What is a smart home
We discover what it takes to stay ahead in technology systems for the home, from Kent-based experts Circle Automation.
From humble beginnings to futuristic expertise
Circle Automation was founded by James Major in 2011. After completing his degree in building services and working as an M&E consultant, James decided to move his technical and engineering background into the home technology industry. Prior to completing his degree, James was an electrician, giving him the unique advantage and skillset to understand the industry from every aspect.
Smart tech design services
Circle Automation designs and installs technology systems for the residential, multi- dwelling (MDU) and commercial markets. Systems include network, WiFi, surveillance and security; audio, video, lighting and lighting control; heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) control, building management systems (BMS) and home automation.
The company is able to work with both professional teams and construction companies at specification and design stage through to installation and commissioning.
Circle Automation is ISO 9001 certified and has an ethos of outstanding engineering standards. All of its engineers are members of The Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET) and are working towards varying levels of professional accreditation to further their careers, enabling the company to offer its clients highly skilled workmanship.
Working with clients to achieve the perfect solution
We find out from business and marketing manager, Sarah McDonnell, what a typical customer journey might involve.
"We use a variety of tools to plan a project, which can vary highly if we are working directly for an end client, with an interior designer or main contractor, or on development projects where the end client hasn't even purchased the property yet.
"For end client projects we always start with a meeting including architectural plans. This can either be in our showroom or at site, depending on what best suits the client and specific project. This stage is a relaxed discussion where we ascertain what the client would like to achieve and what added value our installations can offer them. We often refer back to previous designs and projects to help demonstrate to the client what can be achieved. We are on Houzz and can share idea boards with our clients if they find this useful.
We then produce detailed CAD designs of our solutions and equipment specification to the brief; at this stage we can tweak the offering if necessary. Once designs are signed off we go about building as much equipment off-site in our workshop as we can. Building our equipment racks and lighting panels in this way ensures we cause as little disruption on-site as possible and store everything in a controlled test environment."
How long does a project take from start to finish?
"We work on varying project sizes and can complete a small media room installation within a week, however larger scale MDU projects can go on for several years."
Do you employ or work with preferred installers?
"To ensure a consistent quality of work Circle Automation employ their own installation and design team. Team members range from electricians to programmers and CAD technicians."
Outline the importance of your showroom
"Circle Automation have a Smart Home showroom in Sevenoaks, Kent. Often people do not know exactly what to expect from a smart home or home cinema and having the space for people to come and experience and enjoy the systems for themselves is essential. Circle also has access to further show and meeting facilities in London and Essex with close partner companies."
How important is your online presence as well as being face to face with your customers?
"Our website is hugely important as a showcase of what we have done in the past and for customers to use as a tool to discover what can be achieved from a smart home, a lighting design project or a home cinema."
What influences choice of products from other suppliers?
"Every product we specify must be of a high quality. Large scale technology systems can go wrong, and as such we need to ensure that everything we specify is of the highest standard and highly unlikely to go wrong and cause our clients any inconvenience or downtime. In addition to this products have to have beautiful design, our client's homes are finished to exceptionally high standards and the light fittings and faceplates that we install must match this."
James Major, director, adds: "Most projects we work on are technically complex, involving interpretation of a customer's ideas at the start of every design process to ensure we meet their expectations. When it comes to lighting controls, it's crucial for us that the finish of each plate is of the highest standard. What attracted us to Focus SB's products was not only the superb quality of its plates, but the extensive range of options and finishes available. Also important to us was the fact that Focus SB manufactures everything in-house, which means it's easy for us to organise samples of special finish requirements or discuss non-standard bespoke plates."
Circle Automation has recently launched a new CA Media Wall system offering its customers the option to combine customisable joinery with control of media devices, lighting and blinds.