Resource type: Case study

Flann Microwave – case study

Established over 60 years ago, Flann Microwave designs and manufactures a range of high precision satellite communication test equipment. Operating from a purpose-built facility on the outskirts of Bodmin, Flann Microwave has built up an international reputation for quality and innovation. 85% of their sales are overseas, with customers in the USA, Australia, Asia and Europe.

Microwave and waveguide technology form the backbone of the digital communications network, which is a vital part of the infrastructure of modern day life. The company has provided product systems to many industry sectors, including Military, Broadcast, Aerospace, Telecommunications and Satellite Communications.

The Opportunity

With a world-class design team and a total staff of 60 people, the company was keen to ensure that they were making the most of the latest digital technologies in the way that they managed the day to day running of the business. As a result, their team engaged with Superfast Business Cornwall, who arranged for Flann Microwave to attend a Technology for Business Growth workshop. This was followed by a programme of 12 hours of support spread over a 12-week period. This included masterclasses, expertise from ICT specialists and impartial advice and guidance from the Superfast Business Cornwall team.

Angela Harvey, Flann Microwave’s Head of Operations & Finance, takes up the story:

“The workshop was a fantastic way of focussing our thinking in developing our digital action plan. We wanted to use the latest technologies to help improve our efficiencies and, working with the Superfast Business Cornwall team, we were able to identify our three priority areas.

Improving productivity

“The first was a Shop Floor Data Capture system. Staff now have tablets on which they can record details of time spent on each job without leaving their desk. It is amazing to see the difference this is making. As well as significantly reducing time spent on admin, it has also led to substantial improvements in accuracy. This system will improve efficiencies across the business which in turn will free up more time to focus on business growth from new and existing customers.

“The second area was to use digital technology to facilitate collaboration across the business, which again has improved our effectiveness and productivity. We have been able to benefit from the latest collaboration tools, significantly expand our use of Office 365, and employ technology like Skype to work more closely with our customers. Moving our communication systems to the cloud means that we can stay in touch wherever we are. This is particularly useful because, as our worldwide business grows, our staff are spending more time visiting our international customers!

Working smarter

“The third part of our plan is to replace our outdated Time & Attendance and HR processes, many of which were still being done manually. Our new cloud-based system will be a real leap forward. Staff will, for example, be able to go online via their smartphones to book holiday time. This is an excellent investment in our people, enabling them to work smarter. It will be a fully integrated system which will also use bio-metrics, eliminating a vast amount of paperwork. This system will bring further radical improvements to our efficiency and productivity.”

Flann Microwave was helped in its digital transformation by two of the Superfast Business Cornwall team: Dan Piper, Business Adviser and Steve Edwards, Digital Business Enabler. Steve comments:

“This is a great example of how an already successful company has used Superfast Broadband technology to help take their business to the next level. The team at Flann Microwave was very receptive to change and clearly understood the importance of implementing the latest, most up to date systems to maintain a competitive edge in a tough marketplace.

Platform for future growth

“The Superfast Business Cornwall programme was perfect for the company, as it is geared to the needs of small to medium sized businesses with ambitious growth plans. After assessing all their requirements, we were able to identify the digital technology that Flann Microwave needed in order to move their business forward as well as provide impartial advice and guidance.”

Angela Harvey concludes:

“This has been a fantastic journey for our business and we are already reaping the benefits of this new approach. As a direct result of this project we have already created two new jobs and we expect to create further new jobs very soon. We have built a strong platform for the future growth of our business and the prospects for Flann Microwave look incredibly exciting. The emerging space sector is a vital growth area for us and we have recently exhibited at the Washington Space Show in the USA. Now we have digital technology as the launch-pad for our business, the sky is the limit!”

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Created for small to medium sized businesses based in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, this practical bank of information contains free to access in-depth guides, top tips, case studies, videos, blogs and more. The content is impartial and written in plain English.

The benefits of adopting digital technology

Funded by ERDF, Superfast Business Cornwall provides a fully funded programme of support to help businesses understand, adopt and exploit digital technology for growth. Delivered by a small team of experienced Digital Business Advisers, the service offers 1-2-1 impartial advice, website reviews, workshops for small groups and advice on connectivity to Superfast Broadband. Grant funding may also be available for new digital projects which help businesses grow and create jobs.

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