From remote commissioning to sorting faulty sensors within the hour, the N2P team thrive on solving problems. With unrivalled expertise and experience in plant controls and automation technologies, their team of engineering experts deliver tailor-made solutions designed to streamline workflow and ultimately increase profitability. But their service doesn’t stop there. What really sets them apart is their follow up care and availability – even during a global pandemic.
Commissioning during COVID
For many businesses, COVID demanded a sudden shift in how they operate, and N2P Controls was no exception. Senior Design Engineer Peter Taylor explains that although the ability to travel came to a grinding halt, the need for N2P’s equipment and expertise certainly didn’t.
Having always provided a very hands-on, face-to-face service, working remotely created some new challenges. It also demonstrated the expertise that N2P provides clients through their years of experience, technical knowledge, and dedication to getting the job done.
“Over the COVID lockdowns, we needed to remotely commission units for a couple of Australian plants. That meant having an electrician on site at their end and then talking through the process of testing the equipment and putting it through its paces. It involved a lot of guidance from the experts at our end.
“We made use of technology to remote access in to the operators screen which allowed us to capture video of their screens in action for us to analyse And that worked sufficiently well enough for us to complete successful installations – and it demonstrated the expertise and depth of knowledge of our team.
“It wasn’t easy, but it was possible” says Peter. And it’s an example of how N2P are quick to adapt and put in the extra time and effort needed to get the job done – and get it done to their rigorous high standard.
Filling the knowledge gaps
Providing staff training and support is something the team at N2P invest in heavily. “It gives us a chance to explain some of the reasoning behind the control processes to staff, which helps them understand how to get the best out of the software and controls.”
Because asphalt operations are such a niche role, there isn’t a great deal of training available to New Zealand operators. A lot of learning is done on the job with knowledge passed down from one operator to the next.
“Being able to spend a good amount of time with operators and train them how to use the equipment properly makes a big difference to the overall operations of that plant,” says Peter. “It’s very valuable to teach them a little about the magic that goes on in the background that they don’t know about. We often get operators who have been running plants for years and years but would like more of an understanding of the control processes, so a key part of what we do on site is filling in those knowledge gaps.”
Fast fault fixes
But it’s not just during COVID that N2P’s ability to remotely solve problems has proved invaluable. “We recently had a call from a Fulton Hogan plant in Cromwell,” says Peter. “Niki and I were driving on the Auckland motorway at the time. I was able to remotely view their computer using the TeamViewer equipment we install, access the PLC, find the issue – which happened to be an air pressure sensor failure – fix it, and get them back up and running within an hour, all while we were sitting in traffic on the motorway at the other end of the country. It’s a good demonstration of how we can find and fix faults from basically anywhere. And we prioritise being available to do that.”
One of the big reasons Fulton Hogan chose N2P Controls was this level of outstanding support. Having worked with an Italian supplier in the past, they were happy to switch to a local firm who are always accessible.
“Knowing we’ve got access to that immediate support is invaluable,” says Fulton Hogan’s Division Manager – Quarries and Industries, Quinn McNab. “It means that if something goes wrong it’s an ‘us’ problem not a ‘you’ problem.
“And of course, N2P’s industry experience has been invaluable. Peter has a world of knowledge in his head, which has been particularly useful. I’ve recently moved up within the company which has left a knowledge gap. Peter’s been more than helpful to my guys in offering his training and advice, especially around efficiency.”
Taking the good and making it better
Peter says the N2P team is very pleased that they’ll soon be back in a position where they can be onsite and give the high standard of support and training they’re known for.
“It’s a rare offering in the industry. Most of the big players won’t touch what we do. They’re set up to provide new plants rather than upgrade existing equipment – but that can often be an expensive and unnecessary approach,” says Peter.
“At N2P, we’ll work with the equipment you already have, and we’ll make it better.” This was highlighted with the recent retrofit N2P provided for Australian construction materials supplier, Boral.
Boral’s ‘tier 2’ plants are 30 to 50 years old, but Manufacturing Manager Steve Carroll says that because technology is always evolving, anything past 10 years old needs control system upgrades anyway. While they do have tier 1 plants that run on the latest OEM equipment from Europe, when Boral came to N2P, they were looking for standardisation across their older plants. Because they cost Boral a significant sum to build, especially with infrastructure costs, they were well worth holding onto.
“You don’t want to be ditching a 15-year-old plant,” Steve says. “They’ll run okay; the hardware and computer hardware just gets to the end of its life, and that’s where N2P comes in and helps us change out that ageing equipment.”
“And because they’re in New Zealand, they’re always available and happy to provide customer support.”
The N2P experts are never more than a phone call away. To find out more about how they can help your business, contact the team today.