The Lockdown Lowdown – Part 2

These are very strange days indeed and like many workers I am bunkering down and experiencing the joys (and tribulations!) of working from home.

Some years ago I worked full time from home, so in a lot of ways going back to that style of working has been easy to pick up again. However, the biggest difference between then and now is that we’ve since had two kids, bringing with them much joy, happiness and a significant amount of chaos!

The main challenges facing our household when it comes to working from home during this lockdown revolve around space and time management. I needed a quiet place to set up my workstation. We have a desk in the living room, which would have been great except for the fact that it’s in a communal area and I wouldn’t get a moments peace with a pair of under-fives running around. In the end I set up a makeshift workstation in the main bedroom. It’s rather cramped and far from being the perfect solution, but at least I can close the door and concentrate properly on my work.

The other problem we have is scheduling our days so that both I and my partner can work on our respective jobs. For me as a product designer it’s relatively simple as I’m able to sit down and log on quite flexibly. My wife however is a yoga teacher and while her in-person studio classes have been cancelled, she continues to teach some lessons by livestreaming and posting pre-recorded sessions on-line. Her livestream classes are at a set time each week, so in order to have a peaceful environment in which to teach, I use our allotted daily hour of exercise time to take the kids out and get some fresh air.

Communication and flexibility between everybody at home and the team at Sated Design has been very important to make sure we all know what we can contribute, and when. This way we can all have an opportunity to continue our work sensibly, even whilst under a lot of additional pressures.

If working from home is new for you then the best advice I can give you is to treat it as you would a regular working day – have a routine, get up, get dressed etc. Set clear working times to prevent the boundaries of work and home life from blurring. If you’re able to safely, go out for a short walk before you log in can help create a divide between your personal and professional time. Do some exercise after work to help you decompress. Try to create a dedicated work area at a desk or in a spare room if you have the space. Check in with your colleagues regularly and invite them to do likewise, preferably by video if possible so you can see each other’s faces and lessen the sense of isolation. Above all, communicate with people around you to work through challenges you may face individually.

Working from home is a compromise but as a positive I do get to see my children for lunch every day and that is a very special time. And who knows, once all this is over, maybe all our ways of working will never be the same again!

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The Lockdown Lowdown-Part 1

In these current unprecedented times, many working professionals now find themselves having to juggle home working with caring for their families. So how is it possible to ensure you are fulfilling your obligations to your employer as well as those in your care? Sated Design’s Marketing Manager Holly Hollis shares her experiences so far in her role as a home worker, educator and carer.

I am a single parent, raising two young children with cystic fibrosis (CF) – a genetic condition which is life limiting. I’m no stranger to complications. CF has a habit of throwing curveballs when you least expect it and never allowing you to take anything for granted. The respiratory symptoms caused by the Coronavirus could be catastrophic to my children and so (along with 1.5 million others in the UK) they have been placed in a 12 week isolation for their own safety and protection.

As I type we are 19 days in. Since we entered our isolation here at home, many across the globe have lost their lives. Many businesses in all sectors have had no choice but to shut up shop and every school has closed its doors. No one yet knows when this will end.

It’s a very challenging time for everyone – but for home workers the biggest challenge is managing to run your home, care for your children and provide the dedication and support expected by your employer. My role in Marketing means at this critical time, it’s more important than ever that I bang the drum and make some noise for Sated Design. If we keep a presence, it not only reassures our clients that we’re still in business but it also shows potential clients how resilient we can be.

The difficulty is that at the same time I am having to be a full time mum and dad, co-ordinate a care plan, oversee and support their education and still continue to run a home. Fortunately this is where digital marketing is a great help – you can pick up where you left off at any time of the day. My working week has become 24/7 as circumstances allow but the flexible nature of it means this can be managed around the needs of my children.

They have anxiety about the change in routine. They haven’t seen their father now, apart from a wave over the gate, since this all began. They miss their friends. They are scared for those they know. My approach has been to keep them busy. Whether it be drawing a rainbow for a neighbour to put in her window, making a new tortoise house out of an old cardboard box, or planting up a new vegetable patch in our garden we are making memories. In amongst all the devastation this pandemic has caused there are still reasons to feel positive and grateful.

It’s not easy. In fact it’s proving to be the greatest challenge of my life to date. But it is achievable and employers like Sated Design should take a small bow for doing all they can to help those like me who face these challenges.

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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.

