In the first of a series of interviews with Novocomms senior leadership team, Prof Colin Tucker explains how his 40 years’ experience in the telecoms and technology sector is driving Novocomms forward.
Q: Please can you outline how Novocomms is structured as a company?
Prof Tucker: "The UK is where most of the creative and leading-edge stuff is developed. At our HQ in Birmingham, we have a group of graduate engineers, the majority of whom are qualified to PhD level, skilled not only in antenna design but also mechanical, electrical, and electronic design. At our centre in Suzhou in China we have another team of engineers and who are specialists in production engineering and supply chain management. This team takes the prototype designs from the UK and refines them for reliability, ease of manufacturing and test. To ensure performance and reliability the Suzhou team has access to a range of sophisticated electronic, electrical, and environmental test systems. That means that if one of our antennas is in the lid of a laptop, for instance, it will survive its journey in your bag or if it falls on to the floor or if you open and shut the lid more than 200,000 times. So, we have two companies with highly complementary skill sets. The UK which has the academic knowledge and experience to produce truly innovative and sophisticated initial designs and the Chinese team who convert these initial designs into high performance, competitively priced, high volume products."
Q: How does Novocomms set itself apart from its competition?
Prof Tucker: "Here in UK, we do two things, we create our own new technology and also solve problems for manufacturers who need antennas for their products but haven’t been able design their own or find an off the shelf solution. Novocomms’ great strength is that if a customer has an antenna problem, we can either provide a bespoke solution or source an off the shelf product either from our own range or from our extensive supply chain. The aim is to provide the customer with antennas that meet the performance requirements both in optimal performance and cost effectiveness. We have on many occasions been able to provide solutions that even the largest of our competitors have not been able to provide. Now we can't solve everybody's problems all the time, but we have a really good track record in solving some really difficult problems. For example, in the field of smart watches. One customer asked us to investigate the radio frequency performance of its watches. We able to put antennas in smaller spaces with better performance even though they were largely surrounded by the virtual “Faraday Cage” of the metal watch case. It’s successes like this that have established our reputation."
Q: How robust is Novocomms supply chain?
Prof Tucker: "What we've done is to create an organisation that not only has its own skills in manufacturing, but it has built up a complete infrastructure behind itself to supply parts and a wide variety of manufacturing and assembly processes. This has given Novocomms the capability of producing both bespoke and standard antennas at highly competitive prices both in high and low volumes. Most of our products are delivered in the hundreds to thousands range, but many run into millions. We have a proven high-volume capability but can supply in far lower volumes with our resources and large range of suppliers."
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