ASIC designer SWINDON Silicon Systems is celebrating thirty five years of trading. From small beginnings in 1978 in Swindon, the company has grown to become the UK’s largest fabless supplier of high performance mixed signal Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) with a turnover of £21m and delivering 50 million ASICs annually. ASICs allow almost any analogue or digital circuit to be implemented on a single chip, replacing traditional discrete components. Only a few years ago a bespoke integrated circuit was no more than a dream for most industrial designers, but SWINDON has put them within the reach of any technology sector.
By 1987 SWINDON had set up a test department and moved to its current premises with a separate production facility added in 1999. The company’s success in the automotive market led to it becoming part of Tomkins Plc in 2007, assisting it’s sister company, Schrader Electronics, to become the global leader in tyre pressure monitoring systems. Schrader International was acquired by Madison Dearborn Partners in 2012, bringing SWINDON the benefits of being part of a large multinational whilst maintaining its autonomy to pursue other markets. SWINDON is expecting its growth to continue, and a move to a new custom built facility is planned to accommodate this growth.
Bristol-based wireless startup Blu Wireless Technology has closed a $3.1 million (£2m) funding round to customise and productise its chip design for the next generation of high speed wireless connections.
The funding will allow the company to double in size to 30 staff, and complete the development of its HYDRA programmable baseband IP that supports both 802.11ad next generation WiFi (WiGig CERTIFIED) and 4G mobile network backhaul applications that use the 60GHz frequency band rather than today’s 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, giving much higher speed links.
The funding round was lead by Qi3 Accelerator, who represented a syndicate of over $1.5m (£1m) of London Business Angels private investors, including Wren Capital. A further $0.9 million (£0.6m) was invested by the Angel Co-Fund, several additional investors made up the remainder.
Blu Wireless’s baseband technology uses a programmable parallel processing architecture to efficiently support the complex modulation schemes required for emerging multi-gigabit wireless communication standards. The IP is currently optimised for chipsets used in both advanced WiFi and 4G small cell deployments, and can be simply scaled to support the anticipated future standards as they move to 20Gbps and beyond.
The firm is already working with several of the world’s leading chip and system companies in these markets, says CEO Henry Nurser with the same customers using the IP for both 802.11ad and for wireless backhaul. The IP will be sold under license agreement to chipset manufacturers that compete in, or want to enter, markets that exploit the unlicensed 60GHz frequency band.
“With the completion of this funding round, we will be executing our plan to become the leading supplier of baseband system IP to manufacturers in the 60GHz sector,” said Nurser.
“This is a very exciting sector and we are convinced Blu Wireless will be a global leader in 60GHz technology,” said Tim de Vere Green of London-based Qi3 who will also join the board. “We believe 60GHz applications in both consumer WiGig and telecoms backhaul are set for rapid growth, and Blu Wireless is already working with several of the world’s leading Semiconductor companies in these markets. The thorough due diligence we have conducted has given us great confidence in the team’s technical and management capabilities, as well as their deep knowledge of their target markets.”
Wiltshire based contract electronics manufacturer Exception EMS has today announced that its students Henri French and Chris Bogdiukiewicz have both been shortlisted to be part of six South West Regional Finalists for their contribution to business.
The Year in Industry is a scheme run by the Engineering Development Trust (EDT) to provide high quality, paid placements for students in their gap year before or during their degree course. Placements are for students interested in all areas of engineering, science, IT, e- commerce, business and marketing. Exception EMS has worked with the EDT since 2007 by supporting 2-3 YINI placements each year.
Chris, who will be studying Software Engineering at Southampton University, worked with the Operations team at Exception EMS to develop a process to improve the turnaround time and organisation of customer returns. He did this by devising a developing a companywide standard business practice and developed a database to track returns and quality issues. As a result, Exception EMS is now able to track non-confirming products to the source and eliminate causes, decrease return turnaround time and improve overall customer satisfaction.
Mark Davies, Operations Director explains “Chris has bought huge value to our organisation, the completion of this project will support and accelerate our continuous improvement programme and leave a positive legacy of working with YINI students”.
Chris commented, “Working at Exception EMS has given me the opportunity to work on, and own, a variety of projects improving systems and working practices in the company. My YINI has been the most incredible learning experience and has massively developed me as an individual.”
Henri will be studying Aerospace Engineering at Bristol University and his project was the implementation of a lean manufacturing production cell, which he designed to overcome particular quality issues. Through a process of identification and analysis of the issues, Henri was able to design his proposed solution and secure the required funding. As a direct result of Henri’s cell the internal and external reject rates have fallen considerably with tangible financial benefits for the Company.
Mark Davies continued, “in successfully implementing this project, and within timescales, I believe Henri has learnt valuable lessons in many areas as well as providing a genuine solution and benefit to both Exception EMS and its customers, whilst continuing a successful partnership with EDT and YINI.”
Henri commented, “My YINI placement at Exception EMS has given me the skills and experiences that I will take with me wherever I go in the future.”
Henri was one of two winners selected to represent the region at the National Final to be held at the Royal Academy of Engineering on 19th September 2013. He will battle against eight others to become the YINI National winner with a prize of £1000.
The company is headquartered in Calne in the UK, and has offices in Europe and Asia. The CEM business, both in the UK and via its international partners has an electronics manufacturing heritage stretching back over 60 years and serves customers across a variety of sectors including aerospace and defence, transport, oil and gas, automotive, communication architecture, medical, marine, semiconductor, and renewable energy.