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From sketch to prototype: window profile handling tool for Herlou Group

Herlou Group, based in Limburg, is an international construction trading and consultancy firm. On the advice of the Limburg Innovation Centre, manager and senior consultant Herwig Louwet contacted Sirris in 2015 with sketch plans for a new tool designed to facilitate and enhance the lifting and moving of PVC window profiles. In the ensuing months, Sirris examined and refined the plans and thoroughly tested their viability.......
  • Eliminating ergonomic issues with traditional installation methods
  • Developing a viable concept and prototype based on initial sketches
  • Refining the invention with a view to marketing

 

From its head office in Koersel (Beringen), in the province of Limburg, Herlou Group assists joiners, builders and fitters with bulk purchases of PVC windows by top-end manufacturer Schüco. The group also offers consultancy and arbitration services.

“Based on Herlou Group’s initial sketches, the Sirris team not only refined the concept but also built prototypes to test its viability in detail.”

Innovative lifting tool

PVC window profiles are usually handled manually and with traditional tools such as lashing straps. The drawback with this method is its ergonomic inefficiency. For example, one fitter may be taller or shorter than the other, meaning that they have to stoop, kneel or lean a lot, which is detrimental to their safety and physical well-being. Manual handling also leaves grease marks on the PVC – an aesthetic defect which is not always easy to correct afterwards. To optimise the handling of window profiles, Herwig Louwet of Herlou Group decided to design a new tool.

Viable prototype

After a visit to the Limburg Innovation Centre, Mr Louwet’s sketches – for a mechanical tool that used ‘claws’ to grasp the relatively soft PVC of the window profiles – were sent to Sirris’s Precision Manufacturing Lab. Based on the sketches, the Sirris team came up with various concepts taking detailed account of specifications such as mass and clamping force. 3D designs and two prototypes of the new concept were produced to determine the viability of the invention. These were then thoroughly (and successfully) tested on existing window profiles.

To be continued..

Herlou Group evidently appreciated both the collaboration with Sirris and the final outcome, to judge by what has happened since. Not only has the firm filed a patent application for the invention, but it is also working with Sirris on a further refined and more affordable design. With the product due to be marketed soon, the concept is also being expanded for use with different types of window profiles, different dimensions, etc., to maximise its chances of success.