Innovation for Independence

Finalist Updates #4: Active Hands - Progress through very busy times.

Publish date:
16/03/2016 - 12:49pm
Last updated:
16/03/2016 - 12:53pm

For many companies January and the time after the Christmas rush is the quietest period of the whole year.  Not for Active Hands.  January was very busy.  People were back to the gym to exercise off that Christmas excess and our products were flying out of dispatch as fast as we can make them.  Add to this the business plan we have been putting together for the ITP Awards and we haven’t had much time left to actually develop the products themselves.  

However, we have made some good progress.  Before Christmas we had a stand at the OT show in Birmingham.  This went really well and we had some great feedback from loads of OT’s we showed our prototype aids to – particularly the fine motor aid.  We collected lots of registrations of interest, so our e-mail list for people who want to hear about our fine motor and limb difference aid once they’re launched greatly expanded.  

Just before Christmas I also visited our factory in Cornwall to discuss mass manufacture of our 2 new products and show them the prototypes.  This was a very productive meeting and between us we identified and solved a few potential problems with manufacture and found some excellent tweaks to both products that will make the production versions much better and also reduce manufacture costs.  

The limb difference aid is now ready to go and a prototype version was left with them so they can manufacture a ‘Golden sample’ which all future versions will be measured against.  Once this is agreed on and we have formalised the manufacture document and cost to produce, we can start building up some stocks of this ready to launch.  Unfortunately since Christmas our factory has also been inundated with product orders, including from us, to keep up with demand so we are still waiting for the golden sample.  

The fine motor aid also had some very productive developments.  These included over-sewing the finger pull rings on the palm pad to make them look much better and using a double sided large piece of Velcro that is a much better solution than stitching Velcro to a webbing pad.   In addition we discussed the options of sticking, riveting or button hole sewing the clamp mechanism to the palm pad.  They advised us that the riveting option would be best and we also discussed rivet types.  They are now ordering some specific rivets for the job so we can test these with our clamp mechanism.  This will mean we will have to make some alterations to the clamp mechanism with a slightly larger through hole to allow for the rivet but should produce a much more aesthetically pleasing finish.  Once we have these samples we will make a final set of SLS 3D printed clamp parts and manufacture one last version for the factory to check their side of the manufacture process.  Once this is agreed we can pay for the manufacture of the injection mould for these plastic pieces.  It has caused a slight delay with this mould being made, but as the mould costs thousands of pounds it is essential not to rush it and make sure we get it right first time.  

We have done about all we can at the moment and we are now waiting on our factory to proceed with a couple of areas before we can move on and get the process finished on both our exciting new products.