Equipment management trial : final report

Executive Summary The Equipment Management (EM) trial was one of the practical initiatives conceived and implemented by members of The Application Home Initiative (TAHI) to demonstrate the feasibility of interoperability between white and brown goods, and other domestic equipment. The trial ran from October 2002 to June 2005, over which period it achieved its core objectives through the deployment in early 2005 of an integrated system in trials in 15 occupied homes. Prior to roll out into the field, the work was underpinned by soak testing, validation, laboratory experiments, case studies, user questionnaires, simulations and other research, conducted in a single demonstration home in Loughborough, as well as in Universities in the East Midlands and Scotland. Throughout its life, the trial faced significant membership changes, which had a far greater impact than the technical issues that were tackled. Two blue chip companies withdrew at the point of signing the collaborative agreement; another made a major change in strategic direction half way through and withdrew the major portion of its backing; another corporate left at this point, a second one later; one corporate was a late entrant; the technical leader made a boardroom decision not to do the engineering work that it had promised; one company went into liquidation; another went up for sale whilst others reorganised. The trial was conducted against this backdrop of continual commercial change. Despite this difficult operating environment, the trial met its objectives, although not entirely as envisaged initially – a tribute to the determination of the trial’s membership, the strength of its formal governance and management processes, and especially, the financial support of the dti. The equipment on trial featured a central heating/hot water boiler, washing machine, security system, gas alarm and utility meters, all connected to a home gateway, integrated functionally and presented to the users via a single interface. The trial met its principal objective to show that by connecting appliances to each other and to a support system, benefits in remote condition monitoring, maintenance, appliance & home controls optimisation and convenience to the customer & service supplier could be provided. This is one of two main reports that form the trial output (the other, the Multi Home Trial Report, is available to EM Trial members only as it contains commercially sensitive information). A supporting library of documents is also available and is held in the virtual office hosted by Loughborough University Centre for the Integrated Home Environment.