Automotive consultancy takes Grand Prix at 2014 BEEAs

Leading engineering consultancy and driveline solutions provider, Romax Technology, has won the Grand Prix prize at the 2014 British Engineering Excellence Awards (BEEAs), held today in London.

Now in their sixth year, the BEEAs promote the quality of engineering design in the UK and celebrate those companies that have demonstrated the skills, invention and dedication to compete on an international stage.

This year, the Awards drew entries from all corners of the UK's engineering community and from companies working in a wide range of industries – showing the real strength and depth of UK design engineering.

Romax Technology – a global business with headquarters in the UK – was also named as the Consultancy of the Year. It offers consulting, software and design solutions, as well as support for bearings and gearboxes, to customers in markets ranging from automotive to wind energy.

However, it excels mainly in the automotive market, where it works with 14 of the 15 top car makers.

Commenting on the company's outstanding success, Chairman of the Judges and previous BEEAs Grand Prix winner, Andrew Burrows, said: "The Judges felt that any organisation that manages to do business with more than one manufacturer in a competitive market must have something special going for it. But when you find a consultancy working for more than 100 automotive companies – and 14 of the top 15 car makers – then that company is truly an example of British Engineering Excellence."

Such is Romax Technology's pre-eminence in its markets that it has managed to triple the size of its consulting business since 2009.

The judges described it as: "A company that has grown significantly through a time of global upheaval in a challenging market sector by offering advanced engineering to some of the biggest automotive players."

Ed Tranter, Executive Director of Awards Organiser Findlay Media, added: "Romax Technology was one of a number of exceptional entries received this year. Through every category, the judges were deeply impressed by the quality of engineering put forward and the talent behind it. My personal congratulations go to all those entrants that were shortlisted and of course to the winners."

BRITISH ENGINEERING EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNERS 2014
Small Company of the Year
Lime Microsystems
Sponsor: D Young and Co LLP

With much of UK engineering consisting of smaller companies, it was no surprise that this proved a keenly-fought sector. The judges were delighted to note that this key sector was still producing highly innovative and successful companies.
This year's Small Company of the Year is Lime Microsystems, which specialises in field programmable RF transceivers for the next generation of wireless broadband systems. The Judges were keen to reward the fact that Lime Microsystems has not only pioneered RF technology, but has also promoted open systems in the sector.
The Judges also noted Lime Microsystems' remarkable growth and that it has a good plan for achieving more.

Start Up of the Year
Aeguana Digital
Sponsor: Cambridge Consultants

Starting a new company has never been more challenging. But challenges are what entrepreneurs relish and entrepreneurs are what keep business moving forward.
Founded in 2012, Aeguana Digital has been able to bring innovation to an apparently mature market: wall mounted vending. Its Digital Vend machine – based on the Raspberry Pi – is not only cost effective and reliable; it also provides real time data to the operator and allows digital content to be 'pushed' to it.

Design Team of the Year
Houlder
Sponsor: techUK

This category recognises the achievements of design teams in the creation of electronic or mechanical products or systems. In assessing entries, the Judges were looking at the original product specification and how well the final design met the requirements, as well as such factors as the design decisions made and factors such as the application of technology and the degree of innovation.
Houlder's design team got to grips with the challenge of developing a system that could hold wind turbine piles weighing up to 650tonnes and to do so in up to 40m of water.
The Judges were impressed by the fact that the Houlder team had to consider numerous innovative solutions to integration challenges, both between components and with ship deck features and systems in order to deliver a spectacular piece of engineering.
"A fantastic example of a huge, multidisciplinary project that meets a unique and demanding engineering challenge," said the Judges.

Green Product of the Year
The LC Super Hybrid from Controlled Power Technologies
Sponsor: National Instruments

The Green Design of the Year Award was judged on the application of appropriate technology to the design of the entered product. The Judges looked for evidence of the product's 'green' credentials, including the ability to be recycled at end of life, use of appropriate materials, and consideration of the product's carbon footprint.
The Judges were impressed by the fact that Controlled Power Technologies' product enables a 1.4 litre engine in the demonstrator vehicles to be recalibrated, increasing power and torque. In the 12V demonstrator, there was a 7% reduction in CO2 emissions, while initial calibration of the 48V demonstrator suggests a 13% reduction.
In the Judges' opinion, the entry was: "A real world solution to one of the world's biggest environmental issues: how to make clean electric motoring affordable and accessible."

