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Philipp Krebs

How Accuride Europe Uses Scrum for New Product Innovation

Author: Philipp Krebs, Project Business Development Manager


20th Feb 2018


Creating the telescopic slides and systems of tomorrow can be difficult to accomplish. At Accuride we aren’t just making sure that our slides are the highest quality available on the market, we want to make sure that our slides are changing the way people interact with the world for generations.

In order to make this happen, we take our research and development very seriously and our expert teams of engineers and designers have the latest tools at their disposal. But it’s not just our fantastic people at Accuride that allow us to come up with the inventive solutions to our customers’ headaches.

We love efficiency at Accuride; our working and engineering frameworks are designed to get the best out of our teams every time. In order to make our teams even more efficient, our project development in Germany has begun to implement Scrum as part of their working processes.

Scrum has its roots set in Japan during the ‘80s in the big car manufacturers as they came up with more efficient ways to manage projects and ensure that projects were being completed swiftly and more innovatively.

Scrum was first coined in the early ‘90s and the first Scrum paper was published in 1995. Scrum is now described as a framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.

Scrum itself is a simple framework for effective team collaboration on complex products. While it was originally designed as a framework for software development, Scrum is equally as useful for engineering projects where an end product is being produced.

One of the major benefits of Scrum is the daily scrum. These allow us quickly to get members of the team together to discuss progress and outline any areas for improvement. This also gives better visibility of progress for the project and we can show our customers prototypes and designs at an earlier stage and allow them to give feedback and input into the ongoing project.

Accuride's Scrum team at work

This means that our customers can have an input into the projects before they are complete so that they are guaranteed to get more out of the end product. Not only does Scrum mean that our customers get better products, the quick processes also means that we are able to cut down timescales.

Thanks to Scrum, Accuride Europe can now design and engineer more innovative linear motion slides and drawer runners for our customers in even quicker timescales. But it’s not just our new telescopic slides that benefits from Scrum.

We are also using Scrum and our customers’ feedback to influence the development process of our existing products. We like to take a fresh look at our existing product line and look for ways where we can improve our world-leading products.

This way we are ensuring that our sliding solutions are always made to the highest quality and are constantly being updated with the latest technology and techniques.

Since Scrum has been integrated into Accuride Europe our engineers and designers have loved working in a much more efficient way and has allowed us to already implement Scrum into some of our automotive and oven projects.

Progress with Scrum is already extremely exciting and we are seeing results that our customers are very happy with. We are currently evaluating expanding Scrum to other areas of Accuride and hope to bring those benefits to our customers.

As Scrum allows our customers to have more influence in our development processes, how would you like to adapt one of our slides to fit your latest project?

Helle Kinning

Designing the ideal office of the future

Author: Helle Kinning, Marketing and distribution support specialist


2nd Jan 2018


How advances in technology change the way we work

Office design is moving into a new era with advances in technologies, improved ergonomic furniture and strategic lighting replacing the tired and often boring offices of the past. But as our work spaces are changing is this having a knock-on effect in the way we are working?

city landscape picture by the water at night with the buildings lit up.

How office space is changing

Our offices no longer consist of simple desks and fax machines. Open spaces and adaptive furniture are all starting to be incorporated in an attempt to boost productivity in the workplace. Moving on significantly from the early 80s where the biggest considerations were cabling and the overheating of bulky new technology, to today, where creating minimalist spaces to boost creativity is fast becoming the norm.

From paperless offices right through to hot desking, the office dynamic is starting to see a change. Many of us are still sitting behind desks from 9-5. But as these trends are developing they could quickly end up coming our way. The way offices are being designed is changing in a variety of ways, with open plan offices encouraging team collaboration and versatile furniture enabling work in an array of environments.

The push for a reduction in expensive office real estate has also lead many companies to introduce open plan design and hot desking, sometimes with little thought to the impact on workers.

Business owners must consider changes to the office environment, from physical appliances to interior design, in an effort to promote a positive mood throughout the office. According to RIBA, thousands of people are using their office space for 50% or more of their waking hours, so ensuring that these spaces are effective, inspiring and energetic is high on the priority list.

How does this affect the way we are working?

However, distracting noise and visual stimulus in open-plan offices can actually account for a drop in employee effectiveness. The workplace still needs to be balanced so that workers can choose their work space depending on the task.

office employee smiling at desk with a sticky note on head saying " Be happy".

