CASE STUDY:
Evac+Chair International

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SUMMARY

Evac+Chair International, based in Birmingham, are a leading manufacturer of evacuation chairs and equipment, ensuring those with restricted mobility are able to be transported quickly and effectively in emergency situations.

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With high spending on post-neonatal care due to excessive impact during ambulance transportation, Evac+Chair identified the opportunity to solve this challenge by partaking in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP, part-funded by Innovate UK) to reduce the impact on neonates (babies under four weeks old) during transit in ambulances. In order to achieve this, Evac+Chair enlisted the help of Birmingham City University’s School of Architecture and Design academics to support the design and development of a g-force reduction ambulance trolley that can also safeguard the neonate in the event of an ambulance crash of up to 40MPH.

The use of G-Force data loggers in patient transfers on normal trolleys has been significantly useful, as this knowledge is transferable into many other product development application areas such as the company's paraid medical products division,

Steve Jinx, Product Development Manager, Evac+Chair International

THE OPPORTUNITY

As part of their portfolio Evac+Chair manufactures a range of bespoke incubator stretchers designed for ambulance transport, both emergency and elective. These trolleys have been developed in partnership with clinicians and transport teams and are used to transport neonates.

With the NHS spending up to £1,000,000 or more on post neonatal care if excessive g-forces impact a neonate during ambulance transportation, Evac+Chair identified an opportunity to be at the forefront of ambulance trolley development by reducing the acceleration and deceleration forces experienced by neonates in an incubator attached to the ambulance trolley.

The Evac+Chair partnership with Birmingham City University was to design and develop an Impact Resistant Interface System (IRIS) for neonatal equipment attached to an ambulance trolley, with variations being adapted for custom markets across the world.

THE DELIVERY

Birmingham City University suggested a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), an Innovate UK funded project that sees a graduate and lead academic from the University work with a company to improve their knowledge base and skills. The KTP saw Alex Round, Product Design Graduate and KTP associate, begin working with Evac+Chair under the supervision of lead academic Dr Panch Suntharalingam.

Dr Suntharalingam was instrumental in providing the engineering knowledge required for developing the damping systems. This included the methodology needed for calculating the forces exerted on a neonate and the damping required within the trolley during normal ambulance transfers and in the event of a crash of up to 40MPH.

Utilising these calculations and a newly-created intensive software simulation-training programme, graduate and KTP associate Alex Round was able to use the software to assist in the decision-making process for developing the damping system without the need for Evac+Chair conducting time and cost intensive physical testing. The final trolley designs were subsequently physically tested against the calculations, saving Evac+Chair at least £10,000 on consultancy per custom-made ambulance trolley. Alex then went on to ensure this process was embedded within all new ambulance trolleys Evac+Chair were producing.

THE RESULTS

The successful outcome of the KTP has enabled Evac+Chair International to gain international recognition for their safety standards as well as improve sales and develop a more efficient production process. By focusing on reducing g-force and improving products safety standards, Evac+Chair now have new innovative products for sale in home, EU, USA and World markets.

Furthermore, within one month of completing the KTP, the company sold 13 new ambulance trolleys each costing £18,500 (£240,500 in total) to Qatar. Growth in the new Middle Eastern market is expected to continue from this initial order.

KTP BENEFITS

Other benefits have included:

  • Greater customer retention for renewed orders and new customers worldwide
  • New service contracts for all neonatal ambulance trolleys using IRIS
  • Shorter design to manufacture timescales resulting in increased capability of new products
  • Increase in profit margin as a result of continuous new product development techniques developed with Birmingham
    City University
  • A reduction in the need to design/redesign new parts for existing and new neonatal transporters
  • Implementation of a documentation control software has ensured zero errors in version control of its technical drawings for production and assembly.

HOW CAN I START A KTP?

If you’re a SME or larger businesses from any sector looking to develop a competitive edge from business support, funding and R&D activities with university experts and specialists, we invite you to enquire about a KTP at BCU.

Please send us an enquiry and we will contact you to discuss how we can help.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is a UK-wide programme that has been helping businesses for the past 45 years to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK Knowledge Base.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this service free of charge? faq-up-arrowCreated with Sketch.faq-down-arrowCreated with Sketch.

KTPs are part-funded by Innovate UK and Research Councils. The funding you will receive is contingent on the size of your business…

 

- up to 67% of KTP costs for SMEs

- up to 50% of KTP costs for larger businesses

Am I eligible to use this service? faq-up-arrowCreated with Sketch.faq-down-arrowCreated with Sketch.

If you are a UK-based business looking to fund the advancement of an innovative idea, then we welcome your application.

How long will I receive support for? faq-up-arrowCreated with Sketch.faq-down-arrowCreated with Sketch.

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership lasts between 18 and 36 months. The duration of support is dependent on your specific project requirements.

Where are you located? faq-up-arrowCreated with Sketch.faq-down-arrowCreated with Sketch.

If you are eligible for support, your account manager will work with you at your place of business.

What is "GBSLEP" and do I need to be located in this region? faq-up-arrowCreated with Sketch.faq-down-arrowCreated with Sketch.

"GBSLEP" stands for the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership. As well as Birmingham and Solihull, the region covers Lichfield, Cannock Chase, Wyre Valley, East Staffordshire, Redditch and more.

Unlike some of our other business support services, there is no requirement for KTP members to be located within the GBSLEP region, although your business does have to be based in the UK.

I've made an enquiry, what next? faq-up-arrowCreated with Sketch.faq-down-arrowCreated with Sketch.

A member of the Knowledge Transfer Partnership team will review your enquiry and be in touch shortly.

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