and their customers. For example, a free 10-year warranty is now available on selected Vokèra boilers installed with our BeSMART Wi-Fi enabled thermostat. This is a major advance in the boiler market, particularly when you think that the average life expectancy of a traditional gas boiler was generally considered to be between 12 and 15 years, subject to the appliance being well maintained and serviced annually.

2. Accelerated life testing
Introducing the innovation and style the market demands, without compromising quality and reliability, can be a challenge for boiler manufacturers. Needless to say, the solution to this comes back to testing and more testing. Every component is thoroughly tested under laboratory conditions before it can be considered for use in one of Vokèra’s new products or as an upgrade to an existing appliance. Typically, components will undergo MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) testing and accelerated life testing. MTBF is a method of testing large quantities of components for a specific period, let’s say 100 components for 1,000 hours, in order to calculate the failure rate over a longer period, for example, 1 million hours. Only when these tests have been completed to the R&D team’s satisfaction can a product progress to the next stage – extensive field trials. These trials are designed to see how the appliance performs in real-life conditions. Ideally, field trial boilers should be installed where they will be subjected to normal or even adverse operating conditions. Only when these trials have proved successful can the move to mass production be considered.

3. Batch testing
During assembly, further inspections are conducted and settings such as combustion readings are checked. After assembly each appliance is subjected to what is generally referred to as the ‘final test’. At Vokèra we also undertake batch testing at this stage, which means taking 2% of these appliances for stringent retesting lasting around two hours per appliance. An additional 0.5% of all appliances are then selected for further rigorous testing in our laboratory which takes a minimum of 12 hours per appliance. This ‘drill down’ quality test ensures that our ‘final test’ procedure is reliable and also acts as an early warning of any potential component batch issue.

This intense level of testing helps to ensure that ‘out-of-the-box’ reliability is consistently high. And we believe it is important to continue component testing to maintain, or even improve, product reliability in the field, particularly in the light of today’s longer warranties. Reporting systems enable our engineers to fast track any quality issue they encounter directly to the quality department via their PDA in real time. If required, corrective action can then be carried out quickly, minimising any potential impact or inconvenience to customers.

4. Lifetime reliability
Feedback from the field is invaluable for monitoring the inherent quality and reliability of products and individual components not only during an appliance’s warranty period but also throughout its lifetime. The Weibull or ‘bathtub’ curve is an established engineering model for plotting component reliability during a three-part timeline. This starts with a decreasing failure rate known as “early failures’, through to the relatively low failure rate of “normal or useful lifetime”, and thirdly the increasing failure rate at the “end-of-life” phase. Together, these three segments look like a bathtub with two steep edges and a flat bottom – hence the name. Indeed, we have used this model to identify key areas where action can be taken to extend product reliability periods.

5. Improvement strategies
Many modern manufacturing environments have adopted recognised techniques and tools to improve quality and productivity in all areas of the production process. Among these is Kaizen, a Japanese concept meaning ‘improvement’, which we have deployed in our state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. Kaizen involves employees at all levels working together proactively to achieve regular, incremental improvements to the manufacturing process. It embodies positive strategies for productivity improvement, total quality culture and zero defects. The widely used ‘Just In Time’ practice is part of Kaizen and is proven to bring benefits to all types of process including shortened lead times and reduced inventory. In addition to Kaizen, Vokèra uses Six Sigma – first developed at Motorola in the 1980s as a method to improve process quality and reduce variability – the enemy in every aspect of business. By decreasing process variation companies can achieve defect reduction which, in turn, will lead to improvements in product quality, customer satisfaction, profits and employee morale.

When an appliance leaves the factory we don’t know who will install it, where it will be sited, or to what type of heating system it will be connected. With so many unknowns and variables, a commitment to upholding the quality and reliability of each and every product is paramount. Extensive testing before an appliance gets to market, and continuous performance monitoring when it does, helps to ensure a successful, and most importantly, safe installation every time.

BOILER MAINTENANCE

Getting a gas boiler inspected on an annual basis by a Gas Safe registered engineer is key to maintaining boiler efficiency, reliability and, most importantly, safety. But we often get asked what is the difference between a boiler ‘safety check’ and a ‘service’? Darren Payne, operations director at Vokèra by Riello, offers his thoughts on the differences.