Advancing technology allows companies to be less reliant on keeping their staff in one place throughout the day. Employees are becoming more flexible in the way they work and with adaptive space and new technology, the office of the future looks set to keep staff on the move.

Innovative companies such as LEGO® have introduced flexible work zones with no designated seating arrangements and a management team without offices. Bali Padda, COO and Executive Vice President, explained, “the lack of fixed seating is a very tangible consequence but the biggest impact is that the traditional physical concept of department has been dissolved, which enables cross-organisational collaboration even more than we are used to.”

The new office in Central London offers different floors for different zones of work. These open plan zones encourage employees to collaborate right across the company, introducing central locations for various teams to integrate, discuss ideas and resolve problems.

In a survey undertaken by JLL, a staggering 81% of those surveyed believed that open office plans promoted improved behaviours when compared to individual office plans. By opening up space and encouraging engagement between employees, many businesses are seeing a positive impact in both happiness and productivity.

What influence can this have on future offices?

Brad Krauskopf, CEO and founder of Third Spaces Group, on behalf of Entrepreneur, said, “The distant future of functional workspace will also be about using virtual reality and creating a fourth dimension’ throughout office spaces.”

Keeping up with both design and technology is a big factor in many offices of the future. But with these futuristic ideas are the smaller, less advanced offices going to fall behind and will employees be able to adapt quickly enough to stay ahead of the game?

In a report by Arcadis, it is expected that by 2020 the number of physical objects connected to the internet will grow to 50 billion. This added pressure will introduce more technology to the workplace, making progressive technology even more important to allow companies to succeed in the digital world. There is also the addition of augmented and virtual reality being introduced into many office environments to encourage increased work flow. This advancing technology is leading the way with offices of the future.

Conclusion
The question still remains whether these changes are helping or hindering as we continue to move through the digital era. Although these changes aren’t being made at a rapid pace, the dynamic of our office lives looks set to change.


Additional material from JLL, Workplace Design and Practise on the Ethical Environment

Helle Kinning

Care Home or Care at Home?

Author: Helle Kinning, Marketing and distribution support specialist


23rd Nov 2017


This question can be a tough reality for millions of families around the world when elderly or vulnerable relatives reach the stage where they need extra care. Making a decision can be a long and difficult process as families weigh up the pros and cons for a number of options and try to make sure that their relatives are receiving the best care possible.

two hands gently placed on a globe with an elderly silhouette walking.

Families put off moving their loved ones to a care home, but eventually, it can feel inevitable. A recent survey of British adults found that, on average, they estimate that residential care will cost £549 a week. In reality, the figure is £866 for a place in a standard nursing home.

Often, the huge cost of nursing homes is a deciding factor when choosing where a relative receives care. However, the social and emotional impact of living away from home and keeping loved ones together is also of the utmost of importance when deciding, along with the concerns with the quality of care. Staying in their own home and keeping their independence is becoming a more attractive option for the elderly.

With technology moving forward so quickly and the arrival of smart technology, the possibilities are endless when it comes to integrating it with your home. One of the biggest concerns for families with relatives who receive care at home is ensuring that they can maintain their independence while being subtly monitored to reduce age-related risks.

Creating Smart Care at Home

At Accuride, we can imagine a world where interconnected devices throughout the home aid the care of the individual. We see a future where sensors, appliances and devices can talk to each other to provide the same level of care from a qualified professional with full discretion and independence.

elderly woman smiling at camera.

By relaying certain information to family members, they can have peace of mind that their loved one is being looked after properly and continue to live their life without the hassle. By utilising the technology available families can gain a better understanding of the care that their loved ones need and receive.

A simple process could be a device recognising that the person in need has woken up, which then would prompt the blinds to open and turn the television on, it could even boil the kettle. While this would be fantastic for anyone, it would also let a concerned family member know that the one in care has woken up and could inform them of the duration and quality of sleep.

For family members who require tablets or prescriptions, making sure they take them on time can be tricky. The safe storage of medication is also a consideration when elderly relatives are living with the family and young children are present. Having medication kept out of sight can cause elderly relatives to forget to take it. Sometimes, the best approach can be a gentle reminder that tablets need to be taken if they haven’t already.

