Defence Sector vs. Product Design
What does a fighter jet look like close up?
We have always wondered what a fighter jet looks like close up, and so for the first time Realise decided to get up close to one at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) 2019 event at the ExCel in London.
What are the opportunities in the defence sector?
Since we’ve been looking for a good opportunity to find out a bit more about the defence industry, DSEI was the perfect event to attend. The team felt it was important to go with an open mind to glean valuable insight that we could also share with you, our community.
Discovering new technologies and discussing innovative new materials in lesser trodden paths allows creative ideas to emerge. Continually learning also enables us to consistently exceed our capabilities, to grow as product designers, and to design and develop great products.
Thoughts from Realise’s David
It’s not without pause for thought that we visit events such as DSEI, and there is always a need to take stock of how controversial it is; especially in a year which has seen public calls and statements from the Mayor of London for the event to be removed from the city’s calendar. This, of course, must be balanced against the benefits the event brings. With a UK defence budget totalling around £36 billion, its contribution to the economy is huge.
As the world’s second-biggest exporter of defence and security equipment and services, the UK defence industries generated £9 billion in exports in 2017 and £4.8 billion in security exports. The defence sector is also a huge platform for innovating technologies and products which then provide benefit to the consumer, medical, and wider technological advances.
It was also great to bump into old Realise friends Avon Protection. Their impressive stand showed how the Wiltshire-based respirator company is leading the global market in respiratory protection (that’s gas masks to you and me), through its focus on design and development, and producing innovative solutions to their user’s needs.
Thoughts from Realise’s Sophie
First off, the sheer scale of the event and the variety at DSEI is quite something. It’s the largest defence show in Europe and it shows you how large this industry is. Everywhere you look there is an enormous armed vehicle, amphibious boat or helicopter. From a visual perspective, it’s very impressive.
What surprised me the most is the very strong relationships between the many different businesses. They are very happy to work together collaboratively to create new products and technologies that can be used in all manner of applications.
Not so surprisingly, drones had the most notable presence at the show in comparison to a few years ago. Coming in all shapes and sizes, from the well-established large companies, right through to the small independent businesses, it was fascinating to hear how these companies are overcoming similar problems from communication, flight endurance, and payloads. I particularly enjoyed taking a look at the Seadrones with their unusual shape and form, setting them apart from the other kit that we saw on the day.
It was fascinating to talk directly to businesses about their areas of expertise and methods for resolving their challenges. Depending on the application and industry, the same problems are being looked at in a variety of innovative approaches. It reinforces the need for creativity in all industry sectors and the benefits to be gained from mutual collaboration.
Thoughts on Realise working in the defence sector
Visiting this show helped us understand the wider defence sector. However, our attendance of the event raised an important discussion within the team and one that we felt was important to acknowledge.
Realise has worked on several defence-related products, from personal protection equipment (PPE), medical devices, and industrial equipment. The team are experts at designing products that improve usability, increase robustness, simplify construction and integrate into existing systems, something which we pride ourselves on.
New projects on the horizon
As with any new project undertaking, we always evaluate whether it aligns with our values and aspirations as a business, but also as individuals in the team. Projects that sit in the area of the defence sector also must be looked at from a moral and ethical point of view.
This visit has demonstrated that we need to keep an open mind about this sector. Some projects and products have a positive impact on wider society by seeking to save or preserve life. Without this industry, some of these solutions would perhaps not exist.
Our visit to DSEI may bring new business, but we will only ever work with those businesses and products that meet our values and ultimately benefit society.
Let’s get started