Interview with Nick Broadley, MD Chell Instruments
Interview with Nick Broadley, MD Chell Instruments
October 17, 2017

Chell Instruments recently added a new, smaller, more affordable pressure scanner – the NanoDAQ-LT to their range of scanners.

In this article, we speak to Nick Broadley, MD about the development of the new scanner and about his role at the company.

Firstly, a little bit about Chell Instruments. The company produces pressure, vacuum and gas flow measurement and control solutions. They are a highly-respected business whose engineers are designing products for other engineers to use. They have been a supplier and manufacturer of quality pressure and flow instrumentation for more than 40 years and have been supplying a range of high end pressure scanners to Formula One motor racing teams and the aerospace industry for 30 years.

Nick himself has been with the company since 1996, having previously graduated with a degree in electronics in 1990, and then worked in mass spectrometry in Manchester for 6 years. He started out as product manager for the pressure instrumentation and systems, so he knows a thing or two about these products.

“In my time at Chell, we have developed many new products for a wide variety of applications. I personally, have mainly concentrated on the aerospace/motor racing segments.”

Nick explained the reasoning behind the launch of the new scanner.

“The current range of scanners only covers the high-performance end of the market where performance is the only real purchasing criteria. By producing a lower-cost device, we can open up this technology to many other applications where the cost would have been prohibitive or the possibility of damage made the use of expensive scanners unwise.”

Over recent years, the company has had several customers expressing an interest in a lower cost device. They decided to use their engineering expertise to manufacture a scanner that was not only more affordable but smaller in size and so more versatile.

So, what’s involved in the process of developing a new product?

Nick explained “With the nanoDaq-LT we started with the sensor and developed the product around that. We had used the sensor on one of our flight testing products and I became aware of its performance and possibilities. We used our experience to design and develop a scanner that would suit most of the market. Some of our competitors were also offering low cost device but their performance was poor in relation to our new nanoDAQ-LT.”

The new scanner should appeal to F1 teams but also has potential in many other applications from motorbikes, trains, America’s Cup boats to universities, to name just a few areas. The product means many businesses and applications can take advantage of this latest technology in digital transducers.

The team working on the development of the nanoDAQ-LT included: Nick, Duncan Cooper (engineering manager) and Mark Normington (head of software). While miniature scanners are not new, being able to create one with the level of performance the nanoDAQ-LT has at such an affordable price is a real achievement.

The nanoDAQ-LT weighs in at only 37g and measures 59.5mm x 27mm x 12.5mm (excluding tubulations). It is only one third the cost of Chell Instrument’s top end instruments. However, its size and rugged construction means the pressure scanner is perfect for use in harsh environments. Technical data on the nanoDAQ-LT is available here.

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