Dawn Farms Meeting Customer Expectations Through Innovation

“We have had a long-standing positive and proactive relationship with Enterprise Ireland and currently avail of its R&D support programme”

– John McGrath, Head of Business Development

 

Case Study: Dawn Farms

Established in 1985, Dawn Farms is a family-owned company and the largest specialist supplier of cooked and fermented meat protein ingredients outside of the USA. The company currently supplies world-leading food brands across more than 40 markets, including the UK, the wider EU, the Middle East and Africa, offering a “one-stop shop” to customers in the pizza, sandwich, snacking and ready meal categories.

Named Irish Food and Drink Exporter of the Year in 2016, the company employs over 1,000 staff based in state-of-the-art facilities in Naas, County Kildare, and Northampton, England.

According to Head of Business Development John McGrath, a holistic relationship-based service that puts the customer’s brand first – with product, process and service innovation playing a central role in its total value proposition – is at the heart of the company’s success.

“We have identified a number of key trends, based on consumer insights, that drive our product development pipeline”, he explains. These include the “quest for health and wellness” and “sustainable lives”.

In line with these trends, all Dawn Farms products are free from artificial colours, hydrogenated fats and MSG, while also meeting the latest standards on salt.

The company’s new Streetfood Collection, born out of its extensive investment in consumer insights, combines a bespoke cook and sear process to produce a range of Mexican, American and Korean-inspired street food cooked meat products to allow their customers meet growing demand in the hand-held snack and food to go markets across Europe. Cooked “low and slow”, this new range brings all the flavours of street food alive and comes in vacuum-sealed pouches for better and more consistent recipe and flavour delivery in store.

“Today’s consumers are seeking out authentic and better tasting food experiences”, says McGrath. “The Street Food Collection delivers on that need for Dawn Farms customers.”

 

 

The company’s Texan BBQ Beef Burnt Ends sandwich filling is another example of this consumer-led innovation in action. “Consumers today are becoming more discerning about barbecue food and this is evident in the different types of regional barbecue sauces offered in burger chains as well as the broad choice of restaurants seeking to deliver authentic American barbecue experience and tastes”, McGrath points out. “It also taps into the ‘back to basics’ food trend – a return to primeval cooking methods such as grilling, barbecuing and fermentation. The burnt ends’ concept also fits the sensorial trend towards charring, blackened and burnt textures in ingredients from meat to ice cream.”

Similarly, the company’s Italian-Style Porchetta product was inspired by traditional Italian street food. “The rationale behind this ingredient is to give food-to-go consumers an authentic Italian food experience. This fits in with the Borrowed Nostalgia food trend, where people are looking for traditional food experiences from other countries. Porchetta is a traditional Italian roasted pork delicacy, typically sold from a cart or a truck, sliced to order and served in a sandwich as a quick treat at the market or at a fair.”

“We have had a long-standing positive and proactive relationship with Enterprise Ireland and currently avail of its R&D support programme”, he adds. “This has allowed us develop a range of product and process improvements across the business that underpin our commercial strategy and foster new growth opportunities in a very demanding marketplace.”

New combined antenna solution helps Alpha Wireless maximise its potential

“The Business Innovation Initiative funding allowed us to set up an advisory group of industry experts from across the globe. We worked with them to review the market, decide what technologies were needed and develop something new.”

– Fergal Lawlor, CEO, Alpha Wireless

 

Case Study: Alpha Wireless

“The telecommunications market is changing rapidly; 5G is on the way, and new antennas are required to provide increased data capacity while meeting new stringent environmental standards and legislation” says Fergal Lawlor. “We need our R&D team to consistently come up with innovative new products so we can stay relevant.” Lawlor is CEO of Alpha Wireless, an antenna manufacturer headquartered in Portlaoise.

Alpha Wireless, a recipient of RD&I funding and Business Innovation Initiative funding from Enterprise Ireland, develops and supplies a range of antennas that allow phone masts to communicate with devices such as smartphones.

