• 18 Jan

    Bournemouth University student takes top prize for Productiv placement

    21-year-old David was an integral part of the Productiv manufacturing team and has since been offered a graduate role.

    After a year in industry supporting Productiv’s manufacturing team, Bournemouth University student David Clucas has taken home the University’s Science and Technology Faculty placement prize for his time here.

    The 21-year-old was particularly commended for becoming an ‘integral part of the manufacturing team’ and has since been offered a graduate role upon completion of his design engineering degree next June.

    “Talk of a ‘skills gap’ has been in the news a lot recently, so it’s great to see students like David breaking through the negativity and demonstrating the true value they can bring to UK engineering when they are given the support and the opportunities they need,” said Productiv managing director Anand Lakhani.

    “From day one, David was an integral part of the team, introducing new processes, contributing to meetings and overseeing the development of new, clean technologies. We were so impressed with his performance that we’ve offered him a position as one of Productiv’s graduate engineers as soon as he completes his degree.”

    Bournemouth University’s placement competition is held each year, with six prizes per department and an overall faculty winner.

    “From day one, David introduced new processes, contributed to meetings and oversaw the development of new, clean technologies.”

    Anand Lakhani, managing director, Productiv

    “Placements are a critical part of a student’s course,” explained Andy Blackburn, placement development adviser for the Faculty of Science & Technology at Bournemouth University. “They allow students to put theory into practice, try new roles, and develop ‘soft skills’ and other life skills that they will need after graduation.”

    “David was able to demonstrate how he’d applied his course, but also how he’d added value to Productiv during his time there.

    “In addition to working on numerous new products for Productiv, he also created his own project office, demonstrating the advanced engineering skills, leadership, maturity and tenacity needed to get the most out of his placement.”

    Here’s what David had to say:

    “A placement at Productiv ticked all the boxes. Being a smaller company, it had more opportunities for graduates and students to get involved and feel like a part of the team.

    “These opportunities will become even more important as the older generation retires. I’d advise aspiring engineers to network and take advantage of as many placement opportunities as they can, regardless of whether they choose to do a degree or an apprenticeship.”

    If you’re looking to developing your skills in engineering, or gain some valuable work experience, take a look at Productiv’s latest opportunities for students and graduates here.

    Want to hear more about David’s time at Productiv? Check out his blog here.

    By Anand Lakhani Uncategorized
  • 18 Jan
    Boosting the signal: How Productiv and Bladon Jets brought connectivity to the world’s most remote areas

    Boosting the signal: How Productiv and Bladon Jets brought connectivity to the world’s most remote areas

    Mobile phones have changed the way in which the world communicates, but their functionality can only be as good as the signal they receive.

    The demand for mobile network availability is growing in the world’s more remote and inaccessible regions, creating a major challenge for companies in this sector: how to develop new, robust telecommunications infrastructure that’s reliable, simple to install and inexpensive to maintain.

    The development of new mobile networks tends to be expensive. In populated areas, energy and maintenance account for over half of a phone mast operator’s costs. In more remote areas, particularly certain parts of Asia and Africa, access to a consistent source of power is rarely guaranteed, which only pushes the price even higher. This means that companies need alternative sources of power to enable development of remote mobile networks.

    Next gen gensets?

    The use of a diesel generator, or genset, has been the traditional approach to tackling this issue. While generally reliable, these units must be refuelled regularly – a substantial undertaking if there are multiple masts located many miles apart on poor quality roads. Regular breakdowns can also occur, particularly if an operator is not monitoring a unit regularly via a predictive maintenance system, for example. Other disadvantages of diesel gensets include inefficiency (because they run at a constant speed), noise, pollution and their desirability as a target for thieves.

    These issues are causing a shift towards less energy-intensive power sources with lower maintenance requirements, more reliability and added security. Among these technologies is the microturbine genset (MTG), a multi-fuel generator for phone masts that is currently being championed by UK company Bladon.

    Moving on to MTG

    In contrast to diesel gensets, MTGs can run off a mixture of different fuel types, such as diesel, kerosene or a combination of the two. This, along with the fact that MTG parts cannot be used in traditional diesel gensets or road vehicles, helps to deter thieves by making it more difficult for the unit to be repurposed elsewhere. Each MTG can also be monitored and controlled remotely in real time with a special controller that is supplied with the product.

    Crucially, an MTG requires fewer service visits than a diesel genset, thus significantly reducing maintenance costs for operators. Depending on the location, MTGs can last a month (as opposed to several days) before an on-site service is needed.

    Bladon’s story

    Coventry-based Bladon is one of the world’s first manufacturers of microturbine gensets for the telecoms market. Supported by venture engineering services provider Productiv, Bladon has developed the Bladon MTG, an ultra-low vibration product and the world’s only EURO V Compliant 12kW diesel genset. At <65dB per 1m, it is also the quietest genset on the market.

