Cubik Innovation is delighted to announce that Sam Beard has been appointed as Operations Director.
Cubik Innovation is delighted to announce that Sam Beard has been appointed as Operations Director.
Cubik Innovation make their debut at the Engineering Design Show at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry for an action packed 2-day event.
The Reskube offers a simple solution providing access to both continuous power and uninterruptible internet connectivity for itself and any connected devices during a power outage.
With effect from 1 April 2023, Sam Beard will take over from Paul Mullen as Managing Director of Cubik Innovation.
This National Apprenticeship Week, we talk to Alicia about what motivated her decision to do a project management apprenticeship and the skills that she has learned along the way.
This National Apprenticeship week, we talk to Jake about his experience as a Production Apprentice, what he is studying and why an apprenticeship is a great way to start your career.
With the market struggling to settle, we explore what measures can be put in place to mitigate the effects of a changing landscape.
The global supply chain has become increasingly unstable causing component shortages across the industry. So, what does this mean for electronic components and when will we see an end to shortages?
The IZLID is a compact, lightweight infrared laser device used by the military as a command pointer for target marking and communicating with aircraft. It is small enough to fit into the user’s pocket, or attach to their belt for quick access, offering swift guidance to ground personnel over a range of 39km.
Close Air Solutions (CAS) asked Cubik to design a simulator that replicated the look and feel of the IZLID’s aesthetics, ergonomics and user functions, without the infrared beam. The IZLID simulator needed to connect to CAS simulation system via a single USB lead and return data back to the simulation system.
The IZLID simulator is used in classroom based military training to help soldiers gain knowledge and experience of how it would behave in a real-world application. Simulation is a critical part of military training allowing soldiers to experience realistic scenarios in a virtual world, improving their decision making and readiness for combat situations.
The Reskube offers a simple solution providing access to both continuous power and uninterruptible internet connectivity for itself and any connected devices during a power outage. It’s sleek and portable design means that it can be used in a wide range of settings from powering a home office to life saving medical equipment. This intelligent device has the capability to detect and resolve issues before they become a problem.
With our friends at Bang Creations delivering the mechanical design, we were brought on board to design and build the system architecture and support the product through regulatory certification. We worked closely with Bang to ensure the electronic system fit the custom enclosure without compromising on quality and performance.
Designed with critical remote workers in mind the Reskube gives users the confidence to work from any location without fear of disruption. Outside of the home, Reskube maintains continuous operations during outages for small sites such as retail stores, construction sites, doctor's surgeries, and primary schools, ensuring that critical systems and equipment remain operational. Additionally, it offers the added benefit of remote monitoring and management. In global regions where power outages are commonplace the Reskube offers a source of reliability and resilience in an environment with unpredictable connectivity.
Bristol & London based company, Switchee Ltd developed a smart thermostat solution aimed at reducing energy bills in social housing. The intelligent device learns the routine of the household, detects when the house is not occupied and turns the heating on or off accordingly. The device allows valuable data to be gathered remotely reducing the requirement for complex interaction or configuration from the user.
Switchee approached Cubik for help with the development of the software drivers which allow the operating system to communicate with the hardware. This quickly evolved into a larger scheme of work that incorporated the printed circuit board (PCB) design, prototype manufacture and firmware development.
Switchee is the first internet-connect device in social housing. It delivers real-time data that gives housing providers the insights and tools they need to proactively support residents and manage homes.
With a Switchee device installed, energy efficiency can be optimised on a case-by-case basis reducing energy waste, lowering heating bills and cutting carbon emissions.
Cubik Innovation is delighted to announce that Sam Beard has been appointed as Operations Director. Sam will make the move from his current role as Operations Manager to co-direct the business alongside Managing Director, Paul Mullen. Having two directors in place is a first in Cubik history and the appointment signifies an important change in the company structure and securing the future of the business.
Speaking about Sam's appointment, Paul said:
Sam joining Cubik as Director is a huge upward step for Cubik. Taking on the responsibility of running a business is a difficult decision, but I know that Sam will take these responsibilities seriously. During his time at Cubik, he has excelled at everything he has done and more than proved his worth.