The company is export-focused; approximately 90–95 percent of its sales are in overseas markets, with North America and Israel among the biggest. A recent round of funding from Enterprise Ireland, however, saw the company develop a product specifically to suit the needs of a market a little closer to home – the UK.

Throughout towns and cities, antennas for telecommunications are now being integrated with street infrastructure, rather than mounted on large masts. This is driven by environmental aesthetics, and is rigorously policed by national planning authorities. Alpha Wireless worked closely with its customers in the UK to design a new product tailored to follow the UK’s specific regulations. Enterprise Ireland’s Business Innovation Initiative funding was key to this effort.

Key Takeouts

  • Enterprise Ireland’s Business Innovation Initiative funding allowed Alpha Wireless to respond to an emerging market need, initially for the UK market, but with the potential to expand to other international markets.
  • RD&I funding helped the company to develop a new type of combined antenna solution.
  • The new product allowed the company to increase sales, exports and number of employees.

“The Business Innovation Initiative funding allowed us to set up an advisory group of industry experts from across the globe,” says Lawlor. “We worked with them to review the market, decide what technologies were needed and develop a new concept.”

Many of the challenges were not just specific to the UK market. The combination of the industry panel and a dedicated on-site R&D department helped the company to tailor its solution and break into the market. They needed to integrate multiple antennas into a cylindrical tube that sits on top of a street pole. “UK planning permission and zoning requirements meant that we had only a 330mm-diameter tube for all the required antennas,” explains Lawlor. The challenge was to get the antenna’s multi-band functionality into that space. The Alpha Wireless researchers needed to miniaturise the technology but keep as much of its functionality as possible.

“It took us six to nine months to design the combined antenna, which was intense in terms of R&D resources. The RD&I funding came in very useful during this period and helped us increase the size of our R&D team,” recalls Lawlor.

The result was a complete suite of antennas small enough to be mounted onto a lamppost, providing coverage at street level where it is really needed. The company’s focus on learning the needs of its market, and the resulting innovative technology, has paid dividends.

Since applying for the Enterprise Ireland funding in 2015, Alpha Wireless sales in the UK are now in the millions and it has more than doubled its Irish workforce to 120 employees. It’s not resting on these laurels, though; combined antenna solutions have global potential, and Alpha Wireless has begun selling variations elsewhere, including the US, Canada and Greece.

Lawlor is enthusiastic about the funding the company received from Enterprise Ireland and explains that the application process can help companies to think strategically. “We always keep our business plan up to date, so applying for the Enterprise Ireland funding was a simple task,” he says. “However, for a company that isn’t already forward-looking then the application will help, by providing an opportunity to think strategically and plan.”

Click here to learn more about Enterprise Ireland’s Innovation supports.

R&D lights the way to LED sales spike

“Thanks to Enterprise Ireland’s RD&I grants, we do the knowledge-economy part in Ireland now. This has created jobs and been a great success for us.”

– Pat Kelly, Research, Development and Innovation Director, LED Group

 

Case Study: LED Group

Innovation in its ROBUS brand is a crucial driver of growth for the LED Group, a leading provider of LED lighting technologies, founded in 1984.

Its products, sold mainly via electrical wholesalers worldwide, offer energy savings, a long life and ease of maintenance. “Traditionally, customers put halogen fittings in their homes, but now there’s an array of LED products to choose from with far longer lifespans,” says marketing manager Deirdre Howard.

In 2014, the company set up a team focused exclusively on research, development and innovation (RD&I), underpinned by grants from Enterprise Ireland. This allowed it to win market share abroad and strategically exit manufacturing in China.

“When I came in as a research, development and innovation director in early 2014,” says Pat Kelly, “we had a relatively small share of the residential downlight market in Britain.” Kelly, who arrived at the company with a physics and engineering background, initiated a project that incorporated new state-of-the-art knowledge into a downlight: driver-on-board technology.

