From strength to strength in gas analysis
Like so many great ideas, the story of Cambridge Sensotec begins in a bedroom – in this case, that of Mark Swetnam. In the year 2000, he – along with Donald Kings and Victor Stekly – combined their wealth of industry and manufacturing knowledge in order to develop their Rapidox range of bench-mounted oxygen analyzers. Moving into a small factory premises, the company steadily grew, developing its range to include the analysis of a number of other gases, including oxygen and multi-gas solution options and accessories.
Based – as its name suggests – in Cambridge, today the company boasts a global reach, and supplies products to a host of industries, including medical, pharmaceutical, food, additive manufacturing, biogas, and more. Not only does the company manufacture these products, but it also maintains them; an impressive aftersales service ships back more than 80 percent of serviced machines to customers within just a single week. As Mark Swetnam, now the Managing Director at Cambridge Sensotec, explains: “We are experts in enabling and supporting mid-to-large volume manufacturers with our comprehensive range of OEM products.”
The past five years have seen the company further underline this status, becoming more involved in processes including additive manufacturing, metal heat treatment, and solder reflow in the electronic industry, as it looks to cater to the need among OEMs for an ever-more customized set of products.
At the heart of Cambridge Sensotec’s success is a strong emphasis on research and development. Among a number of new product introductions, a significant recent addition has been Cambridge Sensotec’s SF6 analyzer. As Mark explains, the SF6 is principally designed for use in high-voltage environments. “It’s a product that’s under constant development to comply with the changes in the market, for example the move away from greenhouse gasses.”
“We’ve also been investing in bringing our comprehensive range of gas analysis devices for OEM applications to SIL 2 compliance very soon,” Tomas Diaz, Group Sales & Marketing Manager at Cambridge Sensotec adds. “As the industry is turning to relative risk reduction level and performance measurement for safety instrumented functions, supplying SIL 2 compliant devices will enable our OEM customers to improve their competitive position in the marketplace.”
A history of agility and innovation has driven Cambridge Sensotec since its inception, enabling it to grow and diversify to its present state, and retain its position of relevance within a competitive industry. “We’ve recognized innovation as such an important element for our continuous success, and we have recently rolled out cross-functional innovation programs to emphasize the role it has to play as a core value for both the business and our employees,” Tomas comments. “Ideas and proposals from our innovation programs are studied, weighed and filtered into our new product development process.
“We’re also looking into designing and implementing a lean manufacturing program that could help us increase efficiency in both space utilization as well as process optimization,” he adds. “This will allow us to maximize productivity without compromising product quality or the working environment.”
Businesses of all stripes and sizes have been hit hard over the last couple of years, and Cambridge Sensotec is no exception. Discussing life during the pandemic, Mark speaks proudly of how the company was able to adapt.
“We set up a designated team who helped us manage the situation,” he confirms. “That included working with everyone on an individual basis to make sure their needs were being met, and ensuring that they felt comfortable and supported. We introduced new technology to the company, especially in the shape of IT and telephone equipment.
“Owing to the nature of the business, we were also keen on getting our staff safely back to the offices as soon as possible,” he continues. “We introduced enhanced hygiene standards, implementing these throughout the factory in line with the government guidelines. We also developed new working patterns, and remain open to hybrid working if it’s suitable to the job role.”
Such was the success of the company’s approach in maximizing productivity, it delivered what turned out to be a record-breaking year in terms of performance. As Mark explains, it’s once again a testament to the support and dedication of the company’s employees.
From a staffing point of view, the pandemic period really made us realize the degree to which our staff are our most valuable asset,” Mark reflects. “To an extent, that has always been the case – hiring people with the right skills and education is a familiar challenge, but the last few years have really cemented that thinking.
“At the same time, 2022 has been one of our most challenging years, primarily because of the delays and shortages in terms of sourcing supplies and components, many of which are obviously dependent on the circumstances in other countries,” he adds. “We try to think ahead and adapt the components of our products to spread the risks of postponing our own production. We’ve also changed our processes in terms of planning our stock levels, in order to keep up with the shortages and delays in lead times of the components.”
Before we conclude, Tomas is keen to underline what is a bright future in store for Cambridge Sensotec. “We have a clear business intention to double our sales within the next five years,” he insists. “We’re working on intensifying business in the domestic market, energizing, our current network of value distribution and OEM accounts, as well as establishing solid partnership agreements with new customers. We will exploit all the knowledge, experience and success gained in the sectors we currently address, while developing unaddressed industry sectors.”
Services: Gas analyzers