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How innovation and automation can build the water market of the future

Updated: May 7

By Patch [Originally published in Institute of Water's Autumn 2019 publication]




Innovation becomes more important to the water market every year.


From the cleaning and containment of potable water with the recent issues around water purity, to technical advances in the conveyance of water and leak detection, as well as better filtering and cleaning of waste – especially trade effluent – there’s now a stronger focus than ever on creating interactive systems. With a focus on automation, customers can use these systems to manage water consumption and issues as they occur.


We’re entering a new age where communication can be faster than ever before, and for something as essential as water, making sure it flows clean and pure is becoming the responsibility of everyone.


Everflow can accredit a lot of its success to its passion for innovation. We always push for the best people for every role and put a huge focus on our employees being idea driven people, especially in the subsidiary company Everflow Tech. We have found great returns from running events like vision evenings where the directors get to share the goals of the company with all of the employees and open up for fair equal exchange of ideas.


Our directors’ recent words around our growth sum this up perfectly:


My main goal has always been to create a water company which would not only provide great value water rates to SMEs but would go beyond that and make lives easier through innovation and new ways of thinking.


We’ve experienced incredible growth over the past few years thanks to the importance we place on our company values, which have helped us work together as a team to take on the scale-up challenge, as well as our focus on automation. We have recently developed our own software, which has both increased revenues and improved efficiency – and has been integral to our scale-up success.


I can only thank my amazing team for believing in my vision, and our loyal customers and brokers for helping us achieve it. I can’t wait to see what we accomplish in the future.”


The vision laid out here, has given us a goal to aim for – we will create the water company of the future, and this means creating advanced and innovative technological solutions. Everflow Tech was launched for this reason and has been researching and creating forward facing solutions for all areas of the water utility market.


Everflow Tech was born by identifying the challenges currently faced by water retailers. With our experience in the industry, through Everflow Water, which had become the fastest growing business water retailer in England in terms of supply point gains, we were well-positioned to create solutions that would enhance business processes and customer experience.


It rapidly became clear that we could package these solutions into a platform designed by the water industry for the water industry, and this collection of innovative ideas became the Eclipse platform, the most advanced billing engine available, which allows for bills to be quickly developed, easily rendered and display detailed management information for customers’ benefit.


One major challenge that we developed a solution for was the increased regulations around customer and industry data. These were sweeping regulatory changes which put pressure on systems that were developed to stay inside the now outdated frameworks.

This was an important consideration in the design of the billing and management platform we’ve created, ‘Eclipse’. The system stores data for all the steps of quoting and contracting a customer for the considered legal limits, while automatically clearing outdated or no longer useful data as its terms of use state. This allows complete peace of mind for the data administrator and the customer.


Another challenge we identified was the ease of correcting and validating billing, this could be a hugely lengthy process, especially when it concerned trade effluent bills. We discussed the topic at length and innovated a simple yet complete solution which we immediately put into Eclipse. The reconciliation engine is an easy to use tool that gives a full and complete comparison between what’s been billed in the system and what the actual market settlement charges were. This creates the strongest form of bill validation possible and allows certainty that the customer’s bills will be correct.


Eclipse started with its quoting engine which is still one of its most unique and noteworthy features. We pushed to create a standard that all quotes can compare to, and that can be used by any retailer that takes on the Eclipse platform.


The quoting tool is a TPI friendly wizard that allows the pricing of any supply point in the English or Scottish market. The entire process is then automated and gives the customer the most information possible for a fair and easy comparison.

Right now, we are just at the beginning of exploring what Eclipse can be, we already feel very passionate about the project and Everflow Tech has managed to bring Eclipse to other water retailers with great success.


We have big plans to keep Eclipse moving and growing. We want our innovations to make the water market easier for retailers, water brokerages and most importantly, customers. We feel that the ideal reality for the customer is for them to be able to be quoted, agree a contract and manage their meter reads and billing themselves without a problem ever arising that the system can’t solve for them.


The balance around customer responsibility is a huge talking point for Everflow Tech at the moment, we want customers to feel like they have power over their own supply and bills without feeling like we’re giving them an extra task to complete. We also want water retailers to have more time to be able to focus on managing the greater picture of the supply for their customers, reporting on automated meter reading and benchmark assessments across supply points are just a few of the background processes Eclipse offers to help with this.


We are very excited for the future and want to gain the opportunity to work with even more retailers across the market, so we are opening our own technology to be used by others. We already have some retailers using it, please contact us at eclipse@everflowtech.co.uk if you would like to know more. One huge benefit of helping competitors use the Eclipse platform has been the open exchange of ideas. Some of the best ideas can come from the most unexpected conversations, and at Everflow Tech we pride ourselves on our ability to think outside the box when it comes to solutions.

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