Q&A: Nick Broadley managing director of Chell Instruments

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Tell us about Chell Instruments?

The company was established in the 1970s. Since then we’ve grown to be a leader in pressure, vacuum and gas flow measurement and control solutions. We manufacture and supply equipment used throughout the world in sectors including pharmaceutics, petrochemicals, motorsport and, of course, aerospace.

In particular, we’ve been committed to creating industry-leading solutions for pressure and, more recently, temperature scanning applications. We’ve been a strategic supplier to many significant companies in the aerospace sector for a number of years. We’re known for our robust and innovative solutions to measurement challenges, from quick disconnects to complete acquisition systems.

All of our products are designed and manufactured at our headquarters in Norfolk, UK. To validate our measurements, we have our own ISO17025 calibration lab with some of the lowest uncertainties available.

In 2019, we became part of the SDI Group of companies.

 

What’s your background?

I studied electronic engineering at university and started my career at an international instrumentation company in Manchester in 1990.

To be honest, it was my interest in aerospace and motorsport which attracted me to Chell Instruments in 1996. Even then they were involved in some fascinating areas. After working hard in a number of roles, I took over running the business in 2001.

Initially, we sold products manufactured by others. To date, my proudest achievement has been our high-level investment in R&D which has led to our own growing range of very successful products.

 

Who do Chell Instruments work with in aerospace?

We work with all of the world’s major airframe and gas turbine manufacturers. Our product range is extensive, so our support varies from providing complete and complex acquisition equipment, to individual components like quick disconnects.

With aerospace, we’re primarily involved in engine and airframe development. In particular, as many of our product are designed to reduce the complexity involved in making high-accuracy measurements, we are finding they are in increasing demand for in-flight testing.

 

What is your approach to working with customers?

We’ve always been customer-led. Most of our product developments have been as a direct results of customer needs.

Given their high level of development, our products are suitable for almost any conceivable application. Our whole team likes nothing more than adapting or developing a solution to solve a fresh challenge! At our core we’re a company of engineers.

As a company, our size is a real advantage, as we’re big enough to have the experience and capabilities, but small enough to be quick and agile.

 

Which of your products are most relevant to aerospace?

Our FlightDaq (data acquisition) range of products is specifically designed for aerospace applications. They’ve proven a big success.

Our newest devices are compatible with DDS, the latest aerospace data interface standard. This is being adopted by many large aerospace firms as it gives them real benefits in data integration and flexibility in terms of the suppliers they can use.

We’ve been involved at the leading edge of this standard and released our first DDS compatible scanner, the FlightDaq-TL, which can measure temperature, voltage and pressure via external pressure transducers.

Our first pressure scanning device with DDS; the FlightDaq3, will be released this summer.

 

Which trends in aerospace are currently shaping your products?

We’re proud to say we believe our products are currently being used in every area of aerospace development.

Within civil aviation in particular, efficiency is the most significant area of focus for most of our clients. I guess many would agree that electrification is perhaps the most exciting development on the horizon. Because our products are used to assess the aerodynamic and thermodynamic performance of aircraft and engines, they can be used in the majority of development environments.

As a company, we’re committed to using all new technology available to improve our products. The most recent example is the development of our Q-Daq and nanoDaq-LT products which utilise the latest in digital sensors.

 

What is the future for Chell Instruments and its product range?

Despite the seismic events with Coronavirus, the demand and pace of change across all the sectors we work with ultimately looks set to continue, especially aerospace.

We always have a number of development projects running. Currently, we’re working on expanding the pressure ranges available on our Q-Daq and including a purge facility. It’s a great example of a development which will make this low size, weight and cost technology available for more and more applications.

We’ll continue to innovate our product range and add new products whenever the close relationship we have with our customers points us in that direction.

 

This article was produced in partnership with Chell Instruments

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About Author

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 20 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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