Vector lnstruments is a small company specialising in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of wind measurement sensors & equipment. The companys marketplace is the UK, although it does export to mainland Europe through sales distributors. The company has a good reputation within the industry as a manufacturer of precision weather monitoring sensors. Vector Instruments products are typically installed at remote weather stations; airfields; ports and harbours. Operating in harsh and demanding environments, features such as high reliability, low maintenance and extended operating life are typical attributes of the companys product range.
The companys existing product range relies entirely on analogue device technology. Such technology has introduced several limitations in terms of product performance; future sales potential; calibration and set up costs. The application experiment enabled the company to adopt microcontroller technology which led to the following benefits:
- Improved product flexibility, as follows :
- - The ability to connect a range of sensors to a monitoring node
- - The facility to re-program the system software remotely
- - High operational accuracy over a wide temperature and voltage range
- - Multi-mode output capability (alphanumeric; analogue display; current loop; Fieldbus or relay contacts)
- - Gateways to other fieldbus protocols
- - Connection to a radio modem for data transfer
- - Low power mode / battery operation (previously unavailable)
- Improved systems potential : Each user can now customise their monitoring system
- Enhanced technical performance, i.e a more competitive product.
The overall result enabled the company to develop a competitive advantage for the improved product, and to respond more flexibly to customer enquiries.
The cost of the application experiment (ie the prototype development phase) was 88 KECU . The planned duration was 10 months and the actual time to the completion of the prototype was 13 months.
A further period of industrialisation (see section 15) was required to produce a marketable product, at an additional cost estimated at 60kECU. Marketing costs are estimated to be approximately 14kECU during the first year of introduction.
The improved product now provides Vector Instruments with a significant commercial and technical advantage, and is opening up opportunities in a variety of new markets.
The projected payback period on the investment is 4 years and the return on investment 123% over the 7 year life of the product. The payback and ROI calculations include the cost of the development phase (88kECU); industrialisation (60kECU) and marketing effort (14kECU) , which totals 162kECU
The target audience for this document is as follows :
- Owners and managers of small companies who manufacture electronic modules containing discrete analogue components
- Companies who manufacture mature products which are losing their competitiveness due to out of date technology
- Instrument manufacturers who are looking to develop a networked approach to their instrumentation range