How James Dyson made vacuum cleaners sexy
What makes a brand resonate with consumers? Why do some products take off where others have failed? How do you develop a product that is more than an item, but a lifestyle choice? How on earth do you make vacuum cleaners, fans and hand dryers sexy?
There is one man who knows the answer to all these questions and its James Dyson, founder and CEO of the Dyson company. James managed to take an every day household item and turn it into something desirable. Manufacturing Global takes a look at the man behind the business and his management style that led to such unique success.
An eye for design
From an early age James had a keen eye for art, design and interiors. After leaving school he went to Byan Shaw School of Art before studying furniture and interior design at the Royal College of Art. Only after this did James move into the field of engineering. One of Dyson’s defining factors is its modern, innovative and attractive design. James’ formative years at art school clearly influenced the design of his products and contributed massively to their success.
Re-thinking existing products
Dyson is renowned for taking everyday products and making them more attractive and appealing, as well as more effective. James’ first invention also did just this; the Ballbarrow was a modified version of the wheelbarrow using a ball instead of a wheel and was featured of the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World.
Not discouraged by rejection
In the 1970s James turned his attention to vacuum cleaners after becoming frustrated with his Hoover when it lost suction. He had the idea of using cyclonic separation thus negating the need for a dust bag.
Five years and many prototypes later, James launched the ‘G-Force’ cleaner in 1983. However, no manufacturer or distributor would handle his product in the UK, as it would disturb the valuable market for replacement dust bags, so Dyson launched it in Japan through catalogue sales. Manufactured in bright pink, the G-Force sold for the equivalent of £2,000. It won the 1991 International Design Fair prize in Japan and he obtained his first U.S. patent of the idea in 1986. After failing to sell his invention to any major manufacturers, James set up his own manufacturing company, Dyson Ltd. In June 1993, he opened his research centre and factory in Wiltshire, U.K.
Despite multiple rejections, James believed in his idea and continued fighting to bring it to market.
Understands the power of marketing
Dyson's breakthrough in the U.K. market came more than ten years after the initial idea and was sparked by a TV advertising campaign in which it was emphasised that, unlike most of its rivals, it did not require the continuing purchase of replacement bags. At that time, the UK market for disposable cleaner bags was £100 million. The slogan ‘say goodbye to the bag’ proved more attractive to the buying public than a previous emphasis on the suction efficiency that its technology delivers. As a result of the campaign, the Dyson Dual Cyclone became the fastest-selling vacuum cleaner ever made in the U.K., which outsold those of some of the companies that rejected his idea and has become one of the most popular brands in the UK. In early 2005, it was reported that Dyson cleaners had become the market leaders in the United States by value as well.
Fluent.ai x BSH: Voice Automating the Assembly Line
Fluent.ai has deployed its voice recognition solutions in one of BSH’s German factories. BSH leads the market in producing connected appliances—its brands include Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau, NEFF, and Thermador, and with this new partnership, the company intends to cut transition time in its assembly lines.
According to BSH, voice automation will yield 75-100% efficiency gains—but it’s the collaboration between the two companies that stands out. ‘After considering 11 companies for this partnership, we chose Fluent.ai because of their key competitive differentiators’, explained Ion Hauer, Venture Partner at BSH Startup Kitchen.
What Sets Fluent.ai Apart?
After seven years of research, the company developed a wide range of artificial intelligence (AI) software products to help original equipment manufacturers (OEM) expand their services. Three key aspects stood out to BSH, which operates across the world and in unique factory environments.
- Robust noise controls. The system can operate even in loud conditions.
- Low latency. The AI understands commands quickly and accurately.
- Multilingual support. BSH can expand the automation to any of its 50+ country operations.
How Voice Automation Works
Instead of pressing buttons, BSH factory workers will now be able to speak into a headset fitted with Fluent.ai’s voice recognition technology. After uttering a WakeWord, workers can use a command to start assembly line movement. As the technology is hands-free, workers benefit from less physical strain, which will both reduce employee fatigue and boost line production.
‘Implementing Fluent’s technology has already improved efficiencies within our factory, with initial implementation of the solution cutting down the transition time from four seconds to one and a half”, said Markus Maier, Project Lead at the BSH factory. ‘In the long run, the production time savings will be invaluable’.
Future Global Adoption
In the coming years, BSH and Fluent.ai will continue to push for artificial intelligence on factory lines, pursuing efficiency, ergonomics, and a healthy work environment. ‘We started with Fluent.ai on one factory assembly line, moved to three, and [are now] considering rolling the technology out worldwide’, said Maier.
Said Probal Lala, Fluent.ai’s CEO: ‘We are thrilled to be working with BSH, a company at the forefront of innovation. Seeing your solution out in the real world is incredibly rewarding, and we look forward to continuing and growing our collaboration’.