Podcast – Innovation and Simulation Manager, Gareth Knopp

Gareth Knopp

Innovation excellence

Join host Matt Starnes for a fascinating discussion with Gareth Knopp, Innovation and Simulation Manager at Bucher Municipal.

Learn about:

  • What does an Innovation and Simulation Manager do?
  • Quality collaboration
  • Predictive and preventative maintenance
  • Conductive charging
  • Robotics
  • 3D printing
  • Electric vehicles

And more!

Listen to the podcast episode and read the full transcript!

Innovation and Simulation, the Bucher Municipal standard

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Read the full transcript of the podcast on innovation.

Matt Starnes:  Your host, Matt Starnes here. I’ll get right to it. You want to listen to this episode, you definitely want to. I’m joined by Gareth Knopp, the Bucher Municipal Innovation and Simulation manager and we discuss exactly what those two things are, what it means, what his role is. This is a far-reaching tech. If you’re a tech junkie, you love innovation, you love technology, you love leaps in technology, this is your episode.

Matt Starnes:  We talk about quality, collaboration, predictive, conductive charging, just so many things. I learned so much on this podcast, I think you will too. And even better, it ties in directly how those things apply to our street sweepers, our sewer tankers who are cleaning units, and more. So, you definitely want to listen to this episode. I hope you have as much fun listening to this as I did talking to Gareth about these things.

Announcer:  Welcome to the Sweepers and Tankers podcast, sponsored by Johnston’s Sweepers, a Bucher company, providing endless sweeping solutions and by Bucher Municipal North America, powered by innovation and specializing in the development and manufacture of world-class recycling sewer cleaners for over 30 years. This podcast covers topics on the street sweeper and sewer cleaning equipment marketing. Now, let’s welcome our host, Matt Starnes.

Sweepers & Tankers Podcast Logo

Matt Starnes:  All right. So Gareth, tell me all about your role.

Gareth Knopp:  Okay.

Matt Starnes:  It’s full of innovation.

Gareth Knopp:  Yeah. I do have a fancy title. It’s the innovation and simulation manager for the Bucher Municipal truck mounts.

Matt Starnes:  Double threat.

Gareth Knopp:  I know, tell me about it.

Matt Starnes:  Innovation and simulation.

Gareth Knopp:  Indeed. So, I look after the guys who are doing finite element analysis, which is where we analyze, we use the CAD models, 3-D CAD models that we do.

Matt Starnes:  Oh, I saw some of those earlier today.

Gareth Knopp:  Absolutely. Then, we analyze them by putting the loads on and working out how strong the materials need to be and what improvements can be made to it. The idea with that one is that it’s simulation before the event, not analysis after the event after something has gone wrong, whatever is said. It’s about building a much more robust product upfront. Then the other side of the simulation is CFD, which is computational fluid dynamics. So, this is where we’ve been able to employ some really good techniques and software to be able to simulate the air-flow systems that go through the whole sweeper, optimize fan designs, optimize the fan case, the inlets, the outlets, all that stuff. So actually just this week, the reason I’m over in America is that my team had been designing an optimized fan case for the region. We were projecting about 10, 15, maybe 20% increase, and we’ve just done the tests and we’ve pretty much achieved that.

Matt Starnes:  Oh, fantastic.

Gareth Knopp:  So yeah, we’ve increased the efficiencies on the RS. So that’s good.

Matt Starnes:  Our fearless leader, Todd Parsons, here at our GM, shot me over some video of a pick-up test. So I’ll add this in the show notes of this so people can take a look at that or at least link it over there, which I think is good.

Gareth Knopp:  So then say that’s the simulation side of what we do. And then also on the innovation side, that’s where I’m working with various different universities. And also technology-providing companies and things like that to bring in the next level of technology into the sweepers. So I don’t specifically look after one product or limit myself to one product in our range. It’s just a look across them all and sees what we could do next. Where’s the next big thing coming from? What’s the technology that we should be employing and using next?

Matt Starnes:  I think that’s one of the biggest things about Johnston and Bucher that I’ve been impressed with is just always, how can we make it better? How can we make it better? We do listen to the feedback of the end-users. A lot of times it’s like you guys will just notice something and it’s not because somebody said, “Oh, you have to do this, you have to do this. Oh, wait, Oh, we should have thought of this. We can do this.”

