Improving Development Routes for Motor Manufacture

In long established industries, such as motor machinery and drive component manufacture, it can sometimes feel like all avenues of research and development have been exhausted.

However, when it comes to the development route for an existing product, there is always room for improvement; especially when it comes to enhancements and cost effective production of reliable and reproducible components.

In fact, you may even be conducting research and development (R&D) activities through efforts to improve existing products without even realising that your work may be eligible for a cash incentive through the UK R&D Tax Incentive Scheme.

As our case study below demonstrates, enhancing the design or development of an existing motor component can allow you to claim valuable R&D tax relief.

Case study: R&D Tax Relief for Printed Motor Development

 R&D Objective: Printed armature motors may have been around since the 1950’s, yet they remain a popular choice for automation applications due to their disc armature design that delivers a superior performance over conventional DC servomotors.

For our client however, the research and development aspect was based around the objective of economical enhancements. They wanted to establish the feasibility of increasing the load bearing capacity of the motor, without increasing the overall motor size and cost of the component. R&D activities would be needed to review the design of the printed armature motor, and its development route.

The Technological Advance Sought: To achieve a technological advance for the printed armature motor component, an in-depth understanding of the load transmission within the existing design would be required; specifically how it would be influenced by fatigue, manufacturing tolerances and material selection.

Once this was identified, an extensive design process could commence for enhancing the printed motor. This required R&D activities which would determine;

  • the static and dynamic loadings
  • the extent tolerances in manufacture and component wear would reduce performance
  • how to achieve the optimum balance with weight, configuration and material selection
  • whether this can be achieved economically, repeatedly and reliably

To succeed in the above design review however, a number of technological uncertainties presented that needed to be overcome.

Technological Uncertainties: For motor manufacture projects to benefit from the R&D tax relief scheme, each project needs to demonstrate efforts in overcoming technological uncertainties; specific challenges that would prevent them from deducing a clear route to achieving the required results.

For this particular motor component project, the technological uncertainty examples were identified as:

 

  1. Uncertainties around the existing shaft configuration and if it could be sufficiently improved through the current manufacturing and modified mounting arrangement.
  2. Dimensional constraints imposed by the motor housing. Following initial testing, it was necessary to change the material of the bearing housing. Despite predictions from the finite element analysis modelling, there remained excessive play within the shaft mounting arrangement.
  3. Which design development route would increase the load carrying capacity and deliver the most cost effective and reliable method. Decisions for the design could have a number of potential variations of overall configurations. Therefore, it was not easily deducible, which product would first even be feasible, or which would be the most cost effective and reproducible.

Claiming Costs for R&D Activities

Although the project to enhance the design and development of the printed armature remains ongoing, a successful claim was made through the R&D tax scheme, and the company benefited with a sizeable reduction in their corporation tax.

As shown in the case study, eligible costs for R&D could be identified within the claim because the project met required criteria, namely that:

  • It aimed to make a scientific or technological advance
  • A number of scientific or technological uncertainties were involved in the project

If you’ve recently spent time and resources on enhancing the design or development route of an existing product, then you could still benefit from the R&D tax incentive scheme. With our expert knowledge of the scheme coupled with an in-depth understanding of the industry, we can put together a strong claim that identifies the maximum relief amount available.

For a quick and honest appraisal of any recent design and development projects, contact R&D Tax North West today or try out our new RD Tax Calculator

 

Cash Incentives for IT Security R&D

As cyberattacks become an increasingly realistic threat, IT security professionals and software developers have no choice but to find more sophisticated methods to detect and prevent breaches.

By identifying vulnerabilities in business IT networks through development of specialist detection and protection software, security breaches can be minimised. Yet, staying ahead of the latest developments in cybercrime requires continual improvements, adjustments and investments in order to advance IT security.

So, how do the IT security industry support their research and development, especially when solutions to security issues are not so readily available?

One way is by minimising the risks and costs involved in research and development activities, as achieved through use of the UK Government backed R&D Tax Credit Incentive. The following case study explains how one IT security company were able to benefit from the R&D Tax Scheme after improving an existing security framework.

Case Study: Enhancing Security Testing Framework

The Technological Objective:

Security testing frameworks are used by IT professionals to safely simulate real-world cyberattacks; identifying vulnerabilities to bolster IT defences. Although this security testing software performs well, there were concerns over the assessment of security tokens [small hardware devices that allow users to access network services], and how security tokens could be utilised during the testing process.

It would be necessary to investigate security tokens so that the right tools for security professionals could be deployed. This would mean developing specific software that could work safely and effectively on a number of operating systems, but also would be compatible with a variety of testing methods.

This would be no easy feat however, because to achieve this technological advance, the R&D team would need to understand the behaviour of Microsoft Windows security tokens when under normal and attack situations; something that was currently outside the remit of the security token development parameters.

