Invest NI helps Schrader boost margins through R&D

Local manufacturing company Schrader Electronics Ltd is on course to cut production costs by over £700,000 per year following R&D support from Invest Northern Ireland.

Schrader, based in Antrim and Carrickfergus, designs and manufactures devices which monitor vehicle tyre pressures whilst a vehicle is in motion. This then displays the information through the vehicle’s instrument panel, alerting the driver to a low tyre condition and helping the driver to optimise fuel consumption by maintaining correct tyre pressure.

Invest NI helped the company to invest almost £1 million in a programme of research and development to identify ways in which the current technology could be advanced to make the devices more price competitive, whilst retaining full functionality. Schrader developed an innovative technique to integrate the pressure and motion sensing functions, previously performed by two separate components, into a single sensor.

Schrader has now put into production a refined version of its tyre pressure monitoring device which incorporates this new and innovative technology. The refinement generates a saving per unit of 7p and, with around 10 million units of this type shipped each year, the company expects to cut production costs by upwards of £700,000.  Additionally the company is in the process of acquiring Intellectual Property Rights to this new technology.

Graeme Thompson, Finance Director of Schrader, said: “We recognise that advancements in research and design can result in real and significant savings when multiplied over our high annual volume of production. With Invest NI’s help, we have reduced the number of components required for our tyre pressure monitoring devices whilst retaining all the functionality that has made us the market leader, particularly in the US.”

“Indeed, the market is continuing to grow, with safety legislation in the US mandating tyre pressure monitors on all new cars, and many European car makers following the US lead. Furthermore, our sensors also help to address environmental concerns, as properly inflated tyres reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions.”

Carol Keery, Invest NI’s Director of Innovation, Research and Technology, said: “By investing in R&D and dedicating resources to identifying improvements in their products and processes, Schrader will deliver a significant boost to their competitiveness.  This will help them even better exploit the international markets in which they already have a strong foothold and increase their ability to attract new clients.

“Invest NI’s new Corporate Plan for 2008 to 2011 sets out the need for an increased focus on high value-added activities which will help to increase the productivity level of the whole economy. This kind of investment by Schrader demonstrates that innovation delivers real bottom line improvement, and Invest NI can help companies of all sizes to adopt similar practices.”

Invest NI provided research and development funding for this project through its Compete programme, which is part funded by the European Competitiveness Programme 2007 – 2013 under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).