Our People: Jonathan Jones, Severn Drives & Energy

Severn Glocon Group employs around 1,000 people worldwide. Each of them plays an important role in the ongoing success of the business. Our People is an opportunity to get to know some of them a little better. Today, we’re talking with Jonathan Jones. He’s worked for the Group for 11 years across various divisions and now holds the post of Business Director for Severn Drives & Energy Ltd.

Can you tell us about Severn Drives & Energy?
We sell and service electronic variable speed drives and soft starters for low and medium voltage electric motors used in industrial applications. These can range from small fractional horsepower motors for conveyors and small pumps to much larger 80MW and 13,800 volts motors. To put this in perspective an 80MW motor uses approximately the same power levels as a large village.

Which sectors do you operate in?
Any industry that uses large or high voltage motors for equipment such as blowers, pumps or compressors can benefit from our technologies. Typical examples would be water and sewage treatment, chemical processing and power generation.

A particular area of focus at the moment is the wave, wind and tidal renewable energy sector. I see this as having an ever increasing role within the UK, EU and globally.  Specialist equipment we provide for these industries includes energy converters for tidal turbines and control valves for wave generators. We also supply high power voltage stabilisation devices enabling the generated output from a wind, wave or tidal array to be connected to the grid.  These are sometimes known as Static Var Generators (Statcoms).

What has been your greatest success at Severn Drives & Energy?
Securing an £800k Statcom contract with a large German wind turbine company for their windfarm near Loch Ness in Scotland. I’m passionate about renewable energy, and keen to play a part in maximising its potential for future generations. I understand that some people may not like, or appreciate, wind turbines, and see them as unsightly. However, I think they are magnificent and as a chartered engineer I really appreciate the fact that they are harnessing ‘free’ energy from nature.

How do you stay motivated?
I’m delighted that Severn Glocon Group is supporting our division’s strategy to focus on technologies for the renewable energy sector. Britain is the world leader in wave and tidal energy, as well as offshore windfarms. By investing in our capabilities now, we are setting Severn Drives & Energy up to become a major player in this expanding global market. This is what gets me out of bed on a Monday with a smile on my face and passion in my belly!

What are your ambitions?
For Severn Drives & Energy, I have three key goals. These include increasing sales to our global customer base on an annual basis; improving our positioning for Middle Eastern market penetration by creating a UK manufacturing hub which satisfies demands for EU assembled and tested product; and to keep in the vanguard of the renewable energy business for Severn Glocon Group.

In terms of my personal development, I’m about to undertake a PhD in Rail Innovation. It came about after I learnt that the rail industry has been searching for a diagnostics solution to enhance the maintenance of railroad switches or points. Despite years of investment in R&D there has been no significant breakthrough. However, predictive maintenance based on diagnostics is commonplace in the valve and actuator industry. My goal is to adapt this proven technology for railroad applications. The Institute of Rail Research and Huddersfield University are backing the activity.

Cross-industry collaboration and technology transfer are set to become defining features of innovation. I’m very keen to play an active role facilitating this wherever I can.

What makes you good at your job?
Being a chartered engineer enables me to talk to customers on an equal footing, and having the support of a successful group behind me is essential. But it’s my personal belief in the products that we sell, and my enjoyment of the work, that makes a real difference. Everything we do is geared towards boosting efficiency, which reduces customers’ energy costs and has a significant impact on their bottom line.

Do you face any challenges in your role?
We deliver some very complex power electronics solutions to our customers and need to ensure they receive adequate and proactive support once the equipment is installed.  I formerly worked in end-user companies, and negotiating the cost and delivery of equipment was just one part of the equation. I also wanted to feel assured that suppliers were prepared to go the extra mile, ensuring plant and equipment was reliable and supported 24/7. All of our clients are focused on maximising uptime and driving down costs. I have been in their shoes, and make it my responsibility to ensure they understand the full requirements and implications of the technology they are investing in.

For more information on Severn Drives & Energy Ltd see www.severnde.co.uk

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