Gareth Knopp:  It’s keeping your eyes open and they’re seeing all these different things. It’s getting feedback from all our different dealers, for the end-users going out and visiting across the US, across the world even, and it’s amazing. It’s amazing the way you can get some of the most obvious ideas as well. You think, oh well why didn’t we think of that? And you see it and the guys who are actually on the ground working with these every day. They see that. So yeah, we want to take all of that on board to-

Matt Starnes:  Incorporate all that.

Gareth Knopp:  Yeah, focusing definitely on quality improvement and continuous improvement is an important part.

Matt Starnes:  Let me ask you, the CAD drawings, which I saw earlier, just amazing because you can do the 360 twists and turn, just the little bit I saw, but do you do virtual simulations with the CAD drawings? Is that correct?

Gareth Knopp:  Yeah, that’s what I was talking about earlier. Like the FEA and CFD. We use those CAD models and we put them into another system, another piece of software. And then there we can apply loads and restraints and we say, “Oh, it’s held here and it has this many pounds loaded on this here, this many pounds-force.” And you can see if there’s lots of strain or excessive stress and strain in the material. And then if you can optimize the design, because there’s that big balance, especially in sweepers, between making something heavy and robust and strong and then making it also light enough that you’re not just wasting fuel and losing efficiency and that’s the balance that we try and struck and hit in the right way down the middle of that sort of equation. By balancing that equation-

Matt Starnes:  You said earlier you don’t focus on just one, you don’t just focus solely on a region or solely on a vacuum truck or a compact unit. Does that line up with your personality? I’ve got to know you a little bit this week, but is that healthy use as far as keeping you interested enough to do?

Gareth Knopp:  Definitely, definitely. I love to get into everything across the product range and it’s really good when you’ve got guys like Martin Bugg, he’s really into the products and he knows a lot more of the detail and it’s great you can really fire off that energy and things and that deeper knowledge of it. So I don’t have that deep knowledge on all of the products, but it’s good to be able to talk to those guys and get everyone involved in the innovations side. Innovation is more of a culture than a specific job, role or function if you see what I mean. It’s about fostering that environment for it to be able to be easy and free for everyone to come up with ideas and to push things forward. So that’s really why I’m looking over all the products. I enjoy it and I enjoy the people and the people who’ve got into detail and learning from their knowledge as well.

Workers in front of a huge computer monitor

Matt Starnes:  Absolutely. And I was really impressed. Back at the end of May of this year, 2019, I went over to Dorking at the Johnston facilities and was really surprised, but just all the innovation I think is a really good word for it. And I think that gets bound about loosey-goosey sometimes with innovation. I really saw it in action there as far as the technology and also improving just simple things like cutting with lasers rather than a more traditional blade or something like that and just little tiny things.

Matt Starnes:  But also I was pleasantly surprised and just momentarily, but I was pulled into an engineering meeting when I was there. I’m a marketing guy and I was like, what do you want me for? I’m not going to bring anything to this, but it’s a commonality and it’s just like you’re saying, everybody, was like, “Hey, let’s get somebody else’s idea.” And they knew I worked at the assembly plant here in the States and they’re like, “Hey, what are you seeing?” I just love that that’s the default that I’ve seen so far with Johnston and Bucher that hey, let’s get everybody involved because everybody can contribute something that we might not think of. It really is nice.

Gareth Knopp:  And a different perspective, it can really change how you look at something and I think that is fundamental in the term innovation that we’re not driving down the same road at the same speed, in the same direction on a thing, that we’re asking people, we’re trying to get much more involved with all these different areas and ideas and directions. Let’s say, for example, innovation when manufacturing. Obviously we have a really good relationship with Toyota. And so with all the manufacturing guys, they do that Six Sigma and they do the green belt and everything down and they go to the toy. It’s a plant. And so they’re learning from that much higher volume manufacturing environment and how that can be applied to all sort of, I mean we’re still, we might go on a few, but it’s not like, hundreds a day. The manufacturing team is always trying to learn more and progress and improve both efficiency, quality and just as the time to be able to build it and the ease of manufacturers.

Matt Starnes:  That’s fantastic.

