Businesses will be given UK product marking flexibility

We’re pleased to receive news that the Government will continue to recognise the CE product marking in Great Britain for a further 2 years, allowing businesses to use either UKCA or CE markings. This move will undoubtedly cut costs for businesses and remove potential disruption.

Now, businesses will have until 31 December 2024 to prepare for the UKCA marking. Businesses can also use the UKCA marking, giving you the flexibility to choose which marking to apply.

Sated Design’s recommendation during this transition period is that it would be best to exercise an awareness of CE and UKCA for your project. Consult a third-party test house who are established Notified Bodies in both the UK and EU, and who specialise in the particular area of standards, compliance and certification your project requires. This will help make sure the most efficient route to compliance is adhered to.



UKCA – Countdown to compliance

The UKCA mark applies to most goods that previously required a CE mark. In April last year, our sister company Hillside Product Design published an article about the new UKCA mark which came into effect on 1st January 2021. According to Government requirements, many businesses would still be able to use the CE marking until 1st January 2022 to allow them time to adjust to the new UKCA.

At the start of 2022 the UKCA marking must be present at least as a label affixed to the product or an accompanying document. From 1st Jan 2023 UKCA marking must comply with specific regulations that apply to the product.

This all sounds pretty straightforward; you would think, however concerningly, there appears to be a lack of understanding, or even knowledge of this requirement with many of the UK-based manufacturers we are speaking to. This suggests that come next year this is potentially going to be a problem for any who did not comply.

The new UKCA is a legal compliance, therefore markings must be appropriately displayed with newly manufactured products by the start of next year. With a deadline of less than 8 months away this could easily catch many manufacturers on their back foot.

UKCA marks must conform to certain size requirements. This means manufacturers will need to find space to integrate the new UKCA mark. As this is a compliance requirement, manufacturers have no choice but to do this and yet potentially this is going to cost a lot of money and, even more worryingly, a lot of time and inconvenience to implement.

There is frustration at this new legislation with some questioning whether the new UKCA is really necessary. Our position is that this is a regulation and will therefore need to be adhered to. Our advice is to address this early on and make adjustments that meet requirements.



Planning around the Year of the Tiger

On Tuesday 1st February celebrations for the Chinese New Year begin!

In China these festivities will continue long after this date, sixteen days to be precise! Sixteen days when factories close and virtually all manufacturing processes stop for the full duration of this holiday period. Some factories will close for even longer to allow for their workers to travel the huge distances to return to their home towns and villages. It is not unusual for workers to travel for several days to see family and friends they may not have seen for almost a year.

The Chinese New Year is therefore very important throughout China and much of South East Asia; of significant global importance, it is very much intertwined with the UKs business culture and it’s planning.

Whilst lead times are important to a project whatever the time of year, planning and scheduling are of upmost importance when the Chinese New Year falls during the production process. The effect this can have on a project’s lead time could cause significant delay and ramifications if not borne in mind at the onset. It can be quite a task to co-ordinate between different regions when moving tools and goods to arrive within a production window. Experience of working with domestic and offshore manufacturers and suppliers coupled with experience of the differing cultures and practices of quite a few countries certainly helps to minimise any delays in production.

The impact of Covid in China is not widely reported here in the West but it is clear from our sources that the planning we all need to make for Chinese New Year relies more than ever on asking the right questions and having suppliers that you have a long term working relationship with. Our close relationships with Chinese suppliers have ensured that our clients have had regular and accurate updates about the situation in China and planned effectively with very little disruption caused.
The Covid pandemic has brought challenges for domestic and offshore manufacturing over the last 2 years and at this time we are thinking of our friends in far away China who we have not seen for many months and say that we hope the year of the Tiger will bring health, happiness and prosperity. Thank you for your continued support and the extraordinary efforts you go to.

Do you need help taking your product idea to manufacture?

Whatever the budget is for tooling, your required quantities and your preferred country of manufacture we will assist with determining the optimum manufacturing solution to meet the demands of the project. Working with our network of manufacturing partners, we can ensure suppliers meet the quality you expect both the in-pre-production trials and once production has started. This assistance proves invaluable when opting for a manufacturer overseas.

Contact us today to discuss your requirements.