The grant funding allowed the company to test around 20 prototypes of the new technology before achieving a breakthrough.

“We introduced a product called Triumph Activate that substantially expanded our share of the market. It allowed us to tender in new areas because of its reliability, and its sales have put a significant amount of money on our topline too.”

KEY TAKEOUTS

  • Product reliability substantially increased market share and opened new areas for tender.
  • Adapting products for foreign markets created rapid growth and built brand perception.
  • Enterprise Ireland’s RD&I funding provided a safety net against risk and helped seed investment

When LED light fittings are powered by mains electricity, the current has to pass through a special electronic device called a driver. Often separate from the light fitting itself, this device is based on old capacitor technology and contains bulky components that must be soldered together. As a result, it’s often the first point of failure.

LED Group developed driver-on-board circuitry that can be included in the light itself. It’s essentially a pod that can be dropped into the light fitting, making the system much more efficient and reliable, improving its longevity, and requiring less power. All components are placed by machine, minimizing the potential for human error.

The company launched a version adapted for the Australian market; it only entered this market in 2010 but has already seen rapid growth there. “Introducing products such as Triumph Activate gets people talking and is a really positive force in building brand perception,” says Howard.

Another RD&I project saw the company convert one of its range of small fluorescent outdoor lights to LED, then move the technology to bigger lights for car parks and develop a patented retrofit capability for them. “We can retrofit not just our own fitting, but those of 16 other manufacturers,” points out Kelly.

LED Group is also part of LEDLUM, a European-funded project which aims to reduce the weight of the LED driver by 90 per cent and increase its lifetime. “This enables us to play senior hurling on the research stage,” quips Kelly. He hopes it will ultimately enable the company to offer a ten-year warranty on fittings by 2020.

Another ambitious goal that Enterprise Ireland’s RD&I funding supports is the development of ‘human-centric lighting’. This will bring outdoor light quality indoors, replicating natural light by tuning the blue content that our eyes use to set our body clock. “The lighting behaves as if it’s morning or afternoon,” explains Howard. “We hope to launch products in universities, schools and hospitals next year.”

Click here to learn more about Enterprise Ireland’s Innovation supports.

Achieve efficiencies in your business using Lean

Dr Richard Keegan, Manager at the Enterprise Ireland Competitiveness Department outlines procedures for achieving efficiencies in your business

Companies challenged by the UK’s vote to leave the EU should review their business models as one part of a strategy for coping with any depreciation in sterling and any loss of competitiveness arising from a UK departure from the Single Market.

With margins potentially squeezed, managers should consider ways of reducing their cost-base by reviewing processes and procedures.

At Enterprise Ireland, we work with clients to help them increase performance using what are called “Lean” tools and techniques.

Perhaps the most important thing to bear in mind about developing a Lean business is that human resource capacity and capability is a thread that runs through the entire process.

Lean principles

Lean principles were first developed by Toyota in Japan in the 1950s to make production processes more time- and cost-efficient.

It is very much about technology and engineering but it is not confined to that. It runs through the whole value chain with the aim of outputting a better offering to the customer at a better price.

While first developed with manufacturing in mind, Lean is now used widely in services in both the private and public sectors. Management philosophy, workforce culture and human resource development are all part of the Lean approach.

Product development and design, purchasing, manufacturing, administration, logistics and sales all come under review with the aim of working more efficiently from the shop floor to the boardroom to the point of delivery and after-sales service.

People

Experience shows that human resources are central to successful Lean processes. That means being fair to staff. It also means being firm: once you decide how things should be done, everyone must stick with it. That also means being consistent with how you deal with people, problems and issues.

Much of people’s time in business is spent handling the “day job”, doing what needs to be done, or fighting fires. Lean techniques ask the question “What are we trying to achieve here?”. This helps the business see what is actually being done – the difference between the question and the answer is the gap to be bridged.

Managers should look closely at processes, go to the place where work is done, see what is happening. It will often be quite different to what you think. That means there is gap in your understanding.

