Innovation showcase: Carroll & Meynell Transformers

Innovation showcase: Carroll & Meynell Transformers

Carroll & Meynell Transformers will be at this year’s Innovation Showcase at VentureFest North East with their scalable electric car charging system, which allowed up to ten vehicles to charge simultaneously from one point. Carole Wright fills us in on the proud Stockton firm.

Describe your business in no more than 100 words

Carroll & Meynell Transformers manufactures standard and custom-built transformers and coil-wound products which are used in a variety of industries including power, oil and gas, rail, traction, mining and construction.

It is an independent privately owned business with over 40 years under the same ownership, located in Stockton on Tees, with a product portfolio ranging from panel transformers from 1kVA through to single and 3-phase power transformers up to 2MVA. All products are manufactured at our factory in Eaglescliffe

What prompted you to enter the innovation showcase?

Carroll & Meynell is a well-known brand worldwide, but mainly for our standard products, and we need to create greater awareness of our innovative capabilities and the technical solutions that our design engineers can provide.  

We saw this event as an ideal opportunity to showcase a new product that we have in development with a view to finding an investor or manufacturing / distribution partner that can help us take it through to commercialisation.

Describe the innovation that you’ve entered the showcase with

We have developed a scalable Electric Vehicle charging system which can simultaneously supply up to ten EV charge points using any currently manufactured charging type with 50kW DC rapid charging from one single transformer using a single grid connection.

Current competing rapid chargers require a grid connection for each charge point to achieve the equivalent volume of charging that our multicharger can achieve; this causes inconvenience during installation & increases installation costs.

Very few products currently on the market have simultaneous charging capability and none can simultaneously rapid charge up to ten vehicles at their required charging rate.

It also provides greater reliability over existing products where if a connector fails, it can render the whole charger out or service. With our multiple charger, if one connector fails, the remainder continue to function

How would you describe that innovation to your grandparents?

We make a charge point at which up to 10 battery powered vehicles can re-charge at the same time.

What are the best and worst parts of trying to be innovative in your business?

The best part is knowing that you have an innovation that can make a difference.

The worst parts are a) trying to fit in innovation because the core business has to come first, and b) convincing others of the value of your innovation.

What are the biggest challenges you face?

Getting to grips with intellectual property is hard, and having the time to innovate i.e. taking our ideas and turning them into saleable products is also a challenge. Resources - in respect of time available, finance, manpower – are critical to allow us to innovate properly.

Where do you get support and advice to help you run your business?

We have been helped over the years by our local business support services, including Innovate Tees Valley, Teesside University, Dept for International Trade, NECC, our bank, Stockton Borough Council and the LEP.

Where do you see your company in five years’ time?

About 40% Carroll & Meynell’s products are exported indirectly; we are now exploring new direct export opportunities. Research has indicated that the product we are showing at the innovation showcase has great export potential if we can capitalise on its novelty and get it to market quickly.

We see it being a catalyst to double our turnover through a growth in our direct exports by more than 100%, thereby not only providing job security to our existing workforce, but also allowing us to increase our employee numbers by 12%.

Our company is recognised as being a major contributor to the green agenda and reduction of carbon emissions, through a product that gives more people the confidence to buy electrically powered vehicles knowing that they have access to a widespread and reliable charging infrastructure.

What would you tell businesses who are hoping to be more innovative?

Persevere, it’s not easy. It does make demands on your time and resources. Be sure to take sound advice in respect of your IP.