Designers eye £1m opportunity after launching ‘construction innovation’
A team of Leominster designers and engineers have created what they say is a ‘construction innovation’ that will change the way temporary steel supports are adjusted.
Having experienced the pain of using ‘acrows’ first hand on a renovation project, Grove Design’s Austin Owens challenged his colleagues to come up with a solution that would transform the time-consuming process to make it safe, quick and easy to adjust the supports using a standard impact driver.
After months of consultation and numerous prototypes, the answer involved replacing the threaded collar with the patented J-strut gear collar, which can be wound up and down to adjust the support height using the J-strut pinion gear.
The new product has led the firm to predict a £1m opportunity for sales between now and the end of 2022.
“Despite their global success, setting up temporary steel supports is still time consuming, labour intensive and fraught with the risk of injury,” said Will Helme, one of the main designers on the project.
“Spinning the collar to the right height requires physical effort and when threads are caked in dirt, rust and cement it takes significantly longer and can feel a hundred times harder. We found that out for ourselves and often innovation comes from trying to solve a problem in everyday life.”
He added: “J-strut removes the need for manual adjustment of the collar, avoiding the frustrations that come with repeatedly winding and adjusting. All the effort to overcome friction is done by the impact driver, reducing operator fatigue, and minimising the chance of injury from human error.
“Temporary support often needs to be deployed and removed quickly to facilitate a smooth build process. Our system enables rapid deployment by greatly reducing the time taken to spin the collar to the correct height. If a support is up against a wall and the operator can only turn the collar half a turn at a time, an adjustment that would usually take minutes to complete manually can be achieved with J-strut in a matter of seconds.”
The challenge for Austin, Will and the rest of the team is to create an efficient route to market, with the construction equipment rental and leasing industry estimated to be worth £6.2bn and comprising 5000 potential customers.
Licensing the design through patents to a large-scale UK-based manufacturer is one option, another is retailing direct to the end user through a website or via a distributor, or it could mean wholesaling to rental and leasing companies.
Owens said: “At Grove Design, we’ve been helping automotive companies, recycling plants, leisure products and health and beauty specialists come up with new innovations under their name.
“There was always a passion to develop an innovation that could be our own and this has come with the arrival of J-strut. We believe we have a game-changing system, and the industry seems to agree…now is the time to take that potential and turn it into a commercial product that will create sales and local jobs.
“Importantly, we want our product to benefit the UK manufacturing supply chain and we have plans to source two thirds of the components from other members in the Manufacturing Assembly Network, a nine-strong group of domestic engineering specialists we are proud to be part of.”