Innovation studio

Gripsure (ATI2 & SWMAS)

Gripsure are the manufacturers of non-slip decking and base their operations from their premises in Bugle. They reached out to ATI2 after having worked together through ATI1. For this latest innovation project, Gripsure had two new product concepts and were looking for expertise to develop an economical production method, as well as specific support with the sales and marketing analysis which would assist the launch of their new products into the market.

Their first new product, called Gripsure Safestrip, is an anti-slip product that can be retro fitted into decking using an aluminium channel filled with Gripsure’s two-pack epoxy resin and aggregate system. Their second product innovation, named Gripsure DeckART, uses the same epoxy resin and aggregate system but allows customers to purchase decking boards with a selection of graphics and text. Although both new products use Gripsure anti-slip technology, the production process is completely different from any of their existing products.

Mike Nicholson, Managing Director at Gripsure explains the issues they were facing at the time:

“The main challenges that we faced with these two new products were that, even though they were still anti-slip, we weren’t able to manufacture them in the same way as our core products. Our current production set-up is very much geared to the high volume of our day-to-day products and these two new products really sat outside our existing production process. So we had to look at new ways of producing them commercially.”

Without investing in their production capability, it wouldn’t have been economically viable for Gripsure to produce DeckART or Safestrip. Their initial methodology for the production of the prototype wasn’t sustainable and was very time consuming. For this reason, their ATI2 Business Innovation Advisor, Chris Hassall, suggested working collaboratively with manufacturing specialists at SWMAS, to combine both project’s support, skills, and expertise in order to overcome these challenges.

Gripsure have worked with SWMAS for a number of years too, and Mike details the benefits of approaching the project as a collaboration rather than the business having to work separately between the two programmes:

It means that the project is all joined up. Our project is a good illustration of that because we started by separating into two teams and we had Chris and the marketing team helping us look at the front end of it, the sales, and the market for these new products. Then we had Paul from SWMAS looking at how we deliver it.

“But the benefit is that they then come together to create this joined-up approach. This is great because it meant we weren’t going down one route and focusing on production only to make this wonderful thing. We had also done the sales analysis and the market analysis for it as well.”

Collaboration is well known to enhance the implementation of innovative ideas. Working together with people from outside the business not only reduces the risks of ‘tunnel vision’, but allows organisations to pull resources, knowledge and find robust solutions from within a wider pool of ideas. What’s more, joint ownership of an innovation project also helps to spread the risks associated with any innovation between a larger group of participants.

Mike details the value of working with ATI2 and SWMAS, and the overall impact for Gripsure’s project:

“There’s a lot of added value to be had in discussing the processes, our ideas and concepts of what we were trying to achieve with people who understand manufacturing. It’s happened on many occasions with SWMAS where we’ve got an idea or we’re thinking of doing something around the manufacturing and they’re a very good sounding board in terms of sense checking and discussing how we do things.

“It was a great start to the project because we knew we were going to have some good discussions. In fact, I think it exceeded our expectations because we ended up having a lot of marketing input and support from Chris [ATI2 Business Innovation Advisor] and his team – which was an added bonus”, he says.

Paul Gilbert, a Manufacturing Specialist at SWMAS, who formed part of the team which focused on helping Gripsure develop a viable production method for the new products, reflects on the overall success of the collaboration:

“It’s been great to support Gripsure through its growth journey and even better to work closely with ATI2 to support this next phase of growth in terms of new product developments and additional manufacturing capabilities.  Whilst ATI2 has focussed on the product concept, development and marketing, we have been able to use our manufacturing expertise and knowledge to give them the confidence to deliver the products to market whilst achieving the high quality levels which Gripsure are renowned for. This project has been a real win-win for all parties and definitely shows that with open communication, complimentary skills and a clear goal, tangible results can be delivered on time and right first time”.

In addition to the wide range of support and services received throughout the duration of the innovation project, Gripsure were also awarded a grant from the ATI2 innovation fund to help with the costs of purchasing their new machinery, a factor which further reduced the risks of pursuing the innovation:

“The grant has given us a second production facility which was essential for these new products and it gives us the confidence to really push forward with the sales… It’s still very early days for these new products as they are just starting to get into the marketplace, but it’s good that we have that solid platform for production and to support the developments of the products”, says Mike.

“Working with ATI2 and SWMAS has expedited the commercial production process and helped us put that into practice much quicker”, he adds.

As a direct result of the innovation, Gripsure is now more competitive as they can now provide a greater product range and choice for their customers. In particular, they are leading the way with their DeckART product range, which offers a decorative or informative decking with anti-slip properties – this is an offering that, until now, wasn’t currently available on the market.

“With a wider range of products, it makes us look and appear more innovative and a cutting edge company within the market that we’re involved with”, says Mike at Gripsure.

Although it’s early days for these new products, Gripsure now has the dedicated production facility in place. This gives their sales team the confidence to push Safestrip and DeckART into the market, knowing that they have the infrastructure in place to fulfil customer orders.

Image above of Mike Nicholson, MD at Gripsure and Chris Hassall, ATI2 Business Innovation Advisor.