Collaborating with a university on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership can introduce innovation into your business quickly and efficiently. Teesside-based manufacturing company PSI Global tell us more about their experience of working with Teesside University to develop a new virtual testing system...
What is it the company does?
PSI Global, which is based in Wynyard, Billingham, manufactures filters and separators for the compressed air and vacuum industries.
What was the project that the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) supported?
The KTP was to develop a unique, bespoke, Virtual Vacuum Model (VVM) platform capability in order to support future design, testing, performance validation and demonstration of new products. This aimed to help us here at PSI to understand our customer needs and deliver bespoke solutions to the vacuum market effectively and efficiently.
What difference has it made to your business?
The VVM enables early stage design of new vacuum pump systems to be trialled, improved and validated earlier than previously possible. By modelling the system and its performance virtually, prior to prototyping, development time for new opportunities can be reduced by 70% for the products modelled - enabling PSI the opportunity to be first to market with validated solutions.
Why did you decide to embark upon a Knowledge Transfer Partnership?
The sizing of separators for clients was very labour, time and cost intensive (due to the nature of trial and error, rather than informed decision-making) and required physical prototyping and testing on a bespoke testing rig. This means PSI were unable to bring new products to market ahead of competition.
We wanted to increase understanding of flow through vacuum pump systems and how the separators can influence pump performance. We had worked with Teesside University before and approached them to see what expertise they had in that area.
What results did the Knowledge Transfer Partnership provide that other avenues wouldn’t have been able to?
Long term (2 years) regular support (1/2 day per week) from experts in the field and the full time commitment of a talented graduate to drive the project internally, plus project management support and structure from Local Management Committees.
Were there any additional benefits to the Knowledge Transfer Partnership that you didn’t initially expect?
The KTP also increased our interaction with Knowledge Base partners (such as Durham and Cranfield Universities) to access various knowledge and equipment required to support our ongoing Research and Development activities.
Following on from your Knowledge Transfer Partnership, how do you see it benefitting your business for the future?
Around 75% of existing testing methods will ultimately become unnecessary / obsolete with the introduction of these capabilities. The remaining 25% of physical tests would still be required for verification and validation of VVM platform results. However, the VVM was development based on one pilot product; therefore the knowledge and capabilities transferred will now be applied to all future products ensuring these benefits are fully realised.
What advice would you give to others looking to embark on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership?
The Knowledge Transfer Scheme is an excellent platform to manage key projects within an organisation which brings together the technical competencies of the company and Teesside University to achieve a well defined goal.
The structure and management of the scheme enables clear progress to be presented and also highlights important challenges which need to be overcome.
PSI Global would most certainly recommend the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) to any organisation and will also be participating in other KTP schemes in the future.
A word from your partner…
Dr Hamad (the KTP Knowledge Base Supervisor from Teesside University) said: “This was an extremely interesting project which I am sure will have huge benefits for PSI Global. The findings from the research are already being utilised in teaching our students here at the University.”
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