The Innovate Tees Valley Festival has been launched in a bid to connect businesses with the networks they need to innovate and continue growing. Carroll & Meynell Transformers is one of the businesses showcasing at the event. Business development manager Carole Wright caught up with BQ to tell us more...
Describe your business in no more than 100 words
Carroll & Meynell Transformers Ltd 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 Eaglescliffe, Stockton on Tees.
Its product portfolio ranges from panel transformers from 1kVA through to single and 3-phase power transformers up to 2MVA, and all of its products are manufactured at its production facility in Eaglescliffe
Which particular products and/or services make your business innovative?
We have developed and patented 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.
i.e. up to 10 electric vehicles can plug into a single charger unit at the same time and be supplied with a rapid charge. This is innovative because current competing rapid chargers all require a separate grid connection for each charge point, and none can simultaneously rapid charge up to 10 vehicles.
Furthermore, for a 10 point installation this can realise a capex saving of up to 60% over existing installations.
We are also continually researching new materials eg nanocrystalline and ferrite, that can be incorporated into our transformers to make them lighter weight, more efficient and more environmentally friendly, particularly in the field of reduction of heat losses .
What proportion of your service offer comprises new (under 3 years old) products, materials, technologies etc?
Probably in the region of 25% as we are continually working on new designs.
To what extent have the innovations enhanced the sales of your other products/services or led to future opportunities?
Our customers have recognised the innovative nature of our business and we are working alongside a number of them to improve their existing products and develop new ones that can give them an edge over their own competitors.
Most of our customers have environmental strategies and through our innovations we are helping them to meet the requirements of ISO 14001
What new skills have been acquired by (and retained within) your company as a result of the innovations?
We have contracted a Technical Manager who has brought new skills and expertise into the company which have opened up opportunities in new market sectors for us.
Our existing employees undergo regular technical training to ensure that they have the skills to manufacture the new products created by our design engineers
How do you innovate in the way you run your business?
R&D is now recognised within the business strategy, with approx. 4% of our turnover committed to it, and regular bi-monthly “New Products” meetings to develop those ideas.
Staff undertake management development training and bring new ideas back to the company.
We have sponsored a number of employees to study for their MBA, PhD etc.
What are your biggest professional achievements to date?
Designing and building our first transformer over 1 MVA was a major milestone. This was a bespoke transformer for a particle accelerator to upgrade the power supply for the magnets that contain the proton beams and accelerate them to 84% of the speed of light.
This was a challenging project which required our design and engineering team to revise and upgrade our design methods in order to produce a design that met the required operating standards. This has considerably expanded our capacity to manufacture these high power items and we are now confident of achieving up to 2MVA.
Acquiring DNV approval for our processes has allowed us greater exposure with the marine & subsea sectors.
Submitting our first patent application, which was for our multiple EV charger (hopefully not the last)
Where do you see your company in five years time?
About 40% Carroll & Meynell’s products are currently exported indirectly, but we are now exploring new direct export opportunities. Research has indicated that the product we would like to show 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%
We would also like to see our company being recognised as being a major contributor to the Green Agenda reducing 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 advice would you give to aspiring innovators?
Persevere, it’s not easy. It does make demands on your time and resources.
Take sound advice in respect of your I.P.
Carroll & Meynell will be showcasing their innovations at the Innovate Tees Valley festival in Middlesbrough on December 8. Tickets for the event are available free of charge - book your place now at http://innovatefestival.tv/