    The company developed its first prototype of the Bladon MTG in 2014 but did not have the in-house resources to optimise its manufacturing design and commercialise the product. As Bladon’s director Philip Lelliott explains, additional help was needed to take the prototype forward:

    “We were looking at several possible markets and applications for the prototype, including range extension for electric vehicles. In the end, it was Productiv that worked with us when the telecoms market was identified.”

    Bladon soon asked Productiv to get involved in the design, manufacture and commercialisation processes, with speed of the essence in all three cases.

    “The Productiv team started by validating the design and recommending adjustments,” Philip says. “We then revised these designs based on their feedback and started looking at suitable opportunities and penetration points in the telecoms market.”

    Getting it right first time

    As the company agreed the final design and came closer to assembly, Productiv supported Bladon by developing what it calls a ‘guided sequence’. This broke down the assembly of each MTG into 1,000 individual steps, including: powerplant insulation, electrical wiring, fuel and air systems, dump resistors, door locking mechanisms, powerplant mounting, turbine and alternators, cabinet panels, combustors, battery assembly, and final assembly.

    Productiv then reviewed each step to ensure that it was optimised, while removing any stages that the team deemed unnecessary, collating the remaining steps into a clear, easy-to-follow guide.

    The Productiv team identified several potential issues during this process. Access to the recuperator-end of the powerplant insulation, for example, was restricted, making it difficult to insert fixing bolts. The insulation material’s thickness was also inconsistent, which meant that an engineer had to individually measure each component before cutting the material.

    The installation of the dump resistors also risked incorrect orientation and assembly of the system. In these cases, Productiv created clear photographic guides to demonstrate best practice for assembly, as well as an idea of what the components should look like once complete.

    “The guided sequence that Productiv created has since become our assembly team’s bible,” Philip says. “We’re now installed at Productiv’s own facility, The Proving Factory, where we plan to manufacture one MTG every 12 minutes.”

    A Productiv partnership

    Bladon Jets is now entering volume production for its MTG, which may soon power many of the millions of phone masts available worldwide. The company has also received its first major order from a leading mobile phone tower operator.

    “Correct assembly of the MTGs has been vital to ensuring quality control and optimum performance,” Philip says. “The Productiv team’s painstaking efforts to identify and address any possible issues has helped us to create a complete assembly blueprint which we can now take forward into volume production.”

    For further information visit www.productivgroup.com.

    By Anand Lakhani Uncategorized
  • 09 Jan

    Hydrogen multi-rotor UAV with 5kg payload achieves FIRST EVER hour-long test flight

    UAV featuring an Intelligent Energy class-leading lightweight hydrogen Fuel Cell Power Module

    A project to develop a hydrogen fuel cell powered multi-rotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), has beaten its original test flight target of 60 minutes with a 5 kg payload, setting an exciting new benchmark for flight time and payload in the commercial UAV industry.

    Project RACHEL, supported by Innovate UK, is led by venture engineering company Productiv on behalf of the UK’s leading UAV filming specialists BATCAM. The UAV is powered by fuel cells from Intelligent Energy, whose team has significant expertise and a proven track record in producing some of the world’s lightest and most power-dense fuel cell stacks for commercial UAVs.

    The initial target of the project was to achieve 60 minutes of continuous flight while carrying a 5 kg payload. The Lithium Polymer battery powered UAVs flown by BATCAM allow around 12 minutes of useable flight. The recent test of the purpose-built fuel cell powered UAV saw it fly for an uninterrupted 70 minutes carrying a 5 kg payload. This was achieved on a UAV with below 20 kg maximum take-off mass, using a 6-litre cylinder containing hydrogen gas compressed to 300 bar.

    “This innovation opens up new opportunities for commercial UAV operators.”

    Jonathan Reed, Productiv

    The project will complete early in 2019 with BATCAM carrying out real-world end-user trials. Successful completion of the project will bring major benefits for those involved in commercial UAV usage, in sectors such as mining, agriculture, surveying and monitoring, security, and emergency services.

    Intelligent Energy has completed the integration work and BATCAM has advised on design requirements, project targets and has piloted the test flights. In addition, Intelligent Energy is commissioning and trialling a user-friendly, cost-effective, portable refuelling solution from NanoSUN, a specialist supplier of hydrogen fuel systems.

    Productiv’s role includes programme management, business model planning, design for manufacture and supply chain optimisation, with the aim of having all components sourced within the UK.

    Jonathan Reed of Productiv commented: “The effectiveness of UAVs is limited by their flight time and payload capacity. This innovation opens up new opportunities for commercial UAV operators.

    “Operators need longer flight times than can be delivered with batteries and are therefore seeking alternative power sources with higher power density. Hydrogen power has huge potential here, and we anticipate a significant growth in the market for hydrogen-powered UAVs in the next few years.”

