Currently the most successful companies have something in common: not only is the final design of their products or services of top quality but also their design management processes are state-of-the-art. Design management is an integral part of the whole business, eventually a critical competitive advantage. Finnish company Rocla has proven that its design management is well fitted to serve as the first international product development hub of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries outside Japan.
Design is an essential part of product or service development, not only something that is brought in for the final coating. Design management brings the business side to design processes: the core is to understand the design, but also the business processes, costs and effects of design.
Rocla is a Finnish company whose core business is to provide intelligent materials handling solutions and services. The company manufactures and markets warehouse trucks and automated guided vehicle systems, and provides complete services throughout their lifecycle. Rocla’s product development competences are cutting-edge design combining automation know-how with expertise in warehouse trucks as well as efficient development processes. Customer-driven service and continuous innovation and improvement form the basis of its operations.
Global product development hub thanks to excellent design management track
“Design has always been an integral part of business for Rocla. We see it as strategic tool and door opener,” tells Rocla’s Design Manager Kero Uusitalo. “We use design and design tools in so many ways to collect information, turn it to concepts, products, services, solutions – and moreover to match our customer needs and desires.”
In 2007, Rocla’s great design, both in usability and appearance, won the Fennia Prize, an international design competition. The international success in design competitions raised the interest of Japanese Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and since the end of 2008 Rocla has been a part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group.
The new owner emphasized especially Rocla’s product development know-how and saw great potential in increasing the truck business internationally. Nowadays Rocla is the global truck product development hub of the Group, the only one outside Japan.
“Being a part of a big global Group has opened us new doors internationally and given us for example economies of scale in sourcing. Our foothold in product development has increased, and we have received a lot of international visibility, increasing our business opportunities,” Uusitalo tells.
Design benefits all business functions
In Rocla design is integrated with engineering, marketing, sales and production. “It benefits every part of our company, directly or indirectly. It is definitely not something that can be bought elsewhere,” Uusitalo reminds.
Rocla does constant co-development with their customers and users to ideate and compose new concepts for the future.
“I think here lays the profound ground to success. Co-creation gives us the insights to their businesses. Without that knowledge, it would be almost impossible to generate something groundbreaking or we would have to be very lucky. When thinking about the future, it is also important to keep our eyes open to see how industries are acting and developing. Different business ecosystems change more and more rapidly, which, in turn, affects customers and their ways of consuming,” Uusitalo says.
Customer understanding creates efficiency
Rocla’s award-winning product Rapid was selected to the Hirameki exhibition in 2010. Understanding customer’s logistics business and operating environment have been the key factors in developing the unique low level order picker truck.
Thanks to its innovative design and intelligent solutions, it is 20% more effective in picking work compared to other trucks in the market. Owing to the revolutionary multifunction steering wheel, whose design was impacted by game industry, drivers can choose their working position and the truck functions according to their own preference.
For more information, see http://www.rocla.com/.