When it comes to booking a boiler service we know that some consumers will be driven purely by price and choose the cheapest options available without fully understanding what will and won’t be covered during the engineer’s visit. However, not knowing the difference between a service and a safety check could prove to be a false economy and may even invalidate any manufacturer’s warranty. That’s why we always advise engineers to make the differences clear to their customers. Let’s start by looking at the basic checks to ensure the safety of the user and the appliance.

Safety check
First and foremost, always start by asking the customer whether they have had any issues since your last visit, as much can be gleamed in a five minute conversation with the customer before you put your toolbox down.

  • Visual inspection of appliance and entire flue system to ensure there are no signs of distress and installed as per manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Flue gas analysis (room sealed boiler) to verify combustion characteristics; including but not limited to leaks within flue system and adequate supply of air for combustion.
  • Check ventilation is adequate for appliance type and/or location.
  • Gas rate check to ensure adequate fuel supply with inlet working pressure and burner pressure as necessary.
  • If a sealed system, relieve pressure in the water circuit and check expansion vessel pressure is correctly charged.
  • Refill a sealed system to the correct operating pressure and disconnect the filling loop or link. (Permanent connection to class one potable water without fitting a specialist valve can be subject to a fine).
  • On an open vented system, locate the feed and expansion cistern to check the ball valve is operating correctly, that there is sufficient water in the cistern and that gaps between water level, overflow outlet and ball valve outlet are correct (these provide the expansion space and backflow prevention). Also ensure Open Vent Pipe is free to discharge back into the tank.
  • Ensure the condensate outlet(s) from the flue or heat exchanger are clear, free running, with sufficient fall (Vokèra recommends at least 3°) and terminated correctly.
  • Visually inspect the condensate trap, but preferably dismantle, clean, refill and complete an operational check.
  • Remove combustion box or cover to inspect seals on internal automatic air vents and check for evidence of any leaks.
  • If a sealed system, check any pressure relief devices for signs of leakage or malfunction.
  • Check operation of all safety devices to ensure they are working as intended.

Annual service
In addition to these safety checks, manufacturer’s instructions may also include

  • Removal of burner door / cover and physical cleaning of heat exchanger flueways, inspection of flame rectification probes, spark gap etc.
  • If appliance has a separate secondary heat exchanger, remove access cover and clean inside.
  • Inspect insulation panels / shields.
  • Replace door seals as required by manufacturer when reassembling.
  • Check dilution levels of inhibitor and top-up if deemed necessary.
  • Bleed any vent points around the system.
  • Record Service Intervention in Benchmark Log, typically located in back of manufactures instruction booklet.

Integrated service reminder
By adhering to the manufacturer’s instructions, the appliance can be maintained in good order and used safely. Additionally, most current Vokèra boilers include an integrated service reminder/timer based upon the boiler’s true condensing operation that will alert the user or engineer whether a full service is required (the boiler operates as normal but the display or status LEDs will remain illuminated to draw attention to the fact in a manner similar to that in a modern car).

Don’t wait until winter
And while we are on the subject of service reminders, It’s worth mentioning the benefits of encouraging homeowners to book a service before the winter, rather than leaving it until the cold weather starts to bite and then discovering their boiler isn’t working as well as it should. A summer service will uncover any technical faults that need fixing to be sure of a warm home come the winter

Simplifying servicing and repairs
Through the development of smart heating controls, such as Vokèra’s BeSMART, servicing is also becoming a much easier process for installers, homeowners and landlords. For example, when a compatible Vokèra boiler is connected to BeSMART, the intelligent control system will alert the homeowner if a fault is detected. And with permission from the customer, installers can also gain access to a protected technical menu of which offers them information and the ability to adjust parameters where necessary. This development makes some of the elements of servicing and repairs a far simpler, quicker and smoother process for all.

ADD VALUE TO YOUR HOME WITH A NEW BOILER

Neil Mattock, marketing director at Vokèra by Riello, considers a recent study that reveals how installing a new boiler will net the biggest profits when it comes to selling a property.

When people are considering making renovations to their home the thought of adding value to the property can be an important factor. However, experts have found that while most improvements will increase the potential asking price, the added value is not always greater than what was spent in the first place. The insurance comparison website, GoCompare, teamed up with property expert Henry Pryor, to identify the upgrades that are really worth the money – and you may find the results surprising.