Preparing drawer slides for the future

With Accuride’s Electronic Access Control Locking Systems, the storage and control of medical products could not be any easier or safer. Family members can discreetly check which compartments are being opened and if a draw hasn’t been opened after a certain amount of time, a notification can be sent to any family member. This discreet and gentle system allows elderly or vulnerable people to have as much independence as possible while giving peace of mind to the family.

view of a card entry system that uses Accuride drawer slides.

At Accuride, we love to break down boundaries and develop drawer slides that will inspire future generations. Our Electronic Access Control Locking Systems are ready for future applications with retina scanning and fingerprint technology, making sure that they are as secure and adaptable as possible.

The possibilities are endless with smart technology and the Internet of Things, so when will we see more families choosing care at home over a care home?

Helle Kinning

How virtual reality is changing the way in which we connect with the real world

Author: Helle Kinning, Marketing and distribution support specialist


26th Oct 2017


Advances in technology are speeding up at an incredible rate

Technology is evolving faster than it ever has before. 40 years ago, ‘computer’ was not a household word. Since the turn of the millennium, phones have evolved from the trustworthy and tough Nokia 3310 to the mind-blowing capabilities of the iPhone 7.

Tech companies constantly battle to release the biggest and best inventions from game consoles to smartphones. The digital technology industry is currently growing faster than any other industry in the UK, contributing approximately 93 billion pounds a year to the economy.

woman wearing virtual reality headset looking up with the sky in the background.

Virtual reality as a sales tool

Virtual reality is being seen across brands to give their customers a feel for products before they actually purchase them. From in-store retailers such as North Face right through to car manufacturers such as Jaguar and Audi, virtual reality is offering an immersive experience to effectively ‘try before you buy.’
A report from digital agency SapientNitro said: “Virtual reality is going to fundamentally transform the human experience of shopping,” predicting that it would, “lift sales for those retailers who get ahead of the curve.” With virtual reality software becoming more of a household name, it’s seemingly becoming more popular with retailers across the world when looking for cutting-edge marketing techniques.

High-end manufacturers are utilising these experiences with many seeing an increase in sales as a result. Jaguar has previewed models including the F Type, F Face and Discovery Sport with Robert Herd, head of communications at Jaguar Land Rover UK saying: “Initially consumers think it’s a gimmick but they quickly convert and it is driving a lot of additional car sales for us.” Benefits are being seen for high-end retailers across the globe making virtual reality a valuable marketing tool.

Using virtual reality techniques to aid flight training

Since the first flight simulator in the 1920’s, virtual reality (VR) has been on the minds of many technology experts. Professionals soon started to realise the benefits of this new concept and began developing new ways for it to be used.

As virtual reality improved over the years, it became ever-more relied upon in the aerospace and military industries. Trainees are able to learn difficult manoeuvres without leaving the ground, reducing the risk of death or injury and saving the respective industries a lot of money.

Virtual reality headsets or head-mounted displays (HMD) were created in 1961 to help helicopter pilots fly in complete darkness. Small infrared cameras would send images of the surroundings to the HMD. The camera’s angle would correspond with the pilot's head movements offering an unparalleled flying experience. These technologies are continuing to develop and are an important part of the training process.

Recreating combat scenarios using virtual reality

The military is increasingly using virtual reality to train their staff in dangerous situations. Gaming technologies such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are bringing cost effective solutions to the table, which is essential for government funded industries.

Tech companies are often battling for first place with new products being released at cheaper prices to attract new customers. This competition benefits the consumer as new advances are released quickly at a lower cost. Virtual reality systems are becoming more accessible every day, with the cost of this specialised equipment recently dropping to below £700.

The introduction of VR in the military is giving non-combat personnel such as medics the opportunity to work within combat scenarios without the associated risks. Medics must be able to focus in some of the most difficult situations and new technologies can make training for these situations much easier than ever before.

The Human Interface Technology department at the University of Birmingham has developed a VR scenario that incorporates helicopter turbulence and the sound of machine gun fire into the scene. This unrivalled technology will hopefully save many lives in the future.

Bringing virtual reality to the public eye

Gaming is a massive sector within the entertainment industry. According to the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment, the global gaming industry is worth $99.6billion. With approximately 31.6million people playing games in the UK alone, it’s not surprising that companies are constantly trying to come up with the newest, most exciting consoles.

