Cogent to take MedTech aspirations to new heights with new facility
UK-based contract electronics manufacturer, Cogent Technology, is ending its 2020 with a massive improvement to its operations. The company grows from 16’000 – 80’000 square feet as it moves to its new facility.
A few weeks ago the electronics manufacturer officially moved into its new facility in Felixstowe, Suffolk. The new facility is a big jump from it’s previous one, offering the company 60’000 square feet of pure manufacturing area. The facility also boast two Class 7 clean rooms totaling 1’300 sq ft, an update on the company’s LinkedIn page states. Evertiq reached out to Cogent’s Commercial Director, Robert Stainer, for further details on the new and improved operations. Everything started with the new year really. Back then the company was still operating out of its old facility, which offered them 16’000 square feet of shop floor. Robert, along side Managing Director, Nigel Slator, were on holiday in Egypt when the pandemic truly hit Europe. A call from the UK Government put a screeching halt to relaxation as the country was in desperate need of ventilators to combat the virus that was currently wrecking havoc across Europe. So in March, with the UK about to be placed in lockdown, Cogent Technology answered the call to take part in the UK Ventilator Challenge. With a prediction of 30,000 ventilators required, Cogent was contracted to rapidly manufacture over 13,500 units within a 12 week window. The company was teamed up with Team Consulting to make a reality of the Eva Ventilator; a product designed and developed by the medical device designers at Team Consulting, where Cogent provided their expertise in engineering, planning, manufacturing and sourcing to make the design viable. Six weeks in the company had managed to produce ten finished emergency ventilators of the EVA design. That is from a completely blank piece of paper to a fully viable ready to use product. When explaining the process Robert Stainer is struggling to find the words to describe the level of ingenuity and teamwork that made it all possible. “It was both incredible and beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it and I probably never will again,” Stainer says. It took them six weeks to prove that they had a viable product – not a concept, not a prototype – a production ready product. In order to support the production volume of the ventilators within this rather tight schedule, Cogent managed to acquire a lease on 80’000 square feet of manufacturing space in Felixstowe. A week later the company were in the possession of the keys to the new space Cogent sprinted to ready the facility with a dedicated production line within five weeks. And that is when someone pulled the handbrake. “When we were going to start actual production the Government pulled the handbrake as supply from other suppliers partaking in the Ventilator Challenge were deemed, mercifully, to be enough at that time.” And there the company stood, with a shiny new facility, sourced for a specific product and a halted contract. However, while that might sound like a real blow to the stomach, Robert Stainer, seems to look at it from a different angle. The request from the Government, even if it did not pan out as initially planned, spring boarded an expansion; a much needed one. The Commercial Director has a goal in mind, a goal which would have been hard – if not damn near impossible – to reach from its previous facility; “to become one of the biggest medical device manufacturers in the Europe.” Robert explains that this plan has existed for quite some time. When the company entered the MedTech space back in 2006, becoming the worlds biggest medical device manufacturer might not have been the pronounced end goal, but it is clear from our conversation that they had no intention of entering the sector and not leave a mark. When asked to specify what separates Cogent’s expertise from its peers the Commercial Director quite quickly just says; “Full Device assembly. That is where our expertise really lies. The electronics part is a well-trodden path, sourcing and assembling the electro mechanicals, fluidics and optics takes a different expertise.” And the company has set up the new facility to mirror this; PCBA only take up 25 percent of the shop floor – the rest is dedicated to full device build. As the conversation goes further, it becomes clear that both of us, as well as people around us, have been affected by conditions, illnesses and syndromes that can either be treated or remedied by devices produced by the electronics industry. And if not that, they can at least provide a higher quality of life. There is passion behind the words, and also history, not just from myself and Robert, but from other individuals at the company and its clients – which makes the vision so much more personal. “We want to ‘enhance your life’, that’s what we are working towards. And that means that everyone that get’s in touch with the company, be it clients, suppliers or our employees, we want to enhance your life.” It is a Utopic statement, bordering idealistic. But to their credit, he has already started implementing this credo. The company's employees for example only work a four day week since moving into the new facility, this in order to provide an ‘enhanced’ life affording them more time with loved ones. Another example could be a project where the company saw the product, heard the vision but deemed it commercially less sound – but if it could be placed on the market, it would increase the quality of life for everyone that needed it. So, with a well thought out commercial plan it became a Cogent project. There is rapid fire when Mr. Stainer speaks. The move will bring big changes to the company, which since 2006 has been quietly working to create a name for themselves in regard to quality, transparency and openness within the medical field. With the move, the company does have a facility to match both its confidence and aspirations. Moving into 2021, the Cogent will continue its expansion adding new employees in line with incoming orders. Mr. Stainer ends our conversation trying to explain the vision of the company, boiled down into a single sentence; “I want to be bigger, not for the sake of being bigger, but so that we can do better.”