Andrew Keith discusses the role of research and development in the manufacturing industry
Manufacturing flexibility has never been as important for industry as it is today. In a world of interconnected devices and smart factories, the ability of a manufacturer to innovate and adapt to its customers’ requirements is vital. For many manufacturers, the road to innovation starts with research and development (R&D).
I joined Cressall Resistors full-time in 2009, after completing two summer placements with the company during my university studies. Back then, the existing standard product range catered for most applications. Five years later, the R&D demands have skyrocketed. To respond to the industry need, many manufacturers find themselves investing in their research, design and test capabilities.
Many of the products Cressall manufactures are made in small batches for specific customer requirements. The ability to develop, manufacture and support bespoke solutions puts Cressall at a significant advantage in the market. However, the conditions are more competitive than ever and to ensure our solutions are price competitive, we have to be able to explore through simulation and testing all design possibilities.
Developing our in-house R&D capability allows Cressall to adapt its product range, meaning that when a customer gives us their product specifications, it's likely that we already have a close fit. Expanding the product range isn't the only positive outcome of having an onsite R&D facility. Here are the five advantages you need to be aware of when considering R&D.
Manufacturers with constant R&D investments have a higher chance of succeeding in the global market. To attain the best professional advantage, investment in R&D comes hand in hand with processes such as market development and new business processes.
Innovate and flourish
Manufacturers should be firm about what they plan to accomplish with their business. The most successful businesses are always innovating. They are always finding new ways to build up their competitive advantages. R&D is necessary in boosting the vision and objectives of a business, so companies should never be reluctant to take action toward innovation.
Cressall’s testing facility provides the means to carry out impulse tests of up to 400,000 Volts. This facility is allowing us to explore the limits of existing designs. We can make refinements to designs and change the materials we use to extend the limits of the technology we have already developed.
Better business outcomes
There is a solid relationship between the amount of effort put into research and development, and the way a company performs. Companies that use R&D investment as the main driver for progress are inclined to achieve better outcomes for investors and overall be more innovative than their competitors.
Cressall has recently invested in a temperature regulated water circulation system that can be used for developing our water cooled resistors. The continued success of the innovative water cooled EV2 resistor has merited investment for further development. We have a development program in place which is based on feedback from the market place. As a result we are looking to create smaller designs with lower pressure drops as well as reducing cost.
R&D is recognised as an important factor in economic growth and balance. R&D can easily lead to highly valued technologies, strategies and designs for your company that could be the origin of potential value when considering sustaining a competitive advantage.
Qualified R&D projects allow manufacturers to defray relevant costs with the help of the Research and Development Relief for Corporation Tax. This option allows a business to reduce its tax bill. Small to medium size businesses also get tax credits in cash disbursed by HM Revenue and Customs.
The build of Cressall Resistor's R&D facility is ongoing. Earlier in 2015, the space was opened and since then, we have focused on bringing in major test equipment. The test area facilitates for thermal testing of Cressall's naturally ventilated or water cooled resistors and lightning impulse testing up to 400kV for high voltage equipment.
Andrew Keith is engineering director of power resistor manufacturer Cressall Resistors.