Meet Neil Pickess, E&I Sales Manager

17 November 2020

E&I has proven an area of significant growth within the SMS service portfolio. So we have taken this as an opportunity to speak to Neil Pickess, E&I Sales Manager at SMS, about his experience, the necessity of ATEX/IECEx Inspections as well as the future of the E&I industry, including the new UK Ex scheme being introduced in 2021.

A bit about yourself – your background in Electrical and Instrumentation (E&I), and the Energy industry?

My name is Neil Pickess and I have been working as E&I Sales Manager for SMS for the last 2 ½ years. I started my career as an Electrical Apprentice at LEC Marine Group in Lowestoft when I was a spotty 16-year-old, and went on to work for them for a total of 15 years.

My projects during this time included a variety of oil and gas sites as well as many waste water treatment projects. Before joining SMS, I worked on the Shell Bacton Rejuvenation Project as a Completions Engineer.

For those that don’t know, what is E &I? can you give us a quick intro to the topic as well as SMS’ capabilities?

Short for Electrical and Instrumentation, the E&I Department occupies an important part of the SMS business mould. We have assembled an experienced electrical installation team able to meet the demands of clients old and new.

Our capabilities include hazardous area ATEX inspections, manufacture of control panels and LV Switchboards as well as commissioning and decommissioning, to name but a few.

With HV jointing and HV termination capabilities, we have also completed projects on high voltage equipment.

ATEX/IECEx Inspections – why do you need them?

End users are obliged to periodically inspect their (electrical) installations. When electrical installations are installed in ATEX environments, this inspection must also be performed in accordance with ATEX 153 in addition to electrical safety (NEN3140).

Failure to properly inspect and maintain ATEX equipment also leaves you exposed to the risk of explosion/combustion.

What are the benefits of modifying or upgrading your Electrical System as opposed to needing a new unit?

Cost is always a big factor in any business, and we have seen over the years that upgrades can deliver a significant saving for our clients.

Upgrading ageing equipment also reduces the risk of failure, ensuring the system remains safe and fit for purpose, whilst increasing efficiency and life-time.

Where in the world have SMS carried out E & I services?

We have been very fortunate to have worked in some remote & fantastic islands of the world including the Ascension Islands and the Falkland Islands as well other parts of the world like India, Singapore, North / South America and Dubai.

What do you think will be the next big thing in E&I?

We are finding that hazardous area ATEX inspections are a big issue for many companies – many don’t know how to address the issue but need a solution provider. With SMS’ finely developed Inspection Manager – a digital application used by our inspectors on site for a more efficient and faster service – it makes for a perfect fit.

What is your opinion on the future of E & I for the energy industry?

I think once we get back to normal, or whatever that will look like, there will be an even bigger requirement for all outstanding maintenance and hopefully the projects that were put on hold will get released which means future E and I growth.

Also with the new UK Ex scheme being introduced 1st January 2021, whereby in all cases only UKCA Issued EX Certificates will be accepted from 1st January 2022 in the UK for products that previously required ATEX Notified Body Certification – all companies will be obligated to ensure compliance to the new UK standards and quickly, increasing the demand of maintenance and re-certification for existing all E&I equipment.

Finally, when you are not out selling E&I Services, what do you like to do in your free time?

I know it sounds cliché, but I love spending time with my family. Weekends are precious, so I like to cram in as much with my wife and my three children as I possibly can.

Like everybody else I am looking forward to the end of this pandemic and hopefully we can all gain some normality in our lives, that way we can then again spend lots of time with family and friends in the back garden, having a few glasses of wine and chargrilling the food on the BBQ. I don’t think life gets any better than that.

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