The integration of motion sensors in products such as the Nintendo Wii in 2006 and augmented reality (AR) hitting the high street with Pokémon Go in 2016 has increased physical interaction with the gaming world.
As with other areas of science and technology, virtual reality and simulator systems have greatly improved in the last century. One of the original, less serious, applications of VR was to improve the gaming experience of dedicated players. It is still one of the main industries for VR and the release of the Oculus Rift was purely intended for gaming.

The idea of virtual reality gaming is to put the player in the game. Their actions will determine how the game plays out, with the use of motion sensor gloves or special handheld devices to control virtual hands for example. In terms of gameplay, the person is more involved than ever before.

Virtual reality is set to be an important part of our future

Virtual reality has already become very accessible. Advances in the technology have seen the likelihood of motion sickness lessen. Concerns still exist over personal safety whilst playing with VR headsets however it seems as though the benefits of this advanced technology will out-weight any negatives.
We can be sure to expect VR to become part of our daily lives in the future, whether that be travelling to exotic parts of the world from the comfort of your sofa, as part of the education system or visiting your GP without leaving the house.

Philipp Krebs

Electrically opened centre console storage - a new level of luxury in cars

Author: Philipp Krebs, Project Business Development Manager


12th Sep 2017


Since 1999 Accuride has been supplying millions of sliding systems for automotive centre console armrests.

Because the interior designs of our automotive OEM customers evolve, Accuride has been continuously adding features to our slides. Examples include, integrated end stop damping solutions and the patented friction and detent element. We have been very successful in integrating many functional components into our sliding systems – components that often have to be designed and supplied as extras in competing systems.

One of Accuride's most recent customer projects, which went into series production, was the development of an electrically operated sliding armrest for a luxury vehicle. As well as the ergonomic functionality, the armrest also serves as a small storage compartment that is easy to reach by both the driver and passenger.

While manually adjusted armrests need detents or latching systems to keep them in the end positions, this electrically operated armrest automatically moves to the end position, or can be put in any intermediate position by the driver. In addition, the driver can select the cup holder position. This just gives access to the cup holder while keeping the compartment underneath closed.

close up of an Aston Martin centre console armrest that uses an Accuride slide to adjust.

Thanks to its compact design, the Accuride sliding system does not require any compromise regarding the shape or the trim of the armrest. And while the extra comfort comes with a small penalty on weight compared to traditional systems, the unit is surprisingly light thanks to the clever use of aluminum and plastic. The motor and the sensors connect to the car via a single automotive grade harness and connector.

Accuride developed the armrest slide in close cooperation with the customer’s engineers. Together they optimized both design and manufacturability to ensure a compact, yet cost-effective and compelling slide design.

Here’s what Mike Harvey, the lead engineer at Accuride, says about the development project:
‘As this was a completely new armrest concept, both the automotive customer and our design team were treading in new territory with this project. We developed a great working relationship with our customer, supporting each other throughout the project. With the communication flowing so well all challenges were handled quickly and efficiently, culminating in a fantastic product that we are all proud of.

Every engineer loves new challenges and this project certainly provided that for me. For this reason, and the great relationship we have with our customer, means that this project is one of the best projects I’ve had the pleasure of working on.

For me, as the project manager, the project was a very special challenge. Accuride acts as a Tier-1 supplier here so we dealt directly with the OEM. Since an electrical system comprises many more externally sourced parts than a traditional automotive slide, there was much more focus on supply chain development than in traditional projects. Thanks to the team, both at the customer and at Accuride, we succeeded in mastering this challenge and delivered the project on time with the expected quality level.’

Just like Accuride's mechanical armrest slides, this electric sliding system is assembled on a semi-automatic machine and is automatically 100% inspected by a dedicated system. The values recorded during inspection are 100% traceable via the label applied to the slide. The system fulfills the OEM's operating and abuse specifications and supports the console in passing the crash test by keeping the lid in place even in such conditions.

While the cost of electrical operation is obviously higher than traditional manually operated sliding systems, it is able to integrate several potentially costly latching and unlocking systems. In addition it allows Tier-1s and OEMs to offer their customers a totally new level of convenience - an excellent differentiator in the competitive market for luxury vehicles.

What.How.When.

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Our 'What.How.When' guide to ball bearing slides is everything you need.

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