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Helle Kinning

Design for small living spaces

Author: Helle Kinning, Marketing and distribution support specialist

3rd Aug 2017

The need for more homes is becoming an issue of growing concern across the UK. It is estimated that over 250,000 homes are needed each year in the UK alone to keep up with this demand. Because of this, developers are under more pressure to build new houses, and quickly.

With developers looking for innovative ways to meet these demands, especially in built-up city areas, there has been a rise in ‘smart living’ – a concept to make life more efficient, more controllable, economical, productive, integrated and sustainable. These spaces, although adaptable in their function, offer substantially less space for the inhabitants than previous new-builds.

The rise of micro apartments

There has been a dramatic increase in the build of micro apartments, especially where building land supply is low and therefore expensive. Five years ago the phrase wasn’t being used, but now these micro apartments are appearing in major cities world-wide.

Although the term ‘micro apartment’ is new, for the British they are just a modern version of the bedsit. Bedsits, or studio apartments, usually consist of a single room with every amenity included. These rooms are designed for those on low incomes and students, so the comfort is fairly basic – but at an affordable price.

picture of micro apartments and the use of slides in these apartments to save space.

However in major cities, like London, rent for city centre, one bedroom apartments can easily reach figures of £3,000 a month for a very basic room. For young professionals, who don’t want to flat-share, the only alternative is to commute from more affordable areas. The price of housing along these transport corridors is continuing to rise as a result.

As property prices increase in space-deprived cities, so do rental rates. Landlords and developers are now realising the profitable potential for luxury small apartments in city centres. Through innovative solutions and ingenuity, bulky furniture and fittings can be re-designed to maximise the space and give tenants the space of a much larger apartment.

Are these homes offering enough room to live?

RIBA’s Case for Space* investigates the need for more space in houses that are being developed across the UK. These spaces are often being built to meet requirements rather than the need for comfort, with the average new home being built in Britain meeting only 92% of the recommended minimum size.

From their research, it was found that newly built homes are failing to provide two of the top three things home buyers were looking for; adequate indoor and outdoor space. With over 48% of those surveyed saying they didn’t have enough space to entertain visitors, these homes are not only having a social impact, but are also having a knock-on effect on health and education.

These figures are representative of the UK home buying market - our European neighbours offer newly built homes that are 80% larger than in the UK.

What can be done to maximise space?

With innovative design solutions, everything from hidden kitchens to surprisingly spacious storage can be incorporated cleverly to ensure nothing is lost within these compact homes.

Sliding components remove the wasted space that is taken up by traditional hinged doors. Room dividers that double up as shelving and the efficient use of all vertical space can help to create significantly more living areas.

A very popular UK TV series called ‘George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces’ has highlighted the very ingenious ways that people have embraced this concept of ‘smart living’. The programme has encouraged new ways of looking at how we can live in small and affordable places.

Thanks to innovative design, these small spaces are becoming easily adaptable with sliding systems. Yet the need for enough space to deliver practical solutions for day-to-day living is still a major issue.


29th Jun 2017

The friction guides have been designed in-house by Accuride’s product engineering group.

David Brooks is one of Accuride’s product design engineers based in the Northampton office responsible for this range of guides.

We asked him what started him off on the design process for the friction guides and how he went about specifying the materials used in production.

David, Accuride is well known as a manufacturer of ball bearing slides and guides. Why did you decide to research plain bearing guides?

Plain bearing guides are a natural progression for Accuride. Expanding on Accuride’s already established product ranges of partial or full extension ball guides, linear plain bearings seemed to compliment this range, while also adding something new.

view of three friction guides with 3 different options auto, manual and non adjust.

The sliding surface is very important in friction guides. Instead of ball bearings these guides have sliding surfaces with very specific requirements. Can you explain?

Plain bearings have a range of important factors. The polymer bearing needs to have a low frictional force against its counter surface and to maintain a low rate of wear. This is helped by having a hard counter surface; in this case hard anodised aluminium.

Which other unique design features have you included in this range?

Accuride’s new linear friction guide range benefits from many unique design features. The track design has an extruded cavity which runs through the internal length to help reduce weight and material usage and ultimately also reduces the end cost for customers. The guides also benefit from having equal wear capabilities when they are either top, under mount or side loaded. This means that no matter which way up you use these guides, their life span is always the same.

David Brooks working on an Accuride friction guide.

How did you decide which materials to use? What criteria were you looking for?

We conducted a vast amount of testing to narrow down our search for the perfect materials to use in our friction guide range. Once the top performing polymers had been selected, they then went under further, more specific environmental wear testing.

Explain some of the testing methods used for these friction guides. We have in-house testing facilities, but did you have to build something new for this?

Our in house testing facility is great for our standard product ranges, but the new linear guides required a high degree of testing.

New test machines had to be designed and built so that we could test the product to the limits in terms of speed, wear and temperature. The new plain bearing guides can also last many millions of metres while in operation, so full and over length cycle testing had to take place.

We know that on-going testing is part of the Accuride design and quality process. Does this affect how you start the next design project?

