Kiwi design technology at the forefront

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Award-winning design engineer Nigel Sharplin says world-first Kiwi technology is playing a big part in next generation thinking for next generation companies.

Award-winning design engineer Nigel Sharplin says world-first Kiwi technology is playing a big part in next generation thinking for next generation companies.

Award-winning design engineer Nigel Sharplin says world-first Kiwi technology is playing a big part in next generation thinking for next generation companies.

Sharplin, manager director of Christchurch company InFact, is one of New Zealand’s fastest rising cutting edge new world hi-tech designers. He was a speaker at the New Zealand MobileTECH conference held in late March.

The national conference brought together technology leaders from all primary sectors and is the major industry event showcasing new technologies designed to increase productivity of primary food and fibre industries.

Sharplin is a strong advocate of design and innovation in business and has been using Design Thinking as a revolutionary new product creation process since 2005 for many leading international technology companies. He has applied this methodology to product and process innovation demonstrating that high volume tech manufacturing is viable in New Zealand when the design is simple to assemble and automated, where possible. 

Earlier in his career, Sharplin was a mechanical design manager at Fisher & Paykel leading the Smart Drive team responsible for design management. He says “F&P taught me a lot about innovation and the importance of next generation thinking for next generation products. Fisher & Paykel are so far out in front their product designs last for more than 20 plus years before being superseded.”

In 1998, he founded InFact, an award-winning design consultancy that specialises in commercialising game changing innovative new hi-tech products, bringing customer need, technology and marketing strategy, intellectual property requirements and specialised manufacturing together to provide a critical resource for early stage tech companies and for mature businesses who want to change the game by innovating.

He has directed numerous projects, the best of which have been awarded prestigious international Edison (USA), Red Dot and GOOD Design awards including first aid kits Clever Medkit’s online medical cabinet, Invacare’s Shark powered wheelchair remote and drive system and Metro Txt-to-park parking meters.

Fibre-gen is one of his start-up companies foundered to convert research based IP into high value products. Last year Fibre-gen won the New Zealand Innovators Award for the agribusiness and environment category for its Hitman PH330. This technology integrates sonic measurement systems into harvester/processor heads to enable forestry contracting crews to automatically segregate logs by internal wood properties allowing forest owners to maximise the value of their forests, log by log, safely without having men on the ground at risk.

“Organisations and companies need to find out why they are relevant to their customers.  It’s about your end user believing what you believe. The more value you create for your end users the more value you achieve for your business,” Sharplin says.

“To gain momentum all the stakeholder needs in the value stream need to be aligned.  We use design-thinking to help organisations establish clarity about these sets of needs. It’s a powerful methodology that enables teams to understand what to do and why this is relevant to the end user.”

“We define innovation as a game-changing outcome, using a process of design to deliver on our high value end users’ needs.”

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