Improving Development Routes for Motor Manufacture

In long established industries, such as motor machinery and drive component manufacture, it can sometimes feel like all avenues of research and development have been exhausted.

However, when it comes to the development route for an existing product, there is always room for improvement; especially when it comes to enhancements and cost effective production of reliable and reproducible components.

In fact, you may even be conducting research and development (R&D) activities through efforts to improve existing products without even realising that your work may be eligible for a cash incentive through the UK R&D Tax Incentive Scheme.

As our case study below demonstrates, enhancing the design or development of an existing motor component can allow you to claim valuable R&D tax relief.

Case study: R&D Tax Relief for Motor Development

R&D Objective: Electric motors have been around for many years and many different types have evolved, to suit particular applications. Some are suited to the operation of large machinery, some for use in electric vehicles and others for precision control in automation applications.

For our client the research and development aspect was based around the objective of economical enhancements. They wanted to establish the feasibility of increasing the load bearing capacity of the motor, without increasing the overall motor size and cost of the component. R&D activities would be needed to review the design of the electric motor, and its development route.

The Technological Advance Sought: To achieve a technological advance for the rotor, an in-depth understanding of the load transmission within the existing design would be required; specifically, how it would be influenced by fatigue, manufacturing tolerances and material selection.

Once this was identified, an extensive design process could commence for enhancing the electric motor. This required R&D activities which would determine;

  • the static and dynamic loadings
  • the extent tolerances in manufacture and component wear would reduce performance
  • how to achieve the optimum balance with weight, configuration and material selection
  • whether this can be achieved economically, repeatedly and reliably

To succeed in the above design review however, a number of technological uncertainties presented that needed to be overcome.

Technological Uncertainties: For motor manufacture projects to benefit from the R&D tax relief scheme, each project needs to demonstrate efforts in overcoming technological uncertainties; specific challenges that would prevent them from deducing a clear route to achieving the required results.

For this particular motor component project, the technological uncertainty examples were identified as:

  1. Uncertainties around the existing shaft configuration and if it could be sufficiently improved through the current manufacturing and modified mounting arrangement.
  2. Dimensional constraints imposed by the motor housing. Following initial testing, it was necessary to change the material of the bearing housing. Despite predictions from the finite element analysis modelling, there remained excessive play within the shaft mounting arrangement.
  3. Which design development route would increase the load carrying capacity and deliver the most cost effective and reliable method. Decisions for the design could have a number of potential variations of overall configurations. Therefore, it was not easily deducible, which product would first even be feasible, or which would be the most cost effective and reproducible.

Claiming Costs for R&D Activities

Although the project to enhance the design and development of the electric motor remains ongoing, a successful claim was made through the R&D tax scheme, and the company benefited with a sizeable reduction in their corporation tax.

As shown in the case study, eligible costs for R&D could be identified within the claim because the project met required criteria, namely that:

  • It aimed to make a scientific or technological advance
  • A number of scientific or technological uncertainties were involved in the project

If you’ve recently spent time and resources on enhancing the design or development route of an existing product, then you could still benefit from the R&D tax incentive scheme. With our expert knowledge of the scheme coupled with an in-depth understanding of the industry, we can put together a strong claim that identifies the maximum relief amount available.

For a quick and honest appraisal of any recent design and development projects, contact R&D Tax North West today.

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