Design for business to business brands
For commercial and industrial products, the purchaser, owner and user are normally separated. This makes for complex, and often contradictory, stakeholder relationships. Added to this there is usually the need to adhere to demanding legislative requirements.
We must understand these interactions thoroughly, balancing and prioritising ease of use, for example, against ease of installation, maintenance or disposal. Separation of ownership and usage often results in harsh treatment of these products. Despite this, they will be expected to function consistently and reliably, particularly in safety critical situations.
As the user’s expectations from commercial and industrial products and consumer products converge new product solutions and experiences are needed to drive your business growth.
Empathy with multiple stakeholders
Commercial and industrial products exist against a backdrop of multiple stakeholders.
The separation of purchaser, owner and user makes for complex, and often contradictory, requirements and often results in harsh treatment of these products. Added to this there are usually demanding legislative requirements to adhere to. The intelligent use of design presents a unique opportunity to tackle this complexity and develop new product solutions and experiences that will drive business growth.
Meeting user needs
New players in traditional business to business markets have brought new levels of product and service experience. This provides a prime opportunity for companies to reassess whether their current product portfolio complements the evolving expectations of their customers.
By analysing user opinions and observed behaviours we can identify the underpinning requirements that drive product specification and selection. Our multidisciplinary team then translates these insights into new product propositions that can inspire new business thinking.
Delivering your brand
We believe that projecting your brand values in a clear, distinctive and consistent manner is key to delivering compelling product and service propositions.
One crucial element of this is developing and implementing a targeted Visual Brand Language. This approach identifies signature visual characteristics that will communicate your core brand values. The resulting guidelines allow you to deliver entire product ranges visually aligned with the correct brand messages.
Beyond the visual, Sensory Brand Language defines a product’s haptic and acoustic behaviour, whether through digital interfaces or physical touch points. Combined with visual brand cues this adds yet more cohesion to the product experience.
Controlling the visual and sensory characteristics of your products will create a more powerful and deeply ingrained brand experience.
Cost of ownership
Purchase decisions for business to business products are often driven by total lifecycle cost more than initial purchase price. So it is essential that new product designs build upon architectures that lower the full life cost of ownership.
This highlights the importance of cost-effective design for all consumable elements, whether this is in the design of replaceable consumables, or the strategy for maintaining product through replaceable modules.
Reducing the production cost of the consumables also provides an opportunity to increase margin, strengthening the commercial business case for tackling product development programmes.
Safety critical products
Safety critical products are serious products that deliver serious performance. They must be robust, reliable and intuitive. Lives depend on it.
These products are normally used in dangerous, uncomfortable or challenging environments where the user’s stress levels can be high. Their use must be straightforward and self-explanatory. Their design must demonstrate an inherent fitness for purpose, instilling a sense of confidence in the user.
Regulations and approvals
Safety critical products by their nature are often heavily regulated. Our development approach seeks to deconstruct these regulations at the outset to extract clear measurable design requirements.
These requirements help us to highlight the key risks in the project, which in turn determine how we plan and manage the development programme. The resulting project plan will prioritise focused risk mitigation activities early in the programme and will incorporate sufficient time for the regulatory testing and approval of representative manufactured products ahead of the market launch.
Managing development risk
A balanced use of theoretical analysis and focused rig building and testing is central to the successful management of product development risk.
Tackling design risks as early as possible in the development cycle improves the probability of a successful development outcome.
Wearable safety products
Many personal protection and safety products are worn on the body. These must be comfortable, easy to don and they need to look cool so that your target users want to put them on. Protection equipment that no one wears protects no one.
The rise of the global product range has increased the ergonomic and cultural challenges that need to be addressed in order to develop long term comfortable products that highly diverse users will want to be seen wearing.
Safety products are an amalgamation of operations and individual features, where high efficacy is paramount. Typically used in stressful or hazardous situations, often by occasional or even first time users, products should reassuringly deliver the expected performance in a highly predictable manner.