You need to know the underlying principles that affect the outcome then think about how you can improve things. Can you “put out the fires” once and for all?

Questions

In carrying out this assessment be sure the following five questions can be answered: What are you doing?

How are you doing it? Why are you doing it? Who is going to improve it? When?

Having taken this approach, whatever you do, do something. You do not have to make it perfect, just better.

There are three key areas of focus in developing a Lean Business: time, money and effort. It is also necessary to benchmark against your competitors as an ongoing basis.

Time: Examine how long it takes to carry particular tasks such as: processing an order, dealing with a claim or providing a service.

Effort: Look at the elements involved in getting work done. Be sure you know the value and need for every step along way to fulfilling a particular task.

Money: Use it as a metric for identifying wastage and putting a value on issues, problems and delays.

Waste

Wastage is a key area for identifying savings. Declare war on waste. Taichi Ohno of Toyota is credited with identifying the “Seven Wastes”: Defective Service, Over Production, Inventory, Motion, Processing, Transportation and Waiting. Today we recognise a significant eighth waste, people, ie not utilising their capabilities to improve the business.

There are many more wastes than the core eight and there is some variation between manufacturing and service businesses, but these are a good starting point on a Lean journey to competitiveness.

When implementing Lean processes, it is important to identify a problem or issue that is both challenging and achievable. It needs to be challenging enough to allow people to feel that they have contributed to its solution and also needs to be achievable within a reasonable timescale. If the problem or issue is too big or too difficult, then the team may fail, with ongoing negative repercussions on future improvement activities.

Enterprise Ireland provides clients with access to the best SME benchmarking systems and data in the world through our Lean Service Benchmarking tool, which gives an objective view of the competition and the client’s strengths and weaknesses.

We also have checklists and other tools for the type of work-practice audit that could make the difference between remaining competitive in the UK and being priced out of the market.

In fact, many exporters are already employing Lean techniques to address the threat to the bottom line caused by currency fluctuation.

Enterprise Ireland Lean programmes have helped companies in sectors such as agri-business, manufacturing, engineering and services to improve their competitive position.

Often, companies develop simplified and standardised ways of working that are not just more efficient but easier for implementation, training and monitoring. For case studies, see: www.enterprise-ireland/lean

This article originally appeared in the guide Exporting to the UK? Read the full version here

Enterprise Ireland companies with Global Ambition

Attendees at Enterprise Ireland‘s International Markets Week heard from established Irish companies successfully selling globally and had the opportunity for meetings with Market Advisors, available to provide expertise on exporting to new markets.

If you are attending IMW please consider the following:

  • In which markets are you successful and how have you achieved this success?
  • What is your business/value proposition?
  • Why have you decided to target this new market?
  • What market validation have you carried out and what evidence do you have for a demand for your product / service?

Contact the International Markets team at International Markets Week for further information.

Burnside Autocyl’s Relationship with Enterprise Ireland Ever-evolving

With supports ranging from grant assistance to identifying potential customers and training, Enterprise Ireland has travelled with Burnside Autocyl on its German journey.

Enterprise Ireland has been instrumental in Burnside Autocyl’s success in Germany since 1990 – when it was known as Córas Tráchtala – according to the Co Carlow-based engineering company’s sales director Caroline Kelly.

“Grant assistance from Enterprise Ireland was important in the early days but the support ran much deeper than that,” she says. “Market advisers walked the beat with us, helped to get us appointments with the right people and made introductions for us. When our German wasn’t that good, they interpreted buyers’ needs for us and stayed involved after we had secured business.”

One of the most important pieces of advice Enterprise Ireland gave Burnside Autocyl about Germany was not to go into the market unless a product or service was robust and tried and tested.

“We learned not to bring anything to the market that wasn’t well proven or that we weren’t fully satisfied with,” says Kelly. “It was also crucial to be clear about who our customers should be before approaching any prospects.”

