The last year has flown by and in the past 12 months everything has changed.
From moving into our new offices to creating a full Sales and Marketing Team we’ve helped achieve incredible things in sectors as wide ranging as Telecommunications, Smart Technology and many more. We’ve provided expertise on super low power and low cost IoT devices for the future and we also saved one customer over 57% in material costs. We’re growing ever closer as a team of talented engineers with significant plans for growth in the next year.
Home sweet home
After a mad dash to move into our brand-new offices on Nottingham Science Park just before lockdown we’ve established dedicated working areas for 3D printers, a mini-SMT area.
Our new premises is particularly useful, for customers, due to the purpose built lab which offers a spacious testing area. This facility will allow us to expand our range of services to you in the coming months as well as offering remote advice. We’ve already added two environmental chambers to verify product functionality over a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels.
In addition, we have a separate electronics lab upstairs for bring-up. debugging, inspection and test as well as a large office space. This allows us to keep confidential projects away from our meeting room area when it’s safe to invite people in.
Our Team Expanded
3 years trading, 40+ years’ experience
With more customers joining us on a regular basis we brought on Poppy, our newly promoted Sales Manager, who keeps customers updated and works seamlessly with the engineers. We also recruited our own in-house Marketing Manager as recently as June 2020, Hannah Ingram, who has a strong background in technical sectors.
Our Engineering team are the perfect blend of expertise with domain experience in many sectors.
See our full team on our About Us page.
A whole new remote world
After moving into our new offices, we realised that lockdown was imminent. We put plans in place for IT and working practises to minimise disruption and to ensure long term remote working could be effective. We started to work from our various home offices and labs a week before the official announcement was made which gave us time to test our systems and to put further continuity measures into place if lockdown got even stricter.
We operate with Team Meeting chats each morning to keep the team bond strong and to stay up-to-date with all of our projects, sharing our expertise between each other. Another important part of this is our twice weekly virtual coffee breaks which gives us time to catch up on the casual conversations. These often have an eclectic mix of topic areas including online gaming, gardening, family, camping, holiday plans, new-technology and more.
Utilising remote means to communicate has actually allowed us to work better with customers. Using a mixed blend of video calls, recordings and team instant messaging has allowed us to work with customers directly including companies in the South of England and even the Middle East.
Here’s a reminder of where we started, in a backroom of our MD’s house with a small director’s loan. From there Richard brought Steven Richardson on board and we moved into our ‘cupboard under the stairs’ mid-way home on the Nottingham Campus.
Our recent knowledge of building a successful brand places us perfectly to help advise start-ups trying to make a successful business in a short time, because we’ve been there. In addition our engineer’s longevity in their fields and newer knowledge means we can help companies of all sizes and many locations.
Cool projects we did in 2019/2020
Many of our customers need to keep our involvement in their projects under wraps whilst products are completed, and sometimes for a long time after launch, so we’ve quickly become skilled at talking about projects without giving away sensitive details.
Over the past year we’ve completely re-written the software for a meshing radio system to reduce the power consumption, increase the reliability and to add some finesse to the user experience. The power usage has been reduced so that the same batteries, on the same hardware, now last over 2 years instead of the starting point of 3 months.
It was a proud moment when we saw TV commercials appear for a product that we supported on the design, working on the connectivity, power and audio features. There’s nothing quite like seeing a product become a great success to bring job satisfaction to the team involved.
Cost and compliance also continued to be important themes during the year. We were involved in reducing the costs of a set of high volume and well-known products and were part of the team to relocate their manufacturing. We also addressed numerous electro-magnetic compliance and obsolescence issues brought to us.
The future of Ignys
Our business model is all about helping bring ideas to life. This often starts as a sketch on the back of a napkin but can also include a full and detailed requirement specification or an existing product that doesn’t quite work properly.
Meanwhile the end point for some companies is utilising our team as a technology demonstrator to aid market research or to get investment funding. The majority of the projects become a manufacturable commercial product that more than pays for the product development investment and delivers profit and growth to the companies we work with. We hope to bring on even more engineering capacity and capabilities, carefully selecting these resources to bring the best expertise to you.
RF says “The Ignys business has grown and developed quickly since its founding. There is a very clear demand for electronics and software development that is only likely to continue accelerating. The need for remote sensing, connectivity, monitoring and control has been accelerated through the pandemic.”
What about your plans?
That’s enough about us. What are your plans this year? Whatever they are we want to help you get there. If you need to review your existing products to extend their lifecycle or have a brand-new concept on the back of an envelope get in touch.Talk to Ignys
A trip down memory lane….
A nostalgic look at our first birthday and how far we’ve come!
Today is our first birthday!
In our first year Ignys has:
- Helped multiple customers with their product development.
