The story behind designing a completely modular protection range

 

Since Axelent was founded in 1990, the company’s vision has been to make workplaces safer, by offering safety products that are easy to install and use. But when it came to the offering for warehouse protection products, the feeling was that we could improved it even more. 

During a conversation between one of the company’s founders and Marcel Darroch-Davies, Managing Director of Safe-X, the idea to create a modular warehouse protection range by using extrusion methods of plastics, was born.

 

One of the first persons who became involved in the project was Emma Sundelius, our R&D Manager.   

When the project came to my table in 2018, I was quite new at Axelent. It felt amazing to be given the opportunity to be part of developing a completely new range of safety products for the company. And I immediately realized that the key to success was to build the right team and that we needed to recruit new competence to Axelent to achieve this innovation technology, says Emma Sundelius.

Almost four years later, Axelent is now ready to launch X-Protect, a completely modular impact protection series. It consists of bollards, pedestrian barriers, impact barriers, and column guards – a complete system to make any production or warehouse safer.  

Impact protection with a unique production process  

Except for making the protection system completely modular, another early vision was to produce most parts entirely in plastics. This was to simplify the production process, make the logistics smoother, and thereby make it a more competitive product on the market.  

 

– I think it’s safe to say that we have all learned immensely from this experience, and we are very proud of the result.

 

The idea was to produce the plastic parts through the process of extrusion. Extrusion is a way to produce objects by pushing material through a die, to create the desired shape. One of the advantages of this method is that it is an effortless way to create complex shapes. And the method also contributes to increased sustainability. 

We chose to have the same types of plastic in all different parts when using extrusion to make the complex shapes needed. The result is that they become easy to recycle. If you instead, like many of our competitors, use different materials in the same part, it makes it very hard, if not impossible, to recycle them. The method of extrusion thus had many advantages as we saw it, says Emma. 

But many sketches and computer simulations later, it would turn out that both the choice of materials and production method demanded innovative solutions. In the first phase, a collaboration with a local company was initiated to create prototypes. The challenges consisted of both finding a suitable production method and getting the design right.   

Plastics are a complex material in terms of how it behaves during impact. When it comes to metallic materials there is so much research that has been conducted over human history, but plastic is a much more recent innovation.

Innovative and sustainable design is important for us at Axelent

In the second phase Fredrik Erling and Erik Wilson joined the team. Fredrik is a simulation engineer and Erik is a product designer and with their different area of expertise they became great resource to the team.  

It was a very interesting project that I was introduced to. With my background as a simulation engineer I came with ideas to improve the products and we made them achieve even better than before.  

The expanded team landed on the decision to change the plastic in the extrusion process to ease production and give the product more advantages for the end-users. One of the new design decisions made was an innovative solution when it came to how the anchoring of the poles to the ground was redesigned. It resulted in highly efficient protection that at the same time are very kind to the floor if hit by a vehicle. 

The pandemic in the middle of the project did not make things easier, of course. It took longer to develop the prototypes since it was no longer possible to meet face to face. But step by step we came closer to the optimal design. And since I was responsible for the testing on our state of the art testing facility, I was the first in the team to see how our prototypes started to match our simulations. It was a truly great feeling when I finally realized that we had succeeded in creating the warehouse protection system that we all aimed for, says Erik.  

X-Protect now offers industries and warehouses a fully modular solution to ensure safety. Its design does not only make it easy to install and expand, but it’s also one of the most sustainable on the market.   

It has been a very exciting journey, that had not been possible without our development team’s close collaboration, the faith we had in our local supplier, and our goal-oriented approach. I think it’s safe to say that we have all learned immensely from this experience, and we are very proud of the result.  

Because of its unique features, I feel confident that X-Protect will increase workplace safety at many warehouses and industries throughout the world, says Emma. 

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