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We need a crystal ball!

So as of this week, the UK is in lockdown. The message from Boris Johnson was loud and clear – “stay safe, stay home”. In terms of safeguarding our health, this strategy cannot be questioned. If we adhere to social distancing, the virus cannot spread as effectively. But when it comes to running a business, no matter how great or how small, the results of social distancing are potentially catastrophic.

On Monday 23rd March 2020, (excepting those deemed to be ‘key workers’ and ‘key services’) the UK business community was essentially ordered to shut up shop. While the rationale for this cannot be questioned, we now find ourselves asking “for how long?”

Emerging now are details of financial support for employees and businesses but what about timescales? What we need now are some proper ‘guestimates’ from our Political Leaders as to when we can expect to be out of this crisis and begin to operate our businesses again.

What we are calling for now is the “Exit Strategy”. We are doing our bit. We are following these restrictions and supporting our government without question. Now it’s time for them to offer us some certainty and prioritise stabilising our economy.

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Thinking beyond the ETO Show

We were extremely disappointed to learn of the postponement of this year’s ETO Show, which should have taken place this week. Tradeshows like these provide a great opportunity to network and take the pulse of the current marketplace. There are a number of brand new exhibitors which we were really looking forward to meeting. Never mind, let’s look forward to later in the year.

We are definitely ‘glasses half full’ kind of people and perhaps this current global situation as a result of the Covid-19 could actually pave the way for some really exciting New Product Development (NPD) in the adult toy marketplace.

Reported just this week is a growth of 13% in adult toy sales over the last fortnight as people begin a period of self isolation. The demand is there and we are certain there will be many of you out there with their heads full of new ideas for brilliant new adult toys or pleasure products.

Consider this: The current restrictions on flights, exhibitions and even possibly day to day working conditions will mean home working and time away from the office for reflection. Ask yourself, where do you want your business to be when these restrictions are lifted and how can you be ahead of the game?

Perhaps you’ve had an idea kicking around for ages but time has never allowed you to take it any further. Now is as good a time as any to take the bull by the horns and make it a reality!

This is where Sated Design can help you.

Our design process methods can get you to the point of manufacture so you are poised and ready to hit “GO” once the manufacturing industry is showing signs of recovery. We have a comprehensive range of in-house capabilities including 3D printing, CNC machining, model making and silicone casting, meaning that all prototyping can be done right here in our office. We are able to use CAD to create parts and assemblies ready to provide to manufacturers for quotation and production.

We don’t even need to physically meet up either. Our remote conferencing facilities mean we can discuss projects virtually and do on screen reviews.

Pre-planning will make the difference when it comes to securing the future of your business. If you have a great idea and would like a little help to guide you through the journey of making it a desirable reality, get in touch today.

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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.

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Sated Design will visit the ETO Show

We’re delighted to be visiting this year’s ETO Show on the 16th March 2020.

It’s less than 3 weeks until the UK’s only Erotic Trade event opens its doors at the Ricoh Centre, based in Coventry. In a recent interview, the Event organiser Jonathan Kirk explains why trade shows are still important to the pleasure products sector. He says “new pleasure products seem to be launched on a weekly basis so trade shows are the best way to get those products in front of the buying audience in a short space of time”.

Trade shows like ETO provide a great opportunity to network and take the pulse of the current marketplace. Excitingly, there are reportedly a number of new exhibitors this year too and all in different areas of the sector including lingerie, toys and sexual health.

There’s still time for you to register – simply visit the ETO website and we might see you there! Don’t forget, that this event is a great opportunity to have meetings. If you would like a coffee with us then please use the contact us form on the footer of the homepage and we will get back to you.

If you have a great idea for a new pleasure product and 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.

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In-house 3D Printing

Nowadays pretty much everyone has heard of 3D printing. As a primary tool for designers 3D printers can produce a real life object for handling and use. 3D printing has enabled us, here at Sated Design, to streamline our design methodology which vastly improves turnaround timings. Thanks to our in-house 3D printing capabilities we can usually build and handle physical parts that same day. This saves days over traditional modelmaking and subcontract bureau services and improves the quality of decisions made during the design process.

To the outside world, 3D printed parts are often a huge disappointment for many users. It should be borne in mind that the old saying of ‘you get what you pay for’ and ‘horses for courses’ are particularly true.

