Solving Real World Problems With Working Prototypes

By: Saadia Muzaffar

R.E. Morrison Equipment manufactures some of the most innovative and efficient industrial and dental vacuum systems in North America. But in order to move into the global marketplace, President Ray Ralph was determined to make their BaseVac dental pump even better—and more competitive—by creating a more streamlined, “stackable” design.

A prototype for the redesigned BaseVac has now been built at Sheridan College for this local Canadian Company. Janet Bedard, Project Manager and Instructor at Sheridan College, recently outlined at Innovate>Forward how these challenges were addressed.

Range of different BaseVac dental systems manufactured by R.E. Morrison

“Ray is very, very excited about this,” says Bedard. She explained how one of the design challenges was to make 3 units able to sit on top of each other, “Not easy to do, because of the round frame which the customer wanted to keep.

“By using a tray design, the resulting prototype is very stable,” she says, “We’ve had people standing on them”.

The situation at R.E Morrison is typical of most advanced manufacturing companies, preoccupied with the day-to-day responsibilities of running a business in a difficult economy. Although Ray and his team wanted to look at enhancements to the BaseVac product, specifically the enclosure design, electrical controls and air/water separator, the company lacked the time and resources to do the research and innovation.  But through a partnership with Sheridan College, an Applied Research Team was able to properly analyze these 3 areas individually, and when properly understood, proceed with redesign, concept validation, testing and prototyping.

The prototype for the new enclosure design made its first appearance to distributors last week. It will be shown at trade shows this summer, leading up to the launch of the newly designed product later this year or early in 2013. The second prototype, with an updated electrical system, is currently in the works. As for the air/water separator issues, by going through the proper analysis and investigation, the mystery of where water was coming from was solved.  This provided valuable intelligence to R.E. Morrison, which continues to be grateful for the work on this project.

 “Sheridan College helped us complete the development work we had neither the skills nor resources to do at a time when our recession-weary business needed it most,” writes Ray Ralph.

Learn about and see demos of how other real-world problems have been solved by piloting innovation through to prototypes. The next Innovate>Forward, “Piloting Innovation”, takes place April 14 and industry expert Nick McDonald from ABB Robotics.

Saadia joins the RIC team as the Operations Coordinator responsible for building and execution of activities that fulfill RIC’s mandate. She brings several years of relationship management, corporate communications and operations experience mainly from the financial services industry.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit Altitude Accelerator for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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