Husband and wife Robyn de Bruin-Judge and Wim de Bruin established Designerscope in 2013 when cabinet maker Wim decided there must be a better way to level cabinets.
The company has gone from strength to strength, with its patented invention, the AXILO™ cabinet levelling system now globally licensed and soon to be sold in 150 countries.
Last month they won the Small Business Safety Innovation Award at the 2017 Site Safe Construction Health and Safety Awards.
The traditional approach to levelling cabinets requires installers to lie on hard floors, stretched at awkward angles and in an uncomfortable position to reach rear adjustable legs.
This process is repeated many times until the cabinetry is finally level.
Lying on the ground significantly reduces an installer’s ability to see what is going on around them and to respond to potential hazards. They also become a trip hazard for other workers.
“It’s an exhausting, difficult and time-consuming task,” Ms de Bruin-Judge says.
To overcome this problem, the couple set about designing a ribbed foot that fits onto the existing adjustable leg on cabinetry and a special tool that then adjusts the foot.
This lets installers remain upright while adjusting the level of the cabinet by turning the handle of the tool.
The old process meant installers were at risk of musculoskeletal injuries caused by reaching under and around the cabinets and from lying on the ground.
This was especially true for older workers and those with pre-existing injuries.
“As well as making the task safer and more manageable, the system will also make it easier for older workers to continue in their roles, helping to ease the skill shortage for experienced kitchen installers.,” says Ms de Bruin-Judge.
“The AXILO™ system has huge potential to reduce the dangers of musculoskeletal injuries and increase productivity.
“It will significantly reduce fatigue, as it makes the job up to 50 percent faster. In addition, installers are much more visible onsite as they can remain upright, meaning they can better respond to hazards in their environment and are less exposed to dust and debris on the floor,”she says.
“Since the installer does not need to continually hop up and down to view the level, or have a colleague check the level, overall installation is easier, safer and faster,” she says.
Ms de Bruin-Judge says a strong focus on health and safety has always been something that set them apart from other businesses
“Over 20 years ago, when we first started our kitchen manufacturing business, the Health and Safety in Employment Act had just come out and I guess we were early adopters.
“For us we were just starting out, so we didn’t have to change our practice to accommodate health and safety, we just built it into the way we do business.”
After obtaining a Callaghan Innovation grant to kick start the research and development work for AXILO, the partners ran trials with installers and other business owners, refined the design and eventually pitched the patented idea overseas for licensing.
The intellectual property was licensed to hardware giant Hafele International and the system is now being produced in Germany and marketed to professional tradespeople throughout the world.
About Site Safe:
Site Safe operates as a national not-for-profit membership organisation with extensive connections through its members, strategic partnerships and a strong relationship with industry groups.
It provides education and resources on best practice systems and behaviours known to improve on-site health & safety.