According to the experts, the most profitable home improvement is installing a new boiler for a cost of less than £2,000, which is estimated to add £8,000 in value, making a profit of £6,000. In contrast, the study found that updating kitchens and bathrooms is unlikely to add more value than the cost involved. For example, at an average cost of £7,000 a new kitchen will add £4,000 in value, while spending £4,250 on a new bathroom will add just £2,000.

Investing in a new boiler is clearly a good investment and homeowners can maximise that investment by choosing a boiler that combines industry-leading efficiency and ease of installation with a highly competitive product warranty. With all these requirements in mind, Vokèra’s evolve range of A-rated combi and system boilers feature a space heating efficiency of 94% under the Energy-related Products (ErP) Directive. The majority of Vokèra’s domestic gas boilers also come pre-configured for load and/or weather compensation via the OpenTherm protocol, so also easily comply with the recent ‘Boiler Plus’ legislation.

On top of this, evolve comes with a 7 years out of the box warranty, which is upgraded to 10 years with a Vokèra BeSMART (Internet connected) thermostat installed and the installation registered via Vokèra Affinity installer loyalty and reward programme. Also, by including BeSMART, the system becomes an A+ heating package under ErP – adding even more value to the installation. As well as giving end-users more control of their heating from anywhere at any time via the dedicated App, BeSMART provides installers with access to a protected technical menu, enabling them to adjust the boiler parameters.

With energy prices always on the rise, improving the green credentials of a house to make it more energy efficient will make it more attractive to potential buyers. So perhaps it is not so surprising that fitting a new high efficiency boiler is rated among the best value home improvements that will deliver the benefits of warmth, comfort and long-term performance to a property’s current and future owners.

To find out more about this, and other relevant subjects take a look at Vokèra’s YouTube channel.

Vokera evolve

Celebrate a Summer of Sport with Vokèra’s New Promotion

To celebrate an action-packed summer, Vokèra by Riello is launching its new Summer of Sport promotion for installers. Participants can redeem points to win sports-themed rewards such as store vouchers and football shirts, just in time to cheer for club or country. Vokèra is a leading manufacturer in quality home heating solutions, offering a comprehensive product range for domestic home heating and light commercial applications. Vokèra, through its parent company Riello Group, is a part of UTC Climate, Controls & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX).

From the 1st May until 31st August, Vokera’s Affinity loyalty and reward programme members will receive points for every evolve or Vision combi or system gas boiler installed and registered. Multiples of three evolve or six Vision boilers will receive even more with bonus points.

Neil Mattock, marketing director at Vokèra, comments, “It’s great to be able to offer installers a new and exciting promotion for the summer. There is a great deal of sport ahead this summer, with World Cup football just around the corner. Installers can use their Affinity points against many sports-related items in a special area within the Affinity platform. This way, they’ll all have something to celebrate even if the football doesn’t go their way!”

The Vokèra Affinity is free to join and open to Gas Safe registered installers in the UK and Register of Gas Installers of Ireland (RGII) in the Republic of Ireland. By signing up for the programme, installers can register a Vokèra boiler for warranty, Gas Safe notification (UK only), and be awarded Affinity points on qualifying products. Any installers who are not currently members of the Vokèra Affinity programme gain 70 bonus points when signing up.

The state-of-the-art evolve combines Vokèra’s extensive knowledge of boiler design, performance and servicing to deliver a superior, cutting-edge boiler range. With both combi and system boilers, evolve suits a wide variety of domestic applications. The whole range is easy for installers to fit and homeowners to use.

The feature-rich Vokèra Vision combi and system boiler range is designed to be installer-friendly and suitable for a range of applications. Weighing between 27kg and 29kg, the Vision system and combi boilers are easy for installers to lift and fit into small spaces, such as a kitchen cupboard.

***CALLING ALL INSTALLERS***

SOLUTIONS, PROMOTIONS & MORE AT INSTALLER 2018

Vokèra by Riello, will be showcasing its innovative range of domestic and commercial boilers including its ground-breaking evolve domestic gas boiler range at Installer2018. The Vokèra stand will also host some fun surprises with a competition you won’t want to miss! Installer2018 is at Ricoh Arena, Coventry, 8-10 May 2018.