Gareth Knopp:  It’s not just in R and D, it’s across the whole company. It’s a culture of innovation that we’re really trying to push forward.

Matt Starnes:  I’ve worked for other manufacturing companies and done marketing for them as well and I have not seen this level that I’ve been exposed to. And even in that engineering meeting that I was pulled into, when I was flying home, I had that nine-hour flight to think about it, which I absolutely love in this day and age where you’re always on the cell phone or emails and stuff. But it made me look at the sweepers differently, made me look at the sewer tankers differently. And I was just like, wow, I’m getting a photo of a certain shot. And I was like, man, I’m getting a little stale for myself. And nobody has said anything. And the videos too. And I was like, wow, now I understand this component or I understand hydraulics a little bit better. And I knew about the drive trains and things like that, but it gave me much more of a fuller picture. And I’m learning every day, which I absolutely love, but it’s like you’re saying, everybody, contributes. And then we’re all learning from different people’s perspectives. And I mean, you just, you just don’t get that everywhere at all.

Gareth Knopp:  And that’s one of the other things as well, is that you’ve got to be not afraid to make a mistake as well. And so having that culture and environment where it’s okay, let’s go and let’s try these new things because like Thomas Edison, whatever he found 5,000 ways not to make a lightbulb. But it’s a learning process, and you go through it and, say for example, at the moment we’re looking at, well we’ve built a small autonomous sweeper, so it’s fully autonomous, no driver. There’s no position for a driver on the vehicle at all. There’s no steering wheel. There’s no brake pedal. There’s no go. And we’re running trials with that in some councils in the UK, municipals in the UK. And again, I think at the moment that maybe won’t go through for a full product and maybe not very soon, certainly.

Gareth Knopp:  But there are things that we’ve learned from doing that about the process that could then be put forward to improve some of the other systems that we’ve got on the trucks. So again there, we’re investing in developing this new technology that may not come out as a specific saleable product at the end, but it’s about learning more, developing our skills and building those partnerships with different technology companies as well.

Matt Starnes:  That’s a good point. Because you could like you’re saying this might not come to fruition anytime in the near future, fully autonomous. But like you’re saying, there could be a road analysis you can incorporate into a people-driven sweeper. That’s really interesting. And how to just suggest routes and those different things, which is cool.

Gareth Knopp:  And you bring into that different weather conditions, different options, different times of the year. So in fall, like when you’ve got more leaves in the ground or sticks or whatever it is, or there’s been a storm recently and you know that there’s an area that’s got more trees and it’s more likely to have debris that needs to be swept and all of that kind of thing could be automated in the future. You wouldn’t have to necessarily have someone go and look and see and-

Matt Starnes:  Physically address just by themselves or could-

Gareth Knopp:  Or even route planning, like you were saying. And you could then predict that based on how the weather has been over the last day or two, whether this area does need sweeping and try to optimize the efficiency and the number of times a road is swept.

Gareth Knopp:  So you still keep the cleanliness level up, but you might not have to sweep it as often. But if you go on the other side, there may be a road that actually needs a more frequent and more regular sweeping. And this is where the Bucher connect application comes in that which we’re developing at the moment. And so straight off at the moment, we’ve got about 1300 trucks that have got telematics on them sending us usage data back. And from that, we’re now going to apply some methods to try and do predictive and preventative maintenance. The idea being is that we could look at how your vehicle is being used and by identifying trends of the vehicle usage, we could say, “Oh look, we think that in 200 hours or something, that you may have a problem with this part of this is going to happen.” And we can already be shipping a part towards that dealer or wherever it is across the country that that needs to try and reduce that downtime and the pain point for the customers and that kind of thing.

Gareth Knopp:  So it’s all exciting stuff. It’s all in development at the moment. But those are the kinds of things that we’re looking at on the innovation side though.

Matt Starnes:  Okay. What else specifically can you reveal about Bucher Connect? Because I know people are interested, still a little hush-hush some of the things? I know it’s not 007.

Gareth Knopp:  It’s not like that. But that’s basically what we can do at the moment is we can connect to the vehicles and we can see the full codes and error codes that are on the different nodes. So you’ve got engineering codes, you have from our can box system. So this is on the canned vehicles. So like a VT or an RT. The S is still, it’s a discreetly wired relay type system. So there aren’t those error codes and full codes that you would have in there.