Facing the Challenges of Technological Uncertainties:

From the very start of the R&D project, there were a number of technological uncertainties with no obvious route to a clear solution.

The knowledge that did exist for the operation of the security tokens was held by the system developers within Microsoft, and no efforts had ever been made to combine this knowledge with security testing techniques. This meant that there was insufficient knowledge available regarding the behaviour and reaction of security tokens for integration with a security testing system.

In addition to this, there was no way to know the best method for integrating security tokens for use with a security testing algorithm or how to integrate them into the end application. Even if the team were to be successful at integrating the security tokens, would it provide the enhanced functionality that they wanted to achieve?

All this and more had to be considered, yet the team were happy to move ahead with the project knowing that the costs can be offset by relief available under the R&D tax scheme; especially as the incentive requires that projects demonstrate that they have faced technological uncertainties.

The Outcome of IT Security R&D

Combined research into the operation of Microsoft Windows operating system along with detailed knowledge of methodologies used by security testers, eventually allowed the system integration to be developed. A task that could not have been achieved by the IT security professionals alone.

Therefore, as the project progressed, the technological uncertainties faced were gradually resolved and the tools that would allow security professionals to use a variety of techniques for testing were eventually developed.

The testing framework received the intended code for the security tokens which enhanced and achieved the desired functionality.

The result? Not only is the testing framework now an integral part of every security tester’s toolset, but the company were able to benefit from the R&D tax scheme through a corporation tax reduction that helped to mitigate the risk of the project and support the business to conduct further R&D for IT security enhancements.

R&D support for IT security

Facing technological uncertainties is a frequent aspect of cybersecurity projects, however when it comes to R&D tax credit incentives, these uncertainties can work in your favour. Whether your IT security R&D activities are successful, or unsuccessful, in achieving a technological advance – the R&D Tax Scheme can still support you to make the efforts towards improved IT security.

So how exactly do your projects qualify for R&D tax scheme incentives? Find out here, or for expert advice in making a compelling R&D claim, contact us by email or phone.  Try out our new calculator

 

R&D Tax Claims for Composite Manufacture

When victory depends on a fraction of a second, even the smallest enhancement of motorsport components can provide a vital advantage.

With composite manufacture of autosport components, research and development activities are a regular occurrence; not only to create lighter, stronger or unique components, but to gain cost advantages in an increasingly competitive market.

For many motorsport component manufacturers, a UK government backed incentive is allowing them opportunity to further invest and advance their product development. The Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit Scheme provides cost saving incentives for businesses attempting to resolve scientific or technological uncertainties.

However, in order to benefit from the R&D tax incentive, component manufacturers need to clearly expound how their R&D projects seek to overcome technological uncertainties. So, what does qualify as a technological uncertainty in order to make accurate R&D tax claims?

The following case study demonstrates technological uncertainties for one composite manufacturer seeking to claim R&D tax relief.

CASE STUDY: Carbon Fibre Autosport Components 

For manufacturers producing small runs of autosport components, pushing the boundaries of their product capabilities is integral to meet the demands and expectations of the motorsport market. Therefore, claiming qualifying R&D costs for attempts to overcome technological uncertainties can often be overlooked. For the manufacturer of engineering composites in this case study, the support from the R&D tax relief scheme proved to be invaluable in helping to continue their regular efforts to innovate in the design and development of carbon fibre motorsport components.

R&D Objective:  Although carbon fibre suspension components are inherently stiff, it was speculated that under a specific set of loads (such as multiple loads with different vectors to different points), these components might become partially flexible; this advance in technology could then open up new opportunities for use and performance.

So, the technical advance sought would be to discover if this flexibility could be achieved with carbon fibre alone, or if it would be necessary to integrate semi flexible materials or structures.

Achievement of this advance however, was beyond current existing knowledge and would require extensive R&D activities due to the very small amount of information available in the public domain. This, of course, would identify a number of technological uncertainties.

The Technological Uncertainties for Carbon Fibre Innovation: The enhancement of carbon fibre suspension components created a number of technological uncertainties before a suitable solution could be found. The most significant of these uncertainties included:

  • How to achieve the bonding required between the carbon fibre and non-carbon fibre elements of the structure, and how to overcome the laminar shear strains between the layers which could become a source of failure when exceeding the critical flex point.
  • In addition to withstanding shear forces, how would they counter the failure modes of delamination?
  • How could they achieve the positional accuracy required for the flex laminates and overall component; which configuration path could they choose?
  • Which potential flexible material would provide the required combination of strength, at the desired mass and rigidity thresholds? Could the best combinations be integrated considering the above technological uncertainties?

Due to the multiple and often conflicting uncertainties, there would be a need to develop significantly more prototypes, trial manufacture, testing, jigs and tooling than previously anticipated for routine composite manufacture. Costs which could qualify to be compensated through the R&D tax scheme.

