The importance of investment and innovation

Posted on 31 Dec 2014 by Jonny Williamson

With HMRC figures revealing that West Midlands exports have more than doubled over the past five years, managing director Jon Penn highlights some of Caption Data Limited’s recent success stories.

Following investment in December 2013, Worcester-based Caption Data Limited (CDL) has more than doubled headcount and sales each year for the past two years to see exports grow to nearly 33% of its sales.

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Sourced from a combination of private equity, business angels and grants, much of the almost £200,000 investment has supported the company’s rapid growth, alongside bolstering its ongoing investment into research and development (R&D).

Its commitment to invest in R&D over the past three years has positioned CDL as one of the firms at the leading edge in Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies.

The manufacturer currently exports to 15 countries around the world, with its systems being used to help protect iconic structures and landmarks.

The future is happening now with the Internet of Things

Successful manufacturers are constantly seeking innovation to add value to their products; improve customer service and experience; prolong warranty periods; and demonstrate ever growing focus on environmentally friendly operations and health & safety.

By using the 21st century technology of GSM communications, sensor technology, IoT/M2M and cloud based CDLSmartHub portals, manufacturers are able to leverage a range of benefits which include new revenues streams; increased customer satisfaction; advanced after sales service; reduced fuel costs; real-time usage information and reduced downtime.

From the routine to the extraordinary

low frequency vibration monitoring at Longships Lighthouse
More than 3,000 wave strike “events” exceeding the thresholds set for alerts by Plymouth University were recorded in the space of just two months.

The winter storms in 2013-14 were some of the most severe recorded in South West England. During this period, Plymouth University’s School of Marine Science and Engineering was using CDL’s vibration monitoring equipment on the remote Eddystone Lighthouse, one of the most iconic lighthouses in the British Isles.

The research team utilised the equipment to measure the tower’s dynamic structural response to wave and wind loading. With the structure isolated at sea, 13 miles south of Plymouth, the ability of CDL’s equipment to operate autonomously in a very tough environment was critical. More than 3,000 wave strike “events” exceeding the thresholds set for alerts by Plymouth University were recorded in the space of just two months.

CDL’s vibration monitoring equipment is in use as far afield as Australia and New Zealand, as well as on many landmark structures in Europe.

Throughout the summer CDL continued to work with some of its largest global customers delivering 100’s of monitoring systems used to manage moisture levels in buildings in the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, and the US.

Caption Data was also commissioned to install a wireless sensor network at Westminster Hall, arguably the most important building in the parliamentary estate.

Parliament building to be installed with 21st century remote monitoring systems
Built more than 900 ago, Westminster Hall is home to the largest medieval timber roof in Northern Europe.

In preparation for the installation at Westminster Hall, CDL’s Director Paul Sanders was invited to meet with local MP, Robin Walker.

Reflecting on the meeting, Walker said: “When the Houses of Parliament were bombed during the Battle of Britain, Winston Churchill let the Chamber of the House of Commons burn so that this, much older building could be saved. So it is a huge responsibility for a business to be involved in conserving such a uniquely historic building.”

While much is known about the events which took place throughout the hall’s history, little is known about the environment within and the conditions of it’s roof.

CDL’s environmental monitoring systems are currently taking over 216 measurements an hour and sending them to the CDLSmartHub, a SaaS platform which enables data storage and management from any internet enabled device.

This allows the Parliamentary Estate’s directorate and the team involved in the conservation project to better understand the internal atmosphere, in a way that has never before been completed.

Caption Data has brought a lot of new people in the organisation, something which can make keeping the spirit of a start-up a challenge; however 2014 has been a great year for us. We have become a more established business and supported our major international clients as they move to mass adoption of our technology, but still with the dynamism of a young business.

Moving forward into 2015, a key area for us will be continuing to work with original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s) to embed purpose built real-time monitoring and control systems into their products, leveraging our extensive knowledge of M2M and IoT technologies.