Gareth Knopp:  But from that, we can help diagnose. So at the moment, instead of being a more predictive and preventative system like I was talking about before, it’s a hands-on tool where our service technicians and support guys can be talking with people and actually connect to the truck and even try and change a few things and help them with that. So that will be part of it.

Matt Starnes:  So a dispatcher, if they’re running, let’s say a contractor or even a municipality, they could say, okay, they could just locate, I know where three sweepers are today, this is where we thought they were going to go. But based on this data that’s coming back, it looks like the street conditions are different, so we can divert to an area that needs it.

Gareth Knopp:  It’s not exactly like that, but there’s certainly a plan of like how it could be utilized. So it’s a GPS tracking-like system, you know how much fuel the trucks are using, whether the nozzles are down, whether the brushes are running. You’ve got all of that information. And that’s available for the end-users so they can monitor that with their systems, so that’s the usage side of it. And then also, as I was saying, the other side that we’ve got at the moment is the full codes and error codes, which we can help to diagnose and solve problems more quickly. And then the next steps in looking to the future is being able to do predictive and preventative maintenance and always avoid those horrible VOR situations, which no one wants.

Matt Starnes:  No, no. So when you wake up in the morning are you just like I cannot wait? Because I could really sense energy, enthusiasm and after flying over here, nine-hour flight or whatever, it’s like that’s not always the case when people come over. So I was like okay, he’s happy to be here.

Gareth Knopp:  It is. It’s a lot of fun. And it’s also good to see the different vehicles because in the UK there are no conventional chassis the ruled cab over. So it’s good to see the different trucks and how they all work and what the specific requirements and needs are for that kind of thing.

Matt Starnes:  And the modifications we do here. [crosstalk 00:19:11].

Gareth Knopp:  Yeah. I mean obviously we do, we’ll buy a Freightliner, an International or whatever and but we only have one or two at a SOC. It’s good to see so many of them around.

Matt Starnes:  And you got to see when the city got 5,006 came in. So that was fun.

Gareth Knopp:  The first city cat 5,006 yeah.

Matt Starnes:  Very excited about that.

Gareth Knopp:  Yeah, that’s great for me as well. I used to work on that product, well on the 401, which is that same platform and it’s an amazing truck. It’s really efficient. It’s very clever in its control systems and I think it can be a great success for the US market.

Matt Starnes:  I think it’s interesting too because you’re here in all North America, but I’d say especially in the US and of course out in Texas we like things better, bigger and better. Bigger is always better out there. But it does definitely…yesterday it feels more substantial than some of the, what I call the micro compacts, which they serve their purpose too for a bike lane and very tight, tight space. But this, you feel like you actually do have a bit of weight behind you. You’re moving a little bit faster as far as the traveling speed if need be.

Gareth Knopp:  That’s right. That’s right. It’s a high and quality of build and it does feel like you say, it feels that bit heavier, a bit chunkier, a bit more substance to it. And it’s been in the market for a long time in Europe and it’s really increased the market share there. So it’s been really well received by European users and things. And again it’s not a brand new product so it’s had time to work out any bugs and everything that it had as well. So it’s quite stable in that sense. So I think yeah, it’s a robust, robust product.

Matt Starnes:  That’s a huge selling point I think. It is tested.

Gareth Knopp:  It’s not as tried yet.

Matt Starnes:  It’s not the thing we’re just fooling around with. Here, try this out, see what happens with this. So let me ask you, is there anything, just getting to know you this week, anything sci-fi when you were growing up like Jetsons or these types of things that you were like, “Man I really, I want to accomplish this now. I want to incorporate one of those far-out things here.” Because I know it was a kid, watching the different versions of even Star Trek, a lot of that has come true. It was very visionary as far as communicators are like the cell phone and those types of little things. Is there anything that you’re like, wow, I wish we could incorporate that in the future. I know this is an odd question.