Users of 3D printing need the right know-how. Robust parts and high-quality parts can be made if the right materials and processing are used. We have taken 3D printing a step further and often use 3D printing to produce specially made tools and jigs to assist our design processes and also that of our clients. Examples of this are bespoke jigs and fixtures produced to precisely and accurately make modifications to parts or assemble. We have also specified 3D printed parts as a small batch manufacturing method for complex structural parts which would otherwise have required expensive mould tooling and involved considerable delays.

While 3D printing is now available to the mass market, it still takes a level of expertise to know how to process a part to be appropriate for printing. Key factors need to be understood in preparation for 3D printing such as print time, material volume, temperature control, orientation of the print and the nesting of items. It can be very tempting for inexperienced innovators to purchase their own printer in a bid to visualise their own products. This may at first seem to be the cheaper route for some, however, without the experience and the understanding of the amount of variables involved in producing a high quality 3D print, it is a much safer and cost effective option to leave this to the professionals. Our designers have the “know-how” to get the best from each print run and ensure each part is representative of the intended design.

If you need assistance with 3D modelling and printing, contact us today to discuss your requirements. As a full service agency, we can step in at any stage of your project to suit your needs.

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R&D Tax relief for Sex Tech. Do you qualify?

Growth in Research & Development (R&D) tax relief claims totalled over £4bn last year. Introduced by the Government in 2001, the purpose of R&D tax relief is to offer tax credit benefits to those businesses who develop scientific and technological innovation across many industry sectors here in the UK. Reportedly to date, £26bn has been returned in tax relief to businesses across the nation and yet according to industry specialists the scheme is yet to be fully utilised.

Were you aware that Sex Tech is a key area where R&D claims are currently not being taken advantage of?

Without a doubt, Sex Tech is consistently producing pioneering work that would easily qualify under the R&D tax relief framework. Whether it is a new technology, stimulation technique, material or even the way these products are made, any and all new advancements tend to be leading innovation in the sector.
Presently the amount of Sex Tech companies applying for R&D is staggering low. This leads us to ask, is that because Sex Tech is either ignored or seen as too much of a taboo? Or is the onus on companies like you who might not even realise that you qualify?

In short, any UK limited company that is spending money on developing new products, or enhancing existing ones is eligible. Even if you’re not sure if your new product is possible, or you don’t know how to achieve it in practice, you could be resolving technological uncertainties and therefore be carrying out qualifying R&D.

The important thing to remember is that the Government’s accepted R&D definition doesn’t have to have been successful to qualify. If your project is ultimately unsuccessful but sought a solution, it could still be R&D. It is worth asking your accountant to look into this for you but you can also look for advice from HMRC and specialist tax advisers if your accountant is not 100% certain.

For more about R&D Relief click here.

If you’ve got an idea you want to take to market, we will assist you through your journey. Our services can include trend spotting and feasibility of a new adult toy product, ergonomic studies and reverse engineering which could all be attributed to R&D. Although we do not fund projects here at Sated Design, we have a comprehensive directory of business angels and companies who regularly invest in new businesses who wish to develop their products.

Contact us today and learn more about our services and how we can help.

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Need a new challenge?

Sated Design have started 2020 with a strong order book and are looking to continue our growth by employing another middle weight designer. We take projects from the first sketch to finished product and require a designer with a portfolio of excellent concept design and an eye for technical detail to join our team.

Requirements for this very exciting role include:

• At least two years of post graduate product design experience.

• Solidworks, Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite.

• Strong understanding of materials and manufacturing processes.

• Self-motivated, professional, and confident – You will participate in discussions with director level clients.

• Excellent communication skills – You will assist in preparing project proposals; communicate technical details to lay-people; and maintain lasting relationships with clients and suppliers.

• Prototyping skills – You will be able to develop your own solutions using a hands on approach in our workshop.

• Sourcing experience – both in UK and the Far East.

• Full UK driving license preferable.

• Must like dogs!

This role is based at the Sated Design office in Teignmouth, South Devon. This is a wonderful part of the world, and joining Hillside Product Design is a unique opportunity to develop your technical, creative, and organisational skills while enjoying a life by the sea; within reach of Exeter, Dartmoor, and Cornwall. Living in Devon is very affordable and the work life balance suits those who can work hard and enjoy clean air, countryside and blue skies.

To apply, please email [email protected] with a copy of your CV and portfolio.

Sated Design is a name used for marketing the specific expertise of Hillside Product Design Ltd in designing adult pleasure products.

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