Yes, at Accuride we constantly test the limits of any new and existing designs so that we can offer customers constantly improved products that can withstand higher loads and perform for longer. Any knowledge gained from testing is always incredibly useful to put back into the design and concept process.

The Accuride product design engineers work on their projects from conception to launch. This means that they are uniquely qualified to give technical support. If you have any questions you want to put to David, please email him here.

Helle Kinning

Is the natural world influencing the design of the next generation of electric vehicles?

Author: Helle Kinning, Marketing and distribution support specialist

12th May 2017

In the last 10 years, electric cars have come a long way; they were once only thought of as transport for those who rejected practicality for the status of owning a fully electric car.

Back in 2007, electric car pioneers, Tesla Motors hadn’t yet released a car and most electric vehicles available were either milk floats, golf carts or the G-Wiz.

The heavily critiqued G-Wiz had a range of just 50 miles with a charge time of eight hours, making it very impractical for the majority of the population. In 2010, just 138 electric cars were sold in the UK. Compare that to the second half of 2016 when more than 66,000 plug-in electric vehicles were registered. World-wide the 2016 figure is estimated at 1.3m cars.

Why has there been a surge in electric cars?

As technological breakthroughs increase, the practicality of electric vehicles has become a much better alternative to the traditional combustion engine. So much so, that German politicians have called on their Government and the EU to ban the combustion engine in vehicles by the year 2030.

Every major manufacturer of cars around the world is developing or has developed a fully electric car – with even non-automobile manufacturers such as Google and Apple entering the market.
Luxury electric vehicle manufacturer, Tesla, has been a market leader since 2010 with the introduction of the Model S. It has corporate styling with heavy lines and a minimalist interior that wouldn’t look out of place in a high-rise office reception.

But in the last year, there has been a boom in the plug-in electric car market with big announcements from Jaguar and Lucid Motors, a Chinese backed auto start-up. These latest cars can give us a glimpse at what the future of electric looks like.

What does the future of electric cars hold?

Although it is still at the concept stage, the interior of Jaguar’s I-Pace is reminiscent of a chic lobby with neutral sandy tones covering the dashboard and seats plus rustic wooden inserts in the centre console and across the dashboard.

It’s no coincidence that Jaguar’s promotional video is set in a desert environment; they want the outside world to flow inside the car and break down the barrier between the two. The roof features a large glass panel that floods the interior with light during the day and allows the passengers to gaze at the stars at night.

Auto manufacturers bring their customers and passengers closer to nature with innovative methods that enhance the experience. Even futuristic Tesla feature an extended windscreen that stretches over the head of the driver to give panoramic views.

Lucid Motors, a start-up motor company in California, has recently released their latest car, the Lucid Air, which looks very different from today’s motors. The back seats resemble something closer to the rear of a luxury wooden powerboat with finishes in wood and leather to give the feeling that you are floating on the French Riviera.

As concerns for the wellbeing and sustainability of the environment grow, so too has the interest in electric vehicles and the financial commitment from manufacturers. It is only fitting that those who have a connection to the environment by going electric are made to feel closer to nature through the interior design.

Check out how our telescopic slides are transforming the automotive industry and see how each feature of electric cars can be improved with ball bearing slides.

With billions of pounds being invested in electric vehicles and concept cars being launched on a monthly basis, how long will it be before these plug-in cars dominate our roads?

Sue Witkowski

Rising oil prices and climate change drive efficient aircraft design

Author: Sue Witkowski, Marketing services manager

24th Mar 2017

The aviation industry has enjoyed a boom in growth over the last three years as fuel prices have steadily dropped. This has meant that passengers have been enjoying low fares to their favourite destinations.

However, OPEC, the organisation for oil producing nations, has announced that it is cutting production of oil. This has already resulted in a jump in the prices of oil to its highest since July 2015 and it won’t be long before passengers will feel the effects of this as seat prices are set to rise.

What has this meant for aircraft manufacturers?

When Airbus launched the A380 in 2005, the titanic plane aimed to transport the most amount of people in the most efficient way possible. It came with a multitude of innovations to increase cabin space while reducing weight and increasing savings for the airlines. Boeing replied with the smaller 787 Dreamliner to cater for fewer passenger numbers, but providing more cabin space and an improved experience for short to medium flights at a high efficiency.

As the manufacturers of planes produce bigger aircraft, passengers demand more space and, for business and first class passengers, this desire for more space is being satisfied.

Airbus will re-release the A330 under the name A330neo, promising 14 per cent better fuel economy per seat. Lighter composite materials and better interior design has meant that manufacturers and airlines can capitalise more on business and first class passengers who want an improved flying experience.

As operating costs increase for airlines, it is up to manufacturers to build and supply more efficient planes with better equipped cabins for all passengers.

So what about the aircraft?

Airbus’ latest A330neo features similar features as its competitor, the 787. Even in economy, it has 18-inch wide seats, more legroom and 66 per cent more room in overhead storage plus Wi-Fi for all passengers. Premium fare passengers get even more toys with bigger screens and the next generation of on-board entertainment systems.

But it has been in first class, across all fleets, where the most innovative solutions have been developed - creating the most amount of space where it is in high demand for customers willing to pay for it.

