Our Blog

Name: Fiona Hyndman

Date: 26/09/11

Course: BSc Computer Science

Year: 3(Industrial Placement)

Hey everyone, I’m on my third year out of Computer Science on industrial placement with a small company in Antrim called Listo. They’re relatively new and at the minute I’m one of 4 members of staff, plus 3 main directors of the company. They’re the sole UK and Ireland distributers for XINJE products from Hong Kong. (such as PLCs, touch screen applications and other automation products which Listo program and install) They work with the likes of Coca Cola, FG Wilsons and many more.

Placement at Listo is going extremely well and already I’ve learnt a lot.

I’m working on a project called ‘Fuel Save’ and it is my sole responsibility to help push to get the product together and out on the market by Winter for sale for the general public. I’ve included a little but about the product below which you might find interesting. Regarding Fuel Save I’ve been busy organising meetings with Invest NI regarding an innovations voucher which they hold in order to fund the design and manufacture of the enclosure for the unit. I’m also working on the website for the product too and I’ve already branded the product, creating a new logo and slogan for the packaging and marketing brochures.

—— THE PRODUCT ————————————————————————————————————————

The product which has been patented now for six months and is currently still at the production and manufacturing stage is called ‘Fuel Save’. What it does is it allows the user/owner of a household or premises to control the amount of fuel which is consumed within a building for their heating system, and it can also help to predict the costs of this. The fuel limit is decided by the owner, for a given 30day period, and the system itself will then, using a mathematical formula, limit out a certain amount of fuel per day. If the heating system should try to exceed this limit, the Fuel Save product will limit the burner from accessing more fuel – and similarly if fuel is not used some days, it is kept in a ‘fuel bank’ which can then be dipped into and used as a backup, should more fuel/heating be needed some days rather than others.

The product itself can also be used as a meter, by means of seeing how much fuel you actually have left in your tank – and this also means that the owner of the household/premises will never run out of fuel (as they will be able to monitor how much they have and over what period of time).

—————————————————————————————————————————————————

I’ve just recently been introduced to a new product also, where the guys in the office are keen to manufacture their own brand and shape of temperature probes. They sell these as an add-on or necessity to products which they sell at the moment to monitor the temperature within homes and at the moment the price they buy them in at is £35. Realistically this price isn’t going to be feasible with most home-owners, so Listo would like to offer a cheaper option. We’ve had more meetings with Invest NI and have secured another innovation voucher to help fund with the costs of basic tray-bake moulding as a way of prototyping the shapes. We then have enrolled in a Tactical Development Scheme which will pay up to 45% of the project cost for the prototype developments with injection moulding which is quite dear and perhaps an option which we may go down, regarding on the demand when the prototypes have been produced. I love being involved in this project and have been given the opportunity to help in designing the shape of the actual probes and their branding. It’s so interesting being able to see a product through each stage of development from beginning to end.

Through all of our meetings with Invest NI we’ve been introduced to a ‘Design and Development Programme’. Myself and the office manager are going to attend the workshops which are held in the Holiday Inn in Belfast, just off the Dublin Road. It’s based on trying to help you market and brand your product. We’re taking to it the idea of helping to promote Listo more as a company and the fact that they’re the sole UK and Ireland distributors for the XINJE products from Hong Kong. (the PLCs and touch screen applications which Listo then program and install, as well as their automation products) We’re then paired with a consultant and are given 7days with them at the end of it to finalise our ideas and action plans as to move forward in regards to what we’ve learned.

I’m really looking forward to these workshops and I hope to take a lot from the course so that I can apply the necessary marketing ideas and skills in order to help move ‘Fuel Save’ along in the right direction!

Already from the first workshop in this programme and the project management skills I’ve been gaining from ‘Fuel Save’ it’s evident to me that I’d love to perhaps study a masters course in Product Design and Development.(when I’ve finished my Computer Science degree in 2013) I’m loving the work which I’m doing and already at just 4months into my placement I’m starting to see where I could see myself working or in what area in the future, which is exactly what I wanted to gain from my year out!!

PS: My advice to you second years now seeking placement is to definitely start looking early. The placement vacancy website is brilliant, showing all of the companies who are looking for keen students as well as all of the deadlines you need to know. I actually looked further afield when searching for my placement and secured my place with Listo by applying on ‘Job Centre Online’. I just had to inform Ann about the company and she then contacted the manager to ensure that they would meet the necessary guidelines of the placement year.

ALSO: Interviews aren’t as scary as they’re made out to be – just make sure you arrive on time and prepared (that is – if you’ve an interview on the Tuesday morning then it’s probably best to give the Union a miss on the Monday night!!) I always found it useful to do some research on the company before my interview from their website and to focus on what qualities they’re looking for in their job advertisement.

Andrew Fletcher

So, what do you think ?