Beyond that, facilitating Burnside Autocyl to attend trade fairs has been hugely helpful, Kelly adds, as well as how Enterprise Ireland encouraged the management team to embrace training to improve their skills and knowhow.

“Nobody ever knows enough about the industry they’re in and business is evolving and changing all the time,” she says.

“Our relationship with Enterprise Ireland today is less about grant support and more about marketing and training support.”

Igloo Glass

Are ice-cubes facing a watery grave? Seven engineers from five countries have worked together to create the new patented invention “Igloo Glass” which made an appearance at Enterprise Ireland’s International Markets Week 2016.

To learn more about Enterprise Ireland supports and for further information on patents click here

Aerogen’s top tips for entering European markets

Aerosol drug delivery system provider Aerogen has been active in European markets since 2000, and the region now makes up about 30% of its total sales.

Aerogen CEO, John Power

Here, CEO John Power shares his key pieces of advice to Irish companies contemplating exports beyond the UK.

The real key to success in European markets is having something special that they want. If you have a ‘me too’ product the purchasing decision will be based on price. You need to be offering a solution to a need in the market that is superior to what these markets have themselves.

A smaller company starting to sell abroad should go with a narrow focus and build from there. If you try to generate sales in several European markets at the same time you won’t have the bandwidth to service them. And if you don’t service them right, that will be detrimental. You’re far better off to procure one distributor in one market, get that off the ground and operating properly and then replicate this in other markets.

Don’t rush into selecting a distributor. Work long and hard on getting the right one for you in each market, as if you get this decision wrong it could work against you. Look for recommendations from other companies using distributors of products in your sector in the relevant markets.

If you really want to develop a market and distribution model in a European market, nothing beats having your own people on the ground to make sure a distributor gets the maximum amount of sales for your business.

precision engineering

Market Diversification – Burnside Autocyl’s Way of Dealing with Brexit

The fact that it has pursued a market diversification strategy for over 30 years means Burnside Autocyl’s growth is unlikely to be unduly affected by Brexit.

Established in 1974 in Tullow, Co Carlow, Burnside Autocyl was focused on the domestic market for its first ten years and when it became saturated the UK was the logical first export market.

However, it soon recognised the potential that existed in other markets and so branched out into Scandinavian countries and then Germany, France, the Benelux countries, Italy, the Czech Republic and Romania followed after that.

Currently exporting into 16 different countries, its most recent venture was to establish a manufacturing and warehousing facility in Pennsylvania in the US – the company’s first global footprint outside Co Carlow in terms of manufacturing capability. It also has sales and marketing offices in Germany and France.

Sales DirectorBurnside Autocyl designs and manufactures customised hydraulic cylinders for original equipment manufacturers in the manual handling, construction and manufacturing sectors.

“In 2013, we identified the US as a market that we had to pursue with more gusto and so established a physical presence in 2014,” says sales director Caroline Kelly.

“It is a hugely exciting market for us, which we are looking to grow right now. We have already seen 10% growth in sales year on year.”

All of Burnside Autocyl’s product shipments to Europe are currently routed through the UK. This is a concern for the company post-Brexit, but a challenge it will overcome, according to Kelly.

“It may mean our shipments will have to be bonded. A lot of questions remain to be answered. At the same time, UK competitors are in a stronger position than us because of weaker sterling,” she says.

“However, we are not overly concerned about Brexit as the UK doesn’t make up a significant part of our overall business and we are confident about growing in other markets.”

 Learn how Enterprise Ireland’s Diversification supports can help you to develop market knowledge and prepare for the challenges of entering new markets.

Pointers on the French Market from Irish Business Tricel​​​​​​​

France has become a key market for Killarney-based manufacturing firm Tricel since it obtained a government licence to supply sewage systems to one-off houses there in 2011. Here managing director Mike Stack shares his insights into the French market:

France is a gigantic market and you really have to commit resources to it. You can’t just dip your toes in and expect to be successful. The language is hugely important. You need people working for you that speak French. We have strong local teams on the ground, which has been very important. People from your company just arriving over once every couple of weeks won’t cut it. There has to be a local support network in the country.