Emirates and Etihad Airways aim to create a similar look and experience to that of an ultra-luxurious car. Only available on the spacious A380, Etihad offer their hotel in the clouds with The Residence. Featuring three rooms including a bedroom with an en-suite shower room, the interior is more like a boutique London hotel than a traditional aircraft.

What can premium passengers expect?

In the first class suites of Emirates and Etihad space in the cabin comes at a premium. Aircraft interior designers have come up with many innovative ways to create space for their most important passengers.
The common theme of the Gulf aircraft is luxury. Both offer fully reclining seats with complete privacy using motorised sliding doors. Rotating televisions and motorised sliding refreshment bars are just some of the luxury features that are available at the touch of a button. French polished woods and cream leather seats adorn the first class suites to give passengers a taste of what it’s like to fly in a private jet.

For the future of aviation, airlines are introducing weight saving measures and trying to increase the amount of personal space for passengers in all areas of the cabin. For each 10kg weight reduction, about 10 tons of CO2 can be avoided in one year.* Therefore, the planes of the future need to be built to improve fuel efficiency and yet still consider passengers’ comfort – a design challenge for all involved.

*IATA Factsheet Nov 2016.

Helle Kinning

New challenges

Author: Helle Kinning, Marketing and distribution support specialist

13th Feb 2017

The start of the year often brings changes and new (year) resolutions with one door closing, while another one is opening.

After 40 years of loyal service, our Distribution Engineering Manager, John Whittlesea, decided to “hang up his boots” (or slides shall we say? ) and take a well-deserved rest.

This change challenged a new person to fill this interesting and demanding role to support our European Distribution network.

Let’s hear what Stefan Herchenreder has to say…

picture of distribution engineering manager, Stefan Herchenreder at Accuride with a slide in his hands.

HK: A big welcome to the Distribution Team, Stef! But you are not completely new to Accuride, are you?

SH: No, I’ve been with Accuride for almost 13 years now.

I was recruited when Accuride started making inroads into the field of Automotive projects.

My previous life had been spent working within the Automotive industry - both for an OEM and for full-service suppliers. That gave me plenty of experience for my Design and Project Engineering role within Accuride.

HK: What areas are you looking forward to in this role?

SH: Personally, I’d say that I’m looking forward to the variety of the challenge. Facing technical queries from Customers and Distributors - discovering the wide range of applications where our slides have been put to use.

Also, I now have a great team to work with - designing, developing and testing new products for our Distribution Division.

HK: In your previous role, you have actually designed products that are already in our Quick Ship programme – 0116RC and the Locking Handle Kit. Where do you get the inspiration?

SH: Oh I can’t take the credit for that! These things usually start with a customer or a colleague saying something like “I wish we could get a …”, or “Wouldn’t it be great to have a …”.

That gets the creative juices flowing… from there, design processes, customer input and feedback take over… and the new product evolves.

For example, the 0116RC started as my “hobby project” to create a super heavy duty recirculating ball slide - something I’d work on between other projects.

When AXIS Automatic Entrance Systems came to us and asked for a very low effort system that they could use for hospital doors at the new Alder Hay Children’s Hospital, the hobby project was quickly adapted to suit this application. With a few additional modifications, it was put into the Distribution range.

HK: If you had the crystal ball, what new trends would you predict?

SH: I would predict that trends are leading increasingly towards more re-circulating type of slides. These types of slides have the benefit of being more versatile with regard to length.

Unlike traditional slides with a fixed length and travel set by the slide member lengths and ball bearing cages, the travel of a re-circulating type slide is restricted only by the length of the track it is fitted into… and individual tracks can be butted end-to-end to create any length required.

On a wider note (and at the risk of sounding old) I’d also predict that over the next few years we’ll also see a lot more interaction between… well… just about everything!

The whole “Internet Of Things” appears to be snowballing. Smartphones and now smart watches, mean that people have the internet at their fingertips 24-7. Technology that started as a thousand dollar plus watch can now be purchased at a petrol station for literally pocket-money prices. As these devices get cheaper and smarter, they become more accessible. More people have them, leading to more ideas and ever greater demands on what these gizmos can do.

Just a few years ago, the internet was a cable connected to your home computer and used for emailing and looking things up. Now, via WiFi, it provides the content to your TV, controls the thermostat in your home and even switches on the coffee machine as you make your way home. You can see where there are empty parking spaces in a city-centre, provide your doctor with live-feed health data, track your cat and your fridge can do on-line shopping!

Hmmm… I wonder if I can connect a ball-bearing slide to the internet?

picture of distribution engineering manager, Stefan Herchenreder at Accuride inspecting a slide.

HK: Well…maybe that can be your next new invention! We wish Stef good luck and look forward to new and exciting developments from his team!

Accuride – always moving forward…


Planning to buy, install or use a drawer slide?
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Case studies...

Accuride friction guides halve riveting time

As part of a boiler assembly this customer needed to automate the riveting process. By mounting the riveting mechanism on friction guides, a single operator can install two rivets simultaneously. The...

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Accuride friction guides halve riveting time

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