Considering to new ‘right to repair’ law

Lat Thursday the UK’s ‘right to repair’ law came into force. Designed to tackle “built in obsolescence”, the new law is a supposed step change towards tackling our e-waste mountain, consumerism and ultimately climate change.

However does this new law actually go far enough? Or is it just another missed opportunity?

At present it appears the new legislation means manufacturers have to provide replacement parts but there is no cap on the costs of those replacement parts or indeed the call out charge for a trained engineer to come out and fit them, if required. Reading through the comments attached to a BBC article, there is a clear desire from consumers to ‘do their bit’ but this law is met with skepticism because fundamentally it still works out cheaper and more convenient to just go out and buy a new product.

Back in 2019 when Sated Design’s Director Chris attempted to repair his lawnmower, he was thwarted by a poor design and the inability to get hold of the replacement parts. This resulted in another product being thrown in to landfill unnecessarily.

If this ‘right to repair’ mindset has any chance of working out, it needs to be considered at the design stage of any product before being spread to manufacturers and to consumers.

Imagine if all designers had a mindset for designing not only for assembly, but also for disassembly. If they created products with repair in mind; considering the ease of disassembly, material separation for recycling and were intuitive to fix. As designers, we have a responsibility to be mindful of the end of use of the products we design.

Visualise having the ability to easily fix your expensive product yourself, perhaps you’ll even get enjoyment from it or learn something new.

So in conclusion, this new ‘right to repair’ law is addressing this problem to a small extent, but in reality it’s merely scratching the surface. The law needs to go further and be fundamental to every aspect of a product’s development in order for it to truly make a difference.

Here at Sated Design, we consider all these elements throughout the product development process. If you have an idea you want to develop, we can assist with the above issues and together we can create great products that literally do not cost the earth. Because after all, is it really right that so much is thrown away?



Are you aware of the UN38.8 Lithium battery certification?

We are all familiar with Lithium batteries and their increasingly popular application in electrical devices. For designers they are the go-to power supply and are used in their millions in a number of configurations. However, their use comes with a cautionary note, and this can be summarised in the old saying of “buyer beware”. These batteries have the potential to be a hazard. The battery must be safe and reliable for its intended use.

One of the questions you should ask of the vendor is, “does the battery meet the UN38.8 standard, set by the United Nations?”

Why is this question so important?

A UN38.8 certified lithium battery will have undergone a series of rigorous tests to show they withstand the physical and environmental hazards expected during intended use. It goes without saying that any product using a certified battery will not only be safer, but likely last longer too.

The responsibility to ensure that Lithium batteries meets standards falls upon the seller, but many buyers and sellers of electronic products across the globe are unaware that international regulatory bodies require this certification prior to shipping these goods. This opens up the possibility of uncertified batteries being offered for sale, usually at a bargain price.

There are 8 tests in the certification process, and each one must be passed in order to receive certification. This testing helps to provide an important safeguard for product developers, product sellers and lastly consumers. These tests are to ensure that a battery will not rupture, leak, disassemble or combust during transportation or during the products intended use.

The 8 tests are:

  1. Altitude simulation.
  2. Thermal testing.
  3. Vibration testing.
  4. Shock testing.
  5. External short circuit.
  6. Impact and crush.
  7. Overcharge.
  8. Forced discharge.

If a product is going to have a Lithium battery incorporated, then we would recommend only using batteries which have the appropriate UN38.8 certification. This will help to protect against using poor quality or faulty batteries which could ultimately provide customers with greater satisfaction and safety.



Manufacturing Options

The pandemic has shined a bright light on our UK manufacturers and demonstrated not only their innovation and their resilience, but also the skills and ingenuity of the workforces to adapt and overcome. With so much uncertainty in the global economy, many businesses are understandably concerned about mitigating their risks. Those with existing offshore manufacturing and those looking for manufacturers are weighing up the pros and cons of where to manufacture.

It is true that low cost, high volume consumer products can be difficult to manufacture competitively in the UK and on this factor alone many would say it might appear not to be commercially viable for a business to reshore their product manufacturing or to manufacture in the UK. In our experience, so long as the comparisons are like for like and the full picture is considered, the answer is not as black and white as some would suggest.

Here are ten reasons why manufacturing in the UK can benefit a business and counterbalance a lift in the unit price.

