Finrone Systems Ltd has over 25 years' experience in the agricultural industry, specialising in the construction of pig farms and buildings, supply of livestock equipment, slurry storage and equipment solutions. It also offers engineering services including plasma and laser cutting services in both domestic and export markets.
In order to increase their competitive edge, and expanding global presence, Finrone wished to develop the design and prototyping of a new modular portable pig building/slurry storage solution to launch to market.
This innovative new modular home product was to use innovative materials such as polypropylene and high impact glass reinforced concrete, and be superior to other products on the marketplace.
The main challenge Finrone faced was the lack of skills in 3D Computer Aided Design, rapid prototyping part design and access to facilities such as a variety of 3D printers in order to build the prototype designs.
Finrone approached the North West Regional College (NWRC) Business Support Centre to avail of support through the Innovate US programme, funded by Department for the Economy (DfE), which equated to 30 hours of mentoring support from David McDaid, NWRC Product Design Consultant.
David liaised with Finrone staff preparing a detailed project plan to maximise learning outcomes. This included Research and Development (r&D) concept refinement, conducting a detailed analysis and measurements of current products. This then progressed to upskilling staff on building 2D and 3D solid models, 3D assemblies from concept parts, using Solidworks to create STL assembly models to rapid prototype of a scale model prototype to demonstrate new design features of the portable pig house to new customers.
Through the programme, Finrone had the opportunity to access the innovative and cutting edge facilities at the NWRC, which included a wide variety of 3D printers in order to build the prototype designs.
On completion of the project Finrone had successfully upskilled two members of staff and had created a scale model prototype of the new modular portable pig building, which Finrone recently showcased successfully during an Australian industry event. As a direct result of participating in the programme, Finrone has experienced a 5 per cent increase in sales, safeguarding jobs and generating a number of further full time positions.
Finrone continues to work collaboratively with NWRC new Product Design Centre, creating future 3D print product prototypes and are currently looking to take on student placements from NWRC. The NWRC are now also working with Finrone on a further R&D project, a £5000 Innovation Voucher, from Invest NI, equating to 80 hours of r&D to develop further new products for the export market.