Mapping Innovation using Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs)

Our first webinar is based on a common discussion we have with with those who ask for our help with their innovation strategy. It is focused on how we have interpreted Technology Readiness Levels and how we transition between the various TRLs by using the design squiggle by Damien Newman to express how widening the scope at the beginning can reduce time to market and overall cost in the long run.

Key takeaways

  • A quick introduction to Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs)
  • What we believe is the typical journey of innovation
  • Suggested uses of gates
  • Q&As

Downloads & links

Questions and feedback mark@4cdesign.co.uk

The Design Squiggle link


Covid19 | We're still operational

Dear Clients and Friends,

Following the official advice and evolving Covid19/Coronavirus situation, 4c Design will until further notice, operate a working from home policy.

The health and wellbeing of our people and their families is our number one priority – this move will help protect them while enabling us to maintain our usual service levels across our client base without any foreseen delays.

Our agility and creative communication will take on even greater importance in a time like this. We’re fortunate to be able to offer an uninterrupted service when not all are. It will be our mission to provide even more value to our clients in the weeks and months ahead, so please lean on us and we will navigate these uncertain times together. This is a time for going over and above.

Unfortunately, this does mean we will not be accepting any visitors. We are however contactable and we ask you to call or email our team directly. Our main line will still be available (0141 353 5490).

Wishing good health to you and yours,

Will Mitchell + Team


Walking the talk #1 - an introduction

Over the past 8 years 4c has been working on a life science venture called Numnuts (case study is under construction). During these 8 years, we have walked the journey that so many of our clients have. From initial trials and research, to commercialisation, production and distribution.

Read more


Why have a workshop?

For most of the team at 4c, the most valuable asset is the workshop. While computer aided design has an important place in the detailed design process, prototyping allows the members of the 4c team to design and test concepts, develop multiple iterations, fast.

Read more


Internship 2020

We have been running our internship for many years now and seen designers thrive as they define their professional selves and shape their future careers. We run the internship to not only give valuable education that often fills the gap between university and professional environments and have on occasion, hired the intern.

Our last intern, Andrew has joined us as a product design engineer and below he recaps his experience of the internship

For full details on the internship, including dates, eligibility and information see our careers page.

See our previous interns website here for some background of work they completed and where they are now:


2019 Intern | Andrew Scholes

The 4c Team are delighted to introduce our 2019 intern Andrew. We’re excited to be able to provide the opportunity to expand his skillset, and of course for us to learn a thing or two on the way.

Hi there, my name is Andrew Scholes and I have just completed my first week of my internship at 4c Design. I graduated from the University of Strathclyde this year in Product Design Engineering (MEng) with a Distinction. I would now like to enhance my skills in all areas of the design process, including: sketching, graphic design, CAD, physical prototyping and mechatronics. Outside of work I enjoy mountain biking and rock climbing.

I was drawn towards 4c due to their strong interest and experience in physical prototyping which sets them apart from other product design consultancies. I also believe working with a small design company provides more opportunities in innovation as there is more flexibility for trial and error which is not always possible with larger companies. In working with 4c I am building upon my previous experiences with a another design consultancy, and the makerspace, ‘Zios’.

My first week at 4c has been pretty busy. I have been introduced to my primary project which involves re-purposing a 4c ventures IP into producing potential solutions to aid farmers in vaccinating livestock.  I also shadowed a meeting with a client and subsequently produced some preliminary sketches for them.

To be made familiar with the team’s CAD process and their 3D printing capabilities, I also produced a part for modifying their fridge!

It has been really great getting to know everyone on the team and I look forward to 3 months of exciting projects.


Update 31/1/20

After an extended internship, 4c hired Andrew full time as a product design engineer. The decision was an easy one. His attention to detail on engineering challenges was impeccable and he has already made a great addition to the team.

 

Learn more about his entire internship experience here.


What does effective design mean to ewe?

For 4c, effective design means enabling our clients to achieve business goals they wouldn’t have reached otherwise. Our Barbervax project is a great example: as our client, Dr David Smith says:

“When we started this project we didn’t know if it could be done. 4c have designed practical machines that have enabled the creation of a new international business.”

