Automate by Aquilatec become a Loxone Gold Partner

29th August 2018 in Backstage

It’s great news for us to be able to announce that our latest Gold Partner is Automate by Aquilatec. A huge congratulations to Oliver and his team on this fantastic accomplishment. Automate by Aquilatec have been Loxone Partners for just over two years.

We wanted to find out more about the London-based team, their interest in smart homes, the company’s journey to Gold, and their plans for the future. We sent through some questions and here’s what the team had to say:

Could you start by telling us about your background and how you became interested in home automation?

We have been running an IT support company since 2006 (Your PC Limited t/a Aquilatec), looking after businesses with their various technology needs.  This often touches on other services such as networking, CCTV and automation. We have seen how, if done right, technology simplifies lives.

Oliver says he had been planning for many years to build a loft extension and naturally wanted to take the opportunity to load up some smart home technology.  At the time he had limited knowledge and started to look at the options. He discovered right away that the emerging products commonly advertised such as Hive were aimed more at the retrofit or consumer, also these products performed only one or two functions and to have a home with multiple bits of tech would mean a disjointed and confusing system.

As he looked further it was clear this was a very exciting industry with loads of growth potential.

What made you decide to become a Loxone Partner?

We knew that any chosen system needed to be reliable and simple to use.  Aquilatec has always chosen best-in-class providers who shared a similar culture to our own and looked forward with an eye for innovation.

Loxone was easily the most capable system we found, there was little it couldn’t do directly and what it couldn’t it had a way of connecting to third-party devices.  When we started to speak to Loxone we were welcomed and could see they had a sensible support structure set up to help grow and support partners.

We liked the way they had a roadmap for future devices and that we could approach them with ideas or even concerns which they listened to.

The Team

Oliver Raine-Dunk,
Managing Director

Responsible for driving the company forward including new business.  Specifies projects and takes responsibility for final configuration and handover of the systems.

Joe Bailey,
Technical Director

Responsible for RnD and making sure we are delivering best in class solutions. Assists with specifying projects and installations.

Sarah Raine-Dunk,
Operations Director

Responsible for all the logistical aspects of running the company. Provides some much-needed sense to a team of nerds.

James Stockwell,
Senior Smart Installer

Responsible for project installation leads the onsite team.

Jake Whittington,
Smart Installer

Responsible for project installation.

What makes Automate by Aquilatec different?

Automate was born from Aquilatec and thus we come from a tech background. We have over a decade of experience in delivering and maintaining technology solutions that improve lives. We bridge the gap between all the trades on a project making sure our clients get the very best solutions from all aspects of a smart home.

Wraparound solutions such as home networking, CCTV & internet enables us to deliver total solutions.

Our support desk is well established and has years of experience with the patience needed to assist our clients in really getting the most out of their investment.

What has your dedicated journey to Gold involved?

As described above the reason we decided to become Loxone Partners was because Oliver wanted a smart home.  Having a fully loaded smart home not only meant he could see the benefits day to day but also use this for RnD as well as a show home to potential clients. From our experience with various forms of marketing while trying to grow Aquilatec we knew we needed to get in front of a captive audience. It was decided to look at trade shows, we went to see quite a few up and down the country and choose the Home Building & Renovating show to try our luck.

After quite a bit of investment of time and money we designed and built a great display stand to showcase all the possibilities of Loxone. Although we have now started to strike a balance between trade shows and other direct marketing there is no doubt this was the true start of our journey. Oddly reaching the spend target was relatively straightforward however getting projects to officially be classed as closed is another matter. Builds always go on and on!

How would you encourage other Partners to reach for Gold?

We have been fortunate in that we already had the infrastructure in place which enabled us to divert resources over to build up Automate.  We didn’t have to earn money from this new venture right away, but that will likely not be the case for many, so choose your marketing investment wisely.

It goes without saying that it would be wise for potential Gold Partners to live with at least some of the technology which will, of course, give them the chance to play, break and fix it which is the safe way to gain vital experience.  Also hopefully it’s a place to bring clients and show them that it does work well and is trusted by the people who are selling it.

We made quite a large investment in our trade show stand and this not only meant quite a bit of capital was tied up to build the actual unit, but also at each show our pitch costs quite a lot. In hindsight, a smaller initial stand could have served us well. Another trade show tip is that sometimes waiting until the last minute to book means the organisers of the shows practically give away the space. Albeit without the choice of location in the hall.

Finally look to build partnerships with the likes of architects or interior designers, a good relationship with the likes of these companies can be fruitful.

What has been your biggest/favourite project (with Loxone)? What challenges have you faced?

We like the challenges, we always look to bring as much of a project under central Loxone control.  Often, we find the default approach by manufactures and even installers, (though not with all) is that it can’t be done because that’s the way it’s always been. We like to learn about different bits of hardware such as AC units, motorised windows, solar panels, immersion tanks etc and, where possible and reliable, integrate them into Loxone.

Our favourite project so far has been when the client has been as keen as we are to achieve exactly that. We used Loxone to provide logic to control many secondary bits of hardware which was fun and rewarding.

Which features are popular with your customers?

The two favourites are lighting and heating.  However more and more we find clients are interested in shading. Of course, once you have the basics specified then adding things like security is cheap and simple, so the projects quickly expand.

How have your customers benefitted from living in a Loxone Smart Home?

Our clients love the fact that they can suggest an idea and 9 times out of 10 Loxone can deliver. “Can you set it so that when I walk into my bathroom at 3am the lights only come on at 30%?” Yes!

What would be your ultimate home automation project?

We have been fortunate to have already been able to deliver some fully loaded smart home projects however we are now looking forward to pushing mainly Tree solutions i.e. spots, switches, motion sensors etc. Having just a few cables to manage in the cabinet is the dream!

In your opinion, where will the smart home industry be, in the UK, in 2025?

Already it would seem crazy to undertake a new build or large renovation without considering the installation of some form of smart tech.  Hopefully, by 2025 it’s a requirement.

We would hope to see some sort of standards being applied like with the NICEIC; we have already come in and rescued a few projects where the installer didn’t follow any form of standard and not only do clients fail to benefit from the advantages of a smart home, they waste money.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking of having Loxone installed, what would it be?

Plan well, take the time to look at how everything can link together so you get the best value from your investment. Visit a demonstration space or home to see how it works. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

How does it feel to be a Loxone Partner?

Installing smart homes is challenging and enjoyable, being a Loxone Partner provides us with confidence that we are delivering the right solutions.
Oliver Raine-Dunk

Managing Director, Automate by Aquilatec

The Loxone UK team would once again like to congratulate Oliver, Joe, Sarah, James and Jake on their achievement. We’re looking forward to what the future holds and here’s to continuing to realise Real Smart Homes with you.