Sam has always been passionate about electronics from an early age. After finishing his A Levels, he went on to study for a degree in Computer Science at the University of the West of England (UWE). Keen to get some hands-on experience, he decided to take a year out from his studies and secured a position with engineering giant BAE Systems where he gained extensive knowledge in corporate systems and quality management systems.
After completing his degree, Sam went on to join Kinneir Dufort as a Test Engineer. During his time there, he assisted with the day today running of the manufacturing cell and worked across a wide range of high-profile projects including the THALES Commander Unit for the Ministry of Defence (MOD).
In January 2013, Sam joined Cubik on a 3-month contract to help facilitate the move from a small room at the Bristol & Bath Science Park to one of the larger office spaces, and he never left.
Putting his manufacturing experience to good use, Sam soon set to work designing and building Cubik’s very first Production facility. As the only member of the newly established department, he spent his days building hundreds of Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) single handed. Over next few years, Sam focussed on growing the department building a team of talented and multi-skilled engineers and two semi-automated production lines.
His experience in quality management led Sam to set up the ISO 9001-2015 Quality Management System, which Cubik has just been awarded for the 5th year in a row. As a result of Sam’s hard work, the ISO system has become an integral part of the business that provides reassurance to our customers that their products have been manufactured to the highest quality standards.
As the Production Department grew, Sam naturally took on more responsibility and progressed into the role of Production Manager overseeing the day to day running of the department.
In 2017, following rapid growth on the manufacturing side of the business, Sam was promoted to the role of Operations Manager. His responsibilities extended to the day to day management of the entire business and he became the reporting line to a strong team of 24 members of staff. Sam’s responsibilities include everything from setting business targets and overseeing the delivery of all projects, to making sure the kitchen is fully stocked with tea and coffee.
In fact, it’s a standing joke that his job description famously states the skills required are: “A vast knowledge of everything, everyone and the ability to manage a team whilst juggling a 3-page to do list, invoicing targets, meeting deadlines and remembering to the glue the handle back onto the kettle."
Speaking about his career at Cubik and plans for the future:
Over the past 6.5 years, I have seen the company grow and flourish and have enjoyed being a part of that at every stage. Becoming a Director at Cubik is a brand-new challenge that I can get stuck in to and I am looking forward to more of the same going forward.
After 7 years as the sole director of Cubik, at the heart of Paul’s decision to appoint a new co-director are his staff:
The most important thing to Sam and I is security for our staff. I always wanted someone within the business who can run it exactly as it is if, for any reason, I was not able to. Now, Cubik has two people who have an invested interest in the welfare of the team, the quality of our work and the growth of the business.
Sam and I are so aligned in how we see the business and the vision for the future, which makes decision making much easier. But I am also looking forward to having someone who will challenge me to think outside the box and provide a different perspective.
On Wednesday 16 October, we opened our exhibition stand for the final time this year at one of the biggest engineering exhibitions in the UK. Dedicated entirely to engineering, electronics and embedded design, EDS gives visitors access to the latest products, services and innovations available in the industry. Having got a sneak peek at what was on offer during setup day, we knew we were in for something special.
Throughout the 2-day event, a steady stream of visitors made their way to stand C22 to meet our team, talk to our experts and watch demonstrations of our automated assembly line. As usual, our trusty pick and place machine was on hand to build our interactive business cards and showcase our in-house manufacturing capabilities. Programmed with a challenging LED game, the business cards get quicker and more complicated as you complete each level. They quickly became one of the exhibitions must have items with people stopping by to pick one up.
As well as the vast number of exhibitions, visitors also had the opportunity to hear from 25 of the industry’s most prominent conference speakers and attend over 30 practical workshops on the show floor.
Cubik’s own Matt Weatherburn (Senior Project Manager) attended a workshop delivered by John Karlsson (Perforce Software) exploring how to build better products by using a combination of Project Management methods including SCRUM, Gantt Scheduling and Kanban:
The workshop was an excellent opportunity to hear from a leading industry expert, meet likeminded people and make new connections. Insightful, innovative and certainly provided some food for thought.
