Case study

Supporting the Transport Equipment Manufacturing Supply Chain - Devtank

Devtank Ltd is an open source engineering company based in Derbyshire. It focuses on providing product design, together with test, measurement and automation solutions, using a talent pool of hardware and software experts. We’ve been working with this company over the last three years, providing knowledge exchange through knowledge exchange projects, CPD, graduate recruitment and mentoring. This is helping the company to expand and enhance its skills base.

Collaborative research

Devtank produce a range of equipment including aerospace support equipment, telemetry systems, engine control systems, signal conditioning modules and many other hybrid applications. All of these generate large amounts of data on a daily basis so Devtank wanted to be able to gain useful insights from this data quickly, to improve its manufacturing process.

Through an ERDF-funded programme targeted at the Transport Equipment Manufacturing sector, our electronic engineering experts carried out research for Devtank into suitable algorithms for analysing a wide range of data — including audio, images and video. We produced a report which recommended which type of algorithm should be used depending on the input data, and we also proposed a design and underlying infrastructure for the algorithms.

Our recommendations were implemented by the firm and it has delivered productivity improvements in terms of time savings, reductions in energy consumption and improved system performance and cost savings

Skills development and graduate recruitment

Devtank employees have also benefitted from CPD workshops, in areas such as marketing, business and finance, and have worked with students and graduates on a range of projects. For example, the firm employed a student intern and set some of our business students a challenge to come up with ideas for how to raise the profile of Devtank.

Devtank also recruited a graduate engineer on a short-term contract, through the ERDF-funded Knowledge Exchange for Innovation scheme. This graduate continues to work with them and has made a valuable contribution. Tim Telford, Devtank’s Hardware Director, explains:

“Since joining the team, our graduate hardware engineer, Adil, has excelled in supporting our strive for continuous improvement and played a vital role in new product introduction for Devtank. He has worked on no less than seven new products in the time since joining us and is a credit to the organisation.”

Mentoring, networking and collaboration

The University of Derby’s specialist supply chain support team (Enscite) also assessed Devtank’s development needs and matched them to a business mentor. The mentor provided business advice and guidance and has now developed a longer-term relationship with Devtank, as Tim explains:

“Martin has been so influential. We were so impressed with him that we’ve continued working with him, even after the original mentoring programme finished. He comes in regularly to provide guidance and direction; he’s helped us get all our processes in order, and now he’s even become a client! This all came off the back of initial meetings with the University.”

Devtank is now working with the University and the mentor’s company, Lindhurst Engineering, on a ‘smart factory’ project. Devtank has installed sensors in Lindhurst’s factory, which will wirelessly monitor energy and water consumption, as well as working conditions, such as temperature and noise. This will help Lindhurst identify areas for potential de-carbonisation and ensure it meets the requirements set by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Tim explains how the relationship with the University has been instrumental to Devtank’s growth: “It’s been very positive; we’ve gained a lot from it — not just the training and the new skills, but brilliant contacts and networking opportunities that have led to business growth. We now have more places to go to ask for support and are working actively with the University of Derby to access more funding.”

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