The Plastics Industry Awards are dedicated to rewarding innovation and exceptional performance, acknowledging the best companies and the best people within the plastics industry. They recognise excellence in an increasingly competitive market and this year the judges worked hard to shortlist only the very best nominees from a large number of entries. We are thrilled to have been shortlisted for their 2018 Industrial Product Design of the Year award, for our design of a Multi-Channel Washroom Control System.
The Multi-Channel Washroom Controller has been designed for retrofitting with minimal installation time and disruption of service in locations with high water use such as hospitals and municipal buildings. Having previously worked with our client, Dart Valley Systems (DVS) on other products, we were pleased when they approached us to be their designers to bring this new product to fruition. Hillside and electronics design company, Avin Electronics had worked successfully together on other products and continued their relationship to collaborate in developing this product.
The key objectives of the development were set out follows:
- To fully understand the life of the product from assembly on the production line, to its shipping, installation and regular maintenance. To use that knowledge to deliver a design with convenience, simplicity, safety and intuitive operation to all who interact with it.
- To optimise installation to minimise disruption to vital services during installation and maintenance.
- To optimise component design for injection moulding to benefit from the investment in tooling, resulting in lower part costs, improved mechanical design and high quality appearance.
- To make effective use of injection moulding to design an enclosure that would be durable, robust in use, be aesthetically pleasing and meet statutory requirements for ingress protection, impact strength and a reduced flammability rating (to name a few!).
Once we had completed our discovery stage and had the necessary insight into the objectives, we undertook a concept stage where ideas were continually refined and focussed in collaboration with DVS and Avin. This resulted in the innovative lid opening and wiring arrangement particular to this design along with a host of more discrete features such as integral reinforcing to support a large toroidal transformer at high G loads experienced during shipping. The three-component enclosure enabled the installer to remove the cable entry face for easier wiring access, as well as being cost effective to tool. The lid could be unclipped for additional access, and the angled split-line protects the electronics from dust and water by creating an over-hanging canopy and better access.
Good design for plastic parts always benefits from the collaboration of plastics suppliers and this is something every designer for plastics understands. Polycarbonate was selected as a generic family of plastic because of its impact resistance, various flammability ratings and can be moulded to achieve excellent surface finish. The specific grade was arrived at with the technical support of a plastics supplier.
The proposed design was evaluated by preparing a prototype which was CNC-machined from solid Polycarbonate. The prototype was initially used by Avin to test the fit of PCBs and to extensively test the function and operational conditions of the electronics. The prototype passed to DVS to review their in-house assembly procedure and then onto installers and maintenance technicians to enact test installations. All the findings were fed back to Hillside to implement a few final adjustments prior to releasing the production data and control drawings. Hillside supported the development of the tooling, its trials and the review of the samples through to the final sign off.
Hillside are delighted to receive the Plastics Industry Awards shortlist nomination and we would like to thank our client DVS for inviting Hillside to join the project right at the outset. Hillside were given a balanced design specification and the trust and freedom to get on with the job we were instructed to do. We had some excellent support from Avin during the initial general arrangement stage and we must remember the contribution of some excellent suppliers within the plastics industry who helped bring this all together.
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