Paul Benfield, Director of P & I Generators Ltd, explains why company success is built on understanding the unique challenges of the Public Sector environment and why delivering the right critical standby power solution first time, is as critical as the power and services that sites have to support.
The name P & I Generators may not be familiar to you, but the family owned and run business on the south coast of England (based in Havant, Hampshire), has been established since 1999 and has grown exponentially over the last five years.
Part of their success has been attributed to supporting multiple sites within the Public Sector environment.
In the Public Sector, P & I are aware that there are challenges for the service and maintenance of generators and UPS on site, as well as the wider critical power infrastructure. The immediate response needed to support operating theatres, 999 response centres, IT infrastructure and core client services is more demanding and complex than ever; also solutions have to be right first time and economically advantageous to ensure budgetary control.
P & I have recently been awarded multiple service and maintenance contracts for generators and UPS including: Sussex Partnership NHS Trust, Surrey Primary Care NHS Trust, Kent & Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership, Hertfordshire NHS Supply Management Federation, London Ambulance Service HQ (including 999 response centre), also London Boroughs of Newham, Havering and Hackney and South Wales Fire and Rescue Service.
In the education sector, customers include the University of Hertfordshire and Nottingham Trent University.
Paul Benfield the founder (and now a Director of P & I) attributes the success of winning these contracts to the following; “It really is about listening to what our Public Sector and Facilities Management (FM) customers want and need. Many companies say that they are responsive but at the point of failure, customers are let down – typically, that is when we get a call and we are at their site the same day, often in the south of England within 1-2 hours (depending on exact location).
“We are extremely proud of the work that we do to support the Public Sector and their FMs in the UK. The Public Sector landscape has changed so much in the last decade and we actively advocate partnership working as it provides greater security for both parties. We are committed to integrating and understanding each customer and site as much as possible and sharing information and devising solutions that can help meet their needs.”
An example of this is the unique way that P & I work with Public Sector customers.
P & I plans service and maintenance cycles for contracts on a critical path for the next three to five years using a site survey and insight and analysis from their team. A simple tangible report is then produced for the site. This includes forecasting replacement of hardware/remedial cycles so that it can be factored into budgets. The report also advises on associated services such as load bank testing, thermal imaging and battery resistive testing, which can often help identify critical issues with hardware before they occur.
The responsibility of P & I as a company is to provide expert information and support in the running of critical power infrastructure. Paul continues; “Where our Public Sector partners have so many conflicting demands on their time on site, they can be assured that we know what we are doing.
“At P & I, we see ourselves as an extension of our partners’ business and we know the sites very well. We can identify what is wrong and fix it there and then. We also have our own generator parts and hire division and load banks, so we can despatch the right solution immediately to site, even in the depths of the British winter, we will sort it out; our reputation depends on it.
“I am sure that some reading this article, have been in the position where an engineer has completed a service and maintenance contract visit at their site and the engineer has then advised that there is a 7 day lead time on an ‘easy to replace’ part or filter. To me, poor customer service on the basics does not make any sense. P & I ensures that we have everything at our disposal to support our fleet of engineers and we keep communicating at each stage and resolve issues in partnership. We even have a Land Rover in our vehicle fleet, to reach hard to access areas in the British winter, either on or off-road, the weather is sometimes one of the biggest challenges that a site can have, especially with the flooding in the recent past.”
An example of the complexity and experience of P & I’s project delivery, was their solution that was provided for the healthcare sector in Uganda.
The UK Medical Research Council had a research unit based in Uganda which carried out clinical trials and research into HIV and AIDS. The main Medical Research Centre (MRC) Station was at Entebbe where there were three principle MRC buildings (labs and offices) plus various out buildings including generator houses, vehicle workshop, chemical and other stores, plus an IT disaster recovery room and staff housing. All were located on or adjacent to the same campus in Entebbe whilst in the other stations in Masaka and Kyamlibuwa (a rural locale) a similar arrangement was in place. There was also one other clinic in the capital, Kampala.
There had been a number of incidents of small fires at MRC premises caused by electrical faults, due mostly to the unstable and intermittent mains power supply but also due to aged and obsolete equipment such as air conditioners. The site relied heavily on the use of inverters for the offices and homes and these had often short circuited in the past and the fire hazards around the inverters needed to be reviewed in detail, with recommendations as to the safest methods of use. Voltage was unstable from the main supply and this caused plugs in the sockets to melt and even set on fire. The situation therefore could not be tolerated and was extremely dangerous to both equipment and lives.
P & I were able to provide the correct solution by working in partnership with the customer at a local level to ensure that a compliant and safe critical standby power solution was installed.
Paul concludes; “Our family business has come a long way since 1999, when Paul Terzza and I started it in my spare room. At P & I, we are adapting to meet the challenges and pace of progress at Public Sector sites and will continue to change our business model to adapt to our customer requirements in the coming years. Solutions are no longer prescriptive at sites, it is about being responsive and having the correct team in place with a shared vision to provide excellent customer service and support every time.
“The key to our company success is our teamwork approach, plus listening to the customer and then providing the solution that is needed quickly, efficiently and on budget.”
Paul concludes; “There may be a legacy perception that family businesses are perhaps too small and not able to support larger service and maintenance contracts but we have found that in the ever changing world of FM, this is not the case. We are responsive, so much so, that on Christmas Day last year, we were on-site supporting a hospital to get their power back on-line, after a failure. We provided our own hire sets and as we are based in the south of England, we can get to sites within 1-2 hours for contract customers and will try our utmost to support any customer where we can on the same day.”
Other recent developments in the business to assist in supporting the Public Sector includes the recent formation of a business partnership with global UPS provider Salicru to support UPS hardware requirements for Public Sector sites. P & I also offer service and maintenance contract solutions for UPS.
P & I have two Public Sector Specialists within their business, notably Jon Terzza and Rebecca Lodge, who can support Public Sector customers with critical standby queries and arrange site surveys to start the partnership process rolling.