1. No language barrier. This facilitates clearer negotiations and ensures words used are ‘interpreted’ correctly. It is quite normal for many offshore companies to employ translators who have no technical training. They are often unable to express the true meaning of emails and drawings to the shop floor. Notes on control drawings are a classic example of critical information which often gets ignored or miss interpreted.

2. Reduction in financial paperwork and no need for currency conversion. Many businesses are concerned about exchange rates and the redefining of what money constitutes. They ask if they should throw their weight behind bitcoins? The dollar? The Euro? Or sterling? Buying domestically largely solves this conundrum.

3. There is immense value in having a team come together around a table or a machine at a moment’s notice to solve problems. Sadly, it is unlikely that international travel will be as convenient as it used to be for a very long time. Getting to almost anywhere in the UK is comparably very easy and very quick. Once local travel restrictions are ended it will be easier and more cost effective to make UK site visits as and when they are needed.

4. International shipping costs are sky-rocketing and problems with landing and forwarding are causing many logistical nightmares.

5. Import and taxation are not easy and the landscape is changing as the UK adapts to post Brexit and other international trade deals.

6. Domestic manufacturing reduces the risks of variable delivery times and partial-shipping can often be resolved with less trauma when the supplier is ‘around the corner’.

7. The UK is arguably one of the most constant and stable nations on earth with a working infrastructure and tolerant population. Political wrangling, global disaster events, civil wars etc have shown how vulnerable many businesses could be to events out of their control.

8. Importantly, and something that is often missed – domestic manufacturing will provide a certain level of protection from intellectual property theft and give confidence in compliance with standards and regulations governing product performance and manufacture. Counterfeit materials, dodgy certification and inferior quality can ruin a business.

9. Can you be certain that the supplier is looking after your best interests? Inspections and sign offs are easier to arrange and verify when parties are local to each other.

10. Let’s not forget the golden rule – you usually get what you pay for.

There are strong arguments for domestic manufacturing and especially for reshoring but we must not forget that many businesses are very successful in manufacturing offshore. They achieve this by nurturing strong, mutually beneficial relationships with proven partners. They get the right balance between cost and volume and marry the right manufacturing partner to their needs.

Sated Design have extensive experience with manufacturing here in the UK and offshore and we think the best way to tackle this question is to approach it with an open mind and look at both options in depth, matching capabilities, understanding cost, weighing up the risks and benefits.

Need help taking your product idea to manufacture? Whatever the budget for tooling, required production quantities and preferred country of manufacture we will work very closely with our clients and manufacturing partners to determine the optimum manufacturing solution to meet the demands of the project. We can help to ensure suppliers meet the quality you expect, both in pre-production trials and once production has started.

Contact us today to discuss your requirements.



How we conquer the “waste mountain”

A recent report carried out by Material Focus resulted in some astounding and deeply concerning statistics. UK households and businesses alone produce 1.45 million tonnes of electrical waste a year and un-recycled household electricals cost over £370m a year in lost materials like gold, copper, aluminium and steel. Imagine this on a global scale and you get a stark picture of just how much of a problem mounting electronic waste is. Why?

Because mining metals causes pollution and impacts weightily on climate change. Toxic materials ending up in landfill leach into water courses, soil and air and become a huge long-term problem in the environment.

The recent coronavirus pandemic is in the process of kick starting a global recession. History has shown us that during these times of hardship in the past, consumers have been encouraged to spend, spend, spend and get the economy going again.

But considering this research, we ask is that really the right or the responsible approach?

We don’t need more of the same old stuff!

In reality, what we need is the ability to buy products that are made with reclaimed material and more easily repairable in the first instance, but failing that, are made easier to recycle at the end of their life. As consumers we have a right to consume, but also a duty to be considerate consumers and effective recyclers.

There are ways that help could be at hand here. Supporting local repair services and repair cafes will assist in tackling the mounting issue of global e-waste. Imagine if those forced into unemployment during the pandemic could upskill and utilise government apprenticeship schemes to learn how products work with a view of offering a fixing service to the product users. This kind of scenario would encourage employment and tackle the issue of e-waste head on.

