Raising the bar

Published:  23 September, 2014

Isaac Occhipinti discusses the evolution of industry standards for hot water cylinders, and their importance in maintaining high quality products

Adherence to standards applies to all aspects of our daily lives, and they appear in various forms. Some are instilled in us during childhood, such as good manners and fair play. Then there are the everyday standards around us, including health and safety standards surrounding food and our environment.

We expect cleanliness and good practice to be upheld by all sorts of people and establishments to ensure our comfort and safety, even standards we can’t see or don’t realise exist.

Consumers and industry are familiar with the notion of manufacturing standards, and we appreciate they offer a sense of certainty and trust. We also accept the need for the standards to be devised by industry experts – they are the people best placed to develop the requirements needed to keep us all safe.

Standards for industry

Recognising the need and importance of thorough product specifications, the HWA has developed an additional set of standards for thermal stores and vented stainless steel cylinders, where European or British Standards do not exist.

These are written by member companies of the HWA, which specialise in these types of products, are reviewed by other member organisations, and wherever possible have been based upon similar published standards. This aids understanding and has also enabled the HWA to achieve recognition of the standards within UK Building and Water Regulations guidance, where they are specifically mentioned as a means of showing compliance.

HWA is also engaged with UK government departments to gain recognition of these specifications as reference documents for demonstrating compliance with ERP Regulations.

The HWA way

The HWA Performance Specification for Thermal Stores 2010 was originally written by British Gas as there was no relevant British Standard for these products.

When British Gas was de-nationalised and split up, they handed the specification over to the Waterheater Manufacturers Association (WMA) who re-branded it as a WMA specification in 1999.

The WMA then became part of the HWA and the specification has been periodically updated, the last time being in 2010.

The Open Vented Stainless Steel Specification HWA 001-2012 was drafted after it became recognised that stainless steel cylinders were becoming an economically viable alternative to copper for vented cylinders. It largely follows the copper standard BS1566.

By coming forward and taking responsibility for enhancing hot water cylinder manufacturing in the UK, the association is recognised by UK standards authorities and government departments as being the leading authority on matters of water heater design, performance and quality, and subsequently has input into legislative, standardisation and policy decisions in this area.

Members of HWA have access to these processes – a chance to shape the industry's future and the knowledge that fellow members will trade in an ethical manner; maintaining agreed minimum standards and terms of business as laid down by the HWA Charter.

A committed industry

The changing world in which we live requires the HWA to periodically review and develop its standards. Equally demanding is customer appeal – the need to keep in line with people’s aspirations to not only have products that are aesthetically pleasing, but are also functional with low carbon and renewable technologies.

A wide range of hot water storage units are available in today’s marketplace from a number of suppliers, ensuring choice and competition. 

Most HWA members will have products that are specifically designed to operate with renewable technologies, given that hot water storage is the only practical solution to turning the renewable energy into something useful and banking it for when it is required. 

The hot water industry also continually invests in both its resources and its workforce, using advanced machinery and a well-trained, highly skilled workforce.

Member companies are committed to providing solutions for the provision of domestic hot water by supplying products that meet demand, as well as standards.

HWA members also invest beyond their own workforce ensuring their products are fitted to the required standards, and therefore making sure their products are not only safely and correctly installed, but work as efficiently as possible.

This is done via initiatives such as direct installer training, clear and concise fitting instructions and apprentice training partnerships.

Whatever the future of the industry has in store, HWA members are committed to providing hot water storage solutions that not only meet manufacturing standards, but deliver on environmental demands, or even products suitable for our future on the moon.

Isaac Occhipinti is HWA external affairs manager