Materials Application of the Year
The Nylacast Electric Power Steering Worm Wheel
Sponsor: Engineering Materials Magazine

In this category, the Judges were looking for the innovative application of materials to improve a product or system, or a way in which an innovation in material development has helped to meet an engineering challenge.
In particular, they looked for evidence of how the design of a product has exploited a material and its properties and how the material and application have combined to offer significant advantages over more traditional solutions.
The Judges were impressed by the way in which Nylacast used its materials and engineering expertise to create a product which improves the performance of a safety critical part of a car and to meet the specific challenges posed by the automotive industry.
Not only does the worm wheel – made from a combination of a custom formulated 6.12 copolymer and a steel hub – improve power steering performance, it also reduces carbon emissions and increases fuel economy.

New Product of the Year (Electronic)
CSRmesh
Sponsor: Digi-Key

In assessing entries for this category, the Judges looked at the technology used and the speed with which the design had been brought to market. They were looking for evidence of how the company assessed the need for such a product and, in the case of an upgraded product, how cost was reduced and performance improved over the previous generation.
CSRmesh is a protocol layer that runs on top of the Bluetooth 4.0 standard. By using the existing Bluetooth standard, it enables consumer products to interact directly with other devices in the network. The Judges were impressed by the potentially huge market for which the company is making a bold play.

New Product of the Year (Mechanical)
The Hi-Traq from IHC
Sponsor: Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)

Mechanical products come in all shapes and sizes, but IHC's Hi-Traq subsea crawler vehicle is big. And the design challenges involved were equally large. The Judges were impressed by how they were overcome.
As with the electronics category, the Judges looked at the technology used and the speed with which the design had been brought to market. They were looking for evidence of how the company assessed the need for such a product and, in the case of an upgraded product, how cost was reduced and performance was improved over the previous generation.
The vehicle has a self levelling control system and four independently driven track undercarriages, improving performance in shallow water.
The Judges described the winning design as: "A world first turnkey project that met all customer requirements in an extremely challenging environment."

Young Design Engineer of the Year
Joel Gibbard, The Open Hand Project
Sponsor: RS Components

The judges were keen to emphasise their delight at just how incredibly closely fought this category was, feeling that the excellence of so many candidates was indicative of a bright future for UK engineering.
The Judges in this category wanted to see a demonstration of the knowledge with which the young engineer has had to apply, the contribution made to a project, the degree of innovation applied and the nominee's personal qualities.
Of course, there could only be one winner, and this year the Judges decided to give the accolade of Young Design Engineer of the Year to Joel Gibbard. Over the last year, Joel has worked to design Dextrus, a low cost robotic prosthetic hand. The Open Hand Project is innovative and one that uses 3D printing as a manufacturing process.
The Judges were impressed by the fact that the hand is not being developed for Joel's gain. Instead, it is an open source project that will not only this make the hand more widely available, it will also allow the design to be improved as users feed back their experiences.
"A highly motivated, dedicated young engineer with multidisciplinary skills and an impressive record of achievement already," said the Judges.

Design Engineer of the Year
Mike Franklin of Crawley Creatures and Peter Greenhalgh of ARM (Joint winners)
Sponsor: Premier EDA Solutions

It's often hard to pick the winner of any BEEAs award, but this year picking a winner in this category proved impossible. Mike's ability to achieve remarkable innovation often with a tight budget and limited resources impressed the judges hugely, as did Peter's work in driving the development of processor cores at ARM.
The Judges saw Mike as 'achieving deep innovation using creativity, originality and ingenuity – all while working with limited resources and to extremely tight deadlines'.
Peter, meanwhile, was perceived as 'a leading creative force behind one of the world's – let alone the UK's – great design engineering success stories'.

Consultancy of the Year
Romax Technology
Sponsor: Institution of Engineering Designers

In identifying the Consultancy of the Year, the Judges looked for evidence of the speed with which projects had been delivered, along with the range of technologies handled by the company. Other critical factors were the ratio of concepts to final products and the degree of innovation applied.
The Judges were not only impressed by the way in which Romax Technology had, on average, grown by 30% a year over the last five years, but also because it has developed a reputation such that 14 of the world's top 15 automotive manufacturers use its specialist engineering consultancy, software and services. They described it as "A company that had grown significantly through a time of global upheaval in a challenging market sector by offering advanced engineering to some of the biggest automotive players."

Author
Laura Hopperton

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