When timber frame modular manufacturer Seven Oaks Modular Ltd needed support with an innovation project, they formed a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Established in 1996, Seven Oaks Modular Ltd, which makes anything from standard timber frames to building a whole house in its factory, found that it had a panel solution that was not sustainable.

The new product they had developed was a wall panel, a standard timber wall made from wood fibre, horizontally blown to ensure that the panel was created flat. They wanted to innovate and make the product better for the environment.

Charlotte Hale, Operations Director, Seven Oaks Modular Ltd, said: “There is only one other machine in the UK that uses the same process, so this is very innovative and saves money.It’s good for quality purposes and we were pleased with how the project was run with Cardiff Met. They have been crucial in our innovation strategy and helping us achieve innovation in anything we do.So, I would highly recommend other businesses getting in contact with Cardiff Metropolitan University for a KTP.”

She explained that the KTP resulted in Seven Oaks securing a huge multi-million-pound project. It’s made hundreds of thousands of pounds improvement to efficiencies on our machinery and movements by value stream mapping enabling us to employ more staff and increase our turnover.

Professor John Littlewood, Professor of Sustainable and Resilient Buildings and SuRBe Lead at Cardiff Metropolitan University, was the lead academic on the Seven Oaks Modular KTP. He said “This KTP has enabled us to collaboratively solve a range of commercial and research challenges to increase the operational performance of Sevenoaks for them and their clients in Wales and across the UK. We have supported Seven Oaks to significantly increase their market share with new and enhanced timber frame MMC systems using natural and renewable insulation.”

“If as a company you have an R&D problem, you can’t break into a market or you have a technological problem or a management problem a KTP is a great solution particularly if you’re an SME.”

“It’s a very cost-effective way to not only get a graduate working with you, but also academic experts who may have many, many years of experience in the field they’re working and that’s a great win for the company. You’re getting your associates, but you’re also getting input from business advisers from the research and innovation office.”

“It’s not just about the KTP most projects we work on lead on to other collaborative funding bids to drive further innovation that has been developed during a KTP.”

The collaboration with Cardiff Metropolitan University has supported Sevenoaks Modular in the UK to be at the forefront of innovative housebuilding solutions within the construction industry and to develop new products that are sustainable and cost-effective to produce. This has enabled the business to grow whilst at the same time ensuring it remains environmentally responsible by minimising its carbon emissions.

This KTP was also rated as outstanding by Innovate UK. If you are interested in working with Cardiff Metropolitan University to help you boost your business, please contact Karl Couch (Business Liaison Officer) on kcouch@cardiffmet.ac.uk.  More information about Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and other ways to collaborate with Cardiff Metropolitan University please visit their webpage www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/business.