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How design helps drive innovation – from an Engineering Director’s point of view

While design is often associated more with creativity than systematic problem solving, the design-driven product development process is actually a very potent framework for engineering innovative new solutions.

To illustrate, we’ve asked Alistair David Morton, Partner and Engineering Director at Attention Group, to share a few of his favorite examples from his own experience.

Innovating for better ergonomics

vl500-2When we initiated the project that later resulted in the Nilfisk VL500, the brief was basically to create a more powerful wet-and-dry vacuum cleaner. Through user studies, we learned about a range of issues for the usage of this type of vacuum cleaner – and fortunately, Nilfisk welcomed our suggestion to explore and find solutions for these issues.

By focusing on the user experience, we were able to rethink the construction of the vacuum cleaner, in order to attain better ergonomics and avoid heavy lifting for the user. The result was a series of innovative solutions that were a direct outcome of the design-driven development process.

More about the development of the Nilfisk VL500.

Optimizing functionality and safety

vestas_112v_engineeringWe worked with Vestas to primarily create a beautiful new design for their v112 turbine while at the same time keeping an eye on logistics and production challenges.  As part of the aesthetic nacelle design our designers and engineers worked side by side to create a series of innovative new features. One of these was a completely new skylight hatch.

During the process, we learned that the skylights used for the wind turbine were designed for use in luxury yachts. Using our insights from working on the nacelle modules, we were able to develop a new skylight that is specifically designed for the wind turbine, meaning it provides a better working environment, is safer and more cost efficient.

More about the V112 design optimization and the skylight.

Design that works in dirty environments

Sketch_truck2A different type of example is the redesign we did for HYVA on a hydraulic loading and tipping solution. Here, it was really important to make the cylinder and tank look as strong and reliable as it actually was, and help the company’s brand come through in the final product.

In doing that, we had to construct a strong and simple looking solution with iconic features that stand out in the dirty and rugged environments in which the machinery is being used. Finally, we achieved a scalable design to fit across HYVA’s broad product range.

More about the cylinder, tank and wet kit design.

Post by Attention Group/18 March 2016

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