In December 2019, FWT invested £2 million in Novosound, a revolutionary ultrasound technology company that had developed the world’s first truly flexible ultrasound sensor; able to operate continuously at high temperatures, offering high-resolution images.
From the outset, WAE had a keen interest in the technology as a potential user and development partner for Novosound’s Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) product range. This, in combination with Novosound’s well-protected core intellectual property, positioning in a high growth market and exceptional team led by Dr Dave Hughes, won over the investment committees.
At the time of investment, Novosound was developing two new NDT products; the Belenus for continuous corrosion monitoring of critical assets in high-temperature environments and the Kelpie for accurate inspection of complex and curved structures.
WAE’s initial focus area with Novosound was to look at reducing the cost whilst increasing the robustness of the Belenus sensor. When early market feedback indicated that modifications were required to enhance the longevity of the product, the teams sprang into action.
At the end of March 2020, Covid-19 restrictions had just been implemented and a WAE hosted workshop was moved from a face-to-face event in Oxfordshire to a virtual session split over two afternoons. To enable further improvements to Novosound’s continuous monitoring sensor, WAE brought together a combination of design, mechanical, thermal and stress engineers, to review the current design, identify the problem areas and recommend solutions to meet the needs of the application. Following the workshop, Novosound made key changes to the design and since, won contracts for 24/7 corrosion monitoring of high-temperature pipes inside industrial boiler environments, enabling future predictive maintenance.
A few months later, with all trade shows and customer visits cancelled due to Covid-19, Novosound developed an innovative new “go-to” market strategy for their Kelpie product, the flexible ultrasound array. This involved sending out demo kits to target customers which WAE offered to trial and provide honest feedback on before the official launch.
Following this hands-on trial of the Novosound Kelpie, the direction of value-add support transitioned. The WAE technical team who reviewed the kit could see potential in using Novosound’s technology to monitor damage, such as cracking, in composite materials. This was particularly attractive for the aircraft interior project WAE are currently engaged in, which aims to revolutionise future aircraft interiors through world-class design and Formula One-derived technology, including the use of composites.
As of March 2021, this new phase of collaboration is now underway and off to an exciting start. We look forward to unveiling the achievements of this new partnership, hopefully, in a world where you can touch and trial the technology for yourselves – watch this space!
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