Designerscope


Congratulations to the team at Designerscope for taking out the Safety Innovation Award (Small to Medium Business) at the 2017 Site Safe Construction Health and Safety Awards.

Started just four years ago, Designerscope was established by Robyn de Bruin-Judge and her husband and business partner Wim de Bruin. Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength, with its patented invention, the AXILO™ cabinet levelling system now globally licensed and soon to be sold in 150 countries.

We spoke to Robyn about how a simple but innovative idea is helping to set their business apart and improve health and safety practices around the world.

Introduction

Launched in 2013, Designerscope was born when Wim, a cabinet maker by trade, decided there simply must be a better way to level cabinets. The traditional approach usually requires installers to lie on hard floors, stretched at awkward angles and in an uncomfortable position to reach rear adjustable legs. This process is repeated many times until the cabinetry is finally level.

As the previous employers of 38 staff, Wim and Robyn could see a clear need for a better approach. Not only was the old process time-consuming, it meant installers were at risk of musculoskeletal injuries caused by reaching under and around the cabinets and from lying on the ground. This was especially true for older workers and those with pre-existing injuries. Lying on the ground significantly reduces the installers ability to see what is going on around them and to respond to potential hazards. When on the ground, the installer themselves also become a trip hazard for other workers.

“It’s an exhausting, difficult and time-consuming task,” Robyn says.

“We knew that it was an issue that people at the coalface really cared about.”

What they did

To overcome this problem, the couple set about designing a ribbed foot that fits onto the existing adjustable leg on cabinetry and a special tool that then adjusts the foot. This lets installers remain upright while adjusting the level of the cabinet by turning the handle of the tool.

After obtaining a Callaghan Innovation grant to kick start the research and development work, Robyn and Wim ran trials with installers and other business owners, refined the design and eventually pitched the patented idea overseas for licensing. The intellectual property was licensed to hardware giant German-based Hafele International. The system is now being produced in Germany and marketed to professional tradespeople throughout the world.

Benefits

Robyn believes the AXILO™ system has huge potential to reduce the dangers of musculoskeletal injuries and increase productivity. Since the installer does not need to continually hop up and down to view the level, or have a colleague check the level, overall installation is easier, safer and faster. German research has shown productivity loss to musculoskeletal injuries can be estimated at 23.9 billion Euro or 1.1 per cent of GDP. The system will significantly reduce fatigue, as it makes the job up to 50 per cent faster. In addition, installers are much more visible onsite as they can remain upright, meaning they can better respond to hazards in their environment and are less exposed to dust and debris on the floor.

As well as making the task safer and more manageable, Robyn believes the system will also make it easier for older workers to continue in their roles, helping to ease the skill shortage for experienced kitchen installers.

Robyn says a strong focus on health and safety has always been something that set them apart from other businesses

“Over 20 years ago, when we first started our kitchen manufacturing business, the Health and Safety in Employment Act had just come out and I guess we were early adopters. For us we were just starting out, so we didn’t have to change our practice to accommodate health and safety, we just built it into the way we did business.”

To see the system in action, check out this video.

“We knew that it was an issue that people at the coalface really cared about.”

Robyn de Bruin-Judge, Managing Director Designerscope

picture of Wim and Robyn

picture of someone installing cabinets traditionally

The traditional method.

picture of someone using axilo system

Installing cabinets with the new system.

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