Having a base in France – our factory in Poitiers – has allowed us to pursue an expansion strategy into other European markets. Once we got established there, we found distributors in Belgium and then Germany. We are also focused on French-speaking markets such as Martinique and Guadeloupe now that we have built up the language capability.

Building a strong brand has been important to us in France. Further to being awarded French and German trading licences (in 2011 and 2012, respectively) the Tricel brand for our environmental products became well established in those markets. This led us to the decision in 2014 to rebrand the whole company from Killarney Manufacturing Group to Tricel. It is quite a unique name globally and we have found since that it works well generally in international markets.

€1.5 billion in cost savings show that Lean thinking works for Irish exporters

Working from an island, as exporters must in Ireland, forces our businesses to be more competitive than those in the markets we sell to. The products and services that exporters develop here must offer customers more value than those of competitors. Irish exporters can’t just be good, they must be better. Recently, a milestone in achieving that ambition was realised.

More than 1,000 companies have now used Enterprise Ireland Lean Business supports to take practical steps to become more competitive and improve as exporters. While the outcome of the Brexit result increased urgency, competitiveness is not a new challenge for Irish business. Enterprise Ireland launched Lean programmes eight years ago, in response to the then financial crisis. Improving competitiveness can be a matter of survival in times of crisis but all companies benefit from learning how to increase profit margins, build skills, reduce waste and increase capacity.

Enterprise Ireland’s Lean Start, Plus and Transform programmes help companies at all levels of familiarity to find improvements, from design to manufacturing and service delivery, down to getting money lodged in the bank, through logistics and supply chain.

The results these first 1,000 companies have reported demonstrate that applying Lean thinking is a practical way to improve competitiveness, quickly. €1.5 billion in cost savings have been recorded. Lean thinking is also good for the domestic economy, with participating companies reporting a 10% increase in employment. Examples of what companies have achieved demonstrate the potential of Lean thinking for Irish exporters:

Thermo Air, a manufacturer and distributor of air and heating systems, reduced costs by 8% after completing Lean Start, reporting, “The implementation of Lean has been a very positive beginning to a change in the mindset of our traditional manufacturing company. The future success of the business is on the right trajectory.” The application of Lean thinking enabled the company to reduce lead times from six to three weeks, multiplying the number of orders handled.

• NutriScience, a manufacturer and distributor of animal supplements, reports, “This initiative was a real game changer. We went from being a reactive follower to being a proactive driver.” The company achieved €176,000 in savings, at 8.6% of turnover. In addition to a more engaged workforce and a safer work environment, lead time was reduced from an average of eight to a guaranteed three weeks.

 WhatClinic.com, a website that helps patients find clinics and book appointments, used Lean Start to implement a pre-sales process that boosted new business by 15% and increased their renewal rate to over 85%.

These examples show how practical Lean thinking programmes are. High-level thinking has been transformed into useful tactics that help companies improve today. The range of companies applying Lean thinking was clear at an event Enterprise Ireland recently co-hosted with the IDA in Maynooth. Speakers included representatives from the smallest companies to internationally award-winning practitioners. The depth of understanding attendees displayed shows that Lean thinking has been fully absorbed in Ireland. Experts travel to Ireland to learn about initiatives SMEs here are implementing. This December two Irish companies, Phonovation and Topflight, will host visitors from the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Co-operation as part of a Lean in Europe series of best practice visits.

Reaching 1,000 projects is a high level of adoption but Enterprise Ireland aims to see that figure quadrupled. The take-up rate of Lean Start, Plus and Transform is rising as companies that see initial results progress further and companies yet to start feel the urgency of not being left behind. Other Irish agencies are keen to replicate the success Enterprise Ireland-backed companies have achieved. The IDA and Local Enterprise Offices implemented programmes that show how Lean thinking can be applied to make major competitiveness improvements for both multinationals and smaller regional companies. Teagasc and Bord Bia are planning similar initiatives.