On the show floor the Robotics Innovation Hub provided opportunities to discuss and try the very latest in robotics technology from Comau, X-STK Applied Automation and Motion Impossible. Visitors were able to try out an exoskeleton, a motion tracking camera dolly and cobots.
Shannon Cribb (Junior Engineer) couldn’t resist the opportunity to try out the exoskeleton which supports the user when carrying out repetitive, weight intensive tasks.
On Day 2, we took part in Made in Britain’s #MIBHour, an online networking event where tagged companies take part in an online conversation. After mentioning that we were tweeting from the EDS, spring manufacturer European Springs tweeted us to say that they were also exhibiting and headed over to our stand to introduce themselves. Virtual connectivity leading to real life connections!
If you managed to pick up one of our interactive business cards, don’t forget to tweet us to let us know what level you’ve reached. Twitter: @CubikInnovation
We are delighted to announce the appointment of Sam Beard as Managing Director of Cubik Innovation. With effect from 1st April 2023, Sam Beard will take over as Managing Director of Cubik. Paul Mullen will take on the role of Founder & Technical Consultant and will continue to provide support and guidance to the Senior Management Team.
Paul founded Cubik Innovation in 2012, following the sale of his previous business Panik Technology. His aim was to be a consultant helping companies answer the difficult questions that arise when designing electronic products. By the end of the year, Paul had employed three members of staff and the business has taken an unplanned direction giving way to the success of Cubik as we know it today.
In January 2013, Sam joined the company on a 3-month contract to facilitate an office move. With his background in electronics, Paul tasked him with setting up Cubik’s first Production lab and recruiting a team of engineers. In the following years, Sam progressed from Production Engineer to Production Manager before being appointed as Operations Director in 2019.
Speaking about the new appointment, Paul said:
“Over the past decade, Sam has played a fundamental role in the growth of the business. From setting up our first production lab at the Bristol & Bath Science Park to joining me as a Co-Director. He has excelled at everything he has done. He knows the business and cares tremendously about the individuals within it, so I take this step knowing that Cubik and the team are in safe hands.”
As Managing Director, Sam will take on the business management and will lead the company with support from Paul and the Senior Management Team.
“This is an exciting opportunity for me, both personally and professionally, and I am honoured that Paul has entrusted me to take the reins. We’ve got a strong team, all pushing in the same direction, and I am committed to taking Cubik forward another ten years and beyond.”
After deciding that university wasn’t the path for her, Alicia joined Cubik in October 2020 to embark on a Project Management Apprenticeship. Just two years later, Alicia is now a fully qualified PM and has established herself as an accomplished and valuable member of Cubik’s project management team.
Alicia talks about what motivated her decision to do an apprenticeship and the skills that she has learned along the way.
Speaking about why apprenticeships work so well, Paul Mullen (Managing Director) said:
“There is a huge shortage of workers in the UK, and this is especially noticeable in engineering. An apprenticeship is a great way to continue education whilst working and earning. There is a vast range of apprenticeships from NVQ’s through HNC’s, through to degree apprenticeships where you can gain a full degree qualification whilst gaining practical experience.
At Cubik, we see apprenticeships as a great route to employment. We pride ourselves on providing a great platform for learning and support our apprentices through their training programs.
Apprentices benefit the business too. Having a younger person in the team brings a fresh thought process, fresh ideas. Also, apprentices tend to stay in a business longer before moving on which generates business and staff stability.”
For more information about apprenticeships, or to find one that suits you, visit gov.uk
Today marks the start of National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) which brings together businesses and apprentices across the country to highlight the positive impact that apprenticeships make to businesses, individuals, and the wider economy. This NAW, we’re shining a light on Cubik apprentices, past and present, to discover more about their individual experiences and the different routes they took to achieving their goals.
Jake Mullen joined Cubik on 1st June 2020 as an Apprentice Engineer and is currently studying towards a BEng (Hons) in Electronic and Computer Engineering. Jake talks about his experience and why he thinks an apprenticeship is a great way to start your career.