Barber’s Pole worm is a parasitic nematode that infects the gut of sheep and goats in hot, humid climates. For farmers in such regions an infestation can be economically devastating as these blood-sucking, treatment resistant parasites spread quickly causing anaemia and ultimately death of entire flocks.

After 20 years of research, Dr David Smith’s team of veterinary scientists at Edinburgh’s Moredun Research Institute had developed the first vaccine for the Barber’s Pole worm. Making the vaccine involves grinding up worms taken from the stomachs of dead sheep. Although the process was successful at lab-scale, to be commercially viable a production process and equipment needed to be designed which could operate at the same rate as Australian abattoirs. No equipment capable of the task was available and a bespoke solution was required. We were engaged by Dr Smith to design and build a commercial production system that could scale the harvesting of the worms and bottle the vaccine in a reliable, cost-effective and semi-automated way.

Our design process led to three separate production machines. Invented, developed and built in our workshop, then shipped to our client’s site in Australia where we installed and commissioned the machines. When Barbervax® (the Barber’s Pole worm vaccine) was launched in Australia in 2014 the 300,000 dose production run was a sell-out success. Since then, production has grown rapidly to 2.5m doses in 2017-18, all produced by the machines we designed and built.

Seeing their research make an impact in the real world remains an un-fulfilled dream for many academic researchers. We are proud of enabling Dr Smith to realise his dream of producing Barbervax® at commercial scale and making it available to farmers to protect their sheep and livelihood. Dr Smith and his colleagues at the Moredun Research Institute, have set up a new business, Wormvax, to produce Barbervax®. Wormvax now employ 8 people and have launched the vaccine in Australia and South Africa with other markets planned.

Wormvax are now saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of Australian sheep, and the livelihoods of Australian farmers. Over 500,000 sheep were protected from the deadly Barber’s Pole parasite last year with production planned to increase year on year. Effective design at work!

But don’t just take our word for it. We’re delighted that this project has been recognised by an independent expert panel of Design Business Association judges and awarded a Design Effectiveness Award. This realises a long-held ambition of 4c’s founder, Robin – so doubly effective design!


Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) in Design and Engineering

Product development is a journey which starts with an idea and ends when the finished product rolls off the production line. It’s never straight forward.Read more


Mark Craig | Mechatronics Engineer

What is Mechatronics?

The term mechatronics breaks down to a combination of mechanics and electronics but since its inception has grown to encompass computer and control systems. This powerful fusion of interdisciplinary knowledge and engineering approach is vital to the automation of industrial manufacturing processes. 

Why is it vital to industrial automation?

Industrial automation would not exist without mechatronics. As a minimum it requires the sensing, actuation and control of mechanical systems but more recently it incorporates computer vision, simulation and optimisation, and machine intelligence.

Where do 4c stand?

Our first industrial automation project was for Moredun Research Institute with the creation of multiple machines to help commercialise a vaccine. Recently, we have worked with Tharsus, the company behind Ocado's revolutionary robot hive warehouse.

Our clients are increasingly asking us to improve the productivity of their manufacturing processes and to help us do this, we’ve hired Mark Craig, our new mechatronics engineer.    

 

Hello, I’m Mark – the new mechatronics engineer at 4c.

I was asked to provide a small bit of detail about myself, so you can get to know me.

Previously I worked in downstream oil and gas at Trident Engineering Consultants for 8 years. I’ve worked on some amazing projects – most I can’t talk about however a favourite was working on a submarine.

I then became technical manager at MAKLab, a charity and social enterprise which provided access to digital fabrication tools. While there my role included maintenance of equipment, providing technical training and bringing practical working knowledge to the public.

In my spare time I play with robots. I always have since I was at school. The development of circuit boards and Arduino kits interests me as it ties in with my passion for making things. I’m excited to take this further and work on industrial automation projects.

I was introduced to 4c through a mutual friend, but it was a colleague from MAKLab that suggested to both 4c and myself to get in contact as they were secretly looking for someone to add to their capabilities.

I’m excited to get started with projects, especially those that float or sink. This is because I was a keen rower and scuba diver, though not simultaneously.

Core Capabilities

  • Electronics
  • Hydraulic, stress and surge analysis
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Robotic automation
  • Project Management
  • CAD