Sigma develops world-class new product introduction capability
July 11, 2016
Sigma Components has brought together its long-standing New Product Introduction capabilities with its growing Research and Development team to develop a world-class centre for new product introduction for aerospace customers.
Initially known for its make-to-print expertise in aerospace pipe manufacture and fabrication, the business has evolved significantly over recent years, with investment in new product development and R&D driving significant growth.
Mark Johnson, founder and CEO of Sigma Components, said: “We’re excited by the opportunities we’re uncovering working closely with customers on new technologies. Following the acquisition of Rolls-Royce’s pipe manufacturing business in May this year, it made perfect sense to bring these two important teams together to develop a world-class service for customers.
“The aerospace supply chain is undergoing a period of substantial change and we see a real opportunity for our business to work more closely with OEMs and Tier 1 customers to drive innovation in the sector. Developing a world-class, in-house NPI and R&D capability is a key part of delivering on that aim.”
Sigma’s NPI and R&D team comprises dedicated design engineers, fabrications and pipe engineering specialists, CNC programmers, commercial engineers, and project managers. The team is also supported by an engineering student on a one-year sandwich course placement, ensuring it remains in touch with the latest innovations and technologies coming out of the university sector.
Mike Andreae, Director of Technology and Improvement at Sigma Components said: “Bringing the two teams together in Hinckley and Nuneaton allows us to look at the full product lifecycle – from initial R&D and NPI to full production – whenever a new product is devised.
“All too often these three key stages operate independently of each other, meaning opportunities to share expertise and optimise design and production techniques at an early stage are missed. This in turn adds delay to the NPI process – already a slow process that takes years rather than months for aerospace applications – extending the time it takes to bring new products to market and deliver a return on investment.
“By bringing the two teams together, we should be able to short-circuit some of the avoidable development delays, allowing the industry to benefit from new technologies and products more quickly, and sharing expertise and ideas across the team.”
Dan Woodward, Operations Manager – NPI at Sigma Components, added: “Ideas for R&D and NPI often come about in different ways – for example NPI work is typically initiated by the customer providing CAD designs and seeking our expertise to develop those designs whereas ideas for R&D projects can be driven by our own engineers, customers and even funding bodies.
“The NPI team typically works on hundreds of part numbers a year, whereas the R&D team is focussed on developing just a handful. However, we’re all in the business of improving the design of aerospace components and translating those ideas from just that – ideas – into reality.
“With our in-house set up, we are now able to take an idea from initial concept – testing that idea with customers and securing development funding – right through to devising the method, tooling and production procedures required and honing these before moving into full production. This work is also supported by our Chinese facility, which is increasingly taking on its own NPI work, not simply delivering new products developed in the UK.”
Mike added: “In order to be truly world class, it’s also important to recognise what can not be carried out in house. To that end, we’ve developed excellent relationships with external specialists and partners, across the engineering, education and subcontracting communities, whose expertise we can call on quickly and flexibly as projects require.”
Mark Johnson concluded: “Sigma is developing an excellent reputation for innovation in the industry, with the work of the R&D team leading to the creation of our Sigma Lite range of lightweight composite and additive manufactured components and the traditional NPI team delivering exciting new parts for the BR700NG, XWB and Trent 100 engine programmes, among others.
“This growing, in-house capability, combined with our existing make-to-print services, global presence and product lifecycle management means we’re well placed to provide a full range of services to aerospace customers around the world, working with them to drive the industry forward while delivering on existing production part requirements.”Back to Posts