Gaining a competitive advantage through innovation

A Cambridge consultancy discusses their structured approach to new product development

When Crowcon wanted to design and develop a new fully automated, easy-to-use gas calibration station to ensure that personal safety monitors are tested and compliant with regulatory standards before being used in potentially hazardous environments, they turned to Cambridge-based technology and product design company, 42 Technology (42T).

Working across healthcare, consumer, energy and industrial sectors, 42T is a leading engineering consultancy that helps clients – including Kimberly-Clark, SAB Miller, Astra Zeneca and Linde – to develop breakthrough products and solve complex engineering problems.

Mark Osborne, Crowcon’s Director of Product Development, said that during the development “42 Technology’s skills in fluid handling, mechanical design, electronics, software systems and human factors were invaluable”.

Now successfully launched, Crowcon’s I-Test system complements their Gas-Pro range of portable detectors for both toxic and flammable gases and has enabled the company to offer a complete system solution.

Crowcon isn’t the only company to have recently benefitted from 42 Technology’s expertise – 42T has also recently carried out a project on sensor manufacturing innovation, another to develop a miniaturised data-logger for consumer field trials, and a sensor system for high speed bank-note handling.

 

Manufacturing innovation:

42T’s broad experience of manufacturing innovation made them an ideal partner for Inficon AG who were developing an automated process for the manufacture of their precision gas sensor. One of the biggest challenges in the project was working out how best to automate the handling and separation of hundreds of small, brittle coiled filaments which came out of one manufacturing step tangled like Christmas lights.

Christian Berg, Inficon’s Technology Director, said that “42T worked very efficiently alongside our in-house team to automate one of our most challenging and intricate process steps. Their innovative, pragmatic solution will deliver multiple business benefits and allow us to re-assign our highly-trained technicians to more varied and interesting work”.

 

Data-logging:

In another project, 42 Technology engineered a miniaturised data-logger for use in consumer trials. Their client reported that there was often a gap between the information volunteered by panels of consumers, and the consumer’s true behaviours. In order to bridge that gap, 42T designed and developed a number of bespoke data-loggers capable of being embedded into a variety of consumer products such as deodorant aerosols, cleaning sprays or toothbrushes.

The logger was fully encapsulated with wireless battery charging and data transfer. Rather than wasting battery life by continually logging streams of data from the on-board sensors, the logger software incorporated ingenious algorithms to distinguish real life events from false signals and wake the device from sleep when an event was initiated.

By partnering with a local contract electronics manufacturer, Briton EMS, 42T was able to offer a complete design service from concept to manufacture. Having recently been acquired by the OSI Electronics group, Briton EMS is able to offer both on-shore and high-volume off-shore manufacturing.

 

Novel sensors for banknote handling:

Finally, 42T was able to help Talaris in the development of a novel banknote handling machine. Talaris, a world leader in cash-handling equipment and software systems, enlisted 42T’s help to develop a new sensor to detect damaged and counterfeit notes.

As well as facilitating innovation workshops and analysing the system architecture in order to optimise the product’s footprint, size, weight and cost, 42T optimised the user interface by carrying out a number of industrials design studies, and developed a low-cost, custom sensor for the detection of forged banknotes.

Following proof of principle bench testing, 42T carried out detailed design for high volume, low cost manufacture and prototyping for engineering field trials and transfer to the client’s team for customer field trials.

Hansjorg Klock, Talaris’ Engineering Director , said that “42T brought a fresh perspective to our product development programme and helped use to incorporate some advanced technologies and new concepts into our next generation of banknote handling systems. Their system-level approach, creativity and pragmatic engineering proved invaluable in helping to optimise our designs, as well as accelerating our new product development process”.

If you are seeking a competitive advantage through product innovation, or have a difficult technical challenge that needs to be solved, then 42 Technology may be able to help you. Their specialised engineering practices focus on:

  • Sensors and Measurement Systems
  • Wireless Communications
  • Manufacturing Innovation
  • Thermofluidic systems
  • User-centred design
  • Printing
  • Regulatory Approval

The core engineering skills used in these main practices are transferable to other applications, with 42 Technology’s engineers, physicists and product designers able to take on complex challenges on diverse developments including: payload delivery mechanisms for space planes; innovative new processes in chocolate, beer, ice-cream and coffee manufacture; medical combination products including auto-injectors and inhalers; and smart metering developments.

 

Contact: Tom Copeland

tom.copeland@42technology.com

+44 (0)1480 302700

42 Technology Ltd., Meadow Lane, St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, PE27 4LG

 

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