    The UAV achieved 70 minutes of continuous flight with a 5kg payload

    Jon Hurndall, CEO of BATCAM, commented “I congratulate all partners on this fantastic achievement. It is great to see product innovation and continued development with hydrogen fuel cells for UAVs – these represent a viable alternative to Lithium Polymer batteries which are not only difficult and costly to transport internationally but largely inefficient in comparison to hydrogen. A 60-minute-plus flight time with a large payload creates many opportunities, not only with our existing broadcast clients but in other commercial markets and sectors. We are eager to explore these opportunities in 2019.”

    David Woolhouse, CEO at Intelligent Energy, said: “Here at Intelligent Energy we are committed to helping our UAV customers solve the problem of flight time. We welcome this Innovate UK funded project as it further embeds the integration of fuel cell technology for the benefit of the industry.

    “The advantages of fuel cells over batteries for our customers are clear; fast refuel, no vibration, quiet operation, zero emission at point of use and three times more flight time than batteries. Fuel cells are a game-changer for the commercial UAV market.

    Watch the test flight here or find out more information at www.thehydrogendrone.com.

    By Anand Lakhani Uncategorized
  • 04 Jan

    Green transport programme for Productiv and Dearman reaches key milestone

    An environmental transport programme led by Dearman Engine Company and venture engineering specialists Productiv has successfully delivered a prototype of a liquid nitrogen (LiN) pump – a key milestone for the project.

    The £15 million CEMZEP programme – standing for ‘Cryogenic Engines for Mobile Zero Emission Power’ – is developing zero-emission technology to replace the inefficient diesel engines used for refrigeration in commercial food transport vehicles.

    Unlike a transport vehicle’s main engines, systems used for refrigeration are not subject to stringent regulation and offer great scope for improvement.

    This technology will play a major role in reducing the environmental impact of these vehicles on the world’s roads, particularly in cities. The project is supported by the Advanced Propulsion Centre.

    Productiv supported Dearman’s initial design for the engine’s LiN pump by applying its Production Oriented Prototyping™ process to optimise the design for cost, manufacture and assembly.

    The prototype pumps were manufactured at The Proving Factory®, Productiv’s Coventry-based facility, less than three months after they were initially designed.

    Productiv is now also producing extensive quality documentation and reporting to enable series production of the final pump, once testing and validation are complete.

    The Proving Factory, Coventry

    The pump will now be connected to the LiN cryogenic tank for validation and testing. The tank was manufactured by Wessington Cryogenics, another project partner.

    Productiv project leader Matt Hardwick commented: “This is a significant project, not just in reducing vehicle emissions, but in reducing the cost and energy needed to cool large vehicles.

    “It’s a superb example of how our expertise is making a positive difference to cleantech developments – not just in transportation, but across sectors such as energy production and storage as well.”

    Additional partners in the CEMZEP project include: Loughborough University, Air Products plc, and Hubbard Products Ltd. It is scheduled for completion in July 2019.

    By Anand Lakhani Uncategorized
  • 04 Jan

    Productiv appoints Warwick PR agency to further business success

    Left: Richard Bruges, CEO of Productiv. Right: Luke Bull, senior associate director at Prova PR.

    Productiv has awarded transport, technology and cleantech communications consultancy Prova PR a full-service contract to further its business success.

    The communications programme, which will driven by Prova, will support Productiv’s ambitious plans to double its turnover within three years by attracting the next wave of technology developers, investors, team members and OEM partners.

    Productiv chief executive Richard Bruges commented: “As a business, we’ve undergone enormous change over the past few years. This has allowed us to continue to support the evolving needs of small and large companies that want to bring clean-tech products to market, rapidly and cost-effectively.

    “We believe in British manufacturing, innovation and entrepreneurship. That’s why we’re committed to helping fledgling businesses to fly. Our offering in the field of venture engineering is unique and the time is right to start telling our story to the wider world.

    “Prova, with its focus on the sectors we serve, is the right partner to deliver that.”

    Richard Postins, managing director at Prova added: “Productiv has impressive capabilities, supporting a range of significant clean tech innovations across a broad spectrum of sectors.

    “The company’s story will interest numerous audiences and it’s one we look forward to telling across online and traditional media, as well as social and digital channels, and key industry and stakeholder events.

    “As with all our campaigns, our focus is on delivering a measurable commercial benefit for our clients. We are setting ambitious targets in terms of return on investment for Productiv.”

    Prova serves key clients across the transport, technology and cleantech sectors, including the AA, MG, Honda, Euro Car Parts, Lorax, Duvas and CooperOstlund – as well as fast-growing university spin-out businesses. The company’s unique experience adds commercial value well beyond the field of marketing communications.

    By Anand Lakhani Uncategorized