Noise vibration and harshness – AVA Consulting

The story

Experienced NVH (noise vibration and harshness) Automotive Engineers, Richard Crompton and Roanan Ellis, have many years’ experience working for major automotive manufacturers globally.

They had always wanted to run their own business, but NVH testing is a highly specialised and expensive business. Testing is carried out in a semi-anechoic chamber, a huge sound-proofed room able to house and run a vehicle. With a new price-tag of around £500,000 each, they also need to be installed in a large industrial unit. The cost for a start-up is prohibitive, and consequently, most chambers are owned by major car manufacturers and large research establishments rather than SME’s.

When an opportunity to acquire their own chamber came to them purely by chance, they knew it was too good to miss. An unused chamber was offered on the proviso they dismantle and move it. This was pure luck but was by no means a small task. It took a team of six full time, fifteen truck loads and six months to dismantle, move and rebuild, at a cost of over £100,000.

Once built, to become a fully functional facility a dynamometer was required. With soaring costs buying a traditional underfloor system was not possible. There was however the opportunity to innovate and save enormous costs by modifying hub-dynamometers, and this was made possible through an Innovation Networks Grant. AVA Consulting was ready for business, specialising in chassis and drive train NVH.

The challenge

The next task was to gain custom, and initial traction was slow. Despite being at the cutting edge of technology, AVA were new, and the process of becoming approved as a first-tier supplier to large organisations is a complex journey.

They launched with an open day, inviting all kinds of businesses to meet them and see the facilities. The face to face opportunity created the desired effect and some orders began to be placed but growth was slow.

The founders knew they needed to focus on how they could grow the business especially in the medium term, so Richard and Roanan approached the Innovate2Succeed programme for help. Using the GrowthMapperTM tool, they identified the key parts of the company that they needed to work on. . In particular the need for a clear vision and a competitive strategy that would future proof the business. They realised that to corner the market they needed to focus on electric and hybrid vehicles in line with large automotive manufacturers.

The success

Their decision to specialise in chassis and drive train NVH for the electric and hybrid vehicle sector has led to AVA gaining a unique knowledge of the NVH challenges for this type of vehicle. In addition, they have developed a unique range of special test buggies, which allow for a high degree of accurate vehicle simulation while giving maximum opportunity to test modifications that cannot be completed on an actual vehicle.

They have increased their facility to include two smaller semi-anechoic chambers plus a complete NVH toolkit of the latest test equipment and software. They now have one of the most extensive, independent NVH facilities in the UK and enjoy almost 100% occupancy of the chambers by major automotive OEMs. The facilities have even been used by games and software companies to record racing game soundtracks!

Since the programme ended the team has grown from two to eight and AVA Consulting is a highly successful and profitable business with plans for further expansion in the UK and abroad.

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