Gareth Knopp:  It is really interesting because that is like almost the artistic side is leading, the fantasy side leading science and things. And there are so many examples of that. Like, I don’t know, drones now and, and automated stuff and autonomous vehicles. And so I guess, yeah, probably seeing those kinds of things where robotics, I was always loved robots and seeing them and now we’ve got so many robot welders and what have you, we’re using three-D printing in various different forms. It’s not quite like in Star Trek with the replicator where you could take anything-

Matt Starnes:  Like a microwave.

Gareth Knopp:  You open the door and then there’s your new, part, but it is amazing how we’re using three-D printing to shorten development cycles and things.

Matt Starnes:  Print your part to see if it’s viable.

Gareth Knopp:  Absolutely.

Matt Starnes:  And they really have come a long way. When I first saw a very small three-D printer to recently and some of the more industrial manufacturing types of the capability of larger three-D printers. But yeah, that render time has just gotten really-

Gareth Knopp:  Yeah, it’s amazing. Wow. It’s amazing. There’s probably a couple of different types that I think are really the good ones. And there are guys who are doing the mock forge, they do like a continuous fiber filament. And so instead of just being plastic that’s melted and laid down, they’re actually laying a fiber filament that’s one strand. And it’s continuous all the way around. So you get a lot more strength from that. And so from this plastic part, the strength can be comparable to an aluminum or aluminum.

Gareth Knopp:  And you can now build a functional part quite easily instead of just trying it and seeing if it fits in a place that you can use that as a [inaudible 00:00:23:53]. It can be used. And then you have the multi-jet fusion, which is what HP is doing and there that’s really fast build time so you can rebuild a large area in a very short time. And I’m sure you’ve seen the videos online, but they’ve printed a, a chain link, actual link in a chain and then lifted a car up with it to show you how strong is, this piece of plastic that they’ve just printed. It’s pretty amazing. And I think that that is going to be a disruptive technology for certain things. And the way that I think you’ll go from prototyping to they will become a production machine. They are a production machine.

Matt Starnes:  Because like you’re saying already from the melted plastic to the film, this has not been a long time this has been even around, and it’s just accelerated. Yeah, I guess it’s a lot of technology these days. It’s moving much faster than certainly when I was growing up. We didn’t know we were waiting so much, but we were really, you look at it now and it’s like wow, that took way too long compared to how fast things evolve and progress here.

Gareth Knopp:  It’s interesting about culture as well because with open sourcing a lot of stuff, I think there’s the development that can go faster in certain areas and with different funding methods. So like Kickstarter and stuff like that, you can get people who’ve got really good ideas but maybe didn’t have the access to the financial backing in certain ways. And there are other platforms that can do that. They don’t all work. It’s not always perfect and fantastic, but I think that’s an innovative way to provide funding, bringing people who are interested in technology, who wants to support other people who’ve got the ideas. And I think that’s an interesting way.

Matt Starnes:  I do tend to back quite a bit on Kickstarter, Indiegogo as well. Because it’s just so amazing. As you said, you see these innovations like wow, who knows if that would’ve ever gotten past the concept phase. Honestly, in the traditional older model of things where, oh, we’ve got a committee, we’ve got to approve it and this type of thing. And it’s like people are trying to, like you said, sometimes it doesn’t work out, but I’d say most of the times I’ve seen it go to retail after that, or I’ll see it pop up on Amazon later and it’s actually more expensive as well. So there’s quite an advantage sometimes to be an early adopter. I mean there’s a risk, but yeah, it’s exciting. Right. And you probably love gadgets too.

Gareth Knop:  Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. All the new toys to play with. Definitely. Definitely.

Matt Starnes:  Well, what are you excited about next? As far as, I guess short term?

Gareth Knopp:  I think probably electrification is an exciting thing for me. And so that’s the big project we’re working on at the moment is a full-size, 16-ton fully electric truck, no diesel, no gas, no nothing. It’s literally fully electric. And yeah, that’s such a step forward. And I’m definitely looking forward to that getting out there and being adopted by a lot of different places.

Matt Starnes:  I was in Dorking and a V range came around the hotel I was at. Every morning I would hear it rumble. And for me, I liked that sound and I don’t have that here in the States where I can hear it outside of my door. But it made me think, we’re talking about electrification or everything is how much quieter that would be, because a lot of places, I mean especially in the States, in the Northeast, they’re older buildings. It’s not a lot of great insulation, soundproofing in the apartments or older homes and the sweeper is right on your curb, which could be two feet away. I know it wouldn’t be completely silent but electrification is tremendously quieter. Even with vehicles sometimes, I ride in some of my friends’ electric cars and I’m like, “Is the thing on,” I don’t know until you can start really moving.