Speaking about why we continue to develop links with local educators and offer apprenticeships, Operations Director, Sam Beard said:
“Apprenticeships are a great route to employment. They offer young people an opportunity to gain hands on experience whilst studying towards a formal qualification. From a business perspective, it gives us an opportunity to instil a quality mindset from the very beginning. We can teach the correct techniques and industry standards, which will hopefully result in a talented addition to the Cubik workforce, equipped with future ready skills.”
For more information about apprenticeships, or to find one that suits you, visit gov.uk
When creating electronic designs, it used to be enough to consider component spacing, orientation and electrical compatibility. Engineers had become quietly comfortable in the knowledge that they could order their favourite parts and components with ease, and that their order would likely arrive the next day. Or, at least in the same week.
Now, whilst this approach may be ok for one-off prototypes or proof of concepts, it makes future proofing products and volume production very difficult. And with the market struggling to settle, the concept of designing for manufacture has been joined by the need to design for availability.
So, what can we do to navigate the changing landscape? Whilst there are no guarantees, there are some practical steps that can be taken to ensure products can be produced at scale and are suitable for repeat production runs:
Whilst many of the supply challenges are best addressed during the design process, there are also steps we can take to ensure the manufacturing process goes smoothly and prevent production runs from grinding to a halt.
What used to be a minor tick box of investigating availability and second sourcing has become a critical problem. More than ever, engineers must be proactive, strategic, and flexible in their approach to electronic design to preserve the product lifecycle.
Our team of engineers have the knowledge and experience to support you through the component selection process and help you achieve optimum functionality in an unstable market. If you’d like to talk to us about how we can help, get in touch.
Over the past few years, the global supply chain for electronics components has become increasingly unstable. In 2020, this was further compounded by the outbreak of COVID-19 which saw supply chains bottle neck as consumer demands intensified against a stationary industry. As demand continued to grow, the market responded, and component prices and lead times rocketed.
In late 2021, there were signs of recovery, and it was hoped that this year would be the industry’s bounce back year. But the war on Ukraine and COVID-19 outbreaks in China, which resulted in further lockdowns, caused disruption to an already fragile supply chain.
In “normal times”, we would expect most components to be available on a next day delivery basis. But in recent years, lead times have increased considerably and on certain components we are seeing lead times as high as 52+ weeks. So, what does this mean for electronic components and when will we see an end to shortages?
What caused the shortage?
What can we do?
With business as usual still a little while off, what can we do until normal service is resumed.
The electronic component shortage has been a long and trying challenge for supply chains and it is expected that delays on certain components could reach as far as 2024. But whilst there may still be some catching up to do, we are starting to see signs of improvement. In September 2022, the Global Supply Chain Pressure Index (GSCPI) recorded a decrease in pressures for the fifth month in a row. Though the decrease is broad based, these figures show that pressures are starting to fall back in line with more historical levels.
Over the past few years, we have worked closely with our customers to navigate the changing landscape of component availability by sourcing and storing the components they need to ensure they meet their forecasted requirements. If you’ve got a project you’d like to discuss, get in touch or call 0117 244 3000.
Recently, we were joined by local student Ava, who came to Cubik to do her Year 10 work experience placement.
"I wanted to work at Cubik because it is a local, private, friendly business. As a kid, I’ve had previous experience with electronics, and I thought it could be an interesting line of work to explore."
Throughout the week, Ava kept a diary of what she did and how she tackled the challenges she was set. Find out what Ava got up to:
On my first day, I arrived at Cubik to a warm welcome from Camilla (Business Manager). We talked about the company, what they do and the sorts of things I would be getting involved in. Camilla introduced me to the rest team who were all very friendly and made me feel welcome.
Once I was settled in, I joined the Monday Morning Meeting. This is where the whole business gets together to discuss the progress of each project and set the priorities for the week ahead.
I spent the rest of the day with the Business Team learning about each function including HR/Finance, Sales, Marketing and Project Management. Throughout the afternoon, I joined the Project Managers on several customer meetings, both online and in person.
