How a Camel Was Brought to Life; Product Development Team Put Air Lift Used in Medical Rehabilitation on the Fast Track to a Sound Commercial Future: The Majority of Mangar's Products Are Powered Using Low-Pressure Air and It Is the Use of This Adaptable Technology That Has Given the Company Its Competitive Advantage

Article excerpt

Unlike large corporations, the adoption of rapid design and development principles in small companies is often hindered by the fundamental absence of systematic product development and intellectual property management procedures.

Mangar International Ltd is a leading designer and manufacturer of lightweight rehabilitation products. The company, based in Mid Wales, was set up in the early 1980s and employs around 60 staff. The majority of Mangar's products are powered using lowpressure air and it is the use of this adaptable technology that has given the company its competitive advantage.

A two-year knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) collaboration between Mangar International and UWIC's National Centre for Product Design and Development Research (PDR), has successfully delivered on two counts. The collaboration, which involved two KTP Associates, produced an innovative rapid product development process and also provided a systematic framework approach to intellectual property management. These new procedures have driven the development of novel, awardwinning products.

The Rapid Product Development Process: Jon Irlam, supervised by Dr Richard Bibb from PDR, examined the problems relating to the development of new products. A new "stage gate" design and development process was introduced, which improved product definition through a focused front end and a well-defined specification for each new project.

The new process has accelerated Mangar's product development capabilities, enhanced market research activities and improved communications across the various company departments. Furthermore, the new in-house design process has facilitated the rapid development of a number of products, most notably the new CAMEL (Complete Air Moving Elevating Lift) product.

This innovative technology extends across Mangar's range of lifting and handling capabilities, and has won the award of best new product 2005 at Medtrade, the world's largest rehabilitation exhibition in the USA. …