- Moved into office space, with dedicated lab area, on the University of Nottingham’s Innovation Park
- Recruited a Senior Electronics Engineer
- Invested in software tools and equipment for our fully-kitted electronics labs, allowing us to design electronics, layout printed circuit boards, populate low volume prototypes for test, undertake full design proving and do basic conducted and radiated emission Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) pre-compliance.
- Established tools and processes to robustly support our future growth
- Over-achieved our first year revenue targets by 160%
In the first year we have helped:
- A startup to improve their firmware delivery management for energy storage systems and motor drives. This gave them control, visibility and predictability in their firmware development.
- A leading smart home IoT company to cost reduce their main IoT smart home hub and sensors. We improved the radio range on WiFi and Zigbee and check alternate components for suitability in difficult supply chain environment. Forecast savings on the smart hub alone are in excess of $2.5 million (£1.9million) per year
- A well established design and manufacturing company to get up to speed with Altium Designer for schematic, pcb and mechanical design integration. We also reviewed and laid out a complex, multi-radio printed circuit board for them which worked first time.
- A company with radio interlinked products resolve battery voltage reading issues, review and update of the system design for their new product, act as technical lead for product approvals, and undertake hardware design of their main platform and ancillary board electronics.
- A contract electronics manufacturer with a large development project establishing form factor and breakdown of design between circuit boards. We have been focusing on cost and quality, and delivering a rigid flex interconnect board and designs for power supplies, audio amplifier, microphone pre-amp, Gigabit ethernet switch and USB3 connectivity.
- An Australian based start up company with an innovative idea for a trailer and caravan towing product to produce market research test equipment which was used to ensure the design specification was correct.
- Supported a new company which has struggled with a previous failed product development project with project review and project kickoff meeting help. We supported them as technical advisers ensuring their outsourced project had robust plans and could start on a sure footing
This first year has been a steep learning curve. The learning has not all been in the technology aspects. Although working on new and interesting projects always brings some additional learning, the learnings have mainly been in ways to best help our customers achieve their goals.
From the outset we set a target of delivering projects on time and working to specification. This sounds obvious as our help is often only part of a larger project involving plastics design, marketing, production ramp up and product launch. Our customers rely on us delivering our parts of the project on time as expected. Things can, of course, change during development. But, by sticking to the principles of checking the hard parts first, we can often de-risk projects and add value during the development journey.
One example of this was on a project where, early on, we worked with the project plastics enclosure product designer. We put together a rough schematic of major silicon components and connectors and wiring up critical high speed and power nets. Trial placement of components and routing of critical nets allowed the project plastics design to progress with confidence in parallel with the electronics design. If this step wasn’t taken, it was likely that the electronics design in the project would have been compromised. At best this could have resulted in having to populate components on both sides of the printed circuit board increasing complexity and processing cost. At worst the signal integrity of the critical high speed nets would have been compromised, leading to an unreliable or non-working design.
Another key learning is ensuring the delivery scope of each project phase is well defined, this ensures that our customers are clear what is being delivered and allows discussions early on to ensure the development fits into the customer project.
Scheduling of activities is key to ensuring we can deliver on project activities. We use MS Project to plan project activity and to then act as an activity scheduling tool to ensure that every day is only spent once and that we are keenly aware of key dates, production shutdown times and team holidays.
Cashflow is king
A key responsibility of the business is to stay in business to ensure we can serve our customers needs on their various projects. Both now and in the future. To do this we have a focus on cash flow. This means ensuring timely project stage gate invoicing and follow up where invoices are late being paid and on maintaining a cash flow forecast to review before investing in additional capital equipment.
We’ve learned that the typical time from initially talking to a customer about a project and actually starting the project itself can be around three months. Then projects are like buses – nothing happens for a while and then two or three come along at once.
The Right Resources at the right time
From the outset we knew there was a lack of experienced, capable and talented electronics engineers available in the market. This was why Ignys was set up in the first place. The many SMEs we have talked to over the last year have confirmed this. That’s great for our business but a challenge for UK SMEs. One company we spoke to captured it very well, he said that “once we’ve had a product idea we’re losing money until its in the market”.
Working with a variety of companies also confirmed how effective it can be to outsource electronics development. Many companies don’t have their own lab facilities supported with world class software packages and systems and it wouldn’t be cost effective to spin up a team for a short term project. We’ve seen projects where the project cost is in the region of £30-£40k for the full electronics development yet which allowed a product with a £4million per year revenue, good value indeed.
Our Key Principles
For each of the projects we have stuck to our key principles of:
- testing the hardest/most risky parts first
- do it right using capable and experienced engineers
- involve the customer in key decisions
- peer review the design
- thoroughly test the design
- document the design where necessary
It has been a great year; tough, but great. We’ve exceeded our financial target and we’ve set an even bigger one for this year. We’ve worked with some great clients and are actively looking for more. We want to add, at least, two more to the team this year too. If you’re reading this and have been a client: thank you. If you would like to be a client, give us a call.
Off to blow out the candles…..
Want to see where we are now? Why not start a chat directly?