“We’re delighted to be exhibiting at the Installer show again this year,” says Neil Mattock, Marketing Director at Vokèra. “The event is a great platform for us to demonstrate our products and we are looking forward to taking visitors through the evolve platform as well as our commercial heating solutions range. But it doesn’t end there. We will be launching our new Vokèra Affinity ‘Summer of Sport’ promotion as well as having some competitive fun on the stand. Make sure you pop by and say hello.”

Members of the Vokèra team will be on hand at the Installer2018 show to answer any questions or queries you have regarding Vokèra products or the industry.

Get to know evolve

The state-of-the-art evolve combines Vokèra’s extensive knowledge of boiler design, performance and servicing to deliver a superior, cutting-edge boiler range. With both combi and system boilers, evolve suits a wide variety of domestic applications. The whole range is easy for installers to fit and homeowners to use whilst also being extremely energy efficient. Visitors will also have the opportunity to see the evolve boiler with the BeSMART internet-connected thermostat. Vokèra’s new commercial heating products will also be on display in the UK for the first time.

BOILER PLUS – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

From the 6th April 2018 the legislation around heating manufacture and installation in England is changing. Introduced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the new Boiler Plus legislation will apply to retrofit and new installations in England only (new build is excluded).

Its objective is to raise standards of efficiency for domestic heating systems, to give consumers more choice over the way they heat their homes and to gain more control over their energy bills.

Boiler Plus requires a new minimum space heating efficiency for domestic gas boilers in English homes to be 92% as declared under the ErP Directive; whilst in addition, all boiler types must have time and temperature control. When installing a combination boiler, at least one of the four additional energy saving measures must be included:

  • Load Compensation – lowers boiler operating temperatures thereby improving efficiency in line with internal demand whilst maintaining comfort levels.
  • Weather Compensation – lowers boiler operating temperature in line with external air temperature whilst maintaining internal comfort levels. Air temperature can be drawn from an external sensor or internet derived.
  • Smart Controls (with automation and optimisation) – automation is a control function that automatically adjusts time and temperature settings, based on occupancy detection and / or stored data from user adjustments over time. Optimisation is a control function which starts the boiler operation at the optimum time to achieve the set point temperature at the start of the occupancy period.
  • Flue Gas Heat Recovery Systems (FGHRS) – recovering heat from waste flue gases to preheat domestic cold water entering the boiler, reducing energy needed to reach the required level for the domestic hot water.

Boiler Plus is a positive change and is definitely a step in the right direction in tackling climate change and keeping household energy costs down. The strategy aims to reduce carbon emissions across Europe, with the ultimate goal of achieving the EU’s 2020 targets.

Vokèra is here to help and can offer installers all four of the energy saving measures outlined within Boiler Plus, allowing consumers and installers alike to achieve compliance quickly and easily. For instance, the new evolve range, is A-rated and all models feature a space heating efficiency of 94% under the Energy-related Products (ErP) Directive. The Vokèra BeSmart Wi-Fi enabled thermostat offers automated home heating control and can be accessed via a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. The majority of Vokèra’s boilers also come with pre-configured weather compensating technology and are OpenTherm enabled to help maximise efficiency.

For more information on Boiler Plus click here

LAST CHANCE TO FUEL SUCCESS WITH VOKÈRA

Calling all Installers…. don’t miss out on the  final months of Vokèra’s evolve Promotion, valid until 31st March 2018.

The promotion celebrates the launch of the evolve boiler range and rewards Vokèra Affinity members for installing and registering evolve boilers.

When installing the evolve range, Vokèra Affinity members will receive a fuel card worth £1001 upon completion of their first installation registered via the Vokèra Affinity loyalty and reward programme. A £502 fuel card will then be issued for each subsequent installation registered via Affinity. Alongside the fuel cards, installers are also able to offer an extended warranty on the evolve, taking it from a standard seven year warranty to an impressive ten years, when installed with a BeSMART internet-connected thermostat and both the evolve and BeSMART registered on Vokèra Affinity.

