A Dundee firm that has facilities which can replicate deep space saw its profits almost double last year.
The city operation of Smiths Interconnect provides sophisticated high-frequency components for the space, defence, medical oncology and avionics industrial sectors.
Investment in Dundee
At the end of 2019 a seven-figure investment was made at the Dundee site, which employs around 70 people.
The company spent heavily on a series of large test laboratories to give a unique testing capability in Scotland.
The facilities which can replicate deep space in terms of vacuum and hear with high-power amplifiers and vacuum systems.
It also has a machine that can replicate the G-force for a rocket launch, and can use radioactive sources to simulate the sun’s hard radiation.
The Dundee site carries out each stage of the manufacturing process on high-tech equipment.
Profits rise last year
The company is registered as Trak Microwave at Companies House. Newly filed accounts for the year to July 31 2020, show that the operation made pre-tax profits of £852,000 – well ahead of the £450,000 achieved the year before.
However, turnover was down slightly to £7.47 million against £7.59m previously.
Managing director Alan McNeill said in his strategic report with the accounts that the space market is expected to show some recovery as a result of institutional spending and commercial investment in low earth orbit constellations.
But he added that demand and prime contracts recorded globally, which flow down orders for the company, remain depressed.
Mr McNeill also said the defence business continued to show growth in terms of orders, but these were insufficient to counter the reduced space demand.
Profitability was impacted by the change in the business mix, he added.
On the subject of Covid-19, the managing director says a comprehensive employee safety, support and communications programme had been implemented. The company maintained continuity of production and service to its customers.
Search for new markets
Trak operates in global industries which demand continuous technological innovation.
Mr McNeill said markets continue to look to value creation as a primary selection criteria to identify future strategic partners.
“Trak’s product-development pipeline is aimed at satisfying this value creation and is critical to Trak’s future business,” he added.
The managing director said the company was actively pursuing markets in commercial space business specifically in Europe and India, where progress has been made – positively impacting revenues and the scheduled order backlog.
He added that structural changes within Smiths Interconnect have directly resulted in the expansion of the internal and external sales channels globally, with focus placed on markets deemed accessible and attractive to Trak.
Mr McNeil said: “Looking forward, the global markets are expected to remain broadly the same over the coming few years, with growth created by increasing market share through the creation of value as measured by our customers.”
Firm in Dundee since 1987
US-founded Trak’s Dundee heritage extends back to 1987 and its then acquisition of Channel Microwave.
In 1992, the group expanded through the acquisition of a passive microwave business formed from part of a management buy-out off Ferranti.
Trak’s support for the space sector began the following year and it has since provided components for use on more than 500 missions.