Rewriting the brief from cost-engineering to re-imagining


When a product line is threatened by cheaper imports, you could invest in cost-engineering your offering and risk not meeting cost or performance targets. Or you could, as we did with Peacock Salt, start with a blank sheet.

Tasked with developing a replacement entry-level salt spreader for 25% of the cost and equal or better performance, we carried out our Innovation Sprint process.

During research and working with stakeholders, we quickly identified concerns from buyers, around user experiences and product reliability. This led to an intense week of ideation and prototyping. We experimented with the weird and the wonderful: covering a car park in under 30 seconds using a leaf blower, launching salt with catapults and re-purposing plastic kegs for alternative business models.

It was, however, a simpler dispensing and distribution mechanism that built confidence within the stakeholders and we got stuck in.

Innovation Development

Designing simplicity into a product has its own challenges. Therefore, it was important for us to pick the right configuration of components to move forward with. We wanted a cost effective solution that didn’t compromise on performance.

Our engineers poured over the flinging mechanism, refining the math behind the swinging motion to reduce wear but maintain motion for dispensing. The industrial designers focused on ergonomics and form for both the end user and salt dispensing. Let loose, the workshop team spent weeks building rigs for tests and perfecting the spike and surface detail for splitting a bag of salt and creating an even flow.

Then, one very salty carpark and 65 prototypes later, it all came together!

Capabilities Utilised

  • Innovation sprint
  • Rapid prototyping
  • Industrial design
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Field trials
  • Computer Aided Design (CAD)
  • Manufacturing engineering and sourcing
learn about our other capabilities

Engineering Refinement

In order to engineer costs down as we develop the novel product, a significant amount of time was spent simplifying the product down to core components and carrying out highly iterative prototyping to squeeze out performance and reliability.

This led to some components, such as the spike which was responsible of improving user experience by removing a hop, but had to pierce the salt bags and splay out the plastic, going through 25+ prototypes before performance met requirements.

The results

Working with local manufacturers, we carried out production design and tweaked the assembly process to suit. Building test rigs to validate wear and adjusting components to maximise strength. We got so close to the 75% reduction in the cost of goods…

…but, half way through the project, COVID 19 struck and threw our costs out. Despite this, we were able to reduce costs by roughly 65% and provided direction for removing a further 5% upon success in the market and validating further development.

In 2022, Peacock Salt introduced the spreader to key customers in Europe.