At Armorgard, we’re renowned for our strength, top quality design and innovative products. But, did you know that it’s our in-house R&D team at the heart of every Armorgard product?
We sat down with Armorgard’s Head of Product Development, Matt Partridge, to find out more about what life is like designing products for a market leading brand.
1. Please give us an overview of what it is you do as Head of Product Development.
I have been at Armorgard for around 5 years - I started as a design engineer, trying to put my CAD skills into practice. We’ve definitely since grown as a department, striving to innovate new ways of working - constantly trying to produce the best products!
There are three key aspects of my role:
Firstly, the input – we have a close relationship with our end customers, finding out what people on site are missing and struggling with so we can provide solutions.
The second part is the action. From producing the design brief & specification, through to using 3D CAD modelling, detailed line drawings and of course, prototyping.
The third aspect of my job is the output. Liaising with supply chain and manufacturers, making sure the product matches the brief. Then, working with the procurement team to make sure we've got a sustainable production process for the product.
2. What did you study at school/university? / Have you always wanted to get into product design?
I've always been quite creative. At school, my favourite subject was product design. I studied Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Portsmouth, which was an excellent course. It gave me all the knowledge needed to understand manufacturing processes and even test a few design projects along the way.
3. What was the first product you designed?
I was involved in two major projects when I first joined. One of them was the redesign of the TuffBank. It involved improving its security, and making sure the design was going to be compatible overseas.
The 2nd project was redesigning the CuttingStation, turning it from a great product that was purely functional (as it was the first proper solution to the market) but not the best, to transforming it into what is now the CuttingStation SS7. It’s now one of our top five products and has certainly become a benchmark for best practice when cutting materials and a common landmark on sites.
4. How many products have you designed since you joined the team?
In my first year, I was involved in around 12 projects. By my third year, we focused on around 25 projects over the course of the year, launching another 12 new products in total. Since then, we have expanded exponentially to where the team is now four times the size it was when I first joined! We’ve grown to the point where currently in 2021, we’re already working on 39 live projects.
5. Where do you get the ideas behind the designs of our products?
At Armorgard, we’re very close to the market. I'm very lucky in my position doing product design to be able to have a great end customer team who are out there listening to the customers, and discovering ways that Armorgard can support safer, more efficient ways of working. That's mainly where we get our ideas from.
We're led by the market. We're not a company that creates ideas that no one has a need for… We're always making life easier for those on the job, safely and efficiently. I’m always keeping my ears open and welcome anybody getting in touch about their problems.
6. Which product has been your favourite to design so far and why?
My favourite product is the TuffBank TB1, it was one of my first projects. It’s great because of the pure aesthetics of it - it looks like a mini safe in your van and it’s a beast to attempt to break into!
However, my favourite project was definitely working on developing the Forma-Stor range. It took a lot of trial and error – it probably lasted over 12 months, but now we have the perfect product out there in the market. With the Forma-Stor, there’s now a product that can be put somewhere a storage container would never have been able to get to. It's obvious how great of an impact it’s had on people's storage capabilities on site.
7. What’s the best part of your job?
It’s definitely the moment we land the final product in front of our customer or client. Just seeing a fully satisfied customer using our innovations to help with their problems, is satisfying in itself.
Then later on, seeing the product on sites as their popularity has grown - all of a sudden, it's a standard site product. That absolutely is the best part of my job!
8. If you could invent anything at all, what would it be?
If I'm thinking really weird and wacky, I'd love for there to be a hot tub, but the actual surrounding body of it is an aquarium – where you can see fish around you. From the outside, it’ll look like you're swimming with the fishes. There’d also be an integrated bar with a voice activated robot that would serve you the drinks. That would be the invention needed!
A big thank you to Matt for taking the time to answer our burning questions!
We’re looking forward to unfolding the next big Armorgard R&D innovations that will change the game for secure storage, and unleash products that will take improving efficiency to a whole new level…
Find out more about the rest of the brilliant R&D team here.