Claiming Qualifying Costs for Innovation in Manufacturing

When claiming for qualifying costs through the R&D tax scheme, success in actually achieving the technological advance is not always required. As long as the R&D project claim clearly demonstrates that technological uncertainties were faced when working to achieve a worthwhile advance, then a number of costs can be claimed through a cash incentive or valuable corporation tax reduction.

Are you claiming your cash incentive for qualifying research and development activities in composite manufacture?

For expert advice and support in making accurate and successful R&D tax incentive claims, please get in touch today.

 

Vaccine Manufacturing

vaccine
The limited availability of vaccines against influenza is often well documented, particularly during the winter months, and consequently the World Health Organisation sought to increase the global manufacturing capacity and advised the pharmaceutical companies to make appropriate provisions.

The Client was engaged to design, construct and commission a new manufacturing facility that could process a significantly increased batch size. The functional requirement represented around a 10-fold increase in the total number of eggs that could be sterilised, infected with the desired influenza strain, incubated and harvested and was far in excess of the capacity of any of the commercially available pharmaceutical grade process equipment. As part of this there was also a need to improve the environmental hygiene within the incubators beyond that which was commercially available.

These factors represent an appreciable technological advance that was required to develop a facility that complied with the WHO guidance for human vaccine production and could successfully process the required batch sizes. This project was demonstrated to be contain qualifying R&D from the outset through until completion of commissioning.

Energy from Waste Plant

energy

A new electricity generation station was planned for construction in the east end of London. This plant was expected to generate up to 60MW of renewable electricity using a range of non-fossil fuels including biomass, waste wood and solid recovered fuel (SRF). The development was split into two phases, each with a capacity of 30MWe. The proposed fuel for the first phase was waste wood from the local area. Whilst the fuel for the second phase was expected to be waste derived from household, commercial and industrial waste.

During preliminary design the Client investigated grate combustion and the practical limits of uncooled grate designs and to what extent the performance envelope may be stretched without introducing risk of premature failure. Cooled grates add to overall house load and it follows that as the net generation is dependent on parasitic load exploring opportunities for reducing this parasitic demand and optimising site layout would be an integral part of determining the optimum grate output.

In a project of this nature, reliant on securing a financial return, it is often essential to complete significant elements of design early in order to demonstrate to potential investors that the technology risks are understood and can be managed. Whilst this project was still in the planning stage the work to develop the conceptual design was successfully demonstrated to be qualifying activity in accordance with the BIS Guidelines.

Flooding Project

flooding

A pilot study was commissioned to investigate how integrated urban drainage could provide a benefit to the way stakeholders manage the drainage problems within their catchment. A key element of the study was to understand the cause of flood risk within the catchment and to define a holistic approach to resolving the long standing flooding and water quality

This area of approximately 30km² with a population of 156,000 has suffered from numerous flooding incidents and water quality issues.  Despite three major flood alleviation schemes it continued to suffer from severe flooding.  The area was heavily urbanised and drained to the local watercourse, a separate surface water sewerage system and a foul sewerage system.

The project sought to understand the complex fluid dynamics of the interaction between rainfall, the river, and sewer flows and the relationship of these flows to the configuration of the sewer system. These interactions need to be fully understood in order to establish the root cause of the water quality issues and provide hypothetical solutions.

Having investigated this project with the Client and explored both the nature and extent of the work collectively necessary to resolve the technological uncertainties and achieve a technological advance we successfully demonstrated that the project qualified for relief under the Large Company scheme.

Touch Screen Digital Dashboard

Dashboard

The company developing and manufacturing a high performance vehicle had an aspiration to incorporate a state of the art communications system within for their latest model. They engaged a specialist to develop a completely touch screen digital dashboard that retained the functionality of the existing analogue dashboard and incorporated additional connectivity for modern communications devices, navigation systems and display technology. The resultant system had to be suitable for installation within a restricted space envelope as the original analogue dashboard, mounted directly behind the touch screen and present a completely intuitive interface.

Their knowledge of the development process, the cost of marketing and the successful vehicle pricing structures informed and influenced their stipulated acceptable costs that could be absorbed within the overall development costs. It was clear that development of the digital dashboard could only be considered successful if it satisfied the commercial requirements as well as the technical ones. Further, failure to meet the cost criteria would preclude the potential negotiation of a contract to supply production units for incorporation within the final vehicle.

The first prototype suffered with excessive noise pick up from the LCD screen and poor signal quality from the DAB reception module necessitating redesign of some aspects of the system. Subsequent iterations of design, analysis and testing demonstrated improved functionality and reliability. Working with the specialist supplier we were able to demonstrate that this project met the requirements of the BIS Guidelines and qualified for a tax credit under the SME R&D relief scheme.