Safe Training Systems Ltd (STS) have for the last 20 years been developing and manufacturing simulated instruments for training personnel who may encounter ionising radiation either in the workplace or when attending an incident.
Whilst STS have a well established and proven capability in the simulation of radioactive contamination instrumentation they have faced greater difficulties with the simulation of radiation fields.
Their existing system using microwave technology provided a reasonable solution but had one major flaw, microwaves are very directional and ionising radiation is not. STS therefore seized the opportunity to work the University of Reading on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project to develop and produce a new simulation system with an isotropic field pattern.
Up until this point the company had relied on sub-contractors to carry out all development work – particularly in the electronics and software areas. However, through the KTP a graduate from Reading’s Physics degree course was employed as the Associate on a 2 year project which finished in April this year.
STS had high hopes for the development project, both in terms of the project outcome and the transferred knowledge and skills which the Associate could bring to the company. The desired outcome of the project was to produce a working instrument, but achievements have exceeded far beyond this, by producing a family of four instruments; all utilising the same technology and all ready for sale. The company has been delighted with the products produced, the “Safe-Series”, which are now on sale in the UK with launches in Europe later this year and scheduled to launch in the USA in 2014.
The real bonus to the company has been the Associate accepting a position of Technical Manager with STS and the additional in-house skill base that he brings with him. A fundamental understanding of physics and its implementation into STS products, PCB design and development, software coding and implementation into user interfaces and screen controls, advanced mathematical analysis of generated data and much more.
Jim Ward, Operations Manager and Company Supervisor on the KTP project said “As a micro SME our edge as a business is in our ability to be flexible and fast, and to respond to market demands in a way which larger businesses with greater overheads and complicated administrative processes cannot achieve. Bringing in-house technical skills into our portfolio will further enable us to not only react to market demands but also to be proactive in the continued development of our product ranges without the burden of subcontractors costs and timescales.”
The launch of STS new product range took place at the 50th Annual Society for Radiation Professionals event in Harrogate in May. The response to the new “Safe-Series” was overwhelmingly positive and generated a great deal of interest. STS are currently working through the leads generated – by far the best response from an exhibition in many years for STS.
Jim Ward summarised his KTP experience with “The whole KTP process has reinvigorated our business by introducing new skills, fresh ideas, new collaborations and partnerships with industry and academics, but most importantly a new revenue stream which early signs indicate will pay back our investment many times over.”