Product design is often associated with appearance, but it also needs to deliver functional solutions for profitable manufacture. That is what this case study is all about...
The Parker family
The Parker Hannifin Corporation is one of those very large companies that most people have never heard of. With a focus on industrial systems, Parker products control motors, pumps, heating systems and other processes we often take for granted. In 2009, we were approached by a new member of the Parker group, based on south coast of the UK, which had recently been acquired by the corporation.
Fitting in to the guidelines...
The project involved working with Parker engineers to develop a new range of AC motor controllers (typically used to manage motors that drive AC systems, etc). One of the main challenges was to incorporate some very specific guidelines, including rules on colours, design features, production methods and graphics, to ensure that the new controllers would be identified as Parker products. For example, chamfered corners and surfaces were preferred, whilst radiused or soft corners were not. It was unusual to work within such a tight range of requirements, but this proved to be a useful catalyst in the development of some new and interesting forms.
… and the technical team
The other interesting aspect of the project was the close integration of our work on the external design and overall production methods with the in-house team who were developing the internal components and dealing with crucial issues like cooling and the modularity of the control units. This led to long meetings with our design team and the Parker engineers to find ways to compromise on a whole range of practical, manufacturing, appearance and user interface issues.
Integrating design and engineering
The AC30 range of controllers became a strong sales success for this new part of the Parker family, and the effective integration of product design and highly detailed mechanical and electronic engineering was a large factor in this success.
This project proves what successful teamwork can achieve when different professions work together with mutual respect and a willingness to compromise.
As Ian Timms, Product Realisation Manager at Parker Hannifin commented:
“Working closely with our engineers, the designers at Crucible carefully reviewed the technical considerations and delivered a range of exciting concepts for our new range of controllers. They also designed the show stands and coordinated both model and stand manufacture for launch at the Nuremburg SPS show in 2011.
Crucible delivered a modern, stylish practical design, within the Parker brand guidelines and played a major part in meeting the tight deadlines for its international launch”.