The state-of-the-art evolve from Vokèra combines extensive knowledge of boiler design, performance and servicing to deliver a superior, cutting-edge boiler range. With both combi and system boilers, evolve suits a wide variety of domestic applications. The whole range boasts an A rating and all models feature a space heating efficiency of 94% under the Energy-related Products (ErP) Directive. With the addition to the system of Vokèra’s BeSMART internet-connected thermostat, with weather compensation enabled, the evolve range offers the potential to become an A+ heating package under ErP.

Vokèra Affinity focusses on giving unparalleled support and rewards to installers and has grown to become one of the heating industry’s most enduring loyalty programmes. It has also recently benefitted from further improvements and developments to make the platform even better. By signing-up for the scheme, installers can register a Vokèra boiler for warranty and register for their Affinity points. Vokèra Affinity also provides installers with additional benefits such as marketing support, information on products, spare parts, stockists, literature and technical support on the move.

For more information on the range as well as news and updates, visit or follow Vokèra on: Facebook  | Twitter  | LinkedIn.

VOKÈRA ANNOUNCED AS FINALIST AT THE H&V NEWS AWARDS

Vokèra by Riello, a leading heating manufacturer, is thrilled to be nominated in the Domestic Heating Product of the Year – Boilers/Water Heaters category at this year’s prestigious H&V News Awards.

Vokèra has been recognised for its new state-of-the-art evolve, a cutting-edge boiler range that has been born out of the company’s extensive knowledge of boiler design, performance and servicing. With both combi and system boilers, evolve suits a wide variety of domestic applications. The whole range boasts an A rating and all models feature a space heating efficiency of 94% under the Energy-related Products (ErP) Directive. With the addition to the system of Vokèra’s BeSMART internet-connected thermostat, with weather compensation enabled, the evolve range offers the potential to become an A+ heating package under ErP.

“It is a real honour to be a finalist for the H&V News Awards,” says Neil Mattock, Marketing Director at Vokèra. “The H&V News Awards represents the best in the industry, there are some great finalists and we are delighted to be amongst them. When we launched evolve last year, we were confident that we had developed a great boiler platform. The feedback we have received from our customers has been great but to be nominated for an H&V News Award as well is a fantastic achievement.”

As the longest-running award ceremony within the industry and now in its 24th year, the H&V News Awards have a fantastic reputation for celebrating and rewarding excellence across the building services industry. This includes anyone from contractors and consultants, installers, private building owners, service and maintenance companies, building information modelling (BIM), retrofit and safety and training providers. This year, the awards will take place on 19th April 2018 at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

For more information on the range as well as news and updates, visit or follow Vokèra on: Facebook  | Twitter  | LinkedIn.

VOKÈRA BY RIELLO EXPANDS COMMERCIAL TEAM

We are delighted to announce the appointments of Scott Foster and Martin Fletcher as Commercial Sales Managers for the North and South respectively.

Scott and Martin are working as part of the team headed up by Sales Director, Peter Diamant with the aim to support and grow the Vokèra by Riello, Commercial brand with new and existing customers across the U.K.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Scott and Martin to the team,” says Peter. “Our commercial division is growing all the time and we are delighted with the feedback we have received from customers about our commercial solutions. Both Scott and Martin will support our growth aspirations and we look forward to the energy and enthusiasm they can bring to the organisation. They are both experienced industry professionals having previously held roles in a number of companies across the commercial sector.”

For news and updates, visit www.vokera.co.uk or follow Vokèra on: Facebook  | Twitter  | LinkedIn  

SEASONS GREETINGS

Vokèra wishes you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year! Thank you for all your support and encouragement throughout 2017.

As a Christmas present to installers, Vokèra is extending its evolve promotion until 31st March 2018. The promotion celebrates the launch of evolve, a full range of high performing combi and system boilers, and rewards Vokèra Affinity members for installing and registering evolve boilers.

When installing the evolve range, Vokèra Affinity members will receive a fuel card worth £1001 upon completion of their first installation registered via the Vokèra Affinity loyalty and reward programme. A £502 fuel card will then be issued for each subsequent installation registered via Affinity. Alongside the fuel cards, installers are also able to offer an extended warranty on the evolve, taking it from a standard seven year warranty to an impressive ten years, when installed with a BeSMART internet-connected thermostat and both the evolve and BeSMART registered on Vokèra Affinity.

For more information on the range as well as news and updates, visit or follow Vokèra on: Facebook  | Twitter  | LinkedIn.