Simple innovation maximum return


Simple innovation
maximum return

By recognising the drawbacks of conventional roof rack systems, IDC developed a modular solution that brought great benefits to installers, giving Van Guard a vital competitive advantage in the market.

Van Guard's MD, Barry Woodward, talks about their experience of working with IDC to develop the award-winning ULTI Rack.

Working for van accessories manufacturer, Van Guard, IDC produced a pioneering new roof rack system which offered class-leading aesthetic design and dramatically reduced installation time.

Previously, commercial roof rack systems were time consuming to fit due to the use of nuts and bolts to hold roof rack frameworks together. Research identified that this was causing a bottleneck in installation onto vans and as a consequence, was leading to significant downtime for the commercial vehicles being fitted.

Van Guard recognised that if it could provide a roof rack system that was quick and easy to install, with all the usual quality and safety standards of Van Guard products, the roof rack would be in high demand with installers and end users with the reduced downtime of commercial vehicles.

As nuts and bolts were identified as the time-intensive part of the rack installation, IDC was challenged to develop a rack which avoided the use of nuts and bolts, but provided the same strength and reliability.

IDC’s solution took a modular approach with a framework of aluminium bars that were clamped together using a click and lock mechanism. This solution also generated valuable IP for Van Guard.

The design of the 'click and lock' components was highly innovative as each had to apply a great amount of force to clamp the aluminium bars together within an extremely tight space.

The modular design meant that the roof rack was size adjustable; with the option to change the number of supporting bars by simply clicking and locking into place as required, instead of struggling with the cumbersome structures used in traditional roof racks.

The combination of materials chosen for the design also brought significant manufacturing advantages to Van Guard, with a reduced part cost for production.

IDC’s engineers carried out detailed engineering analysis to test the load and stress limits of the system and found that the solution was just as strong as any conventional framework, but with the added benefit of vastly reduced assembly time and racks that could be fitted without any special tools. The rack was also designed to be both ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing with a modern, streamlined design.

IDC produced SLA prototypes at all stages of the development, using its in-house model making facility, IDC Models. These SLAs provided a quick and accurate way of testing and refining the design.

To ensure that the rack provided the optimum level of safety, it was tested at the Transport Research Laboratory, where it was subjected to tests that exceeded the force of a real accident – and in all cases, the rack remained intact, without any movement in the device.

In only nine months, IDC’s team took the project from concept to production, supporting Van Guard with its in-house British manufacturing.

Van Guard is delighted with the newly launched ULTI Rack, with Nigel Burn, Van Guard’s Works Director commenting, “This is by far the most complex design project Van Guard has undertaken in its history, and that’s one of the reasons why we commissioned IDC. Once challenged, they delivered on design innovation to take Van Guard to the highest level in Commercial Roof Racks.”

Here are a few comments from Van Guard's distributors:

“Yet again Van Guard has excelled in listening to us, their customers, and has delivered on a truly innovative, revolutionary and what is sure to become the market leader for van roof racks with their new ULTI Rack. The method how it fixes together is pure genius. I can’t get over how clever yet simplistic it is. It cuts down on needless nuts and bolts, speeding up and simplifying fitting. The feedback we get from our customers is phenomenal. They tell us it’s a doddle to fit, quick and it looks fantastic.” Alan Davis, Toys4Vans

“The ULTI Rack is such a great roof rack which we find quick and easy to fit. The new “Click & Lock” mechanism reduces the amount of nuts and bolts you need to use compared to other racks. Add to that its aluminium, so it’s light weight, making manoeuvring it a piece of cake. It looks fantastic too one of our customers said ‘it’s that nice, I don’t want to put anything on it’!” Connor Whitaker, ProtectAVan

“Van Guard’s ‘can do’ attitude and their ability to listen to their customers has been pivotal in the new and improved products they keep supplying to the market place. By investing heavily in its infrastructure and machinery, it’s allowed them to continue to innovate. The ULTI Rack is a great example of this, by listening to the market place, carrying out market research and using the skills they have, it’s been a real success. We sell more than double the amount of the previous range. Wow what can I say? The rack is a pleasure to sell as people love it.” Liz Lofthouse, Online Ecommerce

“Following the highly successful launch of your fantastic new ULTI Rack, I just wanted to express how pleased we are with the product. The feedback we're receiving from consumers is that it's extremely quick to fit thanks to the innovative Click and Lock mechanism, and exceeded their expectations. The ULTI Rack has undoubtedly revolutionised the commercial roof rack market and is destined to be another huge success for both Van Guard and your distributors. How refreshing to have a high-quality British Made product at an extremely competitive price which beats imported products hands down! Keep up the good work!” Keith Sked, Viral Distribution Ltd