By John Magrath - MD and founder of Armarge
I have been tinkering with, and 'adjusting', gadgets from a young age. Initially it was pushbikes, then onto motorbikes, which I was actually fortunate enough to race. In common with most inventors I guess, I had the initial spark to do this due to a very questioning nature ('why do they do it like that?).
I was also fortunate enough to serve an engineering apprenticeship with BNFL, at a time when such apprenticeships gave a strong practical and theoretical grounding. I will be forever grateful for that training, which enabled me to apply my inquisitive nature in a clear, rigorous and consistent manner.
I started to apply those factors commercially when I founded a specialist security products firm, building it over the following years into a leader in its, admittedly niche, segment.
There, as with everything I have ever invented since, our product design was led by observing users' practical needs and current product shortcomings, and addressing them using a simple, R&D-led approach. This is very much the approach we take at Armarge: we design INTO our products, FROM THE START, a combination of greater functionality and lower cost, so that plumbers can do their jobs either more easily, or at a lower cost, and preferably both.
Icecap is a good example of our approach. Our starting point here was that aerosol freezing is a brilliant idea, but its practical implementations prior to Icecap do have some significant shortcomings, especially for the faint-hearted!
Our observations of pre-existing products
- The temperature inside the sleeve is unknown and therefore the internal temperature of the pipe itself is unknown - 'is the water frozen/is there an ice-plug in the pipe'?
- The level of freezing through the span of the freezer-sleeve, around and along the pipe, is uneven and unpredictable, so one part of the wrapped area might be heavily frozen, while another might not be capped at all
- No-one knows how much gas to use to ensure that the ice core is not thawing before a job ends, resulting in apprehension and regular 'safety-first' top-ups. Far too much gas tends to be used
- No-one knows when the core is thawing ... anxiety
- The sleeve has to be wide to ensure a good area of contact and hopefully good freeze, but this then restricts the number of jobs for which freezing could be utilised
- In spite of applying needs-must remedies, there is a lot of uncertainty, especially on a hot day
Addressing those shortfalls via Icecap
- Icecap utilises a built-in thermometer
- Armarge technology utilises even freeze technology (Patent No 1603454.8)
- Other technology has been implemented to ensure a more efficient freeze
In implementing those changes, Armarge has utilised simple design and manufacturing to reduce costs
- Less of the product needs to be used
- A more even freeze
- A more certain freeze
- The ability to utilise a less broad sleeve enables the Icecap to be used in a greater number of situations
- A lower-cost product
Hopefully the above gives you some idea of our thinking, something that will become more apparent as we roll out further products.