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The evolution of a product: BioSmart

The evolution of a product: BioSmart

Integra’s BioSmart sit-stand desk converters have played a pivotal role in meeting the ever-evolving needs of employee and workplace health and safety. One of the first fully-functional “infinitely adjustable” desk converters, the BioSmart is not just a testament to the innovation that Integra is known for, but also underlines the company’s commitment to continuous improvement and customer satisfaction.

Andrew Steed is an award-winning designer at Integra. We sat down with Andrew to hear about the evolution of Integra’s BioSmart desk converters – free-standing, fully electric, ergonomically-friendly, adjustable-height desk converters – that empower users with the freedom to position up to six computer monitors independently.

“When Integra TransForm started, the first thing that was worked on was the sit-stand desk,” explains Andrew. “Nick Dobson, Paul Minty and Steven Parker here at Integra all worked together, and they came up with a novel take on a sit-stand solution, taken from Paul Hughes’ concept.”

Andrew recalls the prototype that was developed ‘back in the day’ is remarkably different from today’s iteration of a sit-stand desk.

“The first prototype was lovely. It had stainless steel and wood, and it was way too expensive,” he laughs. “Originally, [Nick, Paul and Steven] just folded some sheet metal and were putting the things together to present it to Paul Hughes and, once they did, Paul loved it.”

Although too expensive to go into bulk production, the prototype did what was needed – it showed off the concept, and it highlighted some additional design tweaks that needed to be realised.

“It went up and down,” begins Andrew. “But there just wasn't enough space for your keyboard tray, assembling things was difficult, and there were a bunch of things we had to work on.”

In the time since its inception, the Integra design team had been focusing on refining the ergonomic aspect of the BioSmart’s design. It was feedback from a number of suppliers and customers that provided the inspiration behind a number of new design elements that really sets the BioSmart apart from the competition.

“The main change comes directly from customers,” explains Andrew. “They told us they wanted more computer screens. Our financial services customers said that three [monitors] is cool – but can we have four or six monitors?" We didn't expect that. But it’s one of our big differentiators now. There are very few other options on the market that you can push a single button and have four or six monitors raised, and have them stay ergonomic in front of you.”

Another significant evolution in the life of BioSmart has come about based on feedback from Integra’s distribution partners – Ergoworks and ErgoEquip.

“They are consulting physiotherapists and they were really focused on getting the keyboard tray as low to the table as possible,” Andrew continues. “One of the challenges with height-adjustable desks is when you have a regular desk, and you put a desk convertor on top of that, it lifts up the height and throws out ergonomics while sitting. So, being able to lower the keyboard tray as much as possible makes it more ergonomic at its lowest position.”

“Because we're using a special sheet metal design for the keyboard tray – rather than the somewhat chunkier wooden slabs that our competitors use – we can make it much lower so that it’s much closer to the ergonomic standard.”

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“One of the other changes that was asked for is the placement of the buttons,” he says. “Originally, it was in the way of the keyboard, so people asked for it to be moved, and also to allow for space to put telephone turret systems so it’s just like a headset system they can have beneath their computer screens. That's what's changed.”

The Integra BioSmart has also seen a number of changes in terms of manufacturing and shipping preparation. The BioSmart is now significantly lighter and has been redesigned to accommodate flat-pack shipping.

“The BioSmart was originally about 55 kilos and we've got it down to under 40. It’s also split it into separate boxes so that it can easily be shipped, and lifted by two people,” says Andrew.

“The flat-pack design really cuts down on the shipping, and the size of the packaging, and then it is assembled on the other end with just a couple of Allen keys that we supply in the box, which makes it easier for everyone. So that really cuts down the costs in the factory dramatically, and has cut hundreds of dollars off the total cost, including some of the shipping.”

“I think, to reach into competitive markets these days, getting costs down is key, and if we didn't get the costs down through design for manufacture to allow ourselves to continue to manufacture in-house here in Melbourne, they wouldn't have been competitive in the market. As a result, we wouldn't have been able to sell any of them.”

Working on the evolution of Integra’s BioSmart product range has been a rewarding experience for Andrew in terms of professional development.

“I think being involved, and being able work through the design process on the product, is something most people my age wouldn't get a chance to do in the field. I really appreciated the responsibility Integra has put on me to work through the entire design process. It’s really pushed my skills in relation to designing in sheet metal and aluminium.”

“We've changed the main column into aluminium extrusion,” he concludes. “So getting to design a custom extrusion with parts that clip into the mounts directly was a challenge that's been fun and difficult.”

Check out Integra’s BioSmart at www.integratransform.com.au

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Published in Blog
K2_WRITTEN_ON July 09 2019
Written by Emma Westwood