I joined Ian (Business Development Manager) to get a feel for the sales process and how new work is generated. We went through customer communications and looked how new enquiries are managed and subsequently onboarded when a project has been won.
I spent the afternoon with Paul (Managing Director) who set me a task to research computer chips, source alternatives and compare my findings. He then challenged me to research and plan a new project idea.
I also spent time in Design with Shannon (Design Engineer) looking at how PCB’s are designed and familiarising myself with the software that Cubik use.
Today I went into Production, Cubik’s onsite manufacturing facility, where I built two sets of six PCB boards, used the wave machine to solder the boards and then put all completed PCBs onto the racks. We talked about some of the issues that the team come up against and how they are resolved to ensure the best quality product for the customer.
After lunch, I built another set of six boards and spent time with James (Senior Production Engineer) learning how to hand solder.
On Thursday, I got to develop my programming skills! I started by creating a basic flashing pattern for the LEDs and then created a traffic light system using Arduino IDE. I then planned new code that selected letters and transferred it into morse code using LEDs to spell out ‘CUBIK2022’.
In the afternoon, I worked in the test lab testing insulating enclosures with Paul. I finished the day building two more PCB’s and practiced the hand soldering techniques I learned yesterday.
On my last day, I was set the task of making a circuit board using the coding I previously created in Arduino IDE, and an enclosure. I worked with Shannon (Design Engineer) to design the board and hand solder the wires and components.
Next, I designed an enclosure using a 3D print creator app and set it up on the 3D printer. Whilst I waited, I built more PCB’s and continued practicing my hand soldering on extra PCB’s. Once the 3D printer had finished printing the enclosure, I removed it from the bed and fitted the board to complete my product and my work experience week.
“Thank you to all the staff at Cubik for making sure I had the best work experience week imaginable. I learned so much and got to discover all the interesting departments and decide my favourites. I now know what it is like to work in an office and production environment which has really opened my eyes to alternative lines of work that I might enjoy in the future!”
We loved having Ava at Cubik HQ! Ava got stuck in with all aspects of Cubik from building PCB’s and coding Arduinos to joining in with the infinite discussions and fan theories on Stranger Things 4. From everyone at Cubik, we’d like to wish you all the best with your studies and thank you for your hard work.
We are excited to announce that we are working on EarSwitch, a new medical technology that hopes to transform the lives of people living with neurological conditions, such as motor neuron disease (MND).
The technology is being developed by GP Dr Nick Gompertz and a team of researchers at the University of Bath and will allow people to communicate by tensing a tiny muscle in the ear.
The tensor tympani muscle is one of the smallest muscles in the body and connects to the malleus bone behind your eardrum. Tensing of this muscle causes movement of the eardrum, or an earclick. This movement is captured by a tiny camera (the EarSwitch sensor) which is positioned at the end of an earphone and can be used to operate an assistive keyboard.
It is believed that control of this muscle might be preserved in people ‘locked-in’ due to stroke, and in late-stage MND. Existing assistive devices can become unusable as neurological conditions such as MND worsen over time. EarSwitch might offer a breakthrough for individuals with the most severe communications restrictions.
The technology has recently been given a boost following two successful rounds of funding:
The first is a £1.45 million NHR Product Development Award (PDA). This will help the team develop the prototype into a product with the appropriate regulatory approval that is required for a medical device. Additional partners for this project include a manufacturing consortium and the Portsmouth Technology Trials Unit.
The second funding award is for £70,000 from NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i Connect). Working alongside Open Bionics, a local manufacturer of 3D printed protheses, this will be used to explore the possibility of using EarSwitch to control an upper-limb exoskeleton and prothesis.
The Product Partnership
We are delighted that we will be working on this project alongside our fellow The Product Partnership (TPP) partners Amalgam, Realise and NewIcon. Cubik will be leading the electronics development which includes core sensor research and implementation, electronics covering communication, data delivery, power, and collaborative integration.
We will keep you updated as this high-profile medical device development unfolds.