Gareth Knopp:  I think unfortunately you’re still going to have the air noise, because from the fans or whatever. It will be quieter.

Matt Starnes:  You will have that, nothing against the gas-powered vehicles. I love all those as well and CNG and all that. I love all technology. But yeah you won’t have that kind of rumble of course. So it’s just interesting.

Gareth Knopp:  When you’re transiting, when you’re just driving then? Yeah, it is really, really cool. All you hear is tire noise basically. And it’s amazing when you’re driving this big truck, you can hear the steering. So as long as you stay, you could hear the steering link and the suspension squeaking and you’re like, “I never heard this before.” You think there’s something wrong with it. But no, you just could never hear it before over the diesel engine that was in there. And those are the two real benefits. The air quality, the local air quality and reduction of CO2 at local source and the noise. I Think especially for a street sweeper because it’s moving so slowly right next to the sidewalk where you’ve got pedestrians and people, people they’re breathing in particulate matter. Nothing against these links, you know? But I think that is one way of being able to improve local air quality and things.

Matt Starnes:  Especially in those condensed urban-

Gareth Knopp:  City environment. Yeah, definitely.

Matt Starnes:  But it’s really exciting. CNG as well, these different things. And all of these things have their limitations as well as far as refueling or re-powering, recharging. A little different. And then I’m friends with a couple of people that I’ve met on LinkedIn, oddly enough, that are mainly overseas in Europe, but they’re really invested in hydrogen and as far as my understanding right now, that’s also not a quick refill, if you will.

Gareth Knopp:  No, no, I mean it’s-

Matt Starnes:  They’re all advantages, disadvantages.

Gareth Knopp:  So I guess probably the biggest barrier to electric vehicles is the infrastructure. So you’re going to have people have that range anxiety of am I going to get to the next charging station? And I think it’s something that’s got to be driven by both the government and also consumers and the companies.

Matt Starnes:  They ought to work in tandem made sure it’s a success.

Gareth Knopp:  Absolutely, absolutely. And so just recently in the UK for example, and there are now more public charging points than there are gas stations. So I mean even because we were getting the charging points on the side of the road. So where there’s a lamppost with a streetlight, they can actually put charging points in on those things as well.

Gareth Knopp:  Because they can hook into the main supply. You just tap it with an RFID card and then it gets charged to your account. You just got a little meter that then charges the money to your account. Yeah. And there’s, interesting issues about whether the infrastructure in terms of the amount of power available is going to be okay and be able to supply all these people who want to drive their electric cars to work. And then if you’re driving electric vehicles as your job functions, so your street sweepers are electric as well. It’s going to be a big draw on the supplies that are available. And again, that’s why I made the point earlier about local air quality and it’s your tank-to-wheel emissions are obviously, but it depends where the electricity is made and how the electricity is generated.

Matt Starnes:  That’s true.

Gareth Knopp:  So if you’re using coal-fired power stations, that’s not so good, really.

Matt Starnes:  We were talking, I think it was yesterday or the day before offline in the break room actually, but I was really intrigued by, I’ll let you take the lead on it, but you drive to work in your electric vehicle, some people are going to have a longer commute, so they’ll barely get to work or the need to recharge right away. But other people, short commute, but they still either got to drop off the kids a couple of blocks away from work, so get to work-

Gareth Knopp:   V to G. V to G this what we were talking about. Yeah, this is an interesting idea. And what the real concept is behind that is to make much more localized power usage. So it’s the ability for your car, your electric vehicle to power the grid. So that’s your V to G. Your vehicle to the grid. So you could drive your vehicle to work as you were saying, you plug it in and then if you’ve got power left in your vehicle you can charge and run machinery in the factory, so you can power the factory from your car and take out that as long as you’ve got enough power to get back home.