Manufacturers could play their part and keep stock of spare parts, making these readily available to the ‘fixers’. Designers too have their part to play by creating new products with repair in mind; considering the ease of disassembly, material separation for recycling and intuitiveness to fix.

It might all sound rather idealistic but with so many points of intervention in the materials economy, if we all take a moment to unite and look at the part we play in it, we can see where we can be a part of the solution too.

Out of sight, out of mind is not a way to deal with this problem. The coronavirus outbreak has created its fair share of tragedy but we can also see it as a catalyst for positive change and a vital opportunity to reset our relationship with our planet.

Do you have an idea for a new adult pleasure product? Would you like a little help to guide you through the journey of making it a desirable reality? Get in touch today – we may just be able to help you.



Keep calm and carry on innovating

In amongst all the doom and gloom being reported at the minute there are some incredible stories. Some of the UK’s leading engineers and manufacturers are retooling, innovating, collaborating and donating vital resources to support the coronavirus crisis. From small family run gin distilleries, making sanitiser to a large corporations building ventilators, there are so many shining examples of this happening across the UK and they have a vital part to play.

In the last two weeks, the Government has called out to designers and manufacturers from all disciplines for help. Sated Design has registered and we await instructions for how we can support the national effort against coronavirus. It’s extremely humbling to see that even in these unprecented times we can innovate, diversify and find ways to secure our businesses, our population and our economy.

At Sated Design we are focussing on supporting work in progress as there are still commitments to deliver on, however we are heartened to have received a number of new enquiries for our product design service.

Director Chris Howsam says “Some businesses are already thinking ahead and planning for what happens when the lockdown is lifted. We are supporting these businesses in any way we can so as soon as this is over, we can be the first out of the blocks”.

Pre-planning will make the difference when it comes to securing the future of your business. If you have a great idea for a pleasure product and would like a little help to guide you through the journey of making it a reality, take this opportunity and contact us today.



The potential of Industry 4.0

Much like SexTech, the manufacturing industry is on the cusp of its latest revolution. Industry 4.0 takes what was started in Industry 3.0 with the adoption of computers and automation and enhances it with networks of smart and autonomous technology that will collect large amounts of data. Through Industry 4.0 it is now becoming possible for these data systems to communicate important information about maintenance, performance and other product insights without any human interaction whatsoever. The consensus from industry experts is that the potential effects of these “conversations” on our manufacturers are huge and will ultimately result in quicker and more efficient, productive operations which will ultimately save them time and money.

The potential of Industry 4.0 is being realised by those organisations who are already adopting these smart technologies. You would not be on your own in assuming that Industry 4.0 is only realised by large corporations but the reality is that smaller enterprises will benefit too. For example, data stored in connected devices like the cloud could allow them access to technology they wouldn’t be able to have on their own.

Moving a few steps back from the point of manufacture, Industry 4.0 has the potential to impact on the entire design for manufacture process. As the Internet of Things (IoT) is realised, valuable data that can be shared on how products are used by the end users (the consumers) will influence how these products are designed and manufactured in the future. This data will be crucial for the early, embryonic stage of product design and New Product Development (NPD). It will be especially relevant to the development of adult toys and pleasure products where this data will be fully accessible through the Internet of Systems (IoS) including apps.

Industry 4.0 is still evolving. For the manufacturing industry the benefits of introducing smart machines into factories are clear. However, on a slightly less positive note, the presence of extensive data will add complexity to Intellectual Property and Design Rights. More concerningly the personal nature of the data recorded from the end users of adult pleasure products will need to be carefully managed to guard against potential data leaks. The laws of how this data will be stored and who it can be shared with will need to be carefully considered and agreed upon before Industry 4.0 becomes too firmly established in product design and manufacturing.

Paradoxically, the data potential of Industry 4.0, if made accessible, could be the catalyst to revolutionising how we operate and share best practices globally. Faced with all this new and informative data relating to performance and efficiency, wouldn’t it be great news for our planet if we were all able to learn from each other and tackle our climate change crisis collectively?

It goes without saying that sharing best practice and knowledge will help to increase efficiency of manufacturing on a global scale and as a result reduce the environmental, welfare and social impacts on our planet.

If you have a great idea for a new pleasure product and would like a little help to guide you through the journey of making it a desirable reality, get in touch today – we may just be able to help.