Transmission Dynamics Raises 1,2M For Smart Oil Plug Which Will Monitor The Condition Of Rail Gearboxes

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Below is our recent interview with Aidan Brierley, Project Engineer at Transmission Dynamics:

Q: Could you tell us your story and something more about Transmission Dynamics?

A: Following a successful career in academic engineering, as a researcher, Jarek Rosinski began Transmission Dynamics (JR Dynamics Ltd) in 2006, as an engineering consultancy of just two people. Initially the work was split between building the business (literally – constructing the office and workshop, buying and installing machinery) and delivering exceptional solutions, initially for clients in rotating machinery applications. Since these humble beginnings, the company has steadily grown to over twenty five engineers, specialists, technicians, and researchers, covering a broad range of expertise from mechanical design to embedded software – and including eccentricities including professional-level photography, research chemistry, a number of musicians, and experience in an unique breadth and depth of engineering problem solving.

In the last ten years the team have dealt with clients spanning fields which include rail, defence, transportation, construction, automotive, and power generation – among others. What sets us apart initially is our attitude to the design process and our perseverance to deliver nothing but the best in both technical delivery and in aesthetics. Our design process is initially iterative, making use of rapid design cycles, using a majority of the available time to arrive at a near-perfect design before proceeding to manufacture (all of which is carried out in-house) and testing. This in turn allows for lightning-fast turnaround, beautifully designed products, and a “right first time” approach to manufacture. Over the past few years our business has converted from a consultancy to a high node value Internet of Things operation.

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Q: What does your client base look like and how did it start?

A: Two of our largest initial clients (and we are still working closely with both) were Ford and Gamesa, in automotive and renewable power generation work streams respectively. Work then grew steadily through a number of large and small clients. Now our client register is impressive (and can be seen on our website) but includes engineering and industrial giants such as Rolls-Royce, Siemens, Schlumberger, and GE. Although we started work in areas around rotating machinery troubleshooting and specifically gearboxes, we have now developed our expertise in many additional fields including medical devices, sensor design, renewables, rail vehicle condition monitoring, automobile engine design, electronic device diagnostics…

Q: You have recently raised £1,2M could you tell us more about your recent funding round?

A: We have recently part-funded several pieces of work and research through Innovate UK. This has included a project involving the design of a smart oil plug which will automatically monitor the condition of rail gearboxes (present on all locomotives) and automatically relay this information to key shareholders. As this is partially funded by Innovate UK there is scope to carry out a project which has no immediate customer, to take risks, explore, and research an area where we believe we can transform the rail industry’s approach to maintenance. Working under these programmes has been particularly interesting as it provides exposure to a range of new companies and new technical challenges. We are currently holders of four Innovate UK grants, as either lead organisation or as part of a consortium. Last year we were awarded a major Business Innovation Award in the North East of England which recognised our disruptive and innovative approach in a number of industrial applications.

Possibly more important than financial funding however, is the ‘funding of people’. We are constantly looking for exceptional people to join our team, to bring a new perspective, expertise, or attitude. Our team ethos is that of exceptional design delivery and honest, rapid communication – one of the many strengths of being a small company is that we hold very few meetings, send few internal emails, and have few miscommunications! We usually employ a number of students and apprenticeships throughout the year, providing them with a chance to experience real, world-class engineering, and giving us a great resource from which to mentor and train the next generation of scientists and engineers. This also keeps us all firmly on our toes!

Q: How do people typically discover or become aware of your company?

A: Our greatest advert is word of mouth. Our customers are well aware of the high technical standard that we deliver, and repeat business is a strong revenue stream for us. We also generate interest through our website, and through attendance of trade shows in areas of significant interest for us. We prefer others to come to us, rather than spending significantly on a salesforce or extensive marketing – we are quietly confident in the superiority of our delivery. This allows us to invest heavily into technical equipment and personnel, driving us into spaces of higher and higher complexity such as medical and fundamental sensor design.

We also release product information videos periodically too – informing customers of the power of our solutions and explaining how they work. Look out for our Bolt Tension Monitoring videos online, for example.

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Q: What do you have in store for the next six months?

A: There is scope to expand our focus, and we’re looking at this now in a few different areas – in the coming months and years we’d like to move into new areas to remain at the cutting edge of what’s possible in terms of measurement, data processing, and telemetry (becoming the Silicon Valley of the North East?).

We have really reached the limit of our current space and would like to expand as we continue to carefully grow the business in the same way we have. We are currently looking for the best way to do this, but I strongly expect Transmission Dynamics to be in a very different place in six months – with more space to do the projects that we currently have to defer, and to explore areas of science and engineering that are currently only in our dreams.

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