Design Matters: Muiris Flynn of Glen Dimplex
The thrill is in being involved in a project from the “sketch-on-a-page” stage, through engineering, and eventually seeing it in someone’s home
It has a world-wide work force of 8,500 people and turns over between €1.5 billion and €2 billion a year, but as technical director Muiris Flynn describes, working at Irish electrical heating company Glen Dimplex is still all about the excitement of problem solving and good design.
“It was my second job out of college; what attracted me was company founder Martin Naughton, and how he was building an Irish international success story. I wanted to be part of that, and started there in 1992. From a design and engineering perspective, the thrill is in being involved in a project from the ‘sketch-on-a-page’ stage, through engineering and eventually seeing it in someone’s home. Our judge is the end consumer, so we need to give them good design that functions well and helps in their lives.
“Much of our current research agenda is driven by global climate change and the need to decarbonise the electricity system. That means generating more from renewable sources such as wind. The difficulty is that wind is intermittent. We’ve developed devices that allow that energy to be stored as heat. In our homes, most energy is used as heat, so storing it that way is cost effective. The products must also be easy to use and look well.
“We can imagine a future where your home is part of a network, with smart technology managing the consumption and generation of electricity and trading with the grid system. As US House leader Nancy Pelosi said, Ireland is well placed to demonstrate such technology, small enough to test new ideas, but big enough to make the results significant. That’s the thinking behind our Quantum system, and the reaction worldwide has been amazing. In Ireland we are working with SSE Airtricity, Intel, EirGrid, ESB Networks and UCD to demonstrate the benefit of this type of demand side flexibility to the power system.
“There’s a direct connection with creativity, Glen Dimplex are known sponsors of the arts; Martin Naughton may be president of a €2 billion company, but he still takes time to chair our monthly product development meetings and retains a passion for product design. That drives us all.”