Quantum leap

Posted on 1 Sep 2013 by The Manufacturer

The realisation of R&D tax credit benefits has put a £21,500 boost behind further innovation at Birmingham based Quantum Precision Engineering.

Quantum Precision Engineering designs and develops high precision components and CNC turned parts to UK manufacturers involved in all kinds of specialist engineering and product manufacture.

The company was started by owner and managing director Jim Simpson in 1979 with a single machine and one apprentice. The firm now employs 10 people.

“We develop and produce parts for gas controls, safety equipment, sports air rifles, tableware, anything that is turned on a CNC lathe machine, we’ll do it,” promises Mr Simpson.

The company even made components for the London 2012 Olympic torch and as there were 12,000 torches made, “we had a nice order for 144,000 parts,” says a jubilant Simpson.  “It was a top secret job – when we first saw the drawings, we thought we were quoting for a car exhaust.”

Collaborative vision

R&D, especially in collaboration with customers, is a serious business for the subcontract engineering firm.

“As a subcontractor, you are reliant on your clients giving you work, and if you can help them achieve what they want, they’ll stay with you.” Simpson explains.

Quantum’s ability to manage R&D relationship gives it competitive edge continues Simpson. “Recently we’ve brought work back into the UK from Italy, and unlike many companies in our sector we didn’t experience a downturn throughout the recession and 2012 was our best year yet.”

Quantum’s R&D portfolio is varied, covering a range of sectors. “We recently complete a projects involving a safety device for a self righting pulley system for people working in safety harnesses,” shares Simpson. The customer is a large PLC.

“If the wearer slips when, say, climbing a tree or building, he or she can end up upside down. This device enables them to activate a button that will right them and lower them to safety.”

Another R&D project was for a water control device.

Simpson admits that having such a variety of work in R&D with a broad spectrum of clients means his firm is constantly dealing with trial and error, and is committed to expending lots of man hours on making modifications and liaising with clients.  “Sometimes we have to go back to the drawing board, but eventually we get it right and bring the concept to fruition,” he says, and the competitive benefits are worth the effort.

Reward in waiting

What Simpson didn’t realise until recently, was that he could gain significant support for his dedication to customer service through collaborative R&D via the R&T tax credit scheme.

That was before a business contact recommended he contact R&D Tax Claims, a Wolverhampton-based firm specialising in supporting manufacturing tax claims.

“I didn’t think we would qualify as we saw ourselves as subcontractors, but as we carry out so much R&D for our clients and this was clearly reflected in our bookkeeping, the team at R&D Tax Claims assured us it would be straight forward. They spent time with Lisa Westwood, our operational secretary and chief buyer, and Bryan Bourke, our works manager, and submitted our claim. The whole process was hassle free and I’m very happy with the result.”

Unsung heroes

Mark Evans, managing director of R&D Tax Claims is happy to have been able to help.

“Quantum Precision Engineering are a fine example of a UK subcontract manufacturer that can’t shout about their product from the rooftops, as the precision parts they develop are an indispensable part of a bigger picture.

“They’re the unsung heroes of hi-tech manufacturing and crucial to the stability and growth of the UK economy,” he states.

Mr Evans is a strong advocate of R&D as the foundation of competitive manufacturing in the UK.

“Quantum did not suffer in the downturn because they are committed to R&D,” he says. “And this commitment and dedication enables their clients to improve, experiment and innovate with new processes and products to keep ahead of the game.

“A helping hand from HMRC in the shape of an R&D tax credit is an acknowledgement of the importance of the work that UK engineers and manufacturers produce.”