Matching Innovation to Customer Needs

Servicing customers with large manufactured products is difficult when they are at the opposite end of the country. Supplying them into another country and the task becomes even more challenging.

With a number of Planet Platforms customers meeting these very criteria it was important that we changed our approach.

Transporting large manufactured and assembled platforms is costly simply due to their physical size. The design team at Planet stripped the project right down to basics and thought about the end result rather than the starting point of how to deliver, within budget, something that was going to cost many times the price to ship abroad as opposed to the UK.

The idea was revolutionary, yet simplistic in its form. Why not supply the items flat-packed? Not exactly IKEA but along those lines.

To arrive with this result would mean a complete reassessment of the design and ultimately the manufacturing process. Moving away from conventional round tube and casting construction the CAD* Team favoured a structure based on box-section aluminium. The advantages were twofold. Firstly, longer unsupported spans were achievable and secondly the systems would be easier for the end user to reassemble.

Investment 18 months prior was also to prove pivotal in the outcome, as Planet had adopted the Inventor® Publisher Software to produce its technical manuals. Working on the same model as the CAD Team the Publisher software helps produce build manuals, which can be supplied in various formats. In addition to the conventional printed form the manuals can be published to the Cloud that can be read on smart phones and tablet devices.

The CAD guys didn’t stop there and have enhanced the staging design in further ways. All handrails are now bent and manufactured in-house, as the investment in new machinery has helped reduce production costs and more importantly lead-times.

The handrails are now powder coated red that offers a more aesthetic and ergonomic end result.

The platform decking has also been changed to a tongue and groove aluminium profile that offers less flex and hence a more stable structure. The leading edge of the working platform now has Planet’s own rubber padding. Design specifically for their platforms and steps the padding has a softer feel and more “give”, which is particularly import when it’s to protect a multi-million pound helicopter.

These investments and innovations have been paramount in enabling Planet to service new customers in new markets. So at a time when a lot of companies have tightened their belts the foresight to invest and evolve has reaped dividends.

*Computer Aided Design