We recently designed, prototyped, and sourced suppliers in under a month for a new hand-sanitizing station, which dispenses a sanitizer hand cleaner to help fight the spread of flu.
How could we do this in so little time? Our company has a design process to work under tight deadlines that we call “Cheetah.” It highlights how we quickly developed the product, which Akron, Ohio-based Gojo calls its Purell Sanitizing Station.
Even before lifting a pencil, we spent ample time exploring critical questions such as: What problems must the design solve? Who/What are the competitors? What is the state of the art? It’s only by having clear answers to these and other questions that we can create designs that are distinctive and relevant. We searched both online and Skyped our offshore team in Asia and quickly found there were no competitors. We performed a human-factors study to determine usability around the world to fit all body types.
Next, we made initial sketches. We put over 100 of our concepts on Gojo’s white boards in its product-development room. The company picked three designs and we built full-scale models of them out of foam board and stock steel tubing. An important feature of the design was that it must ship flat. It also needed something to prevent excess sanitizer from landing on the floor. We explored different options using CAD software for rapid prototyping.
We then presented the designs along with projected costs, and the customer provided feedback. Issues arose that we had not considered. This was to be expected and is a normal part of the process
Upon further collaboration with the customer, it only took a few hours to make the needed modifications. The upshot: a design of an all-in-one dispenser with a backing and a sanitizer catch. Instead of the unit being two complex parts, it was one simple part that was easier and less expensive to manufacture.
With the design approved, we handled all production which included engineering and manufacturing, HTML and Flash development for Web sites, installations, and press checks for print work. During this ramp up, there was a flu outbreak in Asia. Because of the urgency, Gojo decided to go with a steel unit made in the U. S. for fast turnaround time. We laser cut the one-piece dispenser backing and sanitizer-catch prototype locally out of sheet metal and formed it in our model shop. The component was powder coated in medium gray to visually work with all the differently colored Gojo dispensers. During a weeklong product test, we discovered that the dispenser’s hands-free motion sensor kept falsely triggering so we added a cup in the catch to stop it and also to collect excess sanitizer.
The resulting station has a built-in shield and holds a Purell TouchFree Dispenser. The device was designed to set up easily and take up little space. Today, it’s used throughout the world at thousands of libraries, concert halls, hospitals, shopping centers, and at all kinds of public events.