Gareth Knopp:  But these are all things that are being thought about and worked out how they could really work. Again, it’s then like your two-way metering. So you’re almost borrowing the power if you see what I mean. Actually having to pay for it in that sense because you move it back and forth kind of thing and those batteries can then just be part of a static storage system to get over the humps and the peak demands that will be needed. These batteries that are in vehicles will be able to smooth out that power demand for the whole national grid. It’s a fantastic idea.

Matt Starnes:  Thank you for sharing that. I almost forgot to. Yeah, I just think that that’s really interesting and I think could solve some of like you’re talking about some of the range issues and other things like that. And then, yeah, I mean it’s like we’ve already seen a lot of the developed world, but in India where they’ve got rolling blackouts and even down in Brazil, where they’ve got … they just say, Hey, and I know I had a-

Gareth Knopp:   It was recently wasn’t it, there was a massive sort of blackout.

Matt Starnes:  And a lot of these countries have to, even though they’ve got a grid, they can’t support it. And it’s like they say, Hey, we’re going to have a rolling blackout between these hours. These are peak times. So just be prepared. This could be a little bit of a solution.

Gareth Knopp:  I mean, it was actually only two weeks ago and we had nearly a million homes in the UK lost power for … it was massive. That’s an unheard-of event, that’s unprecedented.

Gareth Knopp:  And that was basically because we had, I think we had three failures, all at the same time that was unexpected. So we had an offshore wind system go offline at the same time as a gas-powered plant went offline. And it all just happened right at that moment. And you go, oh, are we really that close to, we have these two things go down that all of a sudden we can’t supply it. So that’s what I’m saying about how this has to be within the government, within the company and whatever, to be able to create that infrastructure and environment that is possible. We can do that. And there’s a really cool website that you can go on and you can see in the UK exactly live data on how much power is being generated and what source it’s coming from.

Gareth Knopp:  We have gone, basically we’re now down to 2% I think from coal, so only 2% from coal and we’ve gone coal-free for periods of time over the last six months and that will be totally phased down, but we are roughly 40% CCG CF combined cycle gas turbines and then nuclear and then completely renewables, wind and solar and water, pumped water and pumped hydro. it’s really cool to be able to see that and know that actually you are making a difference and if we can get more vehicles that are electrically powered, it is more environmentally friendly, there’s less CO2 and also the less particulate matter improving the air quality in [inaudible 00:36:36] cities.

Matt Starnes:  I like the approach you’re talking about too because obviously municipalities need to be part of the solution. I think the first thing I ever saw was a natural gas-powered school bus.

Gareth Knopp:  Oh, okay. Yeah, yeah,

Matt Starnes:  Yeah. Here in the States, and actually quite a few in Canada when I used to travel there, but then it moved to, okay, this is a fully electric commuter bus. And that was that next step, which is really interesting. And it’s like that makes sense to me as far as the vehicles that haul more people. So again, it’s brilliant. I’m really excited about it, so yeah’

Gareth Knopp:  Yeah. And whereas we were talking about offline as well, there are all these different developments about public transport and inductive charging for buses. So they stop at a normal bus stop and they’re going to wait there for two minutes or whatever a minute, whatever it is. But they’re picking upcharge at the same time to keep the vehicle running and the AC going as well. So, yeah, I know there’s a big trial in Germany and so Siemens have got a bus with a pantograph on the top and then there are areas where they have overhead lines. But for the bus, I know that’s like a trans system has, but it’s only in shorter areas and then they have batteries to take them to other roads, so they don’t have to wait and stop or as long as they’ve got enough length then traveling on that and then they’re not stuck on the rail, so they can go on different routes.

Matt Starnes:  So you’ve got to build up your charge and then free range a little bit.

Gareth Knopp:  Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. Go free-range. Which is the benefit over a tram system because you have to put it in the rails and the infrastructure there, wherewith this, you could then change routes and you got more flexibility.

Gareth Knopp:  Yeah, there are lots of things going on, which is interesting. I’m not sure it could see a street sweeper with a pantograph on the top.

Matt Starnes:  A little too much for folks maybe. Well Gareth, it’s been an absolute delight. I hope I can interview you again in the future. Let’s talk about, because as you said, innovation, it’s going to be constantly updating and improving, so I want to keep you quite busy.

Gareth Knopp:  So it’s been a pleasure. Thank you. Thank you very much for having me.

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