With Business As Usual off the cards, NYMAS re-focussed to respond to the Covid-19 challenge thanks to a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Teesside University and support from the University’s Grow Tees Valley Programme.
With over 20 years in the industry, Billingham-based NYMAS makes design-led washrooms that are safe and accessible to all; the company is a leader in the Doc-M and specification markets.
To help realise ambitious plans, NYMAS decided to expand their fledgling design department by entering into a KTP with Teesside University. The aim was to embed a bespoke New Product Development function using emerging concepts in “design thinking”, novel material applications and associated manufacturing methods, creating a portfolio of innovative accessibility bathroom products. This new capacity would allow NYMAS to become more agile in a growing market.
Lewis Brown, a recent graduate of the BSc Product Design course at Teesside University, was recruited as the KTP Associate on the project. He formed a multidisciplinary team from Teesside bringing in experts from the MIMA School of Art & Design, the School of Computing, Engineering & Digital Technologies, and the School of Health & Life Sciences.
When the coronavirus lockdown struck, it hit the construction industry – like so many – very hard. As this sector is NYMAS’s main revenue stream, the business had to act fast. After reviewing ways to decrease overheads, the business shifted its priorities into exploring new opportunities.
NYMAS underwent a business diagnostic with the Grow Tees Valley team which included a very detailed and focussed discussion about the impact of Covid-19, and how the project could support them.
Grow Tees Valley is part-funding new tooling design and manufacture for the new covid-response products, and re-engineering existing products to increase efficiency and strip out unnecessary cost.
In recent months, the group had started to put resources into one of their brands called RESPiRE. Part of the NYMAS group of companies, RESPiRE was established in 2009 as a supplier of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) consumables to sleep clinics in the north of England and Scotland. As the pandemic neared its peak, CPAP was found to be an effective treatment for coronavirus patients, and was seen as a less invasive alternative to ventilating. NYMAS took the opportunity to bring RESPiRE up to date and launch a new e-commerce website. The design team’s role in this was to prepare data sheets in a new RESPiRE format.
Once the pandemic was past its peak and lockdown measures were starting to be lifted, there were growing needs for sanitisation products to be sold to businesses as they began to reopen. NYMAS began to design and source its own products and eventually released the NymaSan brand. This quick launch was turned around in a matter of weeks and included both basic and luxury products.
The flagship product in this brand was the Fitzroy of London touch free hand sanitisation stand, a product available in a combination of finishes and available in three different sizes. This product in particular went from brief to finalised design in little over four weeks. The product has already had orders from luxury hotel chains and luxury car dealerships.
NYMAS was able to act so quickly because the KTP has helped put the correct processes in place for product development. The team at NYMAS saw an opportunity, assessed it for value, and acted upon it.
Commenting on the success of NYMAS in responding to the challenges of Covid-19, Knowledge Transfer Adviser at ktn (one of the delivery partners of the KTP programme) said: “With Lewis’s vital support, NYMAS has been amazingly agile in responding to the business and the societal challenges posed by Covid-19”.
Peter Reid, KTP Lead Academic at Teesside University said: “The Coronavirus pandemic has presented NYMAS with both a challenge and an opportunity.
Our KTP associate, Lewis Brown developed Hand Sanitiser designs whilst working remotely. Design-led processes and innovation culture embedded through the KTP has certainly contributed to NYMAS’s ability to prepare market ready designs in a matter of weeks.
This project and the underpinning KTP is a great example of how effective collaboration between industry and the university can work at its best.”