Saturday, 12 March 2011

A transforming Bedfordshire manufacturing SME



British manufacturing can thrive when it provides specialist quality products like those of Bedfordshire company Siga Electronics. Its products can be found in equipment under the sea, in the air and even in space.

Gennaro Coppolaro of Polar Communications had invited me to do the on site photography as part of developing Siga's new website. With a broader interest in successful businesses, I was of course also curious about their products.

Siga specialises in producing coils in general and toroidal transformers in particular. Transformers are integral to almost all electrical equipment. Their function is to change one voltage to another, that can be higher or lower. Toroidal transformers, where the components involve wire coils around a doughnut shaped core, are beneficial as they avoid the creation of disruptive electrical fields during their operation.

Siga's strength lies in producing such transformers in sizes ranging from smaller than a matchstick head to tens of centimeters in diameter. They can be wrapped, varnished and waterproofed as well as fulfilling the client's functional specifications.

Whilst I ploughed through the diverse collection of Siga coils and transformers, I was continually surprised to find out where this one or that was going to be used.

The range could vary between hi-tech and lo-tech, such as the juxtaposition of the apparently simple carboard covered coil that was actually destined for a hospital X-ray machine; to the beatiful bowl with a faint circumferential winding that would end up in one of the many foghorns used around oil- and other platforms in distant seas.

Their final destination could also be either at the bottom of one of our oceans in an underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle), flying through the air in a Chinook Helicopter, or in a probe traversing the immense reaches of interplanetary space.

British manufacturing SMEs like Siga Electronics are successful, even in the current harsh economic climate and, as my patient minder Peter reminded me at the end of the photographic day, provide products used in the depths of the oceans to the expanses of space.

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