Design Innovation for underutilised equipment & opening new supply avenues
S.E.R.S. New Product Design and Commercialisation
by Prof. Blair Kuys
Predominantly servicing the mining sector, Tasmanian company S.E.R.S understood that diversification would be necessary to survive the recent downturn.
CDI was engaged in researching several industries, identifying markets gaps, leading to the design of products using S.E.R.S's newly acquired, $3.2 million CNC punch.
"[The machine] punched sheets of metal but was only being used to perforate within sheet metal. They never really used it to its full potential," says project lead, Dr Blair Kuys.
The project resulted in the design and prototyping of decorative screens and external panelling for inner-city courtyards.
Industrial Design, paired with research, and innovation to create products for underutilised equipment and opening new supply avenues.
It started in 2012 with campaign company in Tasmania called SERS, who had a capability which was a machine worth $3.2 million -it punched sheets of metal and was only used to perforate within sheet metal and they never really used it to its full potential. That's where it all started. So I signed the project up with them and then realised that I couldn't do it all by myself as I had other commitments, I was coordinating industrial design and product engineering at the time. I was teaching 15 hours a week which is a pretty full load and then trying to do a research project with a client who paid me all this money and they needed outcomes, it was quite daunting! That's where it all started and that's when I was able to use the research income to employ ex-students of mine, who I knew were very good. Now my entire team consists of ex-students of mine because it's nice to see what they're like in the classroom environment. in 2012, there was not a huge culture of industry-funded, design research. There was design research happening, publications and the traditional forms of output, but industry income was new and no one really knew what to do with it. So, I kind of had to develop my own skills in this area, with a lack of guidance, and that's no disrespect to anyone associated at the time; it was just the fact that no one really did it. I was pioneering this. It's built up to this really creditable thing, which the university is now prioritising significantly.
The project duration was 12 months, with a market review, concept generation, prototyping and testing, all leading to final prototypes installed in the situation and assessed for commercialisation.
24 months later and the products have been through a full business case with a company set up to manufacture and distribute all three products into Bunnings.