“I’LL wake up at 3am and if I don’t write my idea down, I can’t go back to sleep.

“So I scribble notes down or draw myself a picture as a reminder.

“It’s just scrawl, but it works.”

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Andrew Turner pulls out an A4 notepad to highlight his point, its pages filled with sentences of unintelligible squiggles and seemingly chaotic diagrams.

He may not have the flyaway grey hair, the white lab coat, or even a DeLorean a la Doc Brown in Back to the Future, but what he does have is ideas - and plenty of them.

Leafing through the booklet, he remembers every sheet and every concept.

Welcome to the world of an inventor.

While some may revolt at the thought of regular early morning work-related alarm calls, Mr Turner revels in it.

To reiterate the point, as he puts his book away, he shows me his mobile phone, where a list of 12 inventions, many spawned from a 3am moment of inspiration, wait to be started under his Andrew Turner Inventions Limited company name.

It’s a process that works, and does so handsomely.

Mr Turner previously worked at car parts maker Gestamp Tallent, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, where his career began as an apprentice, took in electrical and mechanical engineering work, and included stints in the tool room and further senior engineering roles.

Sitting in an office at NetPark, in Sedgefield, also County Durham, he looks back fondly at those years.

But he also remembers how his time at the chassis supplier provided a perfect insight into manufacturing, and how, as an aspiring inventor, it gave him the spark to take his ideas from written notes to reality.

As is the nature of the business, Tallent relies heavily upon welding in its products.

When they went awry, explains Mr Turner, when they slipped out of line or were not strong enough, it meant errors further down the production line, causing delays.

So he began thinking of a way to remedy the situation and came up with Abidot.

The equipment helps improve welding by using lasers.

Borrowing the thought process used in the Dambusters’ Second World War raids, Abidot employs laser lights.

When they line up, a single dot forms, meaning, as long as operators maintain that spot, their welds will run strong and true.

The product started life as a prototype with lights bought from Ebay for the princely sum of £3.20.

Mr Turner shows me a primitive early example and how the slick model now appears for commercial use after Germany’s Abicor Binzel took it on.

Its arrival in the market, however, wasn’t without its issues, which included him having to tell Dutch customs officers why he was carrying a piece of wood, loaded with wiring and modelling clay, across Europe.

He said: “Tallent was a great place to serve my time, but I left because I wanted to pursue my invention.

“Right from being young, I was always trying to make contraptions, breaking toys and then trying to put them back together.

“I saw lasers and thought ‘how can you use those to solve a problem?’

“That is how Abidot was born.

“Lasers have been around for a long time, but nobody thought about using them in the welding process like this.

“So, I went on to Ebay and paid £3.20 for the pens.

“I made my prototype and emailed the two biggest companies out there to see if they were interested.

“Abicor got back to me first and paid for my flights to get over to Germany.

“They signed me on a retainer so they could do their homework and work on patents and the whole process was very exciting.

“But it was also very interesting.

“I got stuck in customs, and you can imagine what they thought when they saw a bloke turning up with a bit of wood with wires and Blu-Tack.

“I got held up in Amsterdam and had to get my computer out and show them letters from Germany to reassure them I didn’t have a bomb.”

Thankfully, Mr Turner’s next venture didn’t attract such scrutiny.

A meeting with Ken Bremner and John Anderson, chief executive and chairman of City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Trust respectively, at Ramside Hall, led to the creation of Quality Hospital Solutions (QHS).

While showing off designs for a new type of wheelchair, Mr Turner was approached to provide consultancy services and deliver a report on the trust’s services, specifically where inefficiencies could be improved.

Mr Bremner liked some of his ideas and offered Mr Turner a contract to help use his experience of lean manufacturing in a hospital.

They included improving stores, which now use colour-codes to help staff identify products more easily, while ensuring stock is rotated and waste cut.

The scheme has been rolled out in a number of wards at Sunderland.

However, through QHS, which the NHS and Tyneside-based engineer Reece Group have stakes in, Mr Turner is doing more for the healthcare sector.

He pulls out an air regulator, for which he has fashioned a push button system, that uses a window and a floating ball mechanism to help doctors ensure the level stays between the correct markers.

He’s also produced a colour-coded guide for the regulator, which makes sure individual patients get the exact intake they require.

The latter idea was crafted using £4 felt tip pins, and both won first place in major NHS innovation awards.

Mr Turner is now speaking to interested manufacturers.

But QHS, which has received support from NHS Innovations and the Academic Health and Science Network, and was runner-up in an RTC Awards’ category, has another facet – the beverage trolley.

Reared from a need to guarantee patients are not dehydrated, it marries together a kettle and trolley.

Using a boiler, which can easily be replaced if it breaks, the trolley has changeable panels that allow companies to advertise their wares, or in the case of a hospital, brighten up an otherwise plain-looking product.

Reece Group are helping with production and prototyping, and the equipment is going beyond the NHS, with gambling firm Bet365 trialling a number and a South African private care organisation ready to take 300 if a quality control visit goes well.

He said: “The trolley, which won an NHS regional award, is pretty low-cost and came from the fact one of the biggest complaints was the tea on the wards.

“We are trying to provide the best service.

“Rather than someone going around with a teapot, which means Mr Brown in bed one gets a hot, weak cuppa and Mrs Smith in bed 35 gets a cold, stewed cup, the trolley means they get more variety, be it the way they want their tea or if they want something else to drink.”

Mr Turner said its NHS work could be extended to other trusts, adding a team, known as innovation champions, is in place to filter ideas from medical professionals, which could be taken forward.

He added: “We might think an idea in Sunderland is great, but it may not be right for somewhere else.

“Also, we have to prioritise what we are working on because some ideas take seven years and others take 12 months.

“Some cost a fortune and some don’t, and we also look at how products are doing.

“That’s where the innovation champions come in.”

While QHS continues its work in the NHS, another division of Mr Turner’s work is equally committed to safety, this time in the oil and gas, mining and chemical sectors.

Bright Route is a light-based idea that enhances existing emergency lighting systems, by creating a route people can follow to get out of a burning building.

As smoke spreads, the equipment marks the way even brighter, with its intelligent technology shutting off lights where it knows the blaze is raging, so those inside stay away from danger.

Already installed at Falck Safety Services Teesside, in Haverton Hill, near Billingham, for testing, the product is backed by Wilton Engineering’s Bill Scott and David Frame.

Using a smoke machine and laser to demonstrate its potential, Mr Turner says it could be launched fully in the next few months.

He added: “We want to complement lighting that is already there and the whole point of this is to get people out as fast as possible, and emergency services in as fast as possible.

“It also allows to understand what is happening with the fire and where it is spreading.

“I can’t thank Bill and David enough for their help.

“Bill is a great bloke with so much knowledge and expertise and David is a good guy and a friend.

“I’ve learned a lot from them.”

That notion of education is prevalent in another of Mr Turner’s endeavours.

He wants to create an academy, to teach the next generation of inventors and give them an insight into the pleasures and pitfalls of innovation.

With a pilot scheme planned for the summer, the programme could be rolled out officially later this year.

He added: “I want to take them on a journey from an idea to a patent.

“You can’t have a load of ideas and not be able to look after the business side, where you have to stand in a boardroom of investors and give them a credible presentation.

“You have got to be more than a shed inventor.”