Using system-based task analysis and error evaluation approaches helps us to ensure that all the product interactions are unambiguous and clearly conveyed to the user.
Products for rugged environments
Rugged products need to be developed with a clear understanding of the operational environments in which they will be used and the usage challenges that they will have to endure.
In use rugged equipment will be subjected to high impact and vibration loadings. Added to this are environmental challenges such as extremes of temperature and humidity – often with large diurnal variations – and the need to seal against water and particulate ingress.
Building and testing rigs early in the development cycle will confirm the capability of the proposed design in each of these areas and help us to manage the development risk.
Misuse and abuse
As well as planned usage situations, products need to be able to cope with abuse conditions.
Through research we can identify known abuse cases and predict others. Product requirements to tackle this abuse can be identified and included in the specification so that we can design appropriate counter measures.
Unpredictable abuse can be accommodated by ensuring that products are easy to service and straightforward to repair and include error recovery systems.
Security and defence
Security and defence equipment faces some of the toughest environmental and usage challenges imaginable. And in many cases reliability is literally a matter of life or death.
Products for this arena must be intuitive to use, resistant to misuse, easy to service and straightforward to repair in the field. They must withstand impact and vibration in use and during transportation to theatre. And they must operate reliably, even when they have been stored dormant for prolonged periods.
Complex system design can only be delivered successfully when a close knit multidisciplinary team works together cooperatively to balance and blend inputs from all the relevant skill areas.
At DCA this way of working is a natural consequence of our organisational structure, which encourages our staff to reach out across the traditional inter-departmental barriers.
Targeted application of technology
To gain real market traction technology must be implemented appropriately in response to genuine user needs. Additional features and functionality that serve no useful purpose will simply clutter and confuse.
Gaining a deep understanding and thorough appreciation of the user’s requirements from a product is an essential starting point. How we exploit and combine new technologies to deliver against these requirements is the key to providing a differentiated product proposition that successfully addresses your target users’ needs and desires.
At the heart of this anti-counterfeiting product is a highly sensitive optical reader system capable of distinguishing very low signal levels in highly electronically noisy environments.
The electronics and software required to achieve this are tightly packaged into a compact casework whose form was driven primarily by the ergonomic requirements of the reader. This could only be achieved by designing the casework interactively in parallel with the electronic component placement decisions and the PCB assembly layout.
Drives and mechanisms
We are renowned for the ingenuity, reliability and robustness of our designs for mechanisms and electro-mechanical drives.
Creativity and inspirational thinking are the essential starting point. So we recruit only the best engineers and ensure that every one of them receives formal training in creative thinking techniques.
Developing and optimising a great concept requires detailed theoretical analysis using mathematical modelling, computer simulation and tolerance analysis tools in combination with the construction and testing of physical rigs and prototypes.
Large format products
Unlike many of our competitors, DCA’s designers and engineers are comfortable working on larger scale products.
Over forty years’ experience of delivering transportation projects means that we are highly knowledgeable about the strengths and limitations of the processes and materials used in the manufacture and construction of large format products.
Design for manufacture
The foundations for a smooth transition into manufacture are laid very early in the product development.
Early involvement of identified manufacturing and supply partners will help us to tailor the product architecture and specific design details to exactly match the way that they would like to manufacture, assemble and test your product. We can also design any necessary production equipment, jigs and fixtures in parallel with the product itself.
Where parts are to be injection moulded, we can apply our comprehensive suite of moulding simulation and analysis tools to support manufacturers and further de-risk the translation of our design intent into production.
Lower production volumes
Manufacturing processes need to be carefully considered to ensure that they are a cost effective fit for the anticipated production volumes. Lower volume products will not normally support processes with high tooling costs, but conversely will usually be more tolerant of manual intervention and hand finishing.
The product may also need to be partitioned into appropriate sub-assemblies that can be assembled, tested and commissioned independently ahead of final product integration.