Project: Baby changing table for regional trains.
Client: Stadler AG, Berlin

This project was done in collaboration with an rail engineering consultancy for the train manufacturers Stadler Pankow GmbH. The task was to design an in-house component for tight regional train bathrooms using an vertical (portrait) layout. One of the main issues addressed was overloading of the changing tables by passengers trying to sit on them. With current products this usually led to an safety collapse which required a technician to come on board to repair the unit. The engineers had suggested a overload clutch system which could be re-set by the train conductor rather than an technical - saving maintenance and repair cost.

OND was approached early in the project to work with the engineers on the design (human factors/ appearance/ usability) of the unit. The overload clutch layout was given as well as the space and positioning in the train bathroom. The rail industry also has to obey an array of legal standards and restrictions which had to be considered. However there was room to work on the human centred side of the component and creating a Stadler-unique solution (instead of using standard supplier stock).

After an initial briefing session and review of the technical data (package) provided, OND conducted formative research to inform the following ideation phase. This was the development process in detail...

  • Briefing & package data Briefing & package data Handed over by engineering. Different clutch layouts had been evaluated beforehand. It was also suggested to consider a tubular frame for the tray.
  • Market review Market reviewFirst step in the process for OND was to review the existing solutions on the market as well as the user environment and legal requirements.
  • Ergonomic data Ergonomic data & review Ergonomic data were collected to determine the tray dimensions. This investigations into human factors also included review of the process of changing a diaper while travelling.
  • User research User research Apart from field research on trains OND also conducted conversational interviews with mothers to learn more about the user and their wants and needs.
  • Summery user research Summery user research The research findings were summarized and converted into an extended criteria list for the ideation and evaluation process.
  • Technical layout considerations Technical layout re-considerations After market review, ergonomic evaluation and user research the given technical layout was again reviewed and discussed for alternatives which appeared beneficial, like allowing more length (space) on the tray for older infants and to place items.
  • Ideation - Key sketch Ideation - Key sketch Ideation started with producing a pile of hand sketches. These were evaluated and condensed to a narrow number of concepts to be converted in presentation (marker) renderings. Here the selected key sketch.
  • Ideation - Alternative Ideation - Alternative One of several other concepts presented, suggesting alternative production methods, functional features and shape languages.
  • Topology model and Ergonomic testing Topology model and Ergonomic testing After a meeting with the client and engineering team a favoured concept was identified for further development. Before converting the concept into detailed CAD data, OND build a (topologic) card board model. This 'mock-up' should verify general dimensions, movement and ergonomics for different size users.
  • CAD model and rendering CAD model and rendering After the mock-up tests and tweaking dimensions, first sketch CAD models were produced by OND. These merge design idea with technical layout (package) to verify if the concept works in the exact confinements of the technical brief. This first sketch model is usually done without draft angles and finer structural details for tooling. Then a CAD rendering was produced to visualize the result before more would be carried out on one of the selected concepts.
  • Alternative CAD model Alternative CAD model Here an alternative sketch model using similar design features, but with an centralized handle. These sketch CAD models are also used as a first test for potential colour and material as they give the first realistic impression of the final product.
  • Proportion model Proportion model Parallel to CAD modelling a half side foam model was produced by OND to validate the overall design and individual features. A mirror was used to get the full impression. This technique helped to keep build time and effort down. Foam models are very quick to build manually and extremely cost effective. This type of foam can also be used as core for sand casting (as it melts away) or be laminated with epoxy resin to create a lightweight hard model, also called 'design model'.
  • Rear wall panel refinement Refinement - Rear wall panel After client and engineering gave their OK to the sketch CAD model, a second refined CAD was build. This becomes basis for engineering and tooling. It is handed over to the engineers as an step & iges file. In this case during detailing a component had to be moved which required re-modelling the rear wall panel. OND provided several options to deal with the change. This opportunity was also used to consider an optional paper towel dispenser.
  • Tube handle refinement Refinement - Tube handle For the handle a good balance between ergonomic, design and technical function had to be found. This was discuss with the exchange of CAD files suggesting various options.
  • Technical drawing for thermoforming tool CAD engineering data & technical drawing for tooling Tooling data and technical drawings were generated by the engineering team who also overlooked the prototype build.
  • Working prototype Working prototype This is the working prototype for testing and presentation to the client.

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