Companies that are interested in joining a programme should visit the Lean Business Ireland website to find detailed information about supports and get inspired by nearly one hundred case studies that show the savings and sales lean is already helping competitors to achieve.

Ceramicx – Using Technology Transfer for New Product Development

“Licensing new technology has enabled Ceramicx to develop cutting-edge innovation that will power the company’s latest wave of international growth.”

The Aston Martin BD9 touring car contains aluminium panels alongside fibre-reinforced plastic panels that are bound together with super-strength adhesive, developed by Irish company Ceramicx through an infrared heating process.

The West Cork-based company is now announcing a world-first in launching the Herschel, a machine that measures and maps infrared heating.

“Infrared is invisible, of course, so it’s a hard thing to quantify. Usually people measure infrared output as the heat produced as a secondary reaction, but the Herschel maps the output of an emitter in watts [power] per cm2,” explains Cathal Wilson, director at Ceramicx.

The technology, first pioneered at Trinity College Dublin’s Manufacturing Research Facility, is named after William Herschel, the German-born astronomer who moved to Britain in the eighteenth century and became famous for his large telescopes. He also discovered infrared radiation and the planet Uranus.

The licensing deal with Ceramicx and subsequent process of technology transfer was the fruit of an Innovation Partnership, part funded by Enterprise Ireland. In turn, it has unleashed a new avenue for international sales for the West Cork company.

Ceramicx is up-skilling its staff of 63 and preparing to double its floor space, adding further labs, offices and manufacturing capacity. The Ballydehob firm is no newbie, though. The company has been perfecting its infrared heat work for 25 years, and it exports to 65 countries, with key markets being China, Germany, UK and the US.

Ceramicx will use the breakthrough technology to further refine the infrared heaters and ovens it develops in-house for food and other manufacturers. But the company also expects demand for Herschel as a test instrument for large companies that rely on infrared energy in manufacturing.

Like baking a cake, there is a heat recipe in every material, and there are a number of variables that must be controlled to get the best, most efficient and most cost-effective solution. The Herschel will allow manufacturers to refine the dial on their heat recipe with amazing precision.

“There are probably five or six major companies in the world that would be interested in this new technology,” Wilson says. These include the likes of Corning Glass, European Aerospace, Boeing and leading-edge tech companies serving likes of NASA.

The company came to realise the need for a machine like Herschel after it had worked through a challenging assignment developing a finished oven for Corning Inc., the makers of the Gorilla Glass used in mobile devices such as the Apple and Samsung smartphones. A curved piece of glass 0.7mm-thick was required, and the initial calculation and trial stages of the glass finishing project engaged five Ceramicx engineers for over a week. “If I had been able to put the problem in front of the Herschel, I could essentially have had the figures immediately,” Wilson explains.

Within its own processes, the machine is enabling Ceramicx to create more energy efficient thermoforming machines for industry.

Another application is in the production of energy efficient ovens for manufacturers of foods such as biscuits, cereals and pizzas. Ceramicx has developed 12 food-industry related patents for Black and Decker, and the Irish company holds the commercial rights for the application of these patents in industrial-scale projects in Europe.

In the case of the Aston Martin BD9, Ceramicx designed and built not only a radiant infrared emitter, but it came up with the best possible solution so that the energy would be adequately absorbed, and the cure would take place in sympathy with the best chemical and mechanical characteristic of the bond. The result is an adhesive bond stronger than a weld, explains Wilson.

Commenting on the impact of Herschel, Cathal’s father, Ceramicx founder and managing director Frank Wilson observes: “For thousands of years, man has played with steel, trying out various heat works to it to make it suitable for certain jobs. In recent years, the plastics industry and other materials sectors have begun to realise that there is a whole range of heat work that can also be applied to improve the performance these materials also.” For these industries, he says, the benefits will be immeasurable.