Cryogenic consultancy growing in a pandemic – The challenges

Last year was challenging for all of us in many different ways. In a time marred by so much devastation and loss, we wanted to write about something positive. Not to gloat but to share a little hope.

Author: Louise Cuff   |   Date: 14th June 2021

At Nu Perspectives we had one aim in 2020; to build the foundations for growth. The pandemic highlighted to us the need for more in house expertise. We faced some huge challenges with our supply chain. We encountered longer lead times due to less availability of parts and some suppliers having to close. One such company was a machining equipment manufacturer in China. This meant lead times of least two months before equipment could begin to be shipped again.

When the pandemic first hit ETO sterilisation for single use probes became a major issue. Initially there was a huge increase in demand due to the extreme need for critical care and PPE equipment and as this was prioritised above everything else.  We retained the high demand for our product as it was used for emergency eye surgery, however as it was not related to the pandemic our lead times were delayed whilst the sterilisers worked hard to supply vital equipment. At the same time the demand for non-emergency equipment dropped to very low levels whilst the world focused on the pandemic.

The demand for pandemic equipment has since stabilised, but the demand for non-emergency equipment has remained low. Companies supplying the sterilisation and packing of sterile products saw their orders drop which meant they could not sterilise products as frequently as they would do normally. Which again pushed the lead times out for our product.

Much of our growth during the past year was largely due to the growth in demand for disposable cryosurgical probes. This meant more pressure on us for products that we supply. We had to ramp up our production in order to meet this demand.

To combat this, we used a laser welder to manufacture cryoprobe stems in house, to develop prototypes and to make thermocouples. We began to automate gluing processes using automatic glue dispensers and a new blast cabinet for roughening/finishing of surfaces. We are now in the processes of equipping a small machine shop for the manufacture of tooling and prototypes.

Staffing has also been tricky. Self-isolation and school closures created more challenges with workloads stacking up.

With redundancies reaching record highs due to the pandemic, we looked for people with the necessary skills and work ethic who had found themselves in that boat.

We employed two extra production operatives Jayne and Kiya. Jayne raised her family before starting up a successful painting and decorating business which she had for ten years before the impact of COVID forced her to close.

Tina our new office administrator, joined in March 2020 just as the pandemic was taking hold in the UK. She’s learning something new every day as she has no previous experience in the engineering world but loves that every day is different.

In addition to Kiya and Jayne, two production operatives, Lauren and Vanessa, joined our team in February 2020.

James, our new production technician, started at Nu Perspectives just before the pandemic reached the UK in January. Having previously worked in a secondary school as a science technician, he wanted to apply the learning from his degree in physics to a new challenge.

We have also employed two more production operatives, Mia and Ian. Mia joined us in February. Originally from Hungary where she worked as a production operative at Lego, she was also responsible for quality. Ian joined us in May having relocated to Andover and has an electronic assembly and soldering background. They have both been working hard to keep up with the demand on production of the single use cryo probes.

Building our team has enabled Gareth and I to focus on designs for a liquid nitrogen based cryosurgical system, recruitment and training, process improvements and launching a new disposable surgical probe.

We now have a diverse team with some amazing work experiences between them. They have all been amazing throughout this pandemic. The induction and bedding in process was far slower than usual, especially as we had to ensure we were COVID secure throughout, but the team adapted brilliantly, and everyone worked hard to ensure that all of the necessary training took place.  Gareth and I couldn’t be prouder.

As 2021 begins we feel proud that we have doubled in size and have been laying the foundations for growth. Despite the pandemic we continue to progress in the right direction and feel hopeful